When you lose weight after pregnancy, by dieting, or exercising, you tend to also lose lots of muscle and water instead of just unwanted fat deposits.
After weightloss, especially if you have lost weight fast, you may find yourself with a flabby lower belly, big love handles and/or lots of visceral fat around the navel area. Excess skin is the skin you're left with after losing a substantial amount of weight. Typically, you will see this extra skin flab on your stomach, under your arms, on your legs and elsewhere. Belly fat tends to be the most challenging part to tighten especially after giving birth.
- Visceral fat - Stored deep inside your body. It surrounds and protects your internal organs.
- Subcutaneous fat - Stored just under the skin. It's the stuff that jiggles when you jump up and down.
In most cases loose skin is actually just cases of excess subcutaneous body fat covered by skin. Because subcutaneous fat is "soft" fat, it is looser, or jiggly, and easier to confuse with skin. In some cases of major weight loss, as you get leaner, it can be quite stubborn to lose this remaining fat. When you lose a massive amount of weight, depending on your skin type, age, genetics and other factors, your skin may not retract back to your lighter body frame. The amount of loose skin you will have also has to do with where you lose your weight and the elasticity of your skin. Lost skin elasticity is usually thought of as a characteristic of growing old, but it can also strike younger people. If your loose skin is thicker than a few millimeters, then you still have residual body fat to get rid of.
Unfortunately there is no way to entirely tone flabby skin - however, there are methods you can try to minimize the amount of sagging. The way to burn fat is through a calorie restricted diet in conjunction with an exercise routine that will burn calories. Activities that burn calories include running, biking, swimming and other high intensity activities.
About This Image: Man with belly fat and sagging skin around hip area
It is important that when you tighten loose skin by exercise you perform exercises that are toning the muscle, and therefore the surrounding skin. Do strength training 3 times a week, and perform aerobic exercises like swimming or jogging on the remaining days. Aerobic exercises will help you lose weight and the strength training will tone up and tighten your muscles and increase endurance. A big part of eliminating loose skin is building muscle. Exercise can tighten and add muscle to your abdomen, which can help minimize some flabbiness.
- Air Bike - Place your hands behind your head with your elbows bent and your knees pulled slightly toward you. Using your abs, curl your shoulders up off the floor and pull your right elbow to your left knee until they are almost touching. Then alternate by pulling your left elbow to you right knee. Continue alternating right to left until you've reached the desired number of repetitions.
- Bicep curls - Targets underarm hanging skin.
- Cardio workouts - Make sure you include intervals (alternating walking with fast walking or sprinting), and be sure your strength training includes combination moves that work multiple muscles including the core (plank rows, push-ups, squat with military press, etc) rather than single muscle groups. Once you've established a regular cardio routine, add two or three weight training sessions on nonconsecutive days to your weekly workouts.
- Core Workouts - At least 4 times per week. isolating exercises for obliques and the rectus abdominis. Change or modify your workout every 2 weeks.
- Crunches - Provide complete toning for the abs if performed appropriately. The back should be straight with the chin level, and you will raise your torso to your knees, fighting the resistance.
- Leg Raisers - Try lying on the floor, facing up, do double and single leg raise (30 counts each) on a daily basis. 2 sessions per day (morning and night). Initially, start with 20 counts each and slowly increase to 30 counts each when your stamina allows. You will see result in around 3 months time.
- Lunges - Great for sagging skin on the upper thigh. The upper thigh requires lunges, in which you tone the gluteus, upper thigh and hamstring, pulling the skin tighter to the thigh and creating a more attractive thigh area.
- Pelvic Thrusts - Help tone up your lower abs. As with leg raises, lie on your back with your legs up in the air (90 degrees from the floor). While keeping your legs up, slowly lift your pelvis off the floor and upward using your lower abdominal muscles; then lower yourself back down to the floor and repeat.
- Planks - With your hands under your shoulders, hold your arms out with your legs straight and toes holding your legs up. You get the most abdominal toning with this exercise the longer you hold the stance. The recommended time is 20 to 30 minutes.
- Squats - Assist with lower body sagging skin. Squats provide an ultimate lower body workout for the gluteus and thighs. With your feet shoulder length apart, you simply keep your back straight as you lower yourself into a sitting position as if you were sitting in a chair.
A surgical procedure that removes redundant skin on your abdomen. If you've had bariatric weight loss surgery, it is recommended you wait at least 2 years before having an abdominoplasty. There may be some scarring with this procedure.
- Males should get down to around 10 to 12% body fat before considering surgery.
- Women need to down to around 15 to 17% body fat before taking surgical steps.
(Body Fat Percentage Calculator for Men and Women)
Surgery obviously is best discussed with the appropriate health professionals. It involves a number of different procedures but in its essence it means to surgically remove the skin by cutting it off. Body contouring surgery is an expensive and serious surgery requiring a long recovery time.
Vitamins and Supplements
- Vitamin C - An important part of collagen formation, which is vital for skin elasticity. Research has shown that both orally ingested and topically applied vitamin C can reduce wrinkling and improve collagen formation.
- Evelle - Evelle can potentially improve visible signs of cutaneous aging. Supplementation with Evelle improves skin smoothness and elasticity in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study with 62 women - (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15764035)
Often used after surgery to minimize inflammation, compression garments can provide support for excess skin on your stomach.
Lose Weight Slower
- The best way to avoid loose skin after weightloss is to lose weight slowly, around 1 to 2 pounds per week. Slowly losing weight allows you to maintain your muscle mass while losing fat and allows your skin time to adjust gradually.
Diet and Nutrition
- Water - Drinking plenty of water is a crucial component of maintaining skin elasticity. From both food and drink, you should be taking in at least 2 liters of water each day.
- Protein rich foods - Cottage cheese, milk, legumes, tofu, beans, seeds, nuts, and fish all contain collagen and elastin forming components, as well as oils to help maintain healthy skin.
- Green Tea - A study found people who drank one and a half cups of green tea enriched with a total of 609 milligrams of catechins (a group of antioxidants that have been shown to help burn fat cells) every day for 12 weeks lost almost 16 times as much visceral fat as those who consumed green tea without the added antioxidants. To achieve similar results with store-bought green tea, you'll need to brew two to four cups daily (many varieties can contain 160 to 470 milligrams of catechins per cup).
- Monounsaturated Fats - Found in nuts, olive oil and seeds. Other fat burners include avocados and whole grain food.