A large chest may weigh you down, but the only way to reduce it is to lose weight all over. Targeted weight loss isn't possible -- whether you're a woman trying to lose big breasts or a man trying to lose a barrel chest. Weight loss occurs proportionally. As you lose weight, your chest fat will shrink, along with the rest of your body. After the first few weeks, the fastest rate at which you can safely lose weight is at about 2 pounds per week. Losing weight faster likely means you've resorted to unsustainable measures and that most likely, you'll regain the weight.
About a Large Chest
In women, a large chest is generally made up of fat tissue in the breasts. These fat cells act like other fat cells do in your body -- they expand when you gain weight. Losing weight all over helps these -- and other fat cells -- to diminish. How affected your breasts are by weight loss depends on their composition. Some women have a greater ratio of fat tissue to duct and lobule tissue, while others may have denser breasts that don't shrink as much when they lose weight.
In men, a large chest is often an issue of genetic body shape or a medical condition. A barrel chest describes a rounded chest area with a broad rib cage. It's often seen in elderly people or in those who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, known as COPD, emphysema or other lung disorders. The large chest isn't caused by fat, but is caused by a wider rib wall and lung changes. You can't lose a barrel chest.
Now, if a big chest is simply an extension of a broad midsection and an overweight body -- it could caused partially by visceral fat deep within your torso expanding outwardly. The fat layer just under the skin on your body is called subcutaneous fat. Classic weight-loss strategies can help you slim down both types of fat.
Targeting the Chest for Weight Loss
You can't make your weight-loss efforts address a single area of your body. Fat loss doesn't work like that. Instead, you must create a calorie deficit, during which your body senses a need for fuel. Your body then breaks down fat tissue from all over your body into usable energy that's burned. Your body's tendencies and genetics determine from where it takes that fat tissue, and usually, it doesn't pick from only one place.
The exception to that is the presence of visceral fat in the midsection. This type of fat is metabolically active and breaks down more quickly than subcutaneous fat. So, if your lower chest pushes outward partially because you have an abundance of visceral fat, you may lose it once you start a weight-loss regimen. If the chest fat is breast tissue or a barrel-chest configuration, you'll have to be patient with the process while your entire body becomes leaner.
Fast Weight-Loss Efforts
Fad diets, eliminating whole food groups or fasting often result in quick weight loss, but they often can cause quick re-gain, too. These diets are not sustainable and you may give up on your goals, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Instead, use a tried-and-true method of reducing calorie intake and of getting more exercise. With these strategies, create a daily calorie deficit of between 500 and 1,000 calories to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week. This might not be as fast as you'd like, but it's safer and sustainable, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Trim your calories by first eliminating soda, sugary treats, refined grains and most saturated fat. Replace these with water or herbal tea as your beverages, and fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein as your solid foods.
Meals may include eggs and 100-percent whole-wheat toast or oatmeal with berries and skim milk at breakfast; green salads with chicken breast and limited dressing or deli turkey, lettuce, mustard and tomato in a whole-wheat pita at lunch; and brown rice with broiled flounder and steamed broccoli or a flank steak with a sweet potato and asparagus at dinner.
The serving sizes depend on how many calories you can consume per day with your calorie deficit. Speak with a dietitian or use an online calculator to determine roughly how many calories you burn per day; then, subtract about 500 to 750 calories to determine your intake level. Don't consume fewer than 1,200 calories, though, as this number is unsustainable and nutritionally inadequate.
Exercise Away Chest Fat
Chest presses, flyes and pushups work the muscles of the pectorals, but these exercise don't cause you to lose chest fat. You might build a larger, stronger appearance with consistent weight training, as the muscles expand underneath the existing layer of fat.
Although cardiovascular activity, such as brisk walking or cycling, doesn't seem to directly affect the chest, engaging in them are your best choice when it comes to burning calories and losing weight. Exercising at least 250 minutes per week helps augment your calorie deficit to result in significant weight loss, explains the American College of Sports Medicine.
Strength moves don't directly burn fat, but you shouldn't leave them out of your work-out regimen. Strength training the chest, along with the other major muscle groups, helps you build a more muscular body overall. When your body has a greater amount of muscle, your body burns more calories at rest -- which aids weight loss.
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Weight-loss and Nutrition Myths
- CNN: When You're Losing Weight, Where Does the Fat Go?
- Shape: 15 Everyday Things That Can Change Your Breasts
- Jornal Brasileiro de Pneumologia: The Chest and Aging
- Royal College of Nursing of the United Kingdom: Body Fat Percentage
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Losing Weight
- Go Ask Alice: Ideal Caloric Intake
- American College of Sports Nutrition: ACSM Position Stand on Physical Activity and Weight Loss