Excess neck fat or “turkey neck” is the accumulation of fat and skin under the chin and on the neck. Medically referred to as submental fullness, neck fat can have detrimental effects on self-esteem and can be a notoriously difficult area to tone.
While there isn’t generally one main cause of neck fat, aging and genetics play a large role. As we age, our skin loses its natural elasticity and muscles weaken. But these are just two contributing factors. Excess weight, poor diet and a lack of exercise can all lead to the promotion of additional fat around the neck.
Not just unsightly, excess neck fat can also be an early indication of obesity. Many parts of our bodies can be covered easily, but as our necks are exposed, it can be difficult to hide.
Thankfully, there are actions you can take to tackle the problem.
Make Dietary Changes
One of the best ways you can improve your overall health and attack neck fat at the same time is to look at your diet. While any new meal plan aimed at weight loss must include lowering your calorie intake, that doesn’t mean going hungry!
Switching up your diet and changing portion sizes can have a dramatic effect on your health. To lose weight, look to healthier, plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and avoid added sugars and processed oils.
There’s no need to avoid meat (unless you want to), but switching to lean proteins is essential for weight loss. Try low-fat dairy, lean beef, seafood, poultry, and eggs. Legumes and tofu are also packed with protein and virtually cholesterol-free.
How to get rid of neck fat? Some other dietary changes that may help include:
- Drink more water: Replace high-sugar sodas and fruit juices with water to keep hydrated. Well-hydrated skin typically sags less, while drinking more water helps control your appetite. Aim to consume at least eight 8oz glasses (around 2L total) daily.
- Change your snacks: we all like to snack, but those high sugar and salty treats aren’t doing one’s neck fat any favors. Opt for nuts, fruit, or vegetables instead of store-bought processed snacks. This has the added benefit of saving you money.
- Look for healthy fats like avocado, nuts, seeds, and fish. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats help the body function, lower cholesterol and help protect against heart disease.
Changing your eating habits doesn’t need to be a pain. Small changes will yield big results, making for a happier, healthier you.
Diet and exercise go hand in hand. While you can lose weight without exercise, the more you move, the more weight you’ll burn. And one of the best exercises to burn calories and shed weight is cardio.
Cardiovascular exercises such as running, swimming, biking, and even walking require high energy output and will help you burn fat quickly. If you want to turbocharge your exercises to lose weight faster, check out High-Intensity Intermittent Exercises (HIIE). Studies showed HIIE, such as an 8-second sprint followed by a 12-second low-intensity cycle resulted in significantly higher fat loss than steady aerobic cycling.
There are also a number of yoga poses and neck exercises that can help reduce neck fat. Performing these routines can help tone neck muscles, reduce neck fat accumulation, and regulate thyroid function.
- As you inhale, gently lower your head to your left shoulder. Lift your head back to the center as your exhale. Repeat on the other side.
- Tilt your head backward as you inhale. Go back as far as you can without moving your shoulders, keeping your eyes focused on the ceiling. As you exhale, bring your head back towards your throat, tucking your chin into your neck before inhaling and returning to the center.
- Inhale as you drop your head to your right side, then slowly rotate your head to the opposite side to reach your left shoulder. Return to an upright position while exhaling, ensuring to keep your body straight throughout the exercise.
The world’s oldest yoga center, the Yoga Institute in India, also recommends the following yoga poses to encourage fat loss in your neck:
Incorporating a good skincare regime is another way you can help fight neck fat. Wearing sunscreen daily will not only protect your skin from the suns UV rays but can assist in firming and toning. Always go for a broad-spectrum cream with at least SPF30+ rating.
The cosmetic market is also filled with products promising exceptional skin firming and tightening qualities. Creams containing retinol help fight wrinkles and sagging skin by boosting collagen production. Some products are only available by prescription, so ask your doctor or dermatologist for advice.
For some, exercise and diet changes just don’t make a difference to their neck fat. Even with retinol-rich creams, this can be a stubborn area of the body to tone. Thankfully, there are medical treatments that might help. Speak to your doctor about these surgical and non-surgical solutions to neck fat:
- Botox – injections which firm up skin
- Laser Treatment – lasers heat up and destroy fat cells which are then naturally eliminated from the body in three to six weeks.
- Deoxycholic Acid – injected into the skin, this acid aids with the breakdown and absorption of dietary fat.
- Neck Liposuction – refines the jawline by removing fat and resculpting the chin and neck contour.
- Neck Lift Surgery – aims to remove excess skin and tighten neck muscles to improve neck and chin contours.
- Combined Procedures – neck contouring and facial procedures are often combined to achieve the patient’s goals. Facelifts, chin argumentation and rhinoplasty are among the most common.
Cosmetic surgical procedures are not covered by most health insurance plans and can be prohibitively expensive. Unless advised by your doctor, you should only consider them after exhausting all other options.
The healthiest way to get rid of neck fat is to eat a well-balanced diet and get regular exercise. If your neck fat has become bothersome, some simple lifestyle changes may be the answer, but be patient. Unless you go down the surgical route, neck fat will not melt away overnight.
Regular exercise has the added benefit of staving off diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. But remember, if you’re new to exercise or it’s just been a while, speak with your doctor about your exercise goals before getting started. They can address any health concerns up front and assist with diet and lifestyle recommendations.