With summer coming around the corner this is a very common question that gets asked. In fact, it is a growing surgery request, 'upper arm lifts' to help
reduce 'bingo wings' and tighten up the underlying tissue to give the arms for definition!
Firstly, lets talk about physiology. Women tend to carry more fat on their body, with the 'healthy' range being between 20-25% vs men whose range is 10-15%. Body fat is structurally important and protects your main vital organs, acting as a cushion and insulation. It is also a crucial component for the production of hormones, reproductive functions, with dietary fat also helping absorption of micronutrients. For women fat therefore likes to place itself around the organs, arms and legs more so than the average man and is something that is completely natural.
but still... how can I lose this arm fat, right?
It all comes down to the calories in and calories out equation and understanding that you cannot spot reduce fat, HOWEVER building strong muscular arms will help reduce the 'jiggle' and 'tone' up those arms, IF, your diet is good and you reduce that overall fat percentage.
The time in which this will occur is very individual and based upon hormones, DNA and consistency with fitness and diet. That is why focusing on living healthy and active you are likely to see a greater improvement than just solely focusing on reducing your arm fat.
Try hitting a high protein diet combined with lots of fruit and vegetables and complex carbohydrates (quinoa, potatoes, brown rice/pasta) and healthy fats (avocado, nuts and seeds...), paired with exercises that have a higher energy expenditure, high intensity cardio, strength training and upping your overall non-exercise activity thermogenesis (i.e. hitting those 10k steps everyday!)
Here's some tips to keep you going:
1. Try lifting weights: Start small if you are new to weight training. Patience is key so don't be disheartened. Build up that muscle and help tones those arms. Focus on triceps and try master those tricep dips, extensions and pull downs.
2. Eat more volume: This is bulking out your meal with lots of non-starchy vegetables and whole grains. Here you will become full will low calorie foods that will help you create that calorie deficit.
3. Hydrate! A crucial one, not a lot follow. Upping your water intake and substituting those high-calorie drinks with water has shown to decrease calorie consumption but also increase bodily functions such as digestion!
4. Increase your fibre content: This can help reduce snacking and improve bowel function. Try adding things like chias seeds to your smoothies, salads or porridge to boost your fibre and omega 3 fatty acids
5. Cut out the sweet drinks (and food in moderation): Not only do they add more calories to your overall intake. They also are 'empty calories', meaning that they do not fill you up and can leave you reaching for food again a couple of hours (or minutes) later! A good trick is to try green tea, diet drinks (if you have too) and fruit-infused water!
6. Exercise: This time not in the weight room! Try upping those daily steps from 5-10k or more, try a new class or outdoor activity like tennis, volleyball, paddle... and do it with a friend! Learn to love the social side to fitness and make it less of a chore. This will help create that calorie deficit and get you closer to your goals.
6. Get plenty of sleep and de-stress: Sleep not only helps your drop the fat but oppositely, if you do not get enough it can alter your hunger hormones and make you reach for those sugary snacks for quick bursts of energy. De-stress, lack of sleep and energy is likely to lead to little daily events causing a lot more stress than they need to and can end up making you eat more for comfort! Instead of reaching for food try de-stressing with walks, journalling, meditation, yoga stretch or skin-care/beauty regimes.
Hope this helps, if you feel like you need some guidance on this then please reach out via the website and book in a call :)
By Poppy (Sport Nutritionist (MSc) & Coach)