You may often curse your curves when trying on new clothes, but for women, the extra fat you carry on your hips is a biological necessity. In fact, the fat you accumulate on your hips are stored calories needed for lactation and caused by female hormones. So the next time you're struggling to get those new pair of jeans over your hips, curse the designer, not your curves.
Up until about age 8, boys and girls have the same percentage of body fat. After this point, girls begin accumulating fat at a more rapid pace than boys. During adolescence, girls gain twice as much fat as boys. Not only do girls have more fat, but their fat cells are also larger. Most of this extra fat in girls goes to the hips, legs and thighs, and if you're lucky, the breasts. Women can blame their hormones for the high fat accumulation. The good news is, after adolescence, most healthy women stop making more fat cells, but they can still grow.
Subcutaneous vs. Visceral Fat
Subcutaneous and visceral fat are the two types found in your body. The fat on your hips is of the subcutaneous variety. Subcutaneous fat is found underneath your skin, and is the type of fat you can pinch. Visceral fat is primarily found in the abdominal cavity surrounding your organs. While too much fat anywhere is not good for your health, subcutaneous fat is not as harmful to your health as visceral fat, but subcutaneous fat is harder to lose.
You may find it a little upsetting that it's harder to lose fat from your hips, but there is good reason. Your body specifically stores fat around your hips to supply the extra energy necessary for breast feeding. While these fat cells are typically very stubborn, during lactation your hip fat cells become active, shrinking in size and helping to supply the additional fat now found in your breast tissue.
Tips for Slimming
While spot reduction is a myth, if you're unhappy with the extra hip fat, you can take steps to trim fat from all over to give yourself a slimmer appearance. It is recommended that you exercise at least 30 minutes a day at a moderate intensity, such as a brisk walk, most days of the week. If you want to lose weight, you must increase that time to 60 minutes a day. You can also include strength-training exercises, including squats and lunges, to help build and tone muscles in your trouble areas. You should also follow a healthy balanced diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean sources of protein.
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.