Having a double chin and no jawline can have an impact on a person’s self-esteem, despite it being a natural phenomenon in our bodies. Nowadays, the “V-shaped” face (a.k.a. “V-line”) is becoming popular, and more and more people are looking for ways to achieve a sharp jawline and sculpted cheeks. Both men and women are opting to undergo expensive surgical or non-invasive fat removal treatment to lose fat under the chin overnight. However, not everyone is open to the idea of spending a lot of money on getting rid of chin fat and would rather do it naturally, which is what I personally prefer.
Since most (if not all) of us are stuck at home due to the pandemic, it’s getting harder and harder to stay in shape. I know that most of us (again, if not all) are gaining weight and getting rounder, losing whatever attractive “angles” that we have left on our bodies. Personally, I find it extremely annoying that whenever I smile a tad too wide or glance down, my jawline disappears, and a double chin obnoxiously says “hello,” which is a neon sign for “Hi, I gained weight!” for me. I’m pretty sure a lot of you struggle with this, too, so I’m here to tell you how I got out of this predicament, and what I personally did during lockdown to get rid of a double chin by losing the necessary weight!
Ultimately, for most people getting rid of a double chin means you will have to lose some weight – the good thing is that the face is a place where you will quickly start seeing results from your efforts.
My approach was a little bit different as I did not choose to go the conventional route of counting calories. Instead, I chose a method that may be seen by some as unconventional – water fasting. It not only achieves results fast, but will greatly reduce chubby cheeks as well.
Check out this article I wrote on its safety, and how to get started if it’s something you’re considering as well.
We’ll also talk about the importance of avoiding conventional recommendations such as eating many smaller meals, and why that recommendation is in fact what is keeping you from losing weight!
How to get rid of a double chin in 1 week
Just keep the title as I’ll be incorporating elements from my 1 week fast.
Why do I have a double chin when I’m skinny?
Now, some of you might be wondering why you have a double chin despite being skinny your whole life or having a healthy lifestyle that consists of a balanced meal and regular workout routines. Here’s a shocker: a double chin isn’t always a sign of poor lifestyle or health. A double chin is just a submental fat or, literally, excess fat under your chin, which may accumulate due to various reasons, not just weight gain.
It may be caused by sagging of skin, which happens when the skin loses elasticity through age, or due to a weight fluctuation that caused the skin to expand and contract (thus, leaving an extra flap of skin under the chin). Your genetics and the natural shape of your face also come into play. People with a family history of stubborn fat and sagging skin are most likely to develop a double chin, and so would people with naturally chubby cheeks or round face.
Double chin surgery
As time goes by, medical and cosmetic surgeries continue to advance. Before, the only option to achieve a fast reduction of fat in a certain part of the body is to undergo a liposuction. As of now, there are other non-surgical that you can do to get rid of stubborn fat after a dozen or so sessions. Examples of non-invasive treatments are cryotherapy, thermage, ulthera, Botox, kinetic facelift, and embedded protein threads.
Most non-invasive treatments require multiple sessions before you can see significant results, but there are also some procedures, such as injection of botox and embedding protein threads, that can provide immediate results after 1-2 sessions.
However, if you’re specifically looking for a procedure that entails getting rid of a double chin overnight, invasive or surgical procedures are your only choices. Depending on the amount of your submental fat and your skin quality, a plastic surgeon may suggest doing both liposuction and neck lift, or adding facelift and chin augmentation to the procedure, to achieve your desired results. These will all result in a fast and immediate double chin removal.
The average cost of these procedures ranges from $1,500 to $20,000 (or more), depending on the type and number of procedures. No matter how convenient these treatments are in removing unwanted face fat and increasing your self-esteem, these do NOT have any positive effects on your physical health. One way to remove unwanted face fat while also improving your overall health is to lose weight. Losing weight offers a lot of benefits, and one of those is how you do not necessarily need to spend an extra coin to do it effectively. Inexpensive and beneficial— how would you like to save a lot of money?
Benefits of losing weight
Losing your double chin is just one of the many benefits of losing weight. Your body image, self-esteem, confidence, and mental health can also improve alongside having a healthier body when you achieve your weight goal. Losing weight does not always have to be hard—you don’t have to tire yourself out every single day doing strenuous exercises. A proper change in how you eat and the type of food that you consume can already provide an excellent impact on your weight.
If you still don’t see the merit of improving your overall health alongside getting rid of chin fat, these scientifically-proven benefits of losing weight might change your mind:
- According to the National Health Service, losing weight will reduce the following:
- blood pressure
- risk of heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, and osteoarthritis
- inflammation and joint pain
- back pain
- A study showed that a 1% drop in weight cuts the risk of mobility problems by more than 7%
- Improvement in lung function and overall respiratory health was observed in individuals who engaged in a weight loss program in this study.
- Losing weight and belly fat reduces sleep apnea and improves sleep quality, as shown in this study.
Can you target fat loss?
Losing weight always leads to losing face fat, thereby losing that pesky double chin, too. Now, if you’re not a fan of making an effort to lose weight, you might be thinking along the lines of targeting only losing the fat under the chin. So, let’s clear that topic up first: you CAN’T target a specific part of your body to lose fat. If you want to remove a few pounds from your body, you can’t really program it in such a way that you’ll lose fat in your face or belly first before the other parts of your body. The fat in your face is also made up of the same cells as the fat in your legs, arms, and belly, and it all functions as our body’s reserved energy source. You have to view all the fat in your body as one unit.
As a reserved energy source, the fat in our body will not be used unless all the external sources of energy (e.g., glucose from the food that we eat) are exhausted. Thus, you need to have a caloric deficit (i.e., energy input/food < energy expenditure) to reduce your overall weight. To do this, you should either lower (or change) your food intake by dieting or fasting or be more physically active to use up all the available glucose so your body will start breaking down fat instead.
Are you already feeling discouraged? Don’t be!
I’m well aware that there are people who do not have the physical prowess and time to adhere to a strict workout routine to lose weight— it can be hard! So, that leaves us with the other option that will enable us to achieve a caloric deficit: dieting or fasting.
As mentioned, making the right changes in how you eat and the type of food that you consume can already result in shedding off a great percentage of fat from your body. I’ve tried this method myself, and I can assure you that it’s 100% effective and achievable. My goal has always been to help people out through my blogs, so I would never recommend something that I haven’t tried and tested first.
Personally, I really like fasting because of how easy it is – when you start skipping meals, the weight will come off, and come off fast!
The truth about ghrelin, leptin, and insulin for fat loss
The method that I used to effectively lose weight is backed up by science. One thing that I learned as I read up on articles about how and why we lose and gain weight is this: hormones play an IMPORTANT role in fat loss. It’s always less scary when you study something first before trying it out, so let me explain the function of some key hormones of our metabolism first.
The “hunger hormone,” ghrelin, is what causes us to feel hungry. Alongside stimulating the appetite, ghrelin is also responsible for fat deposition, which is the storage of excess glucose as fat in our body. When your stomach is empty, your gut releases ghrelin and it enters the bloodstream. It reaches your hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls hormones and appetite, and it will interpret that your body needs an additional source of energy or food. Thus, you’ll get hunger pangs and as a result, you’ll look for food and eat to satisfy your body’s needs.
After eating, the food will be broken down into simple sugars (e.g., glucose) by your digestive system. These sugars then enter your bloodstream and are then available to be used as an energy source. As a result, your blood sugar level goes up after eating, and once your body recognizes this change, the pancreas releases insulin to regulate your blood sugar. Insulin lets the glucose enter the cells in your body, so the cell can use it as an energy source.
After your blood sugar level goes back to normal and your body recognizes that the energy or food intake has been sufficient, leptin is released from the fat cells of your body’s adipose tissues. Also known as the “fat controller” or “satiety hormone,” leptin signals appetite suppression to the brain to decrease or stop food intake, thereby inhibiting any hormone associated to hunger. As a result, your body will stop craving for more food and you’ll feel sated and full.
Still keeping up? To help you synthesize all the information, let me provide a short summary:
- Ghrelin – makes you feel hungry; promotes formation of fats
- Insulin – regulates blood sugar levels; allows cells to use glucose for energy
- Leptin – makes you feel full and sated; decreases food intake
Can you see the hints on how you can use these hormones and their functions to your advantage so you can lose fat effectively? Not yet? Then keep on reading!
Numerous research throughout the years unveiled the roles of these hormones in weight loss and weight regain.
- This research indicates that alongside stimulating hunger, ghrelin can also regulate glucose levels in the blood by inhibiting insulin secretion, thereby contributing to weight regain.
- Another piece of research proves that reduced level of leptin promotes overfeeding, and that leptin replacement helped reduce brain activity involved in hunger and increased satiety. High levels of insulin signify an abundant source of glucose in the blood for energy generation. Therefore, a high insulin level inhibits the breaking down of fats – get rid of the insulin and you are well on your way to losing weight, and I’ll teach you how to get rid of those insulin spikes if you keep reading.
- Lastly, this Yale study concluded that during fasting, the decrease in both leptin and insulin level activates a pathway that promotes the breakdown of fats.
Therefore, to lose weight, you have to:
- Reduce ghrelin level;
- Regulate insulin level; and
- Increase leptin level
It’s easy to get swept away by the wide variety of diet plans on the internet, popularized by celebrities or companies, without knowing the science behind losing weight. And if despite adhering to the diet plan that you learned from your favorite celebrity, you’re still not losing weight effectively, then you might have been eating the wrong type of food or eating at the wrong time. This may lead to fluctuations in your ghrelin, insulin, and leptin levels, which do not help with losing fat.
During dieting, your body notices the lack of energy/calorie intake, and it may adapt by making your ghrelin levels increase and leptin levels decrease. Therefore, your desire to eat grows, and with low leptin levels, nothing is suppressing your appetite. This will make it significantly harder to stick to your diet plan, which is why a lot of people experience weight regain after straying from their weight loss plan. However, if you’re aware of what happens inside your body, specifically the hormones that mediate your appetite, it will be a lot easier for you to lose weight, and especially to keep it off.
Now that we’ve established which hormones are needed to be increased or decreased to control your hunger, I’ll discuss some measures and techniques that I have PERSONALLY tried to successfully lose weight and get rid of that stubborn double chin.
How to naturally reduce ghrelin
Controlling your ghrelin levels is the key to controlling your hunger, and vice versa. Here are the things that you can do to decrease your ghrelin levels in a healthy way:
It’s been proven that lack of sleep increases ghrelin levels, leading to hunger pangs and weight gain. This is because our bodies are synced with circadian rhythm (i.e., sleep-wake cycle; sleeping during the night and being awake during the day), which is why your body can sleep peacefully without being pestered by hunger pangs. Notice how when you skip lunch, the feeling of hunger actually goes away after a few hours, and your hunger would only come back during the next mealtime, specifically, dinner. Thus, the release of ghrelin follows a circadian pattern. I always try to get 7-9 hours of sleep daily (at a reasonable time), and it’s been doing wonders for me.
If you mess up your sleep schedule, you’ll also be messing up with your ghrelin levels. Past midnight (which is way past after dinnertime), if you’re awake, your body will recognize that your stomach is empty. Thus, your body will release ghrelin, making you feel hungry. This means that in addition to the usual circadian pattern release of ghrelin during the day, you’re adding an extra wave of ghrelin and an extra meal at night. This will ultimately lead to weight gain.
Go for a low-fat/high-protein breakfast, if you eat breakfast at all
A study proved that this type of diet results in successful weight loss without an increase in ghrelin levels. This study noted that meal timing and composition influences ghrelin levels and maintains weight loss. Specifically, fasting and having a low-glycemic index and high-protein breakfast will help you achieve long-term weight loss and prevent weight regain.
This can be contributed to the fact that protein takes longer to break down into simpler sugars compared to sweets, thereby increasing the time wherein your body feels sated. Therefore, your body will not produce ghrelin for a while, and you will not crave for food at moments in between meals.
If you are ready to get started on your intermittent fasting journey already, skipping breakfast is a great way to take that first step. You’ll be surprised as to how quickly you get used to it.
Eat less frequently
Since filling up our stomach with food will stop the production of ghrelin and trigger the production of leptin (especially when you eat carbs that are high on the glycemic index), some might think that snacking throughout the day is beneficial. However, that is not the case. As mentioned, consuming food when you’re actually not supposed to eat will just trigger another cycle of the release of ghrelin, insulin, and leptin. Thus, snacking all throughout the day causes these hormones to fluctuate. To lose weight, you’ll have to tone down ghrelin and increase leptin, and snacking won’t help your case – why conventional health advice that suggests snacking with smaller meals, is wrong.
To decrease your ghrelin and produce leptin, you should either eat only during meal times (no snacking whatsoever) or let the wave of hunger pass and eat a balanced meal on the next mealtime instead. If you stick to a regular eating plan, your body will adjust to your eating pattern and your ghrelin levels will tone down.
This study has shown that the average ghrelin levels of a person who fasted and a person who regularly ate three meals remained stable for 24 hours, regardless of the difference in food consumption. Thus, ghrelin levels increase periodically according to our circadian rhythm, but afterwards, it does NOT continually increase to a higher concentration. This means that fasting will NOT have a detrimental effect on your ghrelin levels and make you hungrier than usual, contrary to the myths people have been spreading about the fasting.
Another study also found out that after an extended period of fasting, the patients turned out to feel less hungry despite not eating, a stark contrast to what they expected. This is because there was a significant decrease in ghrelin after fasting, which turned off certain food cravings, especially in women.
Therefore, by eating less frequently, as one would do during fasting, your ghrelin levels decrease while achieving a caloric deficit. This means that your body will breakdown fat and you’ll get rid of your cravings that makes you overeat. It’s definitely a win-win situation!
Limit carbs and increase protein intake
Like I mentioned, the kind of food that you eat also has a huge impact on your hormone levels. It was found out in a study that increasing your protein intake limits hunger and maintains satiety, and that a high-carbohydrate meal causes a rebound hypersecretion in ghrelin that increases hunger and lowers satiety. Thus, you should avoid high-carb diets and stick to low-carb ones.
On the other hand, high-protein meals caused ghrelin levels to decline gradually without any spikes, thereby promoting weight loss. In my case, whenever I break my fast, I make sure to eat a low-carb/high-protein meal when I’m not fasting to avoid disrupting the low level of ghrelin my body makes. Eating a high-carb diet will just make my body secrete more ghrelin, making me feel even more hungry afterwards. This way, I get to eat a healthy meal while maintaining my ghrelin levels and losing weight, all without breaking a sweat, which is the most ideal way for me to lose fat.
How to reduce insulin
When your insulin levels are low, it will be much easier to burn fat. To do this, you must strategically choose what you eat, just like in reducing ghrelin levels.
Avoid foods with high glycemic index
The glycemic index is a ranking of carbohydrates based on how quickly it can raise blood sugar levels. The factors that are taken into account in determining a food’s glycemic index are the amount and type of carbohydrate, processing, physical form, fiber content, ripeness, and fat/acid content. Complex carbohydrates take a while to be broken down by the body, thus the blood sugar rises slowly, while simple carbohydrates (composed of sugars: fructose and glucose) are easily utilized by our body and triggers a fast rise in blood sugar and insulin secretion.
Faster rise in blood sugar and insulin levels can cause negative health effects, such as diabetes and higher risk in cardiovascular diseases. Also, if your food is easily digested, you’ll feel hungry quicker than usual. Drawing out the process of digestion by eating complex carbohydrates with low glycemic load will make you feel less hungry and increase satiety period.
Thus, you should avoid high-sugar foods, low-fiber foods, and highly-processed foods. Some examples are baked potatoes, french fries, sugar-sweetened beverages, candies, white-flour pasta, cookies, junk food, etc.
Here are the types of food, which contains complex carbohydrates, that you should eat if you want to foster weight loss, according to Harvard’s The Nutrition Source:
- Foods with low glycemic load: apple, orange, carrots, lentils, cashews, peanuts, bran cereals, kidney beans, black beans, wheat tortilla, and skim milk.
- Foods with medium glycemic load: brown rice, oatmeal, whole grain breads, whole-grain pasta, bulgur, and pearled barley.
Try a ketogenic diet if you want to limit insulin
A ketogenic diet (KD) is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet that dieticians and doctors recommend to their patients to treat various health-related problems such as type 2 diabetes. This has the same principle as avoiding food with high glycemic index; KD limits the body’s source of sugar or glucose (from carbs), so that the body will utilize fats instead. By doing so, insulin sensitivity is improved, thereby allowing the body to produce less insulin.
- Ketones are released when the body breaks down fat as a source of energy. During fasting, the body releases more ketones compared to just doing KD, why your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat when you are fasting. Research has suggested that increased ketone levels in the body helps suppress appetite, which contributes to the success of people who are undergoing intermittent or prolonged fasting.
How to increase leptin
Leptin, as mentioned, governs our satiety. This hormone comes from the fat in our bodies; therefore, people with high fat percentage have more leptin in their bodies, and lean people have less. Does this mean that if you become leaner, you’ll get hungrier more often? No, it’s actually the opposite.
You might have noticed that you have a problem controlling your appetite; you’re frequently hungry and usually consume more food than you actually need before you feel sated. Why does this happen when you have high levels of leptin? Here’s the problem: you acquired a resistance to the effects of leptin. In other words, even though you already ate enough food, and leptin is already released to trigger appetite suppression, the brain does not respond to nor recognize the signal that leptin gives. Thus, you keep on feeling hungry and eating more than you need to.
People who are lean do have lower levels of leptin, yes, but they’re actually more sensitive to leptin. Therefore, their bodies get easily sated after eating the right amount of food because their brain easily registers satisfactory effects of leptin immediately.
This means that you must maintain a healthy level of leptin and avoid habits that will make you resistant to leptin, such as overeating and not getting enough sleep. Just like ghrelin regulation, you should watch what you eat and get enough sleep.
Your leptin and ghrelin levels are significantly affected by your sleep schedule. This study found out that an average of 7-8 hours of sleep nightly was associated with higher levels of leptin, and therefore good when you want to lose weight. As mentioned before, this is because our bodies are synced with circadian rhythm, so the secretion of both leptin and ghrelin follows a circadian pattern.
You might have noticed that when you’re sleep deprived, you get hungry more easily. This is because your body produces less leptin and secrets more ghrelin, a coping mechanism of the body to compensate for the lack of sleep to get more external energy source.
Avoid fructose-sweetened food and beverages and increase your omega-3 intake
Food or beverages that are fructose-sweetened have a high glycemic load because fructose is a simple carbohydrate; thus, it is quickly metabolized and raises your blood sugar fairly quickly, which results in a short period of satiety. Fructose, however, also inhibits leptin receptors. Too much intake of sweets high in fructose may cause leptin resistance.
On the other hand, omega-3 is a fatty acid that increases the body’s sensitivity to leptin. Incorporating foods rich in omega-3 will help you feel sated for a longer period of time.
Taking all of this information in one go can be very confusing, I know. However, if your read it over, you’ll see that there is a strong relationship between ghrelin and leptin, and there are similarities in how they should be regulated. Having a low-carb/low-fat/high-protein diet is also a reoccurring topic across all three hormones.
Summing it all up, these are the key points in regulating these hormones to lose fat: proper sleep (circadian pattern), strategic choices in food/diet, and fasting. I’m well aware of the scare that surrounds fasting, but a lot of studies have already proven the benefits of intermittent and prolonged fasting with regards to weight loss and overall height.
Other ways to aid the reduction of face fat and double chin
As you will probably have realized by now, the most effective way to get rid of a double chin is to lose weight. I personally recommend the ketogenic diet, and fasting especially, if you are willing to give that a try. However, do make sure that you read this guide on how to get started with it safely if you do.
Double chin exercises: Do they work?
Bear in mind that fat loss cannot be targeted in a certain area, but you can definitely do some double chin exercises to help tone your facial muscles and aid in energy expenditure. Here are some examples of face and chin exercises for men and women. Do these daily to make your face look slimmer.
- Lift your brows – Put two fingers above your brows and gently push the skin down. Raise your brows 10 times against the resistance you created with your fingers. Rest for a few seconds, and repeat thrice.
- Say X and O – Place two fingers on each of your cheekbone and lift the skin up towards your eyes. Open your mouth as if saying “X” and “O,” and hold the mouth position for 5 seconds for every letter. Repeat this 10 times.
- Stretch your neck and flex your jaw – Move your lower lip over your upper lip to flex your jaw, and tilt your head back until you’re facing skywards. Hold this position for 10 seconds and then relax. Repeat this 10 times.
- Suck your cheeks in – Pucker your lips and suck in your cheeks. With this position, tilt your head back until you’re facing skywards. Hold this position for 10 seconds and then relax. Repeat this 10 times.
- Puff your cheeks out – Inhale through your nose and with your mouth closed, let out a little bit of air to puff your cheeks out. Move the air from one cheek to another for 30 seconds.
Does chewing gum help your jawline?
Basically, when you’re chewing gum, you’re moving the same set of muscles over and over again—this is the same principle behind exercises, right? Therefore, in a way, chewing gum can be considered as a face or chin exercise, albeit the movements are not as pronounced as the examples I’ve provided above. So, if you love chewing gum, go for it!
Thank you for sticking with me until the end of the article! I hope that you also stick to your weight loss plan—consistency is key to success in every weight loss program. Lastly, please always be responsible and treat your body and mind with care. Good luck with your weight loss journey! I’ll be happy to hear about the struggles and experiences you’ve had along this journey.