Bodies vary in shape and size and so do faces. If a double chin or chubby cheeks make you self-conscious, slim them down by losing weight all over. You can't target your face fat for weight loss, but you can implement strategies to make you look and feel healthier and more confident.
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Redefine Your Weight-Loss Goal
Your face stares back at you from the mirror every day. It may be your focus for fat loss, but your body has different ideas. Fat is stored all over your body in adipose cells. When you create a calorie deficit -- meaning you burn more calories than you consume -- your body releases some of this fat and converts it into usable energy. Where it takes the fat from is genetically set; you can't tell your body to use face fat first. Lose weight in general and, with time, some of it will come from your cheeks and chin.
If you have naturally round cheeks, you can't expect any diet or exercise to get you a supermodel-chiseled face. Your bone structure and the size of specific internal structures, such as your saliva glands, dictate the shape of your face. As you age, the supporting structure that keeps your face looking taut and perky also starts to fail. Features shift downward and your skin starts to sag a bit. Fat pockets may become evident in the chin and near the neck. You can't stop aging or alter genetics -- but a healthy diet and exercise may help minimize their effects.
Lose Overall Body Weight
If you're overweight, losing pounds will help your face thin out along with the rest of your body. A calorie deficit that involves eating fewer calories than you burn is key. Use an online calorie estimator to determine your daily calorie burn based on your age, gender, activity level and size. Then, create a 500- to 1,000-calorie deficit from this number to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week. More physical activity and eating smaller portions of healthy foods make this deficit possible.
Don't go overboard in cutting calories in hopes of slimming your face. Too low of a calorie intake -- below 1,200 for a woman or 1,800 for a man -- can stall your metabolism and lead to muscle loss. Such a low calorie intake can also lead to nutritional deficiencies and extreme hunger, so you end up giving up on your goals.
Eat for a Healthier-Looking Face
Vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy, lean proteins and whole grains make up a quality diet that promotes a healthy-looking complexion and weight loss. For easy portion control, fill half your plate with leafy greens or other watery, fibrous vegetables such as kale, spinach, lettuce, green beans, broccoli and eggplant. Another quarter of your plate should contain whole grains, such as brown rice or barley. The final quarter of your plate consists of lean protein, such as eggs, white-meat chicken, fish or lean steak. Protein is particularly important when you're trying to lose overall fat because it helps you feel full at meals and discourages your body from burning muscle.
A ballooning face could also result from water retention. Cut back on excess sodium from processed and restaurant foods. Staying hydrated, so your body doesn't feel compelled to hold onto water, also helps.
Exercise to Lose Face Fat
Puffing your cheeks, pursing your lips and making surprised faces in the mirror won't melt away face fat. Focus on total-body cardiovascular exercise such as brisk walking or cycling that burns calories and helps you lose fat on your entire body. At least 250 minutes per week of moderate-intensity cardio helps you lose significant weight says the American College of Sports Medicine. If you choose to take the exercise outside, make sure you apply sunscreen to protect the skin on your face from sun damage, which prematurely ages you by breaking down the proteins that keep it strong and supple.
Also, add strength training to your routine as you're reducing calories to lose weight. Performing at least two total-body workouts per week helps preserve lean muscle and build a little more, which boosts your metabolism. A body with a greater amount of muscle mass is more efficient at burning calories; muscle demands more energy, even at rest, compared to fat. A squat may not seem to directly affect your face, but consistently doing these and other moves like pushups and pullups, helps lean out your whole body, including your face.
When you have a lot of fat in the face, you may look heavier than you are. Slimming down the face can give you a much leaner appearance, since your chin and cheekbones will become more pronounced. If you are unsuccessful at losing facial fat on your own, you can meet with a plastic surgeon to discuss your options. Among the procedures that remove excess fat are face-lifts and liposuction.
Reduce calories. Cutting your intake by 500 calories a day can help you achieve an average weight loss of one pound a week. When you lose weight, you'll get rid of fat in all areas of your body, including the face.
Drink eight to 10 glasses of water each day. According to Good Housekeeping, not drinking enough water causes water retention and can add weight to your face. Avoid diuretics, such as alcohol and caffeine.
Follow a reduced-sodium diet. Too much salt can lead to facial bloating. Foods that are high in salt include processed meals, lunch meat, chips, fast food and canned vegetables.
Exercise daily. A mix of cardio and strength training can help you burn more calories to get rid of excess fat. Do 30 minutes of aerobic activity a day, along with 30 minutes of strength training at least three days a week. Dumbbells, leg presses, pull-up bars and resistance bands can all be used to build lean muscle mass.
Make different facial expressions to tone the face. As reported in "Time" magazine, facial yoga is a form of exercise intended to tighten and tone various muscles in the face. For example, the Smiling Fish Face is performed by sucking in your cheeks and puckering your lips simultaneously. Hold the expression for 60 seconds.
Don't skip your exercise or fall back on unhealthy eating habits. Losing facial fat goes hand-in-hand with losing weight overall. To see results, you have to be vigilant.
Check with your health-care provider before beginning an exercise program for the first time or if you have been away from fitness programs for a while, or if you have any chronic health issues.
- 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
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Weight Loss and Nutrition Myths
- American College on Sports Medicine: ACSM Position Stand on Physical Activity and Weight Loss
- British Journal of Nutrition: Dietary Protein - Its Role in Satiety, Energetics, Weight Loss and Health