While it is possible to lose fat in your face, it is untrue that you can target fat loss in any specific area. Spot reduction or losing weight in a targeted area is a myth. As you lose weight, your body will reduce fat in all areas with your genetics determining which areas see the most significant fat loss first and which areas lose fat last.
Some people are lucky to see the fat melt off of their faces quickly, while others might have to hide that double chin much longer as they progress in their weight loss journey
Losing Fat in Your Face
Some people believe that it is possible to target specific areas for fat reduction. Unfortunately, the science says otherwise. There are no specific exercises to lose fat in your face. The best way to see change in any area of your body is with a combination of diet and exercise. In order to lose face fat, you must lose fat across your entire body.
You Can Lose Fat in Your Face
In order to lose that face fat, we must burn fat stores throughout the body.
Fat loss occurs when you burn stored adipose fat (fatty acids) via fatty acid oxidation into carbon dioxide. This carbon dioxide is exhaled via expiration. This literally means you burn fat through your nose and mouth. So in order to burn the fat necessary to have that chiseled jaw line, we will need to burn more calories per day than we consume so our body will use stored fat for energy metabolism.
This can be accomplished through calorie reduction and exercise.
If exercise isn’t your thing, you should checkout these 100 tips to burn fat without exercise.
The best way to lose fat is to reduce your daily calories consumed. The most safe and effective way to do this is to reduce intake by 500 calories per day. This will lead to a pound of fat loss per week from nutrition alone. You can increase the weekly fat loss through daily exercise.
If you are serious about weight loss, I highly suggest starting a strength training and cardiovascular training program. Here is a beginner-friendly three day per week strength training split.
If you are interested in running for weight loss, this running for weight loss article will get you started down that path. If walking is more your style, check out this 30 day low-effort fat loss challenge.
Achieving Facial Aesthetics
While targeted fat loss in the face is impossible. It is possible to tighten the muscles around the face in order to enhance facial aesthetics. This facial muscle training is suggested to counter balance aging by reducing vertical lines of the face and fight the dreaded double chin.
In a study, the “smile exercises” showed results in 30 days with only 3 minutes dedicated per day.
Not only does this exercise help muscular tone in the face, forced smiling has been shown to decrease stress and improve mood. These exercises may benefit your mental wellbeing in addition to reducing fine lines and saggy jowls. (1)
Smiling also activates the mirror neurons of those around us. If we smile around others, this can be contagious to those around us.
The exercises and more information can be found in this article:
In addition to the article above, I found a decent video that walks you through an exercise that could reduce the saggy chin that can occur as we age or gain weight. I won’t lie, I have not done these exercises and they seem silly but it theoretically makes sense. If you have done this, let me know if it has worked for you.
Can Intermittent Fasting Help?
Intermittent fasting can help with not only fat loss but can also help with loose skin. When no calories are coming in from eating, the body must turn to its saved reserves to provide energy. This typically comes from adipose fat through several metabolic processes and energy pathways.
In addition to the reduction of fat loss, autophagy occurs at a much higher rate. (2)
During autophagy, the body will consume damaged or old cells in order to recycle them. This is a very simplified explanation of the process of autophagy but for the context of this article, it will suffice. As the body breaks down old skin cells, skin elasticity is improved. This is also a huge benefit for people that have loose skin from losing a significant amount of fat in a short period of time. Once the body has a break in digestion and starts recycling old cells, the excess skin can be broken down into basic building blocks that body can use elsewhere.
The use of intermittent fasting can serve in multiple ways by making a weekly calorie deficit easier and also inducing autophagy so that the skin can become tighter around the face and neck.
Reduce Water Retention
Water retention can make your face appear more puffy than usual. Water retention is caused by a variety of issues ranging from hormonal to nutrition-based. If you believe you are experiencing abnormal water retention due to hormonal issues, you should see a doctor immediately. Untreated hormonal issues can cause serious health concerns besides water retention.
Eat Less Carbohydrates
The body stores glycogen in the muscles, liver, and fat cells. A glycogen molecule is bound to three to four molecules of water. Eating surplus carbohydrates can lead to a higher level of glycogen being stored in the body thus increasing water retention in the body.
Anyone that has been on a keto diet has noticed this flush of water weight on about day three of the diet. Once glycogen stores are depleted and the body starts using ketone bodies for energy, the body maintain much less water.
I am not advocating a keto-based diet but reducing carbohydrate intake can reduce water retention in the body. There are merits to undergoing a keto-diet for weight loss but that is outside the scope of this article. In order to keep this simple, reduce the amount of carbohydrates especially high-glycemic carbs you ingest daily.
Eating less carbohydrates can also reduce hunger cravings later in the day thus reducing the chances of overeating later in the day. While it is ultimately calories in versus calories out, keep carbohydrates low will usually result in better fat loss outcomes especially in the long-term. (3)
Consume no more than the Recommendation Daily Allowance of Salt
Eating over the RDA of salt daily can lead to water retention as well as hypertension and other cardiovascular issues such as stroke and heart disease.
Packaged and processed foods are usually very high in salt content. Check your labels and make sure you aren’t eating too much salt.
The daily value of sodium is less than 2,000mg per day. (4)
Drink plenty of water.
Ensure that you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Drinking more water will reduce bloating and puffiness in your skin.
Water will also help with weight loss through blunting hunger and increasing metabolism. (5)
I would highly suggest individuals drink 17 oz of water 30 minutes prior to meals. In a study of fifty overweight girls that did this, they all lost weight within 8 weeks with no other intervention. (6)
There is no such thing as spot reduction. You cannot target fat loss in just your face. The good news is that weight loss will eventually occur in your face as you lose weight overall. Genetics play a role in where fat loss occurs first but eventually you will lose fat in your face.
A good fat loss routine will help you reach your goal of fat loss in your face.
Your goal should be fat loss in general but if you are feeling froggy, you can try facial exercises, intermittent fasting, and a low-carbohydrate diet to reach this goal faster. Keep hydrated and try not to exceed the RDA of 2,300mg sodium per day.
1. Kraft TL, Pressman SD. Grin and bear it: the influence of manipulated facial expression on the stress response. Psychol Sci. 2012;23(11):1372-8. doi: 10.1177/0956797612445312. Epub 2012 Sep 24. PMID: 23012270.
2. Bagherniya M, Butler AE, Barreto GE, Sahebkar A. The effect of fasting or calorie restriction on autophagy induction: A review of the literature. Ageing Res Rev. 2018 Nov;47:183-197. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2018.08.004. Epub 2018 Aug 30. PMID: 30172870.
3. Bueno NB, de Melo IS, de Oliveira SL, da Rocha Ataide T. Very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet v. low-fat diet for long-term weight loss: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Br J Nutr. 2013 Oct;110(7):1178-87. doi: 10.1017/S0007114513000548. Epub 2013 May 7. PMID: 23651522.
4. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (n.d.). Sodium in your diet. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from https://www.fda.gov/food/nutrition-education-resources-materials/sodium-your-diet
5. Boschmann M, Steiniger J, Hille U, Tank J, Adams F, Sharma AM, Klaus S, Luft FC, Jordan J. Water-induced thermogenesis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Dec;88(12):6015-9. doi: 10.1210/jc.2003-030780. PMID: 14671205.
6. Vij VA, Joshi AS. Effect of ‘water induced thermogenesis’ on body weight, body mass index and body composition of overweight subjects. J Clin Diagn Res. 2013 Sep;7(9):1894-6. doi: 10.7860/JCDR/2013/5862.3344. Epub 2013 Sep 10. PMID: 24179891; PMCID: PMC3809630.