There’s no magic diet or exercise that can target arm fat, but these expert tips can help
Every time you put on your favorite sleeveless top, chances are your eyes will immediately focus on your arms. If you see a sign of fat, you can rush to cover it with a cardigan or completely change your clothes. You can also go online to research how to lose arm fat fast. Don’t worry, it’s not just you. This small part of the body is a sore spot for many women.
In fact, nearly 25,000 women had arm lifts to reduce sagging skin and tighten underlying tissue to give their arms more definition in 2016, which is a 4,959% increase since 2000, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Women may be more likely to carry arm fat because they don’t burn as many calories as men on average, says Dana Ellis Hunnes, PhD, senior dietitian at UCLA Medical Center. “Also, female hormones tend to place less fat in visceral areas like around organs and more in areas like arms and legs,” she adds.
Although it sounds bad, women do need a certain amount of fat to be healthy – in fact, a minimum of 12% of their total weight should come from essential fats, which are found in the heart, lungs , liver, kidneys, intestines, muscles, and tissues of the central nervous system, according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine.
“Body fat is structurally important,” explains Stefanie MendezRD, the co-founder of Matron, a fitness and nutrition service for women. “It cushions our organs and insulates our body for temperature control and is also the source of our body’s energy reserves. Beyond that, fat is necessary for hormone production and reproductive functions. And that fat can show up in your thighs, belly, and arms.
The Bottom Line: Arm fat is completely natural, so try not to worry about it.
How long does it take to lose arm fat?
It’s hard to predict, because fat loss and weight loss are never linear, as much as we’d like, says Hunnes. “You need to burn more calories than you consume to lose fat, and it is always recommended to use arm muscles to tone and build muscle to increase metabolic rate to replace fat loss. A pound of muscle burns 10 times more calories than a pound of fat,” she explains.
And remember that everyone’s fitness journey is different, so be patient with yourself. Arm fat loss may take some time depending on your current activity level, diet, and genetics. Other factors like hormones, sleep and stress also matter. “Insufficient sleep makes it harder to lose weight,” says Hunnes.
How can I lose arm fat fast?
The reality is, there’s nothing you can do about your hormones or your DNA, and spot reduction just doesn’t work, Mendez says. Instead of worrying about arm fat, focus on living a healthy, well-nourished, and physically active lifestyle. By doing this you will see much better results in the arms department.
Through a combination of a balanced diet (hit all three macros at every meal!) and a combination of cardio and high-intensity interval strength training, you’ll naturally lose fat everywhere, including around your arms, explains Lauren Williams, CPT, a trainer at PROJECT Equinox.
You’ll also build muscles to fill out your arms and make them firmer. “Generally, when people complain about shaking their armpits, they’re usually referring to the area governed by the triceps,” Williams says. “If the shaking or looseness in that part of your arm is due to a lack of muscle, then strengthening and building muscle in your triceps will also create a change in the aesthetics of that area.” She recommends performing push-ups, push-ups, and triceps dips to focus on this area and add muscle definition.
The good news is that if you’re not a fan of working out, you can still lose arm fat. “If you’re in a calorie deficit and you’re losing fat all over, some of it will be in your arms,” says Hunnes, but exercise makes it easier to get into a calorie deficit.
8 Ways to Lose Arm Fat
Here are some things you can do to help reduce arm fat.
1. Fill up on fiber
Adding more fiber to your diet can help you feel full longer, which means fewer snacks during the day. This can help reduce the total number of calories you consume in a day and help you lose weight. A great way to get more fiber is to incorporate chia seeds, which are high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, Hunnes says.
2. Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate
Make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day. There is moderate evidence supporting that increasing your water intake in general, replacing high-calorie drinks with water, and drinking it before a meal can lead to weight loss. Additionally, water aids in various key bodily functions, including digestion, according to Harvard Health.
3. Make plant-based foods a big part of your meals
A diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables and hearty whole grains contains fewer calories, which may ultimately help you lose weight overall, says Hunnes.
4. Cut out sugary drinks
ICYMI, sugary drinks only add more calories and not much else, says Hunnes. They will make it harder to maintain a calorie deficit. So swap them out for some fruit infused water or maybe try one less flavor pump in your afternoon Starbucks.
You already know that exercise is an effective way to lose weight and fat, but research backs that up too. Go for a walk, hit the running trails, or sign up for a new fitness class with a friend. Whatever form of physical activity you choose, engage in something you enjoy because the more fun you have doing it, the more likely you are to repeat it day after day and lose weight (and fat in the arms!).
6. Get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep is important, but if you want to lose weight and burn fat, you also need to pay attention to the quality of your sleep, as both are linked to weight and fat loss, according to a 2021 study In addition to getting at least seven hours of sleep, you should also aim for a consistent bedtime every night and deep, uninterrupted sleep, according to research.
7. De-stress regularly
A 2014 study found that stress is positively associated with weight gain, highlighting why you need to reduce stress if you want to lose weight and arm fat. Find something that works for you, whether it’s meditating every morning before you start your day, turning off all phone notifications for some quiet time, or spending time in nature.
8. Try lifting weights
Besides exercise, Hunnes recommends toning your arms with weights. Don’t worry if you’re new to bodybuilding. The weights you use don’t have to be super heavy – a simple five pound set will do, let alone if necessary. The goal is to build muscle in this area. Remember that it will take time to see results, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see your arm fat melt away in a week or month.
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