Reviewed by Prof. Dr. Fuat Yuksel.
Many people are bothered by the pesky fat deposits on their bodies that just won’t let go no matter how hard they exercise or diet. These fat pockets can change the shape of your silhouette, not in the way you want. So, naturally, you want to get rid of them. These can be anywhere on your body: face, arms, thighs, abdomen, or back. When these fat pockets are deposited on the outer thighs, giving your body a pear-shaped appearance, you have what is known as saddlebags. And you have ended up here wanting to learn how to get rid of saddlebags.
Many people find the bulging pockets of fat on the sides of their thighs unflattering. It may stop them from achieving their desired body shape. Fitting into clothes of their choice can also become a hassle. If you’re wondering whether or not you’ll be “saddled” with these fat deposits for life, keep reading on.
What Are Saddlebags?
Saddlebags are pockets of fat found on the outside of the upper thighs. They are so-called because they resemble the appearance of bags mounted on the saddle of a horse/donkey or bags hanging from the sides of a motorcycle.
According to Scientific American, women are more likely to store fat in the thighs, buttocks, and pelvis. That’s because these fat stores provide energy during the time of lactation. This kind of fat deposit is more difficult to get rid of except during lactation, which is why many women find it hard to get rid of their saddlebags.
What Causes Saddlebags?
There are different reasons why a person ends up with saddlebags. Before trying to find out how to get rid of saddlebags, you should learn more about what’s causing them so that you can deal with the root cause of the problem.
One reason for the appearance of saddlebags in females is puberty. After puberty hits, women tend to store more fat in their bodies than males. The number and size of fat cells increases. At 25, women have twice as much body fat as men. And as mentioned above, most of their fat is stored in the lower body around their hips, thighs and buttocks, and some in their breasts.
This kind of fat sits right underneath the surface of the skin, giving it the name “subcutaneous fat”. This kind fat deposition stops by the time a woman reaches adolescence. However, if they continue to gain weight after that age, the fat will continue to store in the outer thighs, which can make the saddlebags more prominent.
In one study published in the American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism, 17 “overweight-to-obese” women between the ages 18-44 were given estrogen and drugs to break down fat in their buttocks and abdomen. It found that the effects of estrogen differed depending on the location of the fat tissue and the kind of drug used to break down fat. It means that depending on where you have fat stored in your body, estrogen can interfere with its breakdown. Unfortunately, it’s possible that in the thigh area, the hormone estrogen makes it more difficult for the fat to break down.
Estrogen levels fluctuate with different life changes such as puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause. You may notice that your saddlebags have gotten bigger, especially around pregnancy. While before menopause, it causes fat deposition in the thighs and buttocks, after menopause, it causes fat accumulation in the abdomen, the much-dreaded belly fat.
According to a study published in Nature Communications in 2019, genes heavily influence where people store fat in their bodies. And this effect is observed in more women than men. So, females are genetically predisposed to storing more fat in the thighs, which makes them prone to developing saddlebags.
Your body weight will increase if the amount of fat you’re putting in your body is more than what you’re burning. The kind of lifestyle you have can accumulate fat in your body. Top off an inactive lifestyle with an unhealthy diet, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Foods high in carbs and bad fat can make you gain weight quite easily. And unfortunately, it can be hard to lose weight from the outer thighs.
But, Why Is It So Hard To Get Rid Of Saddlebags?
Those who have been trying to get rid of saddlebags sometimes feel desperate because of lack of change in their bodies even after rigorous diet and exercises. Due to the nature of saddlebags, it’s hard to get rid of it. Saddlebag fat is a form of fibrous fat, where the once fluffy fat secretes “fibres” to toughen and harden the fat up. Since the fibres hold the fat in place, it becomes difficult for the body to burn it.
How To Get Rid Of Saddlebags Without Surgery?
There are more than a few ways by which you can try getting rid of your saddlebags. Let’s take a look at them.
This kind of thing is always easier said than done. This can be especially hard knowing that it’s not easy to get rid of saddlebag fat even with a rigorous diet and exercise. However, first things first, you should know that simply targeting the thigh muscles, butt muscles, or leg muscles won’t work.
Consider doing squats, lunges, Pilates, yoga, burpees, leg Lifts (do the left leg and right leg) and bent-knee reverse hip (using a Swiss ball). You can also do fire hydrants, where first you get down on your hands and knees. With the left knee bent, raise the right leg out, return to the starting position and then do it with the right knee bent.
Also, make sure you do cardio for at least 30 minutes 5 times a week. You can do running, jumping, dancing, walking, swimming, and cycling. Having a consistent exercise routine is the key to burning fat, not just in the thighs but throughout the body.
As tempting as fast food may be, you need to cut it out of your diet. The high caloric intake from trans fats and carbs can cause excess fat to accumulate in the body. Whenever you’re about to reach for anything containing processed sugar, look for healthier sweets like fruits and vegetables.
Foods rich in fibre such as wheat, quinoa, brown rice, and bran bread will do your body good. The good thing about these foods is that since they take longer to digest, you’ll feel full for a long time, inhibiting your urge to snack. Lean meats, fish, eggs, and nuts will help you lose fat, so make sure to add them to your diet. And lastly, do not forget to drink water. If you’re still gaining weight after doing full-body workouts and dieting, you should get professional medical advice.
This is an FDA-approved fat freezing technique that helps in breaking down fat in specific areas of the body. If a person has “mild to moderate” saddlebags, cryolipolysis can help them. However, you may need to undergo more than one session over a few weeks. Moreover, you won’t see the results immediately. The fat will melt over a few months.
What Are Your Surgical Options?
Since it is very hard to get rid of this kind of fat, even with diet and exercise, none of the above-mentioned techniques may work out for you. In that case, you can benefit from cosmetic surgery like liposuction. In this, the surgeon will insert a cannula in the sides of your thighs to break down the fat and then suction it out using a vacuum. The results of this surgery are permanent. You may experience some temporary swelling; however, it will go away after some time.
To achieve their desired body shape, some women also consider undergoing a fat grafting procedure. In this, the surgeon uses the suctioned out fat from the saddlebags and injects it into other areas of the body. The patients mostly prefer a Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL) in combination with liposuction for saddlebags. It’s important to note that you must be at an ideal weight before these cosmetic surgeries take. And to maintain the results from the liposuction and fat grafting, you need to make sure that you have a healthy lifestyle.
You should keep in mind that saddlebags are fat, not muscle, and you can do a few things to help your body burn fat. Weight loss should take place through a healthy diet (creating a calorie deficit) and exercise. However, if you are still unable to get rid of your saddlebags, you can consider getting liposuction. And before jumping on how to get rid of saddlebags, you should learn what’s causing them in the first place.