Beauty magazines and websites want you to believe that at-home neck and face exercises will help you work off a double chin, chubby cheeks and a wobbly neck. In reality, small facial exercises do little to burn calories and can't trim fat from your trouble spots. Only by reducing your total body fat can you also lose excess fat in your face and neck.
Create an Environment for Total Body Fat Loss
Your best bet to reduce neck and face fat is to reach an overall healthy level of body fat. For men, that's between 15 and 20 percent and, for women, 20 to 25 percent. Your face and neck are just a few of the places on your body where you might store pockets of excess fat. The only way to get your body to burn these off is to create a calorie deficit, in which you consume fewer calories than you burn. When your body senses this deficit, it mobilizes fat cells and turns them into usable energy. You can't tell your body to take this fat from your face and neck, however.
Use an online calculator to determine how many calories you burn daily and reduce that number by 500 to 1,000 calories per day, to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week. Don't eat fewer than 1,200 calories as a woman or 1,800 as a man, or you risk stalling your metabolism. Trim calories and portion sizes, and include exercise, to keep your metabolism burning.
Food That Supports a Healthy Face
The majority of food you eat should be whole and unprocessed -- including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Fresh produce contains few calories per serving and provides numerous antioxidants and phytochemicals that promote good skin health. Eat whole grains, such as brown rice and oatmeal, instead of refined white carbohydrates, especially sugar-rich foods, which may contribute to weight gain. These foods can also negatively affect collagen, an important substance that gives skin its tone and perkiness.
Lean proteins, such as white-meat poultry, fish, flank steak and beans, also help with weight loss by making you feel full at meals and preserving lean muscle mass, even as you reduce calories. To get to a healthy weight, plan on consuming at least 0.55 gram of protein per pound of body weight daily.
Exercise to Get a Slimmer Face
Neck rolls and scrunching and releasing your facial muscles won't do much to help you lose fat. You're better off increasing total body circulation and burning calories with cardiovascular exercise, such as brisk walking or light cycling. To lose weight, work up to at least 250 minutes per week, says the American College of Sports Medicine.
While targeted facial exercises do little to burn calories, build muscle or burn fat, strength-training your major muscle groups can help with fat loss all over, including from your face. Strength training builds muscle, which takes more calories for your body to sustain when compared to fat. It also gives your whole body -- including your face -- a leaner, fitter look. Aim for at least two total-body sessions weekly.
Promote Skin Health to Lose Face and Neck Fat
As you age, your skin and facial fat might naturally shift downward, leaving you with a more jowly neck, saggy cheeks and possibly a double chin. You can't stop aging, but you can make the effects less severe if you keep your body at a healthy weight, wear sunscreen to protect from sun damage, eat mostly unprocessed foods, exercise and don't smoke.
Hydrate adequately to keep your skin supple and smooth. Exactly how much you need depends on your size and activity level; if you're larger and more active, you need more fluids daily. A good gauge of hydration is the color of your urine -- it should be nearly clear and odorless. Limit your intake of sodium, which may contribute to the appearance of a puffy face by encouraging water retention. Minimize high-sodium foods, snack mixes, canned soups and fast food, which don't help your goal of weight loss anyway.
- Penn Rec: Body Composition Information and FAQ’s Sheet
- Harvard Health Publications: Why Your Face Ages and What You Can Do
- American College of Sports Medicine: Metabolism Is Modifiable With the Right Lifestyle Changes
- Anti Aging Secrets: Reduce Wrinkles and Look Younger; Marnie Peterson
- British Journal of Nutrition: Dietary Protein - Its Role in Satiety, Energetics, Weight Loss and Health
- American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Position Stand on Physical Activity and Weight Loss
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Nutrition Info About Beverages