Legs are one of the problematic areas of a female body. And at the same time, we all want our legs to look nice in short pants or bikinis. That’s why in this post, I’ll try to explain in detail how to improve the appearance of flabby legs, how to make them look healthy and toned.
To be honest, my legs were my biggest insecurity. That’s why I put a lot of effort into creating posts like “How to get rid of saddlebags”, “How to lose knee fat”, “Ditch banana rolls fat” and many more that give your some strategies on how to lose leg fat and make your thighs and calves look slimmer.
Before starting my fitness journey, I was a little bit overweight and my lower body always made me feel insecure. I never wore dresses or short pants because my legs were flabby and jiggly. Now I don’t think that it should be the reason not to wear nice short clothes. It’s important to feel comfortable in your own skin regardless of your body shape and skin conditions but not all girls have high self-esteem to feel confident all the time. And for me, it was a big problem in my past.
So in this article, I want to give you some information on how to improve your flabby legs. Because if you want to make your legs look healthier, more toned and fit, you have to know exactly what you should do.
You can have flabby thighs for a lot of reasons. But most of the time, the legs look this way due to cellulite, saggy skin or water retention. I will address all these issues in this post. Also, I’m gonna share the best methods to improve the appearance of your legs. In most cases, you can do a lot to change how your body looks by adding physical activity, changing your diet and building other good habits.
Unfortunately, we as women are more prone to gaining leg fat than men. They tend to store fat around their abdominals while women often store it in the lower body. But, of course, your environment also plays a big role in accumulating fat in this area. Poor diet, stress and sedentary lifestyle can contribute to flabby thighs and legs a lot. So these things you can change if you want to have beautiful legs. But also you have to check some other reasons that can lead to flabby legs. Let’s see what they are!
The causes of flabby thighs
This is the most common cause of flabby skin. As you become older, your skin loses its collagen and elastin – two important components that provide natural elasticity and firmness to your skin. That’s why as you age you can notice flabby skin both on your face and your body. Of course, we can’t fight aging but there are some things you can do to improve the collagen production in your body. I’ll touch upon this a little bit later in this post.
Hormones play a huge role in our body and may affect how you look a lot. Hormonal imbalances can lead to flabby thighs, cellulite and other changes in your appearance.
Let’s start with insulin. This vital hormone regulates the flow of sugar into the cells to be used as a fuel. But when you consume a lot of refined carbohydrates and sugar, the cells become resistant to insulin and are not able to take in amino acids particularly branched amino acids responsible for the repair and renewal of muscles. This causes flabby skin to appear.
Some of the main symptoms of insulin resistance are: weight gain, constant fatigue, flabby belly and thighs, hunger and cravings, tiredness after eating carbs/sugar. If you feel you have these symptoms, it’s a good idea to do blood tests and check whether you have problems with insulin. After that, you can find a way to manage your condition effectively.
Cortisol is a stress hormone that can be responsible for flabby thighs. When your body experiences constant stress, your adrenals (tiny glands that sit above the kidneys) continuously release stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline causing you to gain stubborn fat! Due to the overproduction of cortisol, you may consume more food, make bad food choices (like choosing sweets or simple carbs to feel better). It may also lead to chronic inflammation and insulin resistance (conditions that both lead to weight gain).
Estrogen is a sex hormone that can impact the appearance of your legs because the thighs have a large number of estrogen receptors. When you have hormonal imbalance, you can store a lot of fat on your legs. Excess estrogen can cause water retention and cellulite which make your flabby thighs look even worse.
Both very high and low levels of hormones can lead to weight gain. That’s why it’s important to have it right in balance. You can do this only with the help of a specialist. Sex hormones are very interdependent. So you have to do blood tests and consult a doctor if any imbalance occurs.
🔸 Water retention
You can have flabby thighs because of excess fluid that gets trapped in your body. Most of the time it happens in the ankles and feet, but sometimes can also occur in the tops part of your legs. What can cause water retention? In most cases, you can blame the excess consumption of sodium, the lack of potassium, high cortisol and estrogen levels, dehydration.
🔸 Excess fat stores and cellulite
One of the main reasons of flabby legs is excess fat and lack of muscle tone in this area. Many people have flabby skin because of cellulite which is a condition caused by many-many factors. You can read more about this in my post “How to ditch cellulite on legs”.
How to improve flabby thighs
1. Healthy Diet + Caloric Deficit
One of the reasons behind flabby thighs is excess fat. So the first thing you want to do it to lose some fat to get your legs a more slim and toned look.
Losing weight requires burning more calories than you take in. This perhaps sounds more simple than it actually is, so it’s wise to keep a log of your daily caloric intake… at least while you get into the groove of a healthy diet and figure out what foods will help you to obtain a caloric deficit. Once you feel comfortable with your routine and start making progress on your weight-loss journey, you can ditch the journal and go by memory!
How many calories you consume in a day, versus how many calories you lose, will determine the amount of body fat you’ll be able to shed. Getting rid of leg fat (or fat anywhere else) means eating at a deficit. When your body realizes it’s burning more calories than it’s consuming, it will turn to the fat it’s already stored to make up the difference. By consistently maintaining a caloric deficiency, you’ll reduce the fat stored in your body, resulting in a slimmer, toner physique!
However, just eating less won’t do the job. The quality of products your body consumes is also very important! Eating healthy foods and laying off sugary drinks will ensure you’re providing your body with all the essential nutrients it needs.
Adding leafy greens (such as spinach, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli) to your diet will help to improve liver’s estrogen detoxification abilities. A healthy liver helps melt away stubborn fat, so eat your greens for better and faster female fat loss.
Remember, your low-calorie diet still needs to provide all the materials your body needs to function. Protein provides the body with essential amino acids. These amino acids help to build muscle and, since muscle burns calories, eating the correct amount of protein can actually help you lose weight! This is why many bodybuilders and personal trainers use protein powders in their shakes. Just make sure not to rely on protein shakes alone. Fish, nuts and eggs are just a few amazing sources of protein.
2. Supplements against flabby thighs
Vitamin C – As previously stated, there are no magical formulas for looking flawless. That being said, Vitamin C is as close to a magical supplement as you can get if you want to get rid of flabby thighs. The nutrients in Vitamin C help your body to produce more collagen and maintain your skin’s elasticity. Nourished skin = toned legs!
Collagen – Collagen supplements are also a great way to maintain skin’s elasticity. Although edible collagen just recently became trending in the United States, its beauty-enhancing properties are actually old news. Chinese women have been consuming collagen (pig’s feet, fish parts, etc.) for centuries. Collagen also helps strengthen the skin’s ability to retain moisture and has even been known to help with acne.
Antioxidants – Antioxidants protect your skin against free radicals and help to delay, and even prevent cell damage. Think of it this way: free radicals, such as smoke and pollution, are your skin’s worst enemy and antioxidants are the superhero that swoops in to save the day! Antioxidants fight wrinkles and brighten skin by neutralizing reactive oxygen species (ROS) that can eventually degrade collagen. Many fruits and vegetables, like blueberries, cherries, and leafy greens, are high in antioxidants such as:
- Vitamins A, C, D, and E
- Coenzyme Q10
- Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)
Vitamin B – your body needs a full spectrum of B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, etc.) to properly metabolize the estrogen that causes you to store fat in your legs so make sure you consume enough of these vitamins every day. You can get quality supplements or eat more foods rich in B vitamins, such as fish (trout and salmon), eggs, leafy greens (there they are again!) and dairy products.
DIM – Diindolymethane helps reduce the risk of multiple forms of cancer, but is also handy when it comes to balancing your body’s estrogen levels. Since estrogen is important in regulating the accumulation of fat, DIM supplements can be a good way to stimulate fat breakdown and block the formation of new fat cells which helps to avoid flabby thighs.
DIM is found in cruciferous vegetables, but in order to get enough, you have to consume these greens 4-5 times a day which doesn’t sound realistic for the majority of modern people. So getting a hign-quality supplement can be a better option for you.
Diuretics – using a safe diuretic can help reduce water retention in your legs. Although many diuretics can be found at your local pharmacy, there are also many herbal diuretics, such as dandelion, juniper berry or stinging nettle, that can be made into tea or mixed into smoothies. Diuretics are only meant to be used for a brief period of time and some aren’t safe for those with diabetes or kidney disease, so make sure to consult your doctor first.
As a side note, herbs like basil, black pepper, ginger, and mint are also great for your skin and even helpful with maintaining healthy levels of insulin. So make sure you add them to your meals as often as possible.
Also, make sure to drink enough water. As obvious as that might sound, about 75% of Americans suffer from chronic dehydration. If your body doesn’t get enough water, it will retain what little water it gets as a backup. This can lead to poor circulation and cause your legs to swell. Drinking water often will help your body to realize that it will be getting water frequently. As a result, your body will release the fluids it has been storing.
3. Reduce Carbs and Sugar
To get rid of flabby thighs you want to reduce carbohydrates and sugar (an unfortunately necessary evil). Sugars tend to increase the aromatase enzyme, whose role is to convert testosterone into fat-storing estrogen. The result? An accumulation of lower body fat. Therefore, cutting your sugar intake will help slim you down and propel you to those skinnier legs.
Foods with carbohydrates tend to have the biggest impact on your blood sugar level. Carbs interfere with your body’s ability to balance your blood sugar and control cravings. Even a small dosage of carbs can shut down the fat-burning process and cause water retention in your lower body, so cutting them out of your diet (as well as unnecessary sugars) should be your first priority when looking to slim down those thighs.
You’re probably already familiar with the very popular keto diet but, before diving headfirst into another trending diet plan, consider this: there are other ways to reduce carbs, without having to shock your body into ketosis. Try cycling carbs in and out of your diet. Treat yourself every few days to that baguette or pasta bowl you’ve been craving and, not only will you not feel “hangry” and deprived, but you’ll keep your body from entering ketosis.
Also known as a form of “metabolic confusion,” this technique is actually quite simple. Cut the carbs on the days you don’t plan on exercising, so you can indulge on the days you actually do hit the gym. In this way, you’ll be able to get back in shape, stay toned, and keep your blood sugar levels from spiking.
Here are some tips on how to cut carbohydrates from your diet:
- Cut refined sugar out of your diet. Table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are two common examples of refined sugars. Unfortunately, they’re added in all the delectable, delightful, sickeningly sweet desserts most people know and love…such as pastries and candy.
- Eliminate carbs like pasta, bread and white sugars (nobody said this was going to be easy)! You still can enjoy low-calorie breads and wraps and natural sweets like berries and fruits.
- Stay away from any form of alcohol and soda, as both have copious amounts of sugar. Instead, choose spring water, seltzer, and herbal teas.
- Avoid fruit juices. Although known for providing Vitamin C, orange Juice (just like all fruit juices) has just as many carbs and sugars as any other sugar-sweetened beverage. Say “yes” to green vegetable juices and smoothies instead.
4. Massage and Moisturize
There are plenty of products out there that claim to diminish the appearance of flabby thighs and saggy skin. You can find them in the form of gels, lotions, creams and pills. But do any of them actually work? It can be confusing, searching to find a reliable product in a sea of online advertising and over-priced products.
Unfortunately, most experts agree that firming products don’t penetrate the skin deeply enough to be significantly effective. Therefore, you’ll find that the results, if any, will be very subtle. However, if you’re bent on finding a product that’s at least mildly effective, here’s a helpful hint: look for firming products that include retinoids. Retinoids are antioxidants that can increase your body’s production of collagen.
More importantly, invest in a good moisturizer. Moisturizers that contain Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Beta Hydroxy Acid, will keep your skin healthy and hydrated.
As for the massage, it can be a very effective way to help with blood circulation and, therefore, get rid of flabby thighs. Massage not only improves blood flow, but also stimulates the production of collagen making your skin toned and tight. That’s exactly what you want! Check my article “Anti-cellulite massage” for 6 different techniques.
Studies have shown that regular massage can reduce the effect of aging on the skin and, as was already mentioned, collagen maintains the firmness and elasticity of your epidermis.
Consider using coconut oil, almond oil or medicated oils to lock in moisture. Oils like these are packed with antioxidants like Vitamin E, which make the skin look young and glowing.
5. Exercises against flabby thighs
You already know that exercise is necessary to maintain overall health, but it can also tone your flabby thighs! Physical activity kicks your insulin into high gear, which helps your body turn blood sugar into energy. That energy increases the growth hormone responsible for creating and renewing muscles. Less fat + more muscle = firm, toned legs!
For optimum results, combine cardio with resistance training. The combination will increase your metabolism and burn fat at a rate faster than if you just stuck to one or the other. Jogging, cycling, dancing, and HIIT workouts are all great forms of cardio.
Resistance training is an amazing way to improve the shape of your legs and burn extra calories. Pick a workout that tones not only your larger muscles, but all your smaller muscles as well. This means incorporating stability exercises (plank, for example) to help tone areas that other forms of exercise won’t reach. Without these targeted workouts, you’ll lose weight without toning, resulting in flabby legs that look weak in appearance.
What is HIIT?
This is a high-intensity interval training that involve high intensity cardio that alternates with low intensity cardio or strength training. This interval training burns fat and builds muscle at the same time. There are many forms of HIIT workouts, all of which will make you sweat buckets and leave you feeling exhausted. But this strategy has the greatest benefit – you’ll burn way more fat in a very short period of time (like 15-20 minutes) than when you do regular cardio.
Here’s an example of HIIT structure:
- Start by properly stretching and warming up.
- Do one minute of lunges, alternating legs.
- Follow this with 30 seconds of jogging in place.
- Take a ten-second rest.
- Now do one minute of squats.
- Follow with 30 more seconds of jogging in place.
- Take another ten-second rest.
- Repeat all this again 15-20 more times.
Try to do your HIIT and cardio workouts approximately three times a week, but remember the importance of resting! Not only does your body need time to re-cooperate, but the rest period is when most of the changes in your body, such as muscle growth, take place.
Lastly, make sure to stay dedicated! Regularly exercising and stimulating your legs will produce results much sooner than if you slack off. You’ve got the drive… now just stay focused!
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