Everyone has a problem area — that place on your body that you wish was a little bigger or smaller or longer or firmer. If yours is a chubby neck, you're probably eager to know that the answer is yes, it's possible to lose neck fat. While you can't target your neck specifically, if you lose total body fat, some of it will come from your neck.
You can lose neck fat in the same way you lose fat from any other area of your body — by exercising and eating a calorie-controlled diet.
Neck Fat Storage
Neck fat and chin fat aren't different from any other fat on your body. Due to a calorie excess, your body has stored energy from food that it is unable to use in your fat cells.
Some people tend to store fat on their hips or belly, while others pack on fat around the neck. It's highly likely that if you have excess neck fat, you carry excess fat in other areas of your body as well. However, neck fat is often more noticeable when you look at yourself because it's close to the facial area.
The Spot-Reduction Myth
Maybe you've read articles that have advised you to do targeted exercises, such as jutting out your jaw or squeezing a tennis ball between your chin or chest. Don't fall for that! While those movements might help strengthen the muscles of your neck and chin, they won't do anything to help you lose fat.
Fat is stored energy. You have to get your body to burn that stored energy if you want to see a noticeable reduction in the size of your neck. Unfortunately, once you get your body in fat-burning mode, you can't tell it which part of the body to take fat from first. You have to reduce your total fat levels.
You might see fat loss in your arms or stomach first, then your neck. It might take longer than you hope to see results. But rest assured that if you keep up with your neck fat-burning plan, you will be rewarded. The bonus is that in addition to a slimmer neck, you'll also have a slimmer stomach, thighs and butt.
Burning neck fat and chin fat requires that you get your body to switch from storing fat to burning it. Although there are many factors involved in fat loss, including your genes, hormones, age, gender, medical conditions and medications, the basic concept is that you have to stop consuming more calories than your body needs each day.
In fact, you have to consistently consume fewer calories than your body requires to see noticeable fat loss results in your neck and other areas of your body. This is called being in a calorie deficit. When you're no longer providing your body with more energy than it needs, it will stop storing fat and start burning it.
Creating a Calorie Deficit
There are only two ways to get into this deficit: Eat less and exercise more. Eating the right foods and getting enough physical activity will force your body to let go of some of its excess fat stores, some of which will be neck fat.
How much of a calorie deficit you need to create depends on your current calorie intake and the calories you need for weight loss, which depends on your age, gender and activity level.
Calories for Neck Fat Loss
You can figure out how many calories you should be consuming each day for neck fat loss by first determining your resting metabolic rate (RMR) — the number of calories your body uses just existing, digesting, breathing and so on. According Mark P. Kelly, Ph.D., the Mifflin-St Jeor equation is the most accurate estimate you can get without scientific calorimetry testing:
Male: 9.99 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 4.92 x age + 5
Female: 9.99 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 4.92 x age – 161
As an example, if you are a 35-year-old female who weighs 135 pounds and is 5 feet, 5 inches tall (167 centimeters), your RMR is 1,320. Next, you need to figure out how many extra calories you need to support your activity level. You can use your current activity level, then recalculate if you increase your activity level to burn more calories.
You can find this number by multiplying your RMR by an activity factor:
- Sedentary: You work a desk job and get little to no exercise — 1.2
- Lightly active:You engage in light exercise/sports one to three days per week — 1.375
- Moderately active: You engage in moderate exercise/sports three to five days per week — 1.55
- *Very active: *You exercise or play sports vigorously six to seven days a week — 1.725
- *Extremely active: *You exercise or play sports vigorously every day and you have a physical job — 1.9
Determine Your Calorie Needs
Let's say you figured out that your RMR is 1,320 and you are moderately active. That means your calorie needs to maintain your weight are 2,046 calories per day. To lose weight, you need to eat less than this amount.
Eat the Right Foods
Just as important as how much you eat is what you eat. If you consume a lot of processed, sugary, fatty and fast foods, you will find it nearly impossible to stay within your daily calorie needs and lose fat. Those foods are high in calories and low in nutrients. They may also affect your blood sugar and hormones in ways that make it difficult for you to control your appetite, according to a 2016 article in Open Heart.
Nutritious foods will make your job a lot easier. They'll also give you more energy to exercise and generally kick butt, and they'll improve your overall health. So not only will you have the slim neck of your dreams, you will also have a decreased risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers. It's a win-win.
Increase your intake of:
- Lean protein from chicken, fish, lean meat, eggs and legumes
- Fiber from fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Healthy fats from nuts and seeds, olive oil and avocados
Decrease or eliminate these foods:
- Chips, pretzels, crackers
- Baked goods
- Sodas and other sweetened beverages
- Refined grains such as white rice, white bread and white pasta
- Fatty meats
- Fried foods
- Fast foods
- Frozen meals
- High-calorie smoothies
- Sugary cereals
- Sweetened flavored yogurts
Get Up and Get Moving
No, neck exercises won't get you anywhere, but exercising your entire body on a regular basis will do wonders. As mentioned earlier, your daily calorie needs are based on your activity level, so you need to make sure you are meeting that level to avoid gaining more neck fat.
To be moderately active, you should strive to meet the minimum activity guidelines recommended by Health.gov's Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week. That means brisk walking, a moderately paced bike ride, recreational swimming, or doing active types of yoga such as vinyasa or power yoga three to five days per week. You can also do more vigorous activities, such as faster biking or uphill biking or hiking, running and jogging, and lap swimming for 75 minutes each week instead. For even greater benefits, increase your weekly goal to 300 minutes of moderate exercise or 150 minutes of vigorous exercise.
The Physical Activity Guidelines also recommends two total-body strength training sessions each week. Strength training helps you build lean muscle mass, which can help you lose neck fat in the long run. This is because having more muscle mass increases your RMR so you burn more calories around the clock. You can do bodyweight exercises, such as squats and push-ups, or use weights in the gym. Challenge yourself and your muscles, and continue to increase the difficulty of the program as you get stronger.
- Harvard Health Publishing: Abdominal Fat and What to Do About It
- Healthline: How Can I Get Rid of My Double Chin?
- Precision Nutrition: Calories in vs. Out? or Hormones? The Debate Is Finally Over. Here’s Who Won.
- ACE: Resting Metabolic Rate: Best Ways to Measure It—And Raise It, Too
- Harvard Health Publishing: Calorie Counting Made Easy
- Open Heart: Added Sugars Drive Nutrient and Energy Deficit in Obesity: A New Paradigm
- Health.gov: Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition: Chapter 4. Active Adults
- Mayo Clinic: Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight-Loss Basics