Extra pounds in your chest and the resulting bulge around the back of your bra line can cause sore shoulders, slouching and back pain. You may also be self-conscious when the extra fat rolls show through fitted clothing. Directing your body to lose fat from this area isn't possible, but you can slim down all over -- which will eventually reduce fat from your chest and back. Certain exercises can also help you strengthen the muscles of the area so that you can carry the weight of your chest with better posture and comfort.
Understand Your Body Fat
You store fat as triglycerides, an unusable type of fuel, in fat cells all over your body. Your breasts and back may have concentrated amounts of these cells, but that's determined by genetics. When you create an energy deficit, by eating fewer calories than you burn, your body turns to this stored fat to help correct the deficit. A complex chemical process turns the triglycerides into fatty acids and glycerol, which your body burns for fuel. You can't tell your body to activate only the fat cells from your breasts or back to yield this energy, though.
Generously sized breasts are made up mostly of subcutaneous fat, which lies just under the skin. Subcutaneous fat is often harder to lose than fat found deep inside your belly, known as visceral fat. This visceral fat is more dangerous to your health; it releases compounds that increase your risk of major disease, such as type 2 diabetes. While you may not like how the extra breast and back fat look, know that they aren't nearly as dangerous as a protruding middle. Losing back and breast fat takes time. If you've always had a large cup size, losing significant breast fat may be difficult because of your genetics.
Target Fat With Classic Strategies
Exercising more and eating less will help you drop fat. When you create a 500- to 1,000-calorie deficit each day, you should lose a safe, sustainable 1 to 2 pounds per week. Estimate your daily calorie burn rate by using an online calculator that takes into account your height, weight, age and activity level. Figure the deficit from this number -- achieve it by moving more and eating less.
Avoid dropping too low in calories to lose breast and back fat faster. You'll end up stalling your metabolism and potentially becoming nutritionally deficient. Most women need at least 1,200 calories per day and men need a minimum of 1,800 calories.
Eating to Lose Breast and Back Fat
Follow a low-calorie diet that contains little in the way of calorie-dense, nutritionally-poor foods, such as sweets, processed snacks and fast food. Instead, commit to meals that contain unprocessed, whole foods and provide a lot of nutrients per serving. Fresh fruits and vegetables should fill half your plate and make up most of your snacks. A small serving of whole grains, such as brown rice or quinoa, might accompany some meals. Protein helps keep you feeling full and satisfied, and it combats the loss of lean muscle that sometimes occurs when you've reduced calories. Focus on proteins low in saturated fat and eat at least 0.55 grams per pound of body weight daily; that's 88 grams for a 160-pound person.
Good sources of protein include eggs, with 72 calories and 6 grams of protein each; lean flank steak with 170 calories and 23 grams of protein per 3 ounces; or tuna packed in water with 109 calories and 20 grams of protein per 3 ounces. Adequate protein in your diet will also support your efforts to build strength and muscle to support your upper back.
Exercise for Slimmer Breasts and Back
You're more likely to rid yourself of excess fat by doing more cardio exercise than by performing twists and arm raises to "shrink" your chest. With moderate-intensity cardio, you burn a greater number of calories than you do with targeted exercises, and this contributes to your calorie deficit. The American Academy of Sports Medicine recommends you aim for at least 250 minutes per week to lose significant weight. Brisk walking, cycling and water aerobics are examples of moderate-intensity cardio.
Total-body strength training also helps you develop and maintain lean muscle. You want more muscle, as opposed to fat, because it requires more calories for your body to sustain on a daily basis, so it provides a metabolic boost, making weight loss easier. Work all the major muscle groups with moves such as squats, lunges, pushups and pullups.
While you can't use strength-training exercises to directly burn fat from your chest and back, include targeted moves such as rear-deltoid flyes, lat pull-downs and back extensions to help strengthen the muscles of the upper body. Stronger upper body muscles help you carry the weight of your chest more confidently, so you stand taller, appear slimmer and feel less back stress from heavy breasts.
- Plos Blogs: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Breast Fat But Were Afraid to Ask
- Yale Scientific: Targeted Fat Loss: Myth or Reality?
- Harvard Health Publications: Taking Aim at Belly Fat
- American College of Sports Medicine: Metabolism is Modifiable with the Right Lifestyle Changes
- British Journal of Nutrition: Dietary Protein - Its Role in Satiety, Energetics, Weight Loss and Health
- Healthalciousness: Steak, Egg, Tuna