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How to lose arm fat? (5 tips that actually work)

In this article, we’ll explore the many influencing factors that lead to arm fat, such as genetics, gender, skin. Following this, we'll cover a range of approaches to deal with it, including exercise, nutrition, hydration, overall weight loss, and the often overlooked aspect of body acceptance.

How to lose arm fat? (5 tips that actually work)

Wanting to lose fat in an area such as the arms is a common wish for many, and the internet is not short of “solutions”.

The reality is that a journey to lose fat in such a specific area demands a nuanced understanding of why the fat is there in the first place. Because of the complexity of this body hang-up, alongside the failure of misguided pursuits of more slender or toned arms, arm fat has gained a reputation as being “stubborn” and “hard to shift”, with attempts often resulting in frustration.

The real reason behind arm fat

Arm fat, that pesky extra padding in a concentrated area, can be influenced by various factors such as:

- Aging

- Hormonal changes

- Loose skin

- Excess body fat

- An improper diet

- Lack of exercise.

These factors all play a role. However, one of the major players in this game is our genetics.

Your genetics

We all have unique genetic makeups that determine where our bodies prefer to store fat. Unfortunately, we don't have much control over this, making losing arm fat quite a challenge.

Adding to the complexity, gender also plays a role.

Women, for instance, tend to have a higher amount of subcutaneous fat (the fat just beneath the skin), and although genetics often dictate the areas where fat more generally is deposited, arms and thighs are typically the chosen spots for subcutaneous storage, which is why arm fat can be more common in females (quite unfair, we know). 

Skin elasticity and “loose skin”

Another crucial thing to discuss is skin elasticity.

Skin elasticity refers to how stretchy and flexible our skin is, and is influenced by various factors. As we get old, our skin elasticity decreases, which changes the way the fat beneath our skin looks. Alongside this, our metabolism also tends to slow down, making it even easier for fat to accumulate.

Staying well-hydrated and maintaining a diet rich in nutrients are essential for supporting healthy skin, as they provide the necessary building blocks for maintaining its elasticity. Speaking of nutrients, hormones are key players here too – particularly for women as hormonal changes are a huge contributor to skin elasticity and the distribution of fat.

It’s also worth noting that significant (typically rapid) weight loss can result in what is known as “loose skin”, making the appearance of arm fat more pronounced.

Understanding and addressing these factors can make a huge difference in your journey in promoting a favorable body composition, and body acceptance.

What exercises burn more arm fat?

Now, let’s talk about exercise.

Trying to target specific muscles in the arms with specific workout routines may seem like a logical way to reduce arm fat, but there’s no valid science supporting this.

Skip “spot reduction” exercises (they don’t work)

It is a concept called “spot reduction” and although it is promoted by some individuals/sources, the method has been proven ineffective by a long list of robust scientific studies.

What’s more, focusing solely on one muscle such as the triceps might not promote a well-rounded look nor optimal muscle development

What you should do instead (4 examples)

Instead of trying to target a specific muscle group, you’re better off sticking to a balanced approach that includes whole upper body push and pull exercise, performed in both horizontal and vertical directions. This will promote a more favorable body composition and more well-rounded strength development.

Here are 4 examples of exercises that fit this approach:

- Horizontal press example: Bench Press.

- Horizontal pull example: Bent-Over Rows.

- Vertical press example: Overhead Dumbbell Press.

- Vertical pull example: Lat Pulldowns.

Don’t just focus on your upper body

Remember to include exercises like squats, lunges, and deadlifts (adapted to individual ability level) for the lower body. This way, you don’t just increase your full body strength and stability, you also build up overall muscle mass which boosts your basal metabolic rate (BMR). This leads to higher energy use, which is key in losing weight.

While exercise is vital, it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Adopting a holistic approach which involves not only exercising but also forming other healthier habits is key.

5 tips to lose arm fat (that actually works)

The internet is rife with solutions and quick fixes to a range of health issues and body image hang-ups.

There’s a good chance that you’ve come across suggestions to eat more of this and less of that, and that you will lose X amount of body fat in this area if you do this one thing. As with many of these topics, but specifically when it comes to arm fat, the reality is that no isolated food or activity will lead to a significant reduction. 

Just as the reason for the fat being there in the first place is complex, so is the path to getting rid of it.

With that said, there are ways to reduce total body fat (arms included) and increase skin elasticity as well as a well-rounded body composition. Here’s the 5 things we suggest that you try to do, if that’s your goal.

1. Follow a balanced and varied diet

This won’t surprise you. But your best shot at reducing arm fat (and fat in general) is to adopt a well-rounded diet. There is simply no one food or fad diet that will magically target and eliminate arm fat. When it comes to fat loss, it’s all about the big picture.

Here are 4 essential components to include in a balanced diet:

- Lean proteins: Essential for muscle growth and repair, lean proteins such as chicken, turkey, fish, legumes, and low-fat dairy products help improve body composition.

- Whole grains: Foods like brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat bread are rich in fiber, which helps maintain steady blood sugar levels and promotes satiety.

- Fruits and vegetables: These are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, supporting digestion and providing a wide range of nutrients for overall health.

- Healthy fats: Include sources of healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil in your diet. These fats are vital for hormonal balance, skin health, and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

2. Stay hydrated

Hydration is not just about quenching your thirst – it’s a cornerstone of skin health and overall well-being.

Staying hydrated is important in relation to skin health for various reasons:

- The skin contains approximately 30% water, which contributes to plumpness, elasticity, and resilience. 

- Collagen, a protein crucial for skin structure and elasticity, relies on water for its production.  

- Hydration also aids in the transport of nutrients to skin cells.

However, possibly the most significant effect of optimal hydration on the skin is through its indirect effect via a range of other factors.

Beyond skin health, staying adequately hydrated is crucial for the overall well-being of your entire system. Water is involved in various physiological processes, including:

- Nutrient transport

- Temperature regulation

- And waste elimination.

Proper hydration supports the cardiovascular system by maintaining blood volume and flow, contributing to better oxygen transport to cells. It also aids in digestion and nutrient absorption in the gastrointestinal tract.

By ensuring your body is well-hydrated, you support the optimal functioning of all organs and systems, promoting whole-body health, including the skin. Here are three simple tips to stay hydrated:

- Sip water throughout the day. Don’t just chug a bottle in the morning and leave it at that. It’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day, so make sure you don’t stop drinking water later in the day, because you drank a lot of water earlier (or vice versa.),

- Aim for around 2 – 2.5 litres of water per day, increasing in 250ml (half a pint) increments each day from your current level until this feels like a routine habit (Water bottles can be super handy for tracking your hydration throughout the day and reminding ourselves to drink).

- Connecting drinking water to other habits. You can also try tagging the act of drinking water on to an already established habit, such as going to the bathroom or making a cup of coffee.

3. Work to lose weight (in general)

Targeting arm fat specifically might be tempting, but the body doesn't work in isolated compartments. 

Weight loss, including reduction in arm fat, is a process that involves creating an energy deficit. This occurs when you burn more energy than you consume, prompting the body to use stored fat for energy. 

Adopting a well-rounded approach to weight loss, through a combination of a balanced diet and regular exercise, ensures a sustainable and effective outcome. 

Moreover, as you lose weight overall, including from your arms, your body's natural contours become more pronounced, contributing to a more sculpted appearance.

If you’re looking for a program that embodies this well-rounded approach – but also tackles the mental aspect of weight loss – Embla might be right for you. The aim of our approach is to help you reshape and create a more balanced and positive relationship to eating, exercise, and your own body in general. We do this through one-to-one health guidance and a non-restrictive approach to dieting. Our experience is that this creates the best circumstances for lasting weight loss.

4. Do strength training

Another effective method to reduce arm fat is by engaging in strength training. Now, there’s more benefits to this than just aesthetic ones. Strength training also has a profound impact on your metabolism.

Muscles are metabolically active tissues, meaning they burn calories even at rest. Incorporating strength training exercises, such as whole-body compound movements like squats and deadlifts, enhances muscle mass.

More muscle mass equates to a higher basal metabolic rate (BMR), which increases the amount of energy your body consumes through the day. This elevated metabolism helps you lose weight in general, which makes it easier to maintain a healthier body composition and reduce fat, including in the arms..

5. Embrace your body and ease stress-related weight

Understanding the link between stress, cortisol (the stress hormone), and weight is crucial for better health and weight management.

Stress leads to more cortisol, which can cause weight gain, especially around your belly. To combat this, try stress-reducing activities like mindfulness, meditation, or deep breathing, along with healthier eating and exercise (like we discussed). This approach not only supports your mental health but also helps in achieving a more favorable body shape.

Moreover, focusing on what we can control, like our overall well-being, rather than fixating on specific body parts, is essential for accepting our bodies. Recognising that features like arm fat are a natural part of our bodies and managing stress are important for overall health. It's no secret that societal pressures and unrealistic beauty standards make this difficult. This is why it’ll always be up to ourselves to consider and appreciate the many marvelous ways that our bodies support us in our daily lives.

Small steps towards self-love lead to a healthier mindset and a better relationship with our bodies. Body acceptance is a personal, ongoing journey that involves overcoming societal expectations and being grateful for our amazing bodies.

The most important takeaway

To sum up these five tips for losing arm fat, it's more than just about looking good. It's about taking care of yourself.

This means eating right, drinking plenty of water, losing weight in a healthier way, doing exercises that make you stronger, and not letting stress get the better of you. All these steps don't just help with arm fat; they make your whole body healthier and happier.

Remember, it's important to love and accept your body as it is, and to be kind to yourself as you work towards your goals. Every small step counts, and it's all about feeling good, strong, and confident in your own skin.

These suggestions represent Embla's approach to healthy sustainable weight loss.


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