How To Lose Knee Fat: 5 Easy Ways To Get Rid Of Knee Fat In 2024

Gina Vitale, Health & Wellness Content Writer
Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN
Here we will discuss how to lose knee fat in five easy ways 2024, including cellulite loss so you can show off your lean legs on vacation.
how to lose knee fat
How to lose knee fat in 5 easy ways. Photo: Shutterstock

Whether shorts season is coming soon or that super cute mini-skirt you saw at the boutique this past weekend is calling your name, one thing is for sure — you feel the urge to tone up your legs pronto. So, you wonder how to lose knee fat and what you should focus on in this new quest for slim thighs.

Nobody wants chubby knees, but combining lifestyle, environmental, and genetic factors may not lean in your favor and can be an uphill battle. Here, we will discuss five easy ways to target the fat around your knees so you can show off your lean legs on that upcoming vacation.

How To Get Rid Of Knee Fat

  1. Resistance training.
  2. High-intensity interval training.
  3. Pilates.
  4. Clean up your diet.
  5. Decrease calorie and carbohydrate intake.

5 Easy Ways To Lose Knee Fat

Reducing knee fat requires a multifaceted approach. Cleaning up your diet and engaging in certain types of exercise are simple ways to meet your goals. Fat accumulation occurs over the entire body. However, some body types are more prone to gain weight through the abdominal region, while others see excess fat in the lower body region. Let us show you five ways to target knee fat.

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Resistance Training

how to lose knee fat
Resistance training increases calorie and fat burn. Photo: Shutterstock

Resistance training has many health benefits. Building lean muscle mass has been proven to improve body composition or muscle-to-fat ratio. Research indicates positive effects of resistance training[1] with a reduced body fat percentage and body fat mass. Lifting weights and resistance band workouts are effective ways to build lean muscle mass. 

Lower body exercises such as squats, forward lunges, and leg lifts increase muscle tone and can sculpt the leg muscles to improve your legs’ appearance. Adding heavier resistance or lifting weights with a set amount of progressive repetitions would turn squats and lunges into strength training exercises, for example, changing a bodyweight squat into a barbell squat.

High-Intensity Interval Training

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, can be performed in a variety of ways. Bodyweight exercises mixed with resistance training for arms, legs, and core muscles are effective full-body workouts. Sprint interval exercise is another example of HIIT. Other examples include bike intervals with intermittent periods of fast revolutions, slower resting revolutions, and running sprints with walking or jogging rest intervals.

Recent studies have proven HIIT to be the most effective way[2] to burn calories and fat while increasing lean muscle mass.

A sample time interval workout would be 40 seconds of high-intensity activity followed by 20 seconds of rest. Running or biking for one to three minutes, then walking or slow cycling for 30 seconds to one minute.

Pilates

how to lose knee fat
Pilates improves body composition for leaner-looking legs. Photo: Shutterstock

Pilates[3] is a system of whole-body flowing movement exercises. It combines strengthening and stretching to achieve balance in the body for optimal function. Pilates benefits include decreased body weight and improved body fat percentage. Leg exercises like hip circles and the straight leg stretch work the outer hip, inner thighs, and core muscles.

Coordinating breathing with exercise, as in Pilates, improves awareness of deep core muscles and increases the body’s capacity for burning calories. Increased calorie burn affects the entire body and aids in fat loss. 

Pilates is also used as a rehabilitative method for back and knee injuries and has long been the go-to method of exercise for dancers and athletes because it improves strength and body composition without added bulk for a slimmer and more balanced body.

Clean Up Your Diet

A healthy diet consists of increasing your intake of vegetables and fruits, high-fiber foods, and lean protein while decreasing your consumption of highly processed foods, sugary snacks, and drinks. These are ideal ways to clean up your diet. According to research, adding healthy fats, such as monounsaturated fatty acids like avocados and olive oil, to your meals is linked with fat and weight loss.[4]

Research indicates that no one diet fits all for optimal health. However, the health benefits of eating whole foods and minimal to no junk foods cannot be overlooked. Processed foods contain more calories and minimal nutritional value, so if your goal is to lose weight and reduce excess knee fat, cleaning your diet should be a priority. Also, consider liquids consumed that may add excess calories, such as coffee with flavored syrup and alcoholic beverages. Both can add sneaky calories leading to weight gain, and you may not realize it because you are drinking, not eating them.

Decrease Calorie And Carbohydrate Intake

A study result showed that eating fewer calories by cutting calories[5] outright or utilizing a time restriction model of eating resulted in fat loss. Over one month, a consistent calorie deficit of 500 calories resulted in weight loss. Consuming fewer calories decreases overall body fat; therefore, the knee area will also benefit. A calorie deficit and combined resistance exercises optimally affect losing fat.

A few studies have indicated that restricting carbs[6] affects fat loss without losing lean muscle mass. The focus should be on cutting down refined, processed carbohydrates such as white bread and rice versus whole grains like oats and brown rice.

What Causes Knee Fat?

Obesity is a massive problem in developed countries. Overeating, high-calorie foods, and a sedentary lifestyle are the main factors. Knee fat is a product of overall weight gain. Where the fat cells accumulate has much to do with your own personal genetic makeup. Lack of physical activity results in poor muscle tone in the body and unbalanced body composition, so the thigh and knee areas or possibly the abdominal region will be more noticeably fat, depending on your body type. 

There is a medical condition known as lipedema,[7] which is a chronic condition affecting the lower legs, resulting in enlarged adipose tissue. It can progress through five types, from the hips down to the ankles, primarily affecting about 11% of women. Obviously, lipedema is a more expansive condition than generally seen with knee fat. In addition, cellulite[8] affects 80-90% of women with a dimpled-like appearance on the skin. It is not medically significant but can cause self-esteem issues and may collect around the knee area.   

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Other Options For Slimming Your Knees

Focusing on knee-specific exercises like single leg raises while lying on the back and forward or sideways step-ups can improve muscle tone surrounding the knee. Jumping rope is one of the best lower-body exercises. It can help you to lose weight in the legs and offers other benefits[9] like improving overall body fat percentage. However, it may cause knee pain for some people if they have arthritic conditions.

Conversely, another more drastic option to reduce knee fat might be a surgical procedure[10] like knee liposuction, a form of body contouring to reduce fat around the knee, calf, and thigh. 

Non-surgical procedures that improve the skin’s appearance might include energy-based devices[11] like laser or light therapy and particular massage techniques. Specific treatments[11] are available depending on whether the type of cellulite is more fibrous or voluminous in nature.   

The Bottom Line

We must point out that overall body fat loss occurs when methods like clean eating, carb restriction, and high-intensity training are employed. It has not been proven that specific or regional body area spot-reduction training is effective. For instance, targeting inner knee fat only with a leg raise exercise would work the leg muscles, improving overall leg appearance, not just the fat on the inner leg. 

Notably, recent studies have shown that continuous endurance exercise is less effective than interval training and strength training for maximum results. Multiple studies published by several different evidence-based journals report that exercise and diet management are required for the best results regarding fat reduction and improved body composition. Long-term effectiveness is dependent on the individual and their course of action. Every person is different, and it may take some trial and error to find the best types of activities and eating plans individually.

Furthermore, excess weight can cause knee pain, so take care to determine a workout routine that will be most tolerable and have the greatest effect on your goal of losing knee fat while maintaining healthy knee joints.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is knee fat common?

Although knee fat is more common for women than men. Approximately 80%-90% of women have cellulite on their bodies.

Is it hard to lose knee fat?

Eliminating knee fat takes a concerted effort of high-intensity exercise, resistance training, cleaning up your diet, and decreasing calorie and carbohydrate intake. It will take time. Many studies indicate that results can take at least one month to 12 weeks.

Can you lose knee fat by changing your diet?

Yes, changing your diet will aid in losing knee fat, but research shows better results occur when proper diet management is combined with high-intensity exercise.

Resources

  1. Wewege, M.A., Desai, I., Honey, C., Coorie, B., Jones, M.D., Clifford, B., Leake, H.B. and Hagstrom, A.D. (2021). The Effect of Resistance Training in Healthy Adults on Body Fat Percentage, Fat Mass and Visceral Fat: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Medicine, [online] 52(2), pp.287–300. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-021-01562-2.
  2. Fatemeh Khodadadi, Bagheri, R., Raoof Negaresh, Moradi, S., Nordvall, M., Camera, D.M., Wong, A. and Suzuki, K. (2023). The Effect of High-Intensity Interval Training Type on Body Fat Percentage, Fat and Fat-Free Mass: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Journal of Clinical Medicine, [online] 12(6), pp.2291–2291. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm12062291.
  3. Su, C.-H., Peng, H.-Y., Tien, C.-W. and Huang, W.-C. (2022). Effects of a 12-Week Pilates Program on Functional Physical Fitness and Basal Metabolic Rate in Community-Dwelling Middle-Aged Women: A Quasi-Experimental Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, [online] 19(23), pp.16157–16157. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192316157.
  4. DiNicolantonio, J.J. and O’Keefe, J.H. (2017). Good Fats versus Bad Fats: A Comparison of Fatty Acids in the Promotion of Insulin Resistance, Inflammation, and Obesity. Missouri medicine, [online] 114(4), pp.303–307. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6140086/#:~:text=Compared%20to%20long%2Dchain%20saturated%20fats%2C%20lauric%20acid%20and%20oleic,thus%20promote%20increased%20energy%20expenditure.
  5. Liu, D., Huang, Y., Huang, C., Yang, S., Wei, X., Zhang, P., Guo, D., Lin, J., Xu, B., Li, C., He, H., He, J., Liu, S., Shi, L., Xue, Y. and Zhang, H. (2022). Calorie Restriction with or without Time-Restricted Eating in Weight Loss. The New England Journal of Medicine, [online] 386(16), pp.1495–1504. doi:https://doi.org/10.1056/nejmoa2114833.
  6. Volek, J.S., Sharman, M.J., Love, D.M., Avery, N.G., mez, G., Scheett, T.P. and Kraemer, W.J. (2002). Body composition and hormonal responses to a carbohydrate-restricted diet. Metabolism-clinical and Experimental, [online] 51(7), pp.864–870. doi:https://doi.org/10.1053/meta.2002.32037.
  7. Buck, D.W. and Herbst, K.L. (2016). Lipedema: A Relatively Common Disease with Extremely Common Misconceptions. Plastic and reconstructive surgery. Global open, [online] 4(9), pp.e1043–e1043. doi:https://doi.org/10.1097/gox.0000000000001043.
  8. Gabriel, A., Chan, V., Caldarella, M., Wayne, T. and O’Rorke, E. (2023). Cellulite: Current Understanding and Treatment. Aesthetic surgery journal, [online] 5. doi:https://doi.org/10.1093/asjof/ojad050.
  9. Kim, J., Won Mok Son, Headid, R.J., Pekas, E.J., Noble, J.M. and Song Young Park (2019). The effects of a 12-week jump rope exercise program on body composition, insulin sensitivity, and academic self-efficacy in obese adolescent girls. Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism, [online] 33(1), pp.129–137. doi:https://doi.org/10.1515/jpem-2019-0327.
  10. Bellini, E., Michele Pio Grieco and Edoardo Raposio (2017). A journey through liposuction and liposculture: Review. Annals of medicine and surgery, [online] 24, pp.53–60. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amsu.2017.10.024.
  11. Gabriel, A., Chan, V., Caldarella, M., Wayne, T. and O’Rorke, E. (2023). Cellulite: Current Understanding and Treatment. Aesthetic surgery journal, [online] 5. doi:https://doi.org/10.1093/asjof/ojad050.

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