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Why do we store body fat in certain areas more than others?

By Hybrid Gym LA

Have you ever noticed that you store body fat in certain areas more than others? Maybe you hold most of your body fat in your hips and triceps? Or maybe your back and thighs? Everyone holds their body fat in different areas depending on a few factors. Let’s look at why. 

Genetics: You may have heard this many times but it is the case. First of all, men and women usually hold their body fat in different areas. Women tend to hold more around their glutes and thighs while men tend to hold it more in their trunk. Up to 60% of an individual’s fat distribution on their body comes from genetics. The fact that you cannot change your genetics can be a bit daunting. Just be aware if obesity runs in your family and learn to work with your body, not against it. There are ways to combat this such as living a healthy lifestyle, exercise, and overall knowledge. 

Hormones: Hormone levels can have a major impact on fat distribution in the body. The endocrine system releases hormones through the human body. These hormones are used as chemical messengers that regulate different processes within the body. What are these hormones? 

    1. Leptin: this hormone helps us regulate our appetite. Leptin is produced by fat. If we do not have enough of this hormone, we tend to overeat, resulting in body fat gain in certain individuals. 
    2. Insulin: This hormone is produced by the pancreas and helps the body regulate carbs and metabolize fat which in turn promotes fat storage. If someone has too much insulin, this can cause fat gain. Insulin sensitivity can lead to us holding more fat deposits in the back. 
    3. Sex hormones: Two of these hormones are estrogen and testosterone. Both males and females have these hormones but the amount of estrogen is higher in females than males and the amount of testosterone is higher in males than females. Having high estrogen levels can result in fat distribution around the thighs, glutes and hips. An imbalance of these two hormones can result in more fat gain around pecs, biceps and triceps. 
    4. Cortisol: This is also known as our “stress hormone”. When we are overly stressed physically and/or mentally, our body releases cortisol from the adrenal glands. An excess of cortisol in the body can lead to more fat gain in the abdominal area. On the flip side, excess belly fat can also lead to more cortisol production, thus resulting in an unhealthy cycle. 
    5. Growth Hormone: The pituitary gland produces this hormone that helps determine height, bone and muscle growth and metabolism. Too little of this growth hormone in the body can lead to more fat placement. 

So let’s recap the possible causes of fat distribution in different parts of the body. 

  • Pecs (chest): Estrogen and Testosterone Imbalance 
  • Biceps: Estrogen and Testosterone Imbalance (Androgen Reserve) 
  • Triceps: High Estrogen Levels 
  • Upper Back: Insulin Sensitivity 
  • Lower Back/”Love Handles”: Thyroid Imbalance 
  • Abdomen: High Cortisol 
  • Legs: Lack of Recovery and Environmental Stressors 

Everyone holds their body fat differently. Certain things, you can’t change such as genetics. But, you can work on creating a healthy, stable environment where your body thrives instead of attacking itself and creating inflammation. 

At Hybrid, we work to keep an eye out for these different fat distribution areas to get to the true source of inflammation and fat gain.