Don’t worry if you’ve noticed a double chin starting to make unwelcome appearances in photos. You don’t have to resign yourself to doing a George Lucas and growing a beard to cover it, or only being in pictures taken from above head height. The first step is understanding why your jowls have started to plump themselves up.
Putting on body fat is the primary cause. Another contributing factor is that as you age you’ll see a reduction in the skin’s collagen, which helps give it elasticity. Stores starts to diminish when you hit your early 20s, and factors such as smoking and sun exposure can quicken the process. Aside from avoiding those two – you’re doing that already, right? – the most effective weapons in the war against the wobble are diet and exercise.
Chin it Off
A healthy diet is essential to stop gravity having its wicked way with your jowls. You’re going to need to avoid alcohol where possible (sorry) – it increases water retention, giving a puffy appearance and slows the body’s metabolism down to a crawl. Excess salt has a similar bloating effect, so stick to the government guidelines of 6g a day or less. An easy task as long as you skip processed foods, especially ready meals, cereals and shop-bought sandwiches.
As the main enemy in your body’s war on fat, you should also give refined sugar and processed carbs as wide a berth as possible. Be wary of chocolate, white bread and sources of dairy if you want to keep your skin healthy and supple in the long-term. An excess amount of sugar is often the prime cause of acne, pimple flare-ups or an overproduction of oil in your skin cells. If you can’t silence your inner Willy Wonka, opt for dark choc with a higher percentage of cacao to sugar, and swap the white loaf for low-GI carbs like rye bread.
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Neck This Lot
High protein foods will bolster your anti-jowl defences. They contain collagen and essential oils that help maintain healthy skin, while herbal teas, fruits, vegetables and herbs are all natural diuretics that help drain the excess water that causes bloating. Taking this approach to nutrition won’t just return your chin to its former glory; it’ll give you more energy and better digestive health.
Add these foods to your shopping basket for healthier skin:
- Brazil nuts: A leading source of selenium, this mineral acts like an antioxidant in the body to protect against skin damage from exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Alternative sources include sunflower seeds, fish, beef, pork, turkey and chicken.
- Kiwi fruit: Vitamin C plays a crucial role in the synthesis of structural protein collagen for an award-winning complexion and the fuzzy kiwi trumps the orange in the big C stakes. One kiwi provides more than the daily recommended requirement for this nutrient. Alternative sources include grapefruit, strawberries, peaches, papaya, broccoli and bell peppers.
- Salmon: A trusted source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids that combat inflammation and backup cell membrane health, protecting against the aging process that contributes to a saggy jawline, among other parts of your body. Alternative sources include sardines, mackerel, trout and grass-fed beef.
- Butternut squash: Bang this robust winter vegetable in any stew or soup you rustle up for healthy, youthful skin. It contains a hefty dose of carotenoids, a powerful antioxidant that improves skin tone by reducing skin cell damage. Alternative sources include kale, sweet potato, tomato, carrots and watermelon.
Don’t Make Stupid Faces
A quick Google for facial exercises brings up a load of clueless articles with moves claiming to help “tone and tighten” your face, eliminating double chins in the process. All of them are totally useless and some are just plain hilarious – check out this corker from the ’80s.
If that’s not enough to convinve you that making faces in the mirror is a waste of your time, two studies published in 2013 in the journal International Association Of Logopedics And Phoniatrics and The Aesthetic Surgery Journal found facial exercises have zero effect on sagginess – unsurprising considering skin is an organ, not a muscle, and can’t be exercised like a muscle.
Facial exercises could strengthen your jaw and neck muscles, but in the same away you can’t see your abs if they’re covered in fat, it won’t make any difference to your double chin. Besides, it’s impossible to target fat on a specific part of the body. Instead, you need to reduce your overall body fat percentage. The good news? Excess fat tends to be stored in the face first, and is usually the first place it goes from.
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Burn it, Burn it All
Studies show that high-intensity interval training burns the most fat the fastest, and it doesn’t even require a gym membership. So instead of wasting your time gurning in a mirror, start doing two to three sprint drills a week. Flat-out sprinting for 45 seconds followed by two minutes of gentle jogging, eight times over, will do the trick. It takes less than half an hour and ramps up your metabolic rate and human growth hormone production, turning your body into a fat-burning furnace for hours afterwards. Your chin – and the rest of your body’s excess flab – will curse you while dying a horrible, fiery death.
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In the Meantime…
It’ll take two to four weeks until you start noticing a reduction in your double chin, and a few more until it’s gone entirely. Take selfies each week so you can see your progress. Comparing week four to week one will be all the motivation you need to keep up your new fat-blasting way of life. If people insist on taking pictures of you before your double chin has gone, make it less noticeable by putting your tongue to the roof of your mouth. It gives a natural lift and no-one will even know you’re doing it.
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Max was the head of digital content for Men's Fitness which worked alongside Coach between 2015 and 2019.