A slim face can make you look thinner than you'd like, especially if you also have an overly slender body frame. If your doctor has told you that weight gain would improve your health, adopt a healthy approach to adding pounds. You can't guarantee that the newly gained weight will give you plump cheeks, but reaching a healthy weight may add fullness to your face and improve your skin tone so you can look your healthiest.
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Healthy Weight Gain
Weight gain occurs when you consume more calories than you burn. Eating these calories from quality foods, such as lean proteins, whole grains, starchy vegetables, unsaturated fats and dairy, will ensure you get optimal nutrition along with increased weight. Good nutrition improves the tone of your skin and color as well as your energy and overall well-being. Avoid quick weight gain that chowing down on fast food, ice cream and soda can cause, because these will not help you look or feel better. Unhealthy calories from sugar, refined grains and saturated fats creates excess body fat, which can set you up for health risks such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
To gain 1/2 to 1 pound a week, consume 250 to 500 calories a day over and above the calories you need to maintain your weight. Gaining weight faster than this -- especially without weight training -- means you'll add fat tissue, rather than healthy muscle, to your body. While you may want a little fat in your face to plump it up, you can't direct fat to develop only in your face; you'll gain fat all over.
Exercise for Weight Gain
Too much cardiovascular exercise can make it hard to maintain a caloric surplus for weight gain, but don't give up cardio altogether. For good health, have several 20 to 30 minute sessions a week at moderate intensity.
Weight training will help you gain healthy muscle so you will fill out naturally. Of course, you can't lift weights with your forehead and chin -- but gaining muscle can improve your entire appearance so you can look fit. Aim for at least two comprehensive workouts a week that address all the major muscle groups, with at least one set of four to eight repetitions. Strength training helps improve your physical functionality, your posture and your energy -- all of which contribute to a healthy, vibrant appearance, regardless of your facial shape.
Aging and Facial Features
As you get older, you lose fat in your face, which contributes to the visible signs of aging. Maintaining a healthy weight can help you appear youthful as you pass age 40. A study published in a 2009 issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery showed that, among twins, the twin with a four-point higher body mass index appeared youngest after age 40. Smoking, excessive drinking, too much time in the sun and certain medications can also exaggerate the appearance of aging.
If you had a fuller face in your teens and 20s, expect this fullness to diminish as you age. Collagen, a protein that provides elasticity to your skin, starts to lose some of its elasticity once you're over age 20 which -- combined with fat loss in your face, results in a decrease in volume -- a natural consequence of getting older. Recreating the cherubic cheeks of your youth might not be possible.
Be Realistic About Your Expectations
Avoid gaining an unhealthy level of fat simply to make your face look fuller. When you embark on a weight-gain program, especially if you don't need to gain weight, you can't be certain where that weight will go. For example, you may end up with a bigger belly, hips and thighs -- not a fuller face.
If you're underweight, with a body mass index of 18.5 or below, weight gain can help fill you out all over -- including your face. Be patient as you gain the pounds, and understand that a long, thin face has a genetic component you cannot change solely by diet or exercise.
- McKinley Health Center: Gaining Weight the Healthy Way
- Oxygen Magazine: Are You Underfueling?
- New York Daily News: Study: Being Too Thin Will Age Your Face
- Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: Factors Contributing to the Facial Aging of Identical Twins
- Shape: Is That Normal? 9 Surprising Age-Related Changes