Have you busted your butt off for months and months to lose weight, and are now struggling with loose skin that’s preventing you from achieving the look you ultimately desire?
If so, then this article is for you!
This problem can get really frustrating for some, and I understand. Nothing is more discouraging than feeling like you’re doing everything right, but without the results you really desire to show for it.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to handle the loose skin issue. Let’s dive in.
While there are legit cases of excess skin after weight loss, what many people think is loose or excess skin is actually just excess subcutaneous (under the skin) fat. This fat is soft and jiggly and easily mistaken as skin. And in cases of major weight loss, as you get leaner, it can be quite stubborn.
What do I mean by “stubborn,” exactly? Well, I mean that it’s simply harder to lose than other deposits of fat. Instead of getting into the whole explanation of why this is here, head over to my article on how to lose stubborn fat to learn more. I would also recommend you read my article on intermittent fasting as well, as this is another effective way to attack stubborn fat.
For the purpose of this article, what you need to know is that we have areas of our body that are physiologically resistant to weight loss.
For men, it’s the lower abdomen and back (love handles), and for women, it’s the hips, thighs, and butt. Not coincidentally, these are also the areas most often associated with loose or excess skin problems.
There’s an easy way to tell if you’re dealing with actual loose skin or too high body fat percentage. Pinch the area you’re concerned with and if you can grab more than a few millimeters of skin, there’s more fat in there to lose. (Calipers are useful for this type of testing, as well as body fat percentage testing.)
Until you lose that fat, your skin has no reason to return to its former size and tautness. It’s not a swath of passive, inert flesh–it’s a living organ that adapts to its internal and external environments. As long as the fat its attached to remains, it will sag.
If you’re a man, I wouldn’t take any special measures to deal with loose skin until you’ve hit 9-10% body fat (tested with good calipers, DEXA, or hydrostatic, not bioelectrical impedance analysis). If you’re a woman, 17-18% is the number.
The reason why is once you enter these ranges of body fat percentage, you just won’t have much subcutaneous fat left. In many cases, this alone will handle the problem that was once thought to be loose skin.
If, however, you get to these ranges of body fat percentage and your skin is almost paper thin and looks like crinkled papyrus, then it truly is a matter of excess skin, and can be dealt with accordingly.
A big part of eliminating loose skin is building muscle.
Many of the severe cases of excess skin that I’ve seen were after excessive weight loss that involved nothing but diet and cardio, which is a double whammy for losing not just fat but muscle as well. If the weight loss involved crash or starvation dieting, the muscle loss can be quite severe.
The end result is a relatively low body fat percentage, but a small, soft physique with sagging skin. The “skinny fat” look, as it’s called.
The solution is to improve your body composition. That means building muscle while maintaining a relatively low body fat percentage. This literally fills in the looseness in the skin, creating a visibly tighter, healthier look.
This advice applies to both people that have already lost a lot of weight and those that are embarking on the journey. If you’re currently dealing with issues of loose skin, you should start lifting weights. If you’re starting a weight loss regimen, be sure to include weightlifting in it.
If you lose skin elasticity, it can’t return to its proper size, and thus loose skin becomes an issue. This happens naturally as we age, but it can afflict younger people as well. What can you do to improve it?
Well, one study conducted by Stanford University found that eating 500 mg of gelatin per day improved skin elasticity. Getting gelatin in our diet can be a little tough, though, unless you enjoy eating a variety of strange foods like oxtail, chicken feet, or short ribs. Supplementing is the easiest way to go here.
The supplement contains a blend of nutrients, including selenium, zinc, vitamin C, and various cartenoids (pigments founds in plants, fruits, and vegetables). You can get these nutrients from your diet by eating more seafood, nuts, red meat, and fruit and vegetables, or you can take the supplement itself.
Vitamin C is 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.
Vitamin C is found in many fruits, but again it’s easiest to get the required amounts through supplementation, which varies widely depending on whom you listen to. The US National Academy of Science lists 2 grams per day as the Tolerable Upper Intake Level, but preeminent scientists like Linus Pauling recommended and personally took 6-18 grams per day. I personally take 1-2 grams per day.
If you’re dealing with loose skin, I highly recommend you try these natural solutions before going under the knife or doing anything else drastic. In almost every case I’ve seen, people have been able to drastically reduce or eliminate the excess skin by doing the above.