Are you one of many women who are skeptical about weight loss for a fear that losing too much weight will reduce the size of your butt? You might even be one of the “lucky” ones who are naturally thin yet still carrying a gut or a muffin top with little to no butt action. In either case, you’re probably wondering how you can lose weight in specific areas like your midsection without losing it anywhere else, especially your butt.

This is an understandable concern. After all, the butt is partially compromised of fat.

As you may have already noticed, your butt grows when you gain weight, introducing a set of voluptuous curves that you’d probably like to keep. This is especially true when you have an apple shape, tending to carry most of your weight in the breasts, midsection, and abdomen.

Related Article: What It Means to Have an Apple-Shaped Body

Unfortunately for the apple shape, the butt fat is usually the first thing to go during weight loss.

Now, pear-shaped women are different, as they tend to have naturally slim waists, carrying most of their weight in the butt, hips and thighs. Although pear-shaped women may also lose some of their butt fat during weight loss, it’s usually not a huge concern.

Related Article: What It Means to Have a Pear-Shaped Body

Regardless of whether you have an apple or a pear shape, it’s important to understand that fat loss will inevitably lead to a reduction in your butt size. While spot reduction isn’t possible when it comes to fat loss, lucky for you, I have a three-step solution that’ll help you lose weight in your midsection without losing a significant amount from your butt.

1. Regularly Lift Weights

Unbeknownst to many, the butt actually houses more muscle than fat. While there’s no guaranteed that your butt fat will be preserved during weight loss, you can definitely tone and tighten the muscles underneath and ultimately perk up your derriere by regularly lifting weights. Lifting weights also elevates the metabolic rate in a way that fuels the fat burning process that’s necessary for ridding your body of that stubborn fat in your midsection.

Related Article: 5 Reasons Why Resistance Training Is Necessary for Weight Loss

For maximal results, you should perform at least 2-3 sets of lower body weight lifting exercises, 2-3 days each week using moderate-to-heavy loads that fatigue your muscles within 8-10 repetitions. Focus on exercises that specifically target your butt (gluteal) muscles including squats, lunges, and leg press exercises. These exercises are also great for sculpting your thighs and legs.

To keep your metabolic rate elevated and generally balance out your weight lifting routine, I also recommend performing at least 2-3 sets of upper body exercises, 2-3 days each week using moderate loads that fatigue your muscles within 12-15 repetitions.

2. Perform High-Intensity Cardio

For effective weight loss in all the right places, you’ll need to perform cardiovascular (cardio) exercise intensely but for relatively short periods of time (20-30 minutes) on an average of 3-5 days per week. The goal of intense cardio is to minimize the amount of physical activity you perform to a level that reaps health benefits without excessive weight loss.

By “intense” I mean hill or stair climbing, running or very intense walk/run intervals, cycling at very high speeds, spinning, cardio kickboxing and even timed-lap swimming. When performed this way, cardio induces a muscle toning effect and also reduces stubborn body fat without dramatic reductions in your overall body weight.

Related Article: Target Heart Rate: Are You Working Out Hard Enough?

3. Eat Nutritiously and Sensibly

To effectively rid your body of the gut and adequately fuel your workouts, it’s important to keep tabs on both your calorie and nutrient intake while also exercising portion control. A diet that’s rich in fiber-rich foods (vegetables, fruit, and whole grains), healthy fats (monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids), and lean protein, can substantially boost your body’s natural fat burning mechanisms while also helping to reduce cravings, curb hunger, and control appetite.

Related Article: A Simple Guide to Eating Sensibly

Together, these nutrients also help your body burn stored belly fat by generally increasing the rate at which it is mobilized and used for energy. Fiber and fat specifically help regulate blood glucose and insulin levels in ways that beneficially prevent belly fat accumulation and overall weight gain while protein is most critical for preserving muscle and maintaining a healthy metabolic rate.

To ensure your daily fiber intake is sufficient, make an effort to consume 4-5 (or more) servings of non-starchy vegetables, 2-4 servings of fruit, and 3-5 servings of whole grains or other natural starches. When it comes to fat, take in about 2-3 daily servings in the forms of oil, avocado, oily fish, nuts and seeds. As for your protein intake, it’s best to consume about 0.55-0.82 grams of protein per pound of your body weight each day.

Related Article: How Different Types of Fiber Affect Your Health

When selecting protein-rich foods, opt for low-fat dairy products or dairy substitutes, fish, and poultry, as they are generally low in fat and high in essential vitamins and minerals. You can also get an adequate supply of protein from whole soy products (tofu and tempeh) or a combination of other food sources like nuts and seeds, beans and dried peas.

Related Article: The Role of Protein During Dieting

That’s it! By following this three-step approach, you’ll effectively rid your body of excess fat in the midsection while successfully preserving the size of your butt. Now, you will lose butt fat. However, your sculpted gluteal muscles will fill out the space that it once occupied and you’ll love it.