Some dream of leaner legs, while others wish for more slender cheeks (either kind, really). After all, we wouldn't be human if we didn't all have an insecurity or two.
Although there aren't any specific face-slimming exercises, shedding a few pounds through diet and exercise may help give your cheeks a slimmer look.
But if your face feels puffier than normal, you're probably just retaining some fluids. No need to freak out, though, since there are measures you can take to help eliminate these symptoms.
Fat Loss May Slim Your Face
Whether you're looking to lose fat in your face, belly, legs or arms, the weight-loss process is all the same. Exercising will certainly help increase your calorie burn, ultimately shedding fat across your whole body — but it all starts with your daily diet.
To lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit, which is when you burn more calories than you consume, according to the Mayo Clinic. This begins with finding out how many calories you need to eat to stay the same weight (aka your maintenance calories). Using an app or food diary, track your meals for a few days to get an idea of how many calories you eat each day.
Then you can create a deficit by cutting between 500 and 1,000 calories each day, recommends the Mayo Clinic. Cut calories based on your own comfort level. If cutting 600 calories leaves your stomach grumbling each night, for example, bring your deficit down by 200 or 300 calories.
Minimizing the processed foods you eat is the easiest way to bring your daily calories down. Highly processed foods like chips, cereals or sodas are high in calories but low in nutrients, which is why they don't leave you feeling full for very long, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Instead, fill your plate with plenty of fruits and vegetables to make sure you're getting the vitamins and nutrients you need. Plants are also high in fiber, a nutrient that digests slowly and helps keep you feeling satiated.
Make sure you get your carbs from healthy, whole-grain sources, like brown rice or quinoa, rather than refined varieties, like pasta or bread, recommends the Mayo Clinic. Similarly, consider swapping some of your red meat meals with leaner proteins, like fish, chicken or low-fat dairy.
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Exercising for Fat Loss
There isn't much firm research that supports face-slimming exercises. However, keeping a consistent workout schedule will help increase your daily calorie burn, which will contribute to overall fat loss.
You'll want to complete at least 150 minutes of moderate cardio activity each week, like walking or hiking, recommend the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cardio will not only help you shed body fat but is beneficial for your heart health, too.
But if you're not a fan of steady-state cardio, you can opt for 75 weekly minutes of vigorous cardio, like high-intensity interval training. Alternating between intervals of high intensity and recovery, this form of cardio will burn large amounts of calories in a short amount of time.
Also, schedule a few days of strength training, too. Strength training can help increase your metabolism and improve your body's ratio of fat to muscle mass.
Prioritize compound movements, like deadlifts or renegade rows, recommends the American Council on Exercise. These exercises use multiple parts of your body at once, giving your body a higher calorie burn.
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Water Retention May Cause Face Puffiness
Your face may feel puffy or swollen due to temporary water retention. Also known as mild edema, excess fluid can gather in the hands, feet or arms, according to the Mayo Clinic. Sometimes your face may also retain some extra fluids.
Water retention can occur for a variety of reasons, like sitting too long or eating too much salty food. Women may experience extra water retention just before their menstrual cycle begins. Sometimes edema may also be a side effect of medications, like anti-inflammatories.
Generally, edema is temporary and will go away on its own, according to the Mayo Clinic. But if you're experiencing shortness of breath, chest pain or difficulty breathing, contact your doctor immediately.
How to Slim Facial Puffiness
If you want to reduce the temporary puffiness in your face, take a look at the foods you eat each day. Especially if your body reacts to salt, you'll want to be conscious of your daily sodium intake, advises Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, author of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You from Label to Table.
Depending on your level of sensitivity, minimize or eliminate foods that are especially sodium-heavy, like pickles or chips, Taub-Dix recommends. Generally, you'll want to eat less than about 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day (about a teaspoon), according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
Also, drink plenty of water to help flush out some of the excess sodium in your body. Or, eat some potassium-rich foods (like sweet potato or tomatoes) to minimize the effects of sodium, per the AHA.
Sometimes, massaging the swollen or puffy area can help reduce fluid retention, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Above all, try to keep some perspective. A sharp jawline or sculpted cheekbones are certainly attractive features, but your overall health is what matters most. Instead of trying a fad diet or fancy facial tools, try cleaning up your diet and getting regular exercise as a first-line defense. Your face — and the rest of your body — will thank you.
- Mayo Clinic: "Counting calories: Get Back to Weight-Loss Basics"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "What a Healthy Weight Loss Plan Really Looks Like"
- Mayo Clinic: "Weight Loss: Feel Full on Fewer Calories"
- Mayo Clinic: "Edema"
- American Heart Association: "Why Should I Limit Sodium"
- American Heart Association: "How to Reduce Sodium"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Walking"
- American Council on Exercise: "5 Benefits of Compound Exercises"