Face fat can be baffling.
You can be fairly lean, with decent muscle definition and even a nice set of abs underneath your shirt, and still see double chins in every picture.
Why? And what the hell can you do about it?
Well, I have good and bad news.
Let’s eat the frog first:
There are no amount of face stretches, exercises, or skin treatments that you can do to slim your mug. There’s no magic bullet or quick fix.
The good news is that you absolutely can lose face fat fast.
Now, I can’t promise that you’ll get that superhero jaw or those superheroine cheekbones. And if you’re looking for how to lose face fat in a week (or a day), this isn’t the place for you. Losing face fat will take several weeks to months, and anyone who says otherwise is lying.
What I can promise you, though, is that if you want to lose face and neck fat, you absolutely can if you follow the steps in this article.
Table of Contents
Your face is fat for one or both of the following reasons:
- Your body fat percentage is too high.
- Your facial structure and genetics predispose your face to roundness (like me).
The first reason is obvious.
Most of the fat in your body is stored just beneath the skin, and is distributed in varying degrees throughout every area, including parts that most people don’t think of, like the face, fingers, and feet.
Most of us have subtle facial features, so it doesn’t take much fat to mask them. This is why we have to get pretty lean before we see noticeable changes in our facial appearance.
Specifically, most men need to get to the 10% body fat range before they see a noticeable shift from facial roundness to angularity, and most women need to get to around 20% body fat.
In case you’re not familiar with what those body fat percentages look like, check out these images:
As you can see, 10% in men and 20% in women is quite lean.
That being so, while getting that lean is guaranteed to give you abs and arm vascularity, it doesn’t always give you the face you want. The reason for this is that face, neck, chin, and cheek fat can be particularly “stubborn.”
You’ve probably noticed that some people can be noticeably fatter than you, but with the exact facial features you want.
You’ve probably also seen others at more or less the same body fat levels, but with much fatter faces.
This, my friend, brings us to the second point noted above: anatomy and genetics.
All of our faces are built differently. Some of us have sharp features—high, prominent cheekbones, strong, jutting jaws, and so forth—and others have a more amorphous look.
What’s more, people with longer faces often look leaner than they really are. In other words, their naturally narrow, long faces allow them to hide face fat better than the rest of us.
Faces with bolder features naturally look leaner than rounder ones, and while we can reduce the amount of fat in our faces, no amount of dieting or exercise is going to change the underlying structure.
So, the point is this:
Some people are always going to have a leaner face than others at any given body fat percentage.
That said, that doesn’t mean you can’t lose face fat fast. You absolutely can.
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Are you ready for the big secret?
The one weird trick for losing face fat fast, dumping your double chin, and chiseling your cheeks?
Reduce your body fat percentage.
That is, reduce the percentage of your total body weight that’s fat, or the amount of fat stored in your entire body.
You see, “targeted fat loss”—the idea that you can reduce the fatness of a specific region of your body—doesn’t really exist.
When you exercise a muscle group, it does cause fat to be burned around it, but the effect is too slight to significantly change your appearance. That’s why you can’t get abs by doing crunches, and you can’t get a chiseled jawline by doing weird facial exercises or biting rubber balls.
What you can do, however, is use diet and exercise to reduce your body fat levels, and as you get leaner, your face, neck, chin, and cheek fat will wither away.
(And if you’d like specific advice about how many calories, how much of each macronutrient, and which foods you should eat to lose body fat quickly, take the Legion Diet Quiz.)
How quickly you lose face fat is determined by your genetics and how fast you lose fat on the whole, but as I mentioned earlier, most men that don’t naturally have strong facial features need to be around 10% body fat to have a sharp look, and most women need to be around 20%.
Let’s take a minute to look at some visuals from people that have transformed their physiques using the programs in my books.
Six months later, she was 35 pounds lighter, and check out how much her face leaned out.
Ryan, on the other hand, is a good example of someone who doesn’t naturally store much fat in his face.
As you can see, he went from “fluffy” to “shredded,” and while his face did sharpen up, you don’t see as much of a change as you might expect.
And, just for fun, let’s take me.
I’ve had fat cheeks my entire life, and have to be very lean to have the cleaner lines that you see on guys literally double my body fat percentage.
For example, here’s an old picture of me after a couple years of weightlifting (excuse my lack of gains—I had no idea what I was doing back then):
I was around 13% body fat, and … dem cheeks.
Here’s another shot of me about 5 years later:
And a few years after that:
That’s about as lean as I’ll ever get (~7% body fat), and my face is fuller than you’d expect (most guys have that gaunt, hollowed-out look by the time they get this lean).
And here’s how I look now when around 10% body fat:
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C’est la vie. 😉
So, while some of us are genetically predisposed to have a fatter or leaner face than others, we can all reliably lose face fat fast by simply reducing our total body fatness.
In other words, the best way to get a lean face is to get abs.
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Studies show that the only way to lose fat is to eat less energy (fewer calories) than you burn.
The reason you’re carrying excess body fat is, over time, you consistently ate more calories than you burned. And the only way to get rid of that excess fat is to do the opposite: eat less than you burn.
When you do this, you’re in a “calorie deficit” because, well, your energy intake is less than your body’s needs. It must get that additional energy from somewhere, though, so it goes after its fat stores.
Now, the larger the calorie deficit, the faster the weight loss, but if you make it too large (by eating too little), you can shoot yourself in the foot by priming yourself for muscle loss and binge eating.
We want to avoid that, but we also want to push the needle as much as we can. This way you can lose face fat as fast as possible.
This is why I recommend that you set your calorie deficit at 20 to 25% (eat 20 to 25% less calories than you burn every day).
If you want to know how many calories you should eat per day to lose weight, use the Legion Calorie Calculator.
When we’re talking body composition, protein is by far the most important macronutrient.
Studies show that eating adequate protein helps you . . .
- Recover faster from your workouts.
- Gain muscle and lose fat faster.
- Retain muscle better while restricting your calories for weight loss.
- Feel more satiated by your meals (and thus be less likely to overeat).
The bottom line is high-protein dieting beats low-protein in every way, especially when you’re cutting.
So, what’s the right amount of protein?
Well, when you’re looking to lose fat, then you should eat about 1 to 1.2 grams per pound of body weight per day.
And if you’re very overweight (25%+ body fat in men and 30%+ in women), then this can be reduced to around 40% of your total calories per day.
(Again, if you feel confused about how many calories, how much of each macronutrient, and which foods you should eat to reach your goals, take the Legion Diet Quiz to learn exactly what diet is right for you.)
It may seem odd to be talking about heavy compound weightlifting in an article about how to lose face fat, but lifting weights doesn’t just help you build muscle—it helps you lose fat, too.
This is mainly due to the rise in metabolic rate that occurs between sets and after your workout as your body recovers, also known as the “afterburn effect.”
What do I mean by “a lot of heavy compound” lifting, though?
Well, by “a lot,” I mean three to five times per week.
By “compound,” I mean focusing on compound exercises, which are those that target multiple large muscle groups at once, such as the squat, deadlift, and bench and overhead press. Studies show that these are the types of exercises that produce the greatest increases in metabolic rate, muscle mass, and strength.
And by “heavy,” I mean lifting weights that are above 75% of your one-rep max (weights that you can do 12 reps or less with before failing). Research shows that training with heavy weights not only helps you build more muscle, it helps you burn more fat than training with lighter weights.
What’s more, you should also strive to add weight or reps to every exercise in every workout. This is known as progressive overload, and it’s one of the best ways to maximize the fat-burning effects of weightlifting.
The best way to include cardio in a weight loss regimen is to do as little as needed to reach your desired rate of weight loss and stay fit, and no more.
Here’s what typically works best:
- Do mostly low- to moderate-intensity cardio like walking or rucking. This will burn plenty of calories, requires very little motivation to complete, and interferes with weightlifting less than high-intensity cardio.
- Do small amounts of HIIT if you enjoy it. You don’t actually need to do HIIT as it’s no more effective for weight loss than low- to moderate-intensity cardio, but it does offer some health benefits you can’t get from other kinds of cardio.
- Do at least two easy cardio workouts per week of 20 to 40 minutes each. This is a good starting place for maintaining your health and boosting calorie expenditure.
- Limit the time you spend doing cardio to no more than half the amount of time you spend weightlifting each week. If you lift weights for four hours per week, don’t do more than two hours of cardio per week.
- Do your cardio and weightlifting on separate days if possible, and if you have to do them on the same day, try to separate them by at least six hours.
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I saved this for last because it’s the least important.
Unfortunately, no amount of weight loss pills and powders are going to make you automagically melt your face fat.
In fact, most fat loss supplements are completely worthless.
But, here’s the good news:
If you know how to eat and train to drive fat loss—following the steps we just covered—certain supplements can speed up the process.
Here are the best supplements for fat loss (including face fat loss):
- 3 to 6 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight per day. This will raise the number of calories you burn and also increases strength, muscle endurance, and anaerobic performance. If you want a clean, delicious source of caffeine that also contains five other ingredients that will boost your workout performance, try Pulse.
- 0.1 to 0.2 milligrams of yohimbine per kilogram of bodyweight before training. This increases fat loss when used in conjunction with fasted training, and is particularly helpful with losing “stubborn” fat. If you want a 100% natural source of yohimbine that also contains two other ingredients that will help you lose fat faster, preserve muscle, and maintain training intensity and mental sharpness, try Forge.
- One serving of Phoenix per day. Phoenix is a 100% natural fat burner that speeds up your metabolism, enhances fat burning, and reduces hunger and cravings. You can also get Phoenix with caffeine, or without.
+ Scientific References
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