For most women, thigh fat gained during pregnancy does go away on its own after giving birth, but it takes time and consistency with diet and exercise. Staying active during pregnancy can help minimize excess fat gain, and getting back to exercise after delivery helps shed extra pounds. However, it’s normal for the body to retain some stubborn fat deposits, so a few lifestyle adjustments may be necessary to achieve pre-baby thigh tone.
Does Pregnancy Fat Go Away?
It’s very common for women to gain weight in their thighs, backside, and other areas during pregnancy. This is partly due to normal fat accumulation which helps support a healthy pregnancy, and partly due to extra fluid retention in these areas.
During the first trimester, it’s typical to gain 1-4 pounds as blood volume expands and breasts enlarge. In the second and third trimesters, recommended weight gain is about 1 pound per week as baby grows and stores of fat are deposited to support breastfeeding. This totals around 25-35 pounds for women starting pregnancy at a normal weight.
While fat distribution varies by individual, many women notice new fullness in the outer thighs, hips, and buttocks by the third trimester. Hormones like estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, and human placental lactogen all contribute to increased fat storage in these areas during pregnancy.
After giving birth, most women will slowly shed the extra pounds over the first year as long as they follow a reasonably healthy diet and get regular moderate exercise. However, the distribution of fat loss varies – while the baby weight comes off readily from the abdomen, hips, and upper body, the outer thighs can be a stubborn area.
Why Thigh Fat Is Stubborn After Pregnancy
There are a few reasons why fat on the outer thighs and hips (also called the “saddlebags” area) can be harder to lose after having a baby:
- Hormonal influences – Estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate during the postpartum period, which can encourage more fat storage around the thighs and hips.
- Genetic tendencies – Women naturally carry more fat in their legs/thighs than men due to genes and fat cell distribution.
- Lifestyle habits – Sitting to nurse, recover, or work can cause loss of muscle mass in the thighs.
- Altered metabolism – Pregnancy permanently changes a woman’s metabolism, often lowering daily calorie needs.
For these reasons, the thickened appearance of the outer thighs is very common after childbirth even as overall weight is decreasing. However targeted exercise and dietary strategies can help postpartum women address stubborn thigh fat.
Does Breastfeeding Help Lose Thigh Fat?
Breastfeeding does encourage postpartum weight loss, burning around 300-500 extra calories per day. However, breastfeeding is not directly associated with losing thigh fat.
Some women find that breastfeeding amplifies their appetite, leading to eating more calories than are being burned. Also, special areas of stubborn fat like the outer thighs are regulated by local hormone activity, not by overall calorie balance.
So in summary, breastfeeding assists postpartum weight loss in general due to extra calorie burn, but does not specifically target or reduce stubborn outer thigh fat. Following a healthy calorie-controlled diet and consistent exercise regimen is still required to address problem areas.
Postpartum Exercises To Lose Thigh Fat
Getting active with a doctor’s okay is key for losing post-baby weight, including stubborn thigh fat. Start slow and aim for 150 minutes of moderate activity like brisk walking over the week. Then progress to more intense calorie-burning workouts as you are able. Here are some of the best exercises for losing thigh fat postpartum:
- Walking – Power walking helps burn calories and tones thighs.
- Jogging – Start slow and work up to jogging a few times a week.
- Cycling – Low-impact but burns 300+ calories per 30 minutes.
- Swimming – Works the inner/outer thighs without pressure on joints.
- Squats – Squat pulses and sumo squats target outer thighs.
- Lunges – Forward and side lunges tone all thigh muscles.
- Leg presses – Seated at the gym or at home, presses target quads.
- Hip thrusts – Use weight plates or resistance bands to target the backside.
High intensity interval training delivers big calorie burn in short bursts. Many options are low-impact and doable postpartum:
- Cycling or sprinting intervals
- Jump rope intervals
- Bodyweight circuits of squats, lunges, skaters
- Resistance band walk intervals
Aim for 2-3 HIIT sessions per week in addition to regular cardio/strength workouts. Always get medical clearance before resuming intense exercise.
Dietary Tips To Lose Thigh Fat Postpartum
Along with exercise, diet is hugely impactful for addressing stubborn post-baby thigh fat. Here are some effective nutrition strategies:
- Maintain a moderate calorie deficit of 300-500 calories below maintenance needs for steady fat loss. Too severe of a deficit can compromise milk supply while breastfeeding.
- Eat plenty of anti-inflammatory foods like oily fish, avocado, nuts, berries, leafy greens, beans, and high-fiber grains.
- Choose lean proteins like chicken, turkey, eggs, lowfat dairy and limit red meat.
- Cut back refined carbohydrates like white bread, sugary snacks, pastries, etc.
- Stay hydrated with water and avoid sugary juices and sodas.
Additionally, limiting alcohol, stopping smoking, and managing stress levels can help encourage postpartum weight loss and thigh fat reduction.
How Long Until Thigh Fat Goes Away Postpartum?
With consistent healthy habits, most moms can expect to see a significant difference in thigh fullness within 3-5 months after delivery. However, it typically takes 6 months to a year or longer to fully lose thigh fat gained during pregnancy depending on how much extra weight you put on.
Results vary based on factors like genetics, age, activity levels, and how closely you adhere to a healthy diet. If you are beyond 6-12 months postpartum and are still struggling with thigh fat despite lifestyle efforts, speak to your doctor about additional solutions like prescription medications or plastic surgery.
Should I Just Accept My New Thighs?
It’s important to be kind to yourself and allow your body time to recover post-pregnancy. For some women, thighs never return to their pre-baby size even with diet and exercise due to natural changes in fat distribution and metabolism.
However, this doesn’t mean you must accept unhealthy levels of excess fat which put you at future risk for diabetes, heart disease and other complications. Check in with your doctor about a healthy goal weight and body composition for your height and frame.
With patience and consistency, most moms can achieve about 90% of their pre-baby thigh tone within the first 1-2 years. If problem areas persist despite your best efforts, cosmetic procedures can be considered later. For now, focus on building healthy habits for the sake of overall wellness and not just aesthetic reasons.
Takeaways on Losing Thigh Fat Postpartum
Here are some key points to remember about reducing stubborn thigh fat after pregnancy:
- Allow about 6-12 months for your body to naturally lose the “baby weight” with healthy lifestyle habits.
- Target thigh fat with specific exercises like lunges, squats, cycling, and strength training 2-3x a week.
- Follow a postpartum diet with moderate calorie deficit, lean proteins, produce and whole grains.
- Stay patient and consistent, as thigh fat can be very stubborn to lose.
- Consult your doctor if fat loss plateaus beyond 12 months postpartum.
- Focus on health not perfection – some body changes stick around after baby.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why am I losing weight but not thigh fat?
The hips/thighs area is prone to fat storage due to hormone activity. Even as you lose weight elsewhere, this zone is stubborn. Follow targeted exercises, cardio and a calorie deficit to reduce thigh fat.
Should I stop breastfeeding to lose thigh fat?
No, breastfeeding actually boosts postpartum weight loss. Follow a healthy calorie-controlled diet of around 500 deficit per day and you can safely shed fat while nursing. Extreme diets may affect supply.
Can I spot reduce thigh fat with machines or creams?
No, you cannot spot reduce fat from a specific body part. Creams and body contouring machines offer no proven fat-reduction effects. You must burn fat overall with full-body cardio and strength training.
How much water should I drink to lose thigh fat?
There is no magic amount of water that will flush away thigh fat. But staying well hydrated supports metabolism and workout recovery. Aim for 11-15 cups of total fluids daily as a postpartum mom. Limit sugary drinks.
Will thigh fat make me look pregnant still?
As you lose the overall pregnancy weight, residual thigh fullness should not make you still look visibly pregnant. Targeted exercise can help tone and slim the thighs. If excess fat persists, cosmetic options may refine the area.
For most women, the extra weight packed on during pregnancy does come off gradually over the postpartum period. However, the hips and outer thighs tend to be the most stubborn areas to lose. With consistent diet and focused lower body workouts, thigh fat can be reduced and a slimmer contour restored. But some residual fullness may persist. New moms should practice patience and self-love while putting in the effort to be fit and healthy.