Where Does Fat Go When You Lose Weight? | You May Be Surprised!

Ever wonder where the weight goes when you are on a diet? Specifically, where does the fat go when you lose weight? This post will answer you questions, and share 19 ways to burn fat faster!

Close up image of a woman wearing black pants and a grey bralette, pinching her waistline.

A lot of us are focused on losing weight and in particular, losing body fat. But right off the bat, I’ll tell you that in my book, a healthy lifestyle and a fitness mindset are a lot more important than a few pockets of fat. Still, I do get asked a lot about fat. Questions like: where does fat come from? and how can we get rid of fat? 

I’m going to cover all you need to know about fat and where it goes when you lose weight. We’ll also look at ways to burn fat and keep it from returning. So without further ado, let’s dive right in!

What Is Fat?

Let’s keep it simple. There are two types of body fat. One is visceral fat and is most often seen around the belly. Belly fat can be a little stubborn and that motivated me to share extra tips on burning it in this post (see below).

  • Visceral fat (also called white adipose tissue) can accumulate around the organs and cause issues like fatty liver disease and diabetes. It’s important to try and avoid it and if you do have it, start focusing on eating clean and exercising.
  • The second type of fat is called brown adipose tissue and is considered an essential and good fat. It transports nutrients and oxygen and also helps to regulate your body temperature by burning calories.

In a nutshell, fat cells are used for energy. Fat is also stored to insulate the body and protect the organs. However, when we overeat and lead a sedentary lifestyle, these fat cells can build up and cause weight gain.

Where does fat go when you lose weight

How Does Fat Leave The Body When You Lose Weight?

The cool thing is that as we lose weight, the fat cells shrink! You see a difference in your jeans and you’ll notice a change in your body composition. How fat leaves the body as you lose weight may surprise you. There is a respiratory component to fat loss. That is…you breathe out the fat. Mind blown!

I’m not kidding here, and it’s backed by science. Fat leaves the body as carbon dioxide when you breathe and is also released as water through urine and sweat. So if you think about it, that backs up why exercise is an important part of weight loss. Your body disposes of fat through sweat, urine, and exhaled air.

Which Part Of The Body Loses Fat First?

There is no straightforward answer to which part of the body loses fat first. It’s a fact that, unfortunately, spot reduction through weight loss is not realistic. However, exercise does play an important part in your overall body composition. Both aerobic training and resistance training can bring great results. 

Genetics plays a role as to where the weight comes off, as does how many times you’ve gained and lost weight. Just from talking to male and female followers, though, the consensus is that men lose abdominal weight first and women lose it from the hips and thighs first. 

Remember, pregnant women tend to see weight gain on the butt and thighs as the pregnancy progresses (along with the baby weight, of course). So it makes sense with the female makeup that weight would leave there first.

KEY TAKEAWAY: It’s impossible to “choose” which fat cells leave the body first. So as long as you are eating well and keeping active, you’ll see an overall improvement in weight loss.

Do you ever wonder where the weight goes when you are on a diet? Specifically, where does the fat go when you lose weight? Bonus: 19 ways to burn fat faster!

What Burns The Most Fat?

This is another no straight answer question. Factors like sleep quality, age, and present weight can all influence your weight loss journey. But to give a good answer that can apply to everyone, I’d say that exercise can burn the most fat

I do think that putting yourself on a diet – and we often make it too restrictive and hard to follow – without following an exercise program is not a great idea. It’s best to aim to move more and eat healthily. This combo brings great success, I can attest to that.

How Do I Know I Am Losing Fat?

There are a few ways to know that you are burning fat. The biggest one is that you feel better overall. You’ll wake up feeling healthier and less sluggish because, since you are eating healthier, your digestive system is working better (this is due to the fiber!). Other signs are:

  • You’ll see changes in your body composition. Your pants will fit better around the waist and you’ll notice a difference in your stomach. You’ll see less fat. You’ll find that your legs, shoulders, and hips are looking more toned.
  • Your exercise stamina increases. Because you are getting fitter, the length of time you can walk, run or do any physical activity improves. Feels good!
  • Your mid-day energy level will be better. Think about it. To lose weight, you eat better. Your body burns fat as the weight comes off. It’s like a well-turning wheel. Cutting out junk helps you burn fat and removes the energy slump many feel in the afternoon.
  • In fact, your energy will feel more stable the entire day through. Your body is a fat-burning machine that keeps you going.

Does Massage Help Get Rid Of Fat?

No, massage does not help get rid of fat. Since massage does nothing to change the way your body metabolizes food, it cannot get rid of fat. What massage does do is improve blood circulation, giving your skin a healthier appearance. Cellulite can be temporarily minimized with some treatments such as weekly acoustic wave therapy but is not a permanent thing.

Large bowl filled with slow cooker chicken and zucchini noodles, topped with carrots.

What Foods Help You Lose Fat?

Foods like whey protein (preserves muscle) and lean beef (vitamin B6 helps your stamina) help you to lose fat. I’ve written a post on the topic which you can find here to learn more about losing fat and building muscle.

These are the foods I list in the post:

Bonus: How To Burn Fat Fast!

So you now have the answer to “where does fat go when you lose weight”. Now, you’ll learn how to burn fat fast to lose weight. Let’s take a look!

1. Intermittent fasting: IF is proven to help you lose weight fast and may help you burn fat faster. Following eating windows and fasting windows (such as the 16/8 method or the Eat-Stop-Eat Method) can boost your fat-burning power.

IF has done wonders for me – I love the intermittent fasting lifestyle! Read more about avoiding IF beginner mistakes and how to make IF work for you.

2. Eat clean: I can’t say enough about eating clean! It really does wonders for your waistline and for your general health because you are not eating processed foods and hidden sugars. Read about it here and learn how to change your eating lifestyle.

3. Walk: Make sure you move! To learn more about how getting extra steps in can help you work toward total fitness, read my post, How Many Daily Steps You Need For Weight Loss.

Overhead view of glass meal prep containers with salmon and rice in some, and carrots and broccoli in the others.

4. Use weight loss hacks: They work! For instance, one of the hacks I swear by is planning ahead. Meal prep in particular is a lifesaver because you always have healthy food waiting in the fridge–>super helpful.

5. Drink more water: I can’t emphasize this enough. Water does so much for you, like giving you glowing skin and keeping your digestive system healthy. Try infused water – it’s great!

6. Stand more: Do you sit at a desk all day? Either get up and take a few walk breaks or invest in a standing desk. When you are standing, do lunges and squats now and then. Strength training is good for fat burning and muscle building. 

7. Increase your iron: It’s surprising how many of us may be iron deficient. That leads to fatigue and illnesses like hyperthyroidism. Even foods like sauerkraut have iron, giving you lots of options for adding iron to your diet.

Close up view of two hands holding a white bowl filled with kimchi.

8. Add probiotics to your diet: Probiotics can help with fat reduction. From fermented foods to probiotic yogurt, they’re all helpful when it comes to fat-burning power.

9. Exercise: Moving more is magic! I mean it. Try HIIT (high-intensity interval training) to burn fat and fit aerobic exercise into your life. It’s known to aid in fat reduction. Really, any type of exercise will benefit you – do what you can when it works for you. It’s better than doing nothing, right? 

10: Deal with stress: We all know that stress can wreak havoc on your health – and your waistline. For help with stress, see what I do here.

Image of a woman dressed in a yellow rain jacket and rubber boots, walking a dog in the forest in the Fall.

11. Enjoy coffee: Yes! Coffee can boost your metabolism. It’s got tons of benefits, too! So go ahead and enjoy a cup.

12. Lose the refined carbs: You know I am all about getting rid of packaged foods and hidden sugars. It’s amazing what this will do for how you feel and look.

13. Eat fiber: I am big on fiber. Studies show that increased fiber intake can have an impact on belly fat. Additionally, it can also make you feel full and reduce snacking. Chickpeas, avocados, and raspberries are all great fiber sources.

14. Ditch the soda: Sweetened and sugary beverages don’t help your waistline any. From soft drinks to overindulging in wine, these extra calories can end up as fat.

Overhead view of a white plate and on the plate is avocado toast topped with an egg.

15. Eat healthy fats: How does fat help you burn fat, you ask? Well, healthy fats like plain Greek yogurt can slow the digestive system. Fats like olive oil and avocados are good for you. Read here and here to find out why.

16. Drink apple cider vinegar: Vinegar may increase fat burning according to research. So take a look at my post When to Drink Apple Cider Vinegar to learn more about this super drink.

17. Get sleep: Fitting in sleep can help you burn fat. Your resting metabolic rate is affected by how much sleep you get. Learn more in my post on sleep.

Protein Powder | The Ultimate Guide For Beginners

18. Eat protein: I’m a believer in protein and protein powders. And that’s exactly why Dustin and I created cleanish Plant-Based Protein Powder. Add a scoop to your favorite smoothie for easy protein supplementation! Protein is good for boosting your metabolism and for building muscle. Check out this post on the 4 best protein powders and how to make pancakes with protein powder too. Make your morning pancakes with cleanish protein powder to reduce your hunger and your appetite.

19. Use macros to your advantage: Don’t get confused about counting macros – they can be used to help you burn fat! I’ve got a post on macros, and you’ll see how eating carbs, fats, and proteins works to your advantage. If you need help calculating your macros, join the 30 Day Healthy program and I’ll calculate your macros for you. I’ll help you jump start your weight loss and get the energy you’ve always wanted. Soon, you’ll see the fat disappear!

This post contains affiliate links to products I use regularly and highly recommend.

Lacey Baier

Hey there! I’m Lacey Baier and I’d like to welcome you! I’m a healthy lifestyle influencer and the creator of this clean-eating blog and YouTube channel, as well as cleanish, my clean-eating supplement brand. My recipes have been published on Food Network, Good Morning America, FoxNews, Tastemade, Fitness Magazine, and much more. I live in Austin, Texas with my husband and four kiddos. Let’s get started!

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