Weight gain can usually be hidden (or toned down) through a strategic choice of clothes. Baggy clothes and high-waisted bottoms can do the trick and hide those extra pounds you gained during quarantine. It gives an illusion of a flat tummy and long, lean legs. But what about face fat?
When your face looks chubbier than usual, you can’t hide it. A face mask hides half of your face, but you get my point. Puffy cheeks may look good on some people, but let’s be honest here. It doesn’t work on most (including myself). Gaining weight and seeing your face getting rounder without any Plan B to hide it can get frustrating sometimes. Unless you’re okay with wearing makeup and skilled at contouring, your cheeks will still announce your weight gain like a neon sign. So, here’s the question that we’ve all been asking about:
Can you target fat loss?
It’s always my goal to help and guide people whenever I write blogs. It’s never about posting to get some clicks, so I’ll be honest with you throughout this article. So, here’s the real shocker. You CAN’T target a specific part of your body to lose fat.
It’s important to know that you can get really fast weight loss results if you want to change things up.
The fat in your face is the same as the rest spread across your whole body. Think of yourself as a glass of water, wherein the fat is the water. Your body is the glass. Trying to lose it in one area is like forming a space of air right in the middle of the water—it’s just not possible using any natural means. You’ll have to know some water bending to do that, like unnatural means such as liposuction or other modern fat removal procedures. The water acts as one entity inside a glass, and so does the fat in your body. You’ll have to deduct it from the whole quantity to reduce its amount.
But why are fitness blogs and other influencers saying that “you can target weight loss“? Surely you’ve come across some blogs that boast about targeted fat loss. Most are tackling fat loss in the belly, leg, or arm regions. It’s seldomly face fat. Suppose you checked out the workout routines these fitness trainers have laid out. In that case, you’d notice that overall. It still consists of a general weight loss goal, with cardio and other calorie-burning workouts. These routines are not entirely a sham. Targeted weight loss is not a pure myth, and here’s a scientific study about a training program created to check the possibility of localized reduction. This study only dealt with the upper and lower limbs, namely the arms and legs. It still included intense resistance exercise and an overall weight loss protocol. So, it doesn’t apply to stubborn face fat. You might have even noticed that dieting people lose fat in their bodies before reducing face fat. Generally, you have to go below 20% body fat first to lose those chubby cheeks. Some people with naturally round faces need to achieve 15% or less to get a slimmer face.
Now that we’ve established that targeted fat loss is possible in arms and legs with intense exercise let’s get rid of fat cheeks.
How to lose weight in the face and get rid of fat, chubby cheeks
The fat in our whole body is called adipose tissue or stored fat. Our body’s reserved energy resource is its very own Plan B. Our body uses up external energy sources first, such as glucose. We get it from the carbohydrates that we eat. The only time our body burns fat is when there is no glucose left to be used. Before your body burns fat, you have to use up the glucose available in your body first.
If you want to reduce face fat to get a slimmer face, you need to have a caloric deficit and reduce your overall weight first. How can you achieve this? Either you lower your food intake by dieting or exercise more to burn through glucose and fat.
However, not everyone is fond of exercise. Also, some people cannot handle the physical stress from exercising due to some health problems. Another question pops up for these people: Is there another way to lose weight?
Yes, there is. I’ve tried it, and I already saw some results just after 1 week! It’s backed up by numerous scientific studies conducted by graduates and professors from Harvard and Yale. It includes doctors and other reputable health experts. Read on if you want to know more about it!
Benefits of losing weight
Losing overall weight always leads to losing face fat, which is one of the many benefits of losing weight. As you lose that extra inch from your waistline, you also lose that fat under the chin. It’s a win-win situation. Maybe you’re still reluctant about what I said and still looking for a targeted fat loss technique on the internet. These benefits of losing weight might change your mind:
- According to 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
- Improved mobility and breathing
- Increased energy levels and better sleep
- Improved body image and confidence
- The overall decrease in stress
The truth about hormones and weight loss
Here’s something that you might not know: the hormones in our body play a HUGE role in fat loss. To explain how these hormones affect it, let me discuss first what happens in your body as you eat.
Ghrelin is also known as the “hunger hormone.” It stimulates appetite and fat deposition (storage in our body). This hormone is released from your gut when your stomach is empty and goes into your bloodstream. The hormone reaches your hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls your hormones and appetite. When it happens, you’ll feel hungry. So, you look for food to eat.
After eating, the carbohydrate is broken down into glucose by your body. It goes into your bloodstream. Once your blood sugar level goes up after eating, your pancreas releases insulin to regulate it. This hormone lets glucose enter the cells in your body to provide energy. This is why diabetic people have high glucose levels in their blood. They either cannot generate enough insulin to assist the entrance of glucose in cells or are resistant to insulin.
Once your body recognizes that everything is functioning properly, leptin is released from the fat cells of your body’s fatty tissues. Leptin is also known as the “fat controller” or “satiety hormone.” It signals the brain to decrease food intake, inhibiting hunger hormones like ghrelin so your body will not trigger any hunger pangs. As a result, you’ll feel sated and full.
Since leptin comes from the fat in our bodies, those with less fat have less leptin. Those with more have higher leptin levels. So, you might be wondering why obese people feel hunger more frequently despite the high levels of leptin in their bodies. This is because they acquired resistance to the effects of leptin on appetite suppression. Despite eating enough food, their brain does not respond to leptin’s signal.
To summarize, here’s a shortlist of what these hormones do to give you a hint on what to do to lose weight:
- Ghrelin – makes you feel hungry. It promotes the formation of fats.
- Insulin – regulates blood sugar levels. It allows cells to use glucose for energy.
- Leptin – makes you feel full and sated. It decreases food intake.
Numerous researches throughout the years unveiled the roles of these hormones in weight loss and weight regain. This research indicates that ghrelin can also regulate glucose levels in the blood by inhibiting insulin secretion alongside stimulating hunger. Thereby, it contributes to weight regain. Another research proves that a reduced level of leptin promotes overfeeding. It also proved that leptin replacement helped reduce brain activity involved in hunger and increased satiety. High insulin levels signify an abundant source of glucose in the blood for energy generation. Therefore, a high insulin level inhibits the breaking down of fats.
Therefore, there are things you must do to lose weight. They include:
- Reduce ghrelin levels
- Reduce insulin levels; and
- Increase leptin levels
Suppose all your weight loss attempts have been unsuccessful. In that case, you might have been eating the wrong kinds of food or eating at the wrong time. It leads to various fluctuations in your ghrelin, insulin, and leptin levels. During dieting, your body notices a lack of energy or caloric intake. It adapts by making your ghrelin levels increase and leptin levels decrease. Your desire to eat grows, making it significantly harder to lose weight.
To help you, I’ll discuss some measures and techniques that I have PERSONALLY tried. I used them to successfully lose weight and get rid of that stubborn double chin and puffy cheeks.
How to naturally reduce ghrelin
Controlling your ghrelin levels is the key to controlling your hunger. Here are the things that you can do to decrease your ghrelin levels healthily:
- Sleep properly. It’s been proven that lack of sleep increases ghrelin levels, leading to hunger pangs and weight gain. I always try to get 7-9 hours of sleep daily, and it’s been doing wonders for me.
- Go for a low-fat/high-protein diet and the time of your meals. A study proved that this diet results in successful weight loss without increasing ghrelin levels. This study noted that meal timing and composition influence ghrelin levels and maintain weight loss. Specifically, fasting and having a low carbohydrate and protein breakfast will help you achieve long-term weight loss and prevent weight regain.
How to reduce insulin
When your insulin levels are low, burning fat will be much easier. To do this, you must strategically choose what you eat. It’s just like reducing ghrelin levels. You should avoid foods with a high glycemic index, which quickly cause the blood sugar level to increase. You should avoid high-sugar and highly processed foods. Some examples are baked potatoes and sugar-sweetened beverages. Candies and junk food should be on the list as well.
Here are the types of food which contain complex carbohydrates that you should eat if you want to foster weight loss, according to Harvard’s The Nutrition Source:
- Foods with a low glycemic load include apples and cashews.
- Foods with a medium glycemic load include brown rice and whole-grain bread.
How to increase leptin
It’s important to have healthy levels of leptin. Too much of this hormone can make you resist its effects. It happens with overweight people, and too little will trigger hunger pangs. Like the previous hormone regulation, you should watch what you eat and sleep properly.
- Sleep properly – It’s been proven that lack of sleep decreases leptin levels, leading to hunger pangs and weight gain.
- Increase your daily fiber intake – Eat fibrous foods like whole grains and legumes.
- Avoid fructose-sweetened food and beverages – Fructose inhibits leptin receptors and quickly raises blood sugar levels.
- Eat foods with low- or medium-glycemic load – These foods take a while to break down because they contain complex carbohydrates. It increases the amount of time between your hunger pangs.
- Eat a high carbohydrate and protein meal for breakfast – Just like in reducing ghrelin levels, this type of diet will help you increase leptin. It’s especially when accompanied by fasting.
- Take omega-3 – This fatty acid increases our body’s sensitivity to leptin, making the hormone more effective.
Taking all of these into account can be very confusing. If you read it over, you’ll see similarities and repeated mentions of fasting and strategic choices in food. It includes timed meals. Now, I know that many people are wary about fasting. Still, many studies have proven the advantages of fasting or intermittent fasting regarding weight loss.
Benefits of intermittent fasting & fasting
The major debut of intermittent fasting as a means to lose weight came in 2012 through a documentary by Dr. Michael Mosley. It is titled “Eat, Fast, & Live Longer.” IF has been tried and tested by a large number of people. Dieticians and doctors even recommend it to prediabetic people to regulate insulin levels.
Fasting also regulates your leptin and ghrelin levels. Snacking throughout the day makes you feel hungrier, as indicated in Dr. Jason Fung’s book. It’s titled “Obesity Code.” Scientific evidence has proven that intermittent fasting paired with a healthy lifestyle and proper diet does wonders.
To summarize the benefits of fasting from the research and documentaries that I studied, here’s a bulleted list:
- According to Dr. Monique Tello from Harvard, intermittent fasting can lead to weight loss through reduced insulin levels. It reduces the risk of obesity and diabetes. It also improves your blood pressure. In the article, the following information was mentioned:
- Between meals, insulin levels remain low if you don’t snack. During this time, fat cells release stored sugar instead of using it as energy. As long as you keep your insulin levels low by not snacking in between meals, your body will burn the stored energy reserves and lose weight.
- Intermittent fasting involves meals that are fit into eight hours during the day. It syncs up to our daytime metabolism and prevents us from eating at night. Eating at night has been proven to increase the risk of obesity and diabetes.
- Dr. Tello mentioned this study wherein a group of obese men with prediabetes showed improved insulin sensitivity and a significant drop in insulin levels. They lowered blood pressure and experienced a significant decrease in appetite after five weeks of intermittent fasting.
- A systematic review of 40 studies stated that intermittent fasting resulted in 7-11 pounds of weight loss for over 10 weeks.
- Intermittent fasting can cause an immune response in our bodies that will repair cells and produce positive metabolic changes. These will improve overall health and tolerance to metabolic stresses and diseases, as discussed in this review and this systematic review.
- The researchers revealed that intermittent fasting increases stress resistance longevity and decreases the risk of diseases, such as cancer and obesity. IF led to fat loss while maintaining muscle mass, resulting in a leaner body.
- This review stated that a person could lose up to 16% body fat over 3-12 weeks.
How to get started with fasting & intermittent fasting
After reading various studies and watching documentaries and success stories (like this one), I took the chance. I tried intermittent fasting myself, and I achieved excellent results! This is why I’m so adamant about sharing with you what I know and helping guide you through your weight loss journey. You can lose 5-10% of your body fat with intermittent fasting in 15 days!
First and foremost, go to your doctor and ask if IF is safe for you to practice. People who have suffered from eating disorders, pregnant/breastfeeding women, and diabetic people who receive insulin shots are usually not advised to do IF. If you received a go-signal from your doctor, then read on!
Timing and a healthy lifestyle are the keys to successful intermittent fasting. There are different types of intermittent fasting, and you must choose which one is best for you. I suggest that you opt for the approach that will be easiest for you to follow.
- Alternate-day fasting – This is an approach of IF where you alternate between days of fasting and no food restriction. During MWF, you’ll fast and only eat a meal that gives you 25% of your daily calorie needs. And during TThSatSun, you won’t have any food restrictions and eat healthy meals thrice a day.
- Whole-day fasting / 5:2 approach – This involves regularly eating for five days a week and then fasting for the remaining two days, for example, during Wednesdays and Saturdays. You’ll be eating only one meal that provides 25% of your daily calorie needs.
- Time-restricted feeding / daily approach – You can adjust the 16/8 or 12/12 approach with this approach. For the 16/8 approach, you have to schedule your meals within an 8-hour time frame and go fasting for 16 hours. For example, you will fit all three of your meals within the time window of 7 AM to 3 PM every day. And for the 12/12 approach, you have to fit your meal schedule within a 12-hour time frame. It can be from 7 AM-7 PM. This is the easiest approach that works for most people.
Once you’ve decided which fasting plan will work for you, start looking for meal plans that you can follow. You should be eating MORE fruits and vegetables. Increase fiber and healthy protein. You should also increase healthy fats. Always choose complex carbohydrates. You should be AVOIDING sugar or simple carbohydrates and sweets. It includes refined grains and processed foods. You can go on ahead and scroll upwards to the list of foods I suggested to control the three hormones.
This is the ratio for a well-balanced meal on a plate as a general rule of thumb. It is dubbed by Harvard’s The Nutrition Source as the “Healthy Eating Plate”:
- ½ of your plate must contain vegetables and fruits (except potatoes!)
- ¼ of your plate must contain whole grains
- ¼ of your plate must contain healthy protein
When cooking and preparing salads, you should use healthy vegetable oils like olive and soy oil. Furthermore, NEVER FORGET TO HYDRATE! Drink plenty of fluids daily, preferably water or coffee. Go for it if you can handle your tea and coffee with no sugar. Limit dairy drinks to 1-2 servings only every day, and avoid sweetened drinks as much as possible.
Lastly, SET REMINDERS of your meal schedule and TRACK your progress. When checking for your progress, don’t just use the scale. Take photos for visual progress. Take note of your body stats with a tape measure, and use a tracking app to make your calorie count easier. It’s always rewarding to know that you’ve made progress, further encouraging you to persevere until you reach your goal.
How to make your face look thinner
Before I end this article, you might be wondering why I haven’t mentioned the toning of muscles. It doesn’t lower your fat levels without a caloric deficit. Again, you can’t choose where you lose it. Having toned muscles generally increases your metabolism. However, suppose you want a leaner look to achieve a thin face with a sharp jawline and defined cheekbones. In that case, you can try some exercises that will help tone and strengthen your facial muscles. Your face will look thinner as well. However, you will need to lose weight to have it make a difference.
How to get a sharper jawline and get rid of double chin
Here are five 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 cheekbones and lift the skin 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. With your mouth closed, let out a little air to puff your cheeks out. Move the air from one cheek to another for 30 seconds.
Another thing that you should watch out for is water retention. Face fat accumulation doesn’t happen in a blink of an eye. If you suddenly get puffy cheeks overnight, it might be because of water retention in your cells. To avoid this, decrease your sodium and alcohol intake. Hydrate yourself and get some proper sleep. This will help your body flush out that extra water in no time.
Now that you’re at the end of the article, remember that sticking to the plan is the most important thing in every weight loss approach. Be responsible and know your body’s limits. If you’re having trouble, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor and loved ones for insights and emotional support. Good luck with your weight loss journey! Make sure to boast that slimmer face and defined cheekbones in your weight loss success story selfie!