If you want to lose weight from your face then we’ve got good and bad news. Let’s start with the bad: you can’t ‘spot target’ weight loss from specific areas of the body and that includes the face. The good news is, you can make your face appear slimmer by losing weight in general and also by tackling some other common health problems.
Our facial shape can change because of things like an allergy, sun exposure, inflammation, thyroid problems and even water retention. It’s worth addressing these issues if you’re determined to get a slimmer profile, but the most effective way to lose weight from your face is by losing weight in general.
We spoke with personal trainers, doctors and sports dietitians to find out the best ways to do the above. Here’s what they recommend.
1. Cut back on salt
“Diets high in salt cause the body to retain water,” says Dr. Hana Patel, a women’s health specialist. “Water retention causes swelling and puffiness in various parts of the body, including the face. This may give the illusion of excess facial fat.”
Dr Patel recommends that people who are sensitive to fluid retention avoid foods with high salt content, which includes things like processed meals and snacks. Aim to eat no more than 2,000 milligrams of sodium per day.
Dr. Hana Patel is an internationally known doctor, women’s health specialist and published researcher. She is also an academic mentor for Health Education England, a General Medical Council examiner and a section editor for InnovAIT, the RCGP medical journal for GP trainees.
2. Drink enough water
When you’re not properly hydrated the body actually clings onto excess fluid to keep you from dehydrating. Some of this retained water can stay in the face, giving it a puffy appearance.
“Getting enough H2O is essential,” says dietitian Monique Richard. “Aim for 8-10 eight-ounce glasses a day, but the amount you need will vary depending on your activity, current health conditions, weight and goals.”
Some small studies have suggested that drinking water may also aid with general weight loss, but more high quality evidence is needed to prove this.
Monique is an award-winning registered and licensed dietitian and nutritionist with a Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition and minor in Psychology. She is also an Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner and a Registered Yoga Teacher. She is a National Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the owner of Nutrition-In-Sight, in Johnson City, TN, where she offers nutrition communication, counseling and consulting services, merging personalized nutrition with lifestyle medicine.
3. Lower alcohol intake
Alcohol is another culprit for the appearance of a bloated face and weight gain. “Excessive alcohol intake can cause dehydration, which can prompt the body to retain water,” says Dr. Patel. “In some cases, this may lead to water retention in the face, which can make the face appear bloated and puffy.”
In addition to this, alcohol can be fairly high in calories but it doesn’t come with any useful nutrients for our diet. The high calorie content can cause unwanted weight gain, so Patel advises that people looking to lose weight in general consider reducing their alcohol consumption.
4. Reduce stress levels
When we’re stressed, the body thinks we are in danger and produces more of the hormone cortisol – this in turn stimulates your fat and carbohydrate metabolism, creating a rush of energy (in case we need it to escape the perceived threat).
While this is a useful survival tactic, the process also increases the appetite and cravings for sweet, fatty and salty foods, a study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology found. Overeating and other unhealthy behaviors around stress can then lead to weight gain.
5. Get enough (good quality) sleep
In a similar way to stress, a lack of sleep can cause weight gain. A systematic review in the journal Obesity showed that when people were sleep-deprived, they ate significantly more calories.
Dr. Patel told Fit&Well: “Lack of sleep affects the levels of certain hormones that promote feelings of hunger and fullness. Specifically, lack of sleep seems to increase levels of the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, and lower levels of the hormone leptin, which tells the body that it is full. As a result, a person who has sleep loss may eat more, and they may turn to foods higher in calories.”
6. Count calories and ramp up the cardio
If you have a rounder face due to being overweight, the easiest way to slim down your face is to lose fat from your entire body. You can do this by being in a calorie deficit – eating fewer kcals than you need, or burning more kcals than you use through exercise (or a combination of both).
We have lots of weight loss information and advice you can read through, but registered dietitian Monique Richard offers this simple guidance: “Make sure you get enough protein, vitamin C and E, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates, which are all nutrients that can help mitigate bloating, manage weight and support the body's functions.”
Personal trainer Anthony Maritato advises that you stick to cardio if you’re looking for the best exercise machines to lose weight: “The more body parts and total body movements involved in using an exercise machine results in greater total calorie expenditure. An example may be choosing a cardio machine like the elliptical or cross trainer that has arm and leg movements and would result in more fat loss than using a recumbent bike for the same duration at the same intensity.”
Anthony Maritato is a licensed physical therapist and personal trainer. Anthony completed his bachelor's degree in Kinesiology at Pennsylvania State University with a special emphasis on biomechanics. He obtained his Master's degree of Physical Therapy from Florida International University and has been a physical therapy private practice owner since 2001.
Do facial-slimming exercises work?
The jury is still out on whether or not this can cause a lasting change. In theory, the facial exercises can enlarge muscles over time, making the face appear generally firmer. A small study – the first of its kind – concluded that “there is some evidence that [they] may improve facial appearance and reduce some visible signs of aging.” But we need a lot more quality evidence before we can conclusively say it’s a winning strategy.
Do chin straps work?
Facial slimming straps work, essentially, by compressing and reducing blood flow to an area. There’s no solid evidence to suggest that this kind of activity will reduce fat.
Dr. Patel has this advice on the best approach for facial weight loss: “Facial exercises and chin slimmers may help the face appear firmer as a person loses weight, but you can’t just lose weight specifically from your face – an all-over diet, exercise and mindset approach is recommended.”
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Maddy Biddulph is a freelance journalist specializing in fitness, health and wellbeing content. With 25 years in consumer media, she has worked as a writer and editor for some of the bestselling newspapers, magazines and websites in the US and UK.
She is also a qualified L3 personal trainer and weight loss advisor, and helps women over 40 navigate menopause by improving their physical and mental strength. At Maddy Biddulph Personal Training, she runs one-to-one and small group training for menopausal women who want to get fit to ease symptoms and feel like themselves again.