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If there is one thing people dislike more than extra flab, it is when that extra flab is exposed. That’s exactly the problem with submental fat, aka, the dreaded double chin.
Instead of being an actual “second chin,” a double chin is excess fat that accumulates underneath the chin, beneath the lower jaw bone.
The double chin is an often stubborn area to get rid of and a sore sight for most who have it. It is a source of mental distress for many people and can cause one to fear going out in public.
What Causes a Double Chin?
Usually, the main cause of a double chin is weight gain. As a double chin is usually excess fat and skin, being overweight can cause accumulation of that extra flab. (1) Rapid weight gain or loss can be a cause as well.
Besides weight gain/fluctuations, there can be other factors that can play a part:
- Age: As you get older, your skin loses its elasticity, causing the skin around the neck and jaw to sag.
- Genetics: Sometimes, an individual’s unique genetic makeup can lead to developing a double chin, no matter how hard they try to reverse it. For those unlucky few, no amount of exercise and proper eating habits can change it (but these sure can help).
- Poor Posture: Although poor posture is not so much of a cause, it can exacerbate double chin problems. Think of this, if you are always slouching in a chair or looking down at your phone (which is what most people do), your neck is in a constant state of flexion, which can cause wrinkles and weaken the muscles of that area.
- Poor Diet: As mentioned, the main cause of a double chin is being overweight. Thus, it would make sense that poor eating habits, along with a sedentary lifestyle, cause excess fat gain. Fat can accumulate pretty much anywhere in the body, and for some, it accumulates underneath the chin.
Different Ways to Get Rid of a Double Chin
Fortunately, if you are battling a double chin, there are more than a few ways to combat it. Some are natural but require diligence and hard work, whereas others offer a quick but costly path.
1. Clean Up Your Diet
The most common reason for a double chin is weight gain, and the best solution to weight gain is proper nutrition and an active lifestyle.
Taking in too many calories and overeating will cause excessive weight gain, which in turn will build up fat around the body, including the jaw area.
Here are a few easy ways to implement healthy eating strategies:
- Switch out processed foods (refined grains, cereals, chips, baked goods, fried foods, etc.) for more whole foods (fresh fruits and veggies, lean meats, fish, whole grains). The latter can help decrease the number of total calories and keep you full for longer due to the high fiber (2) and protein content. (3)
- Eat mindfully. Taking 5-10 more minutes when eating can help with portion control. Eat without distractions (no TV or phone), and chew slowly. These steps allow you to feel fullness better and to eat less than you normally would if you scarfed down your food.
- Switch out unhealthy snacks, such as chips and candy, for crunchy veggies and fruits, such as carrots and apples.
Of course, nutrition is only half the battle. An active lifestyle plays a crucial role in keeping the extra weight off. Most people live a rather sedentary lifestyle, and with poor dietary habits, this leads to weight gain.
Here are some simple activities you can do to get moving:
- Resistance training two to three times a week with weights, body weight, or machines to tone your muscles and spur fat loss.
- Cardiovascular exercise at a moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes, five times a week.
- Going for walks on your lunch break from work, or taking short, 15-minute walks throughout the day.
- Taking up that recreational sport that you’ve always wanted to try, which may also give you the opportunity to build some awesome friendships!
3. Perform Specific Exercises
While not much scientific evidence is available supporting the idea that certain exercises can reduce fat in a given area, certain exercises can be done to strengthen and shape the muscles of the neck and jaw area, which are usually weak from poor posture.
Doing these movements will give the appearance of a well-sculpted jawline.
a. Pucker-Up Exercise
As silly as it might look, the “duck face” that you see many young people doing in photos can actually help strengthen the jawline.
Here’s how to do it:
- With a tall posture, tilt your head back and look at the ceiling.
- Pucker your lips as if you are kissing the ceiling, and soon you will feel a stretch in the area beneath your chin.
- Hold this position for 5-20 seconds.
- Release the hold and return to the starting position.
- Repeat this exercise 10-15 times every day for a few weeks.
b. Jaw Jut Exercise
This exercise simultaneously stretches and strengthens the lower jaw area, thus helping to structure the chin area to give off a more pleasant appearance.
Here’s how to do it:
- While keeping your spine erect, slowly tilt your head back until you are looking at the ceiling.
- Then, push your lower jaw forward, as if you were creating an underbite (you will feel a stretch under the chin).
- Hold this position for 5-10 seconds.
- Relax your jaw and return your head to the starting position.
- Repeat this for 5-10 times.
- Do this exercise 2-3 times a day.
Surgical Treatments to Get Rid of a Double Chin
Although natural methods are a great way to get rid of that extra flab under the chin, sometimes people want a quick solution.
These surgical options offer quicker results:
- Lipolysis: Treats double chin through liposuction (removing the extra fat by applying suction) or by using a laser.
- Mesotherapy: Involves injecting the double chin with fat-dissolving compounds. It is a long procedure that may require up to 100 injections in a span of 6 months.
These methods may provide more immediate results than natural methods, and they can become very expensive very quickly.
Also, these methods do not guarantee that you will never see that double chin again. If dietary and lifestyle changes are not made, fat can quickly reaccumulate in the now fat-free area.
- To really get those jaw muscles working without thinking about it, chew some gum! Chewing gum has been shown to strengthen the muscles of the jaw, (4), and you get the added benefit of treating yourself to something tasty. Just make sure to choose sugar-free gum.
- Drinking plenty of water can help preserve the elasticity of the skin. If you do not drink enough water, your skin can become dry and saggy. So make sure to stay hydrated!
- As you age, your skin loses its natural elasticity. Regular face massages, which help improve blood circulation, can help you retain some of that youthful glow.