I have read in an article that the body stores fat in a FILO format, which means it stores fat in this order: belly, chest, thighs, then arms.

When we workout, the fat gets burned in the FILO format, which means it first gets burned from the arms, then the thighs and then finally, from the belly.

Is this scientifically true?

2 Answers 2


I wouldn't say it's first in/last out, but there are reasons why you may (or may not) put on belly fat first and lose it last.

Fat cells receive a number of different hormone signals that tell them whether to store or release fat. Depending on the area of the body, the fat cells will have more or less receptors for the various messages. For example, visceral fat (sometimes called belly fat) has more cortisol receptors, so if you're stressed, your belly fat responds more than fat in other areas of the body.

In evolutionary terms, during times of starvation this serves to move fat from the periphery to the vital organs. In modern times, when you're well fed and stressed, it means you get belly fat, diabetes, etc.

A contrary point is sumo wrestlers. They gain lots of fat, but it's evenly distributed around their bodies, and not concentrated in the belly.

References: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16353426



  • I have never been able to find corroborating references, but in my kinesiology classes (early 1990's) we were taught fat works on the LIFO concept, you lose it last from the first place it was deposited and vice versa.
    – JohnP
    May 9, 2016 at 2:39
  • @JohnP - That sounds interesting. But if fat is lost/gained all over, what is actually the point of last-in?
    – Alec
    May 9, 2016 at 10:42
  • I dont know. As I said, I haven't been able to verify. N=1, thats how my body works. While I do lose/gain all over, larger growth/decline does follow a specific pattern for me.
    – JohnP
    May 9, 2016 at 14:32

No, this is false.

You have to understand that when you gain fat, you gain it in all fat deposits on the body. It doesn't fill one deposit first, then move on to another. And on the other side of the coin, the same applies when you lose fat.

Now, some fat deposits are larger than others, and more fat will be directed there. That's why you have more fat on your belly than on your arms, for instance. But still, when you gain/lose fat, it will be gained/lost from all deposits. Just in different amounts.

  • Thank you. Made it clear for me. :) Btw, this is the article.
    – Dawny33
    May 8, 2016 at 13:55
  • 1
    Yeah, that doesn't look like a very scientific source. Looks like a blog. Here's a somewhat better read: yalescientific.org/2011/04/targeted-fat-loss-myth-or-reality
    – Alec
    May 8, 2016 at 14:44
  • @Dawny33: If the answer is correct for you, you can always click on the checkmark to accept it. And if you change your mind later, you can always remove your acceptance or apply it to another answer.
    – Sean Duggan
    May 9, 2016 at 16:18
  • 1
    @SeanDuggan Sure. I usually wait a week before accepting an answer :)
    – Dawny33
    May 10, 2016 at 1:03

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