For some people, gaining excess body fat means gaining fat around the face. This might be upsetting. However, there are ways to reduce and manage facial fat. In this article, you will learn practical ways to achieve the ideal body fat and how to measure it. We then compare the advantage of using BMI over body fat percentage and vice versa. Then we will analyze why some people look better with more body fat as they age.
An ideal body fat percentage that will show off your facial bones is around 6-13% for men and 13-20% for women, but it can vary per individual. Achieving optimum facial aesthetics requires a healthy diet, an active lifestyle, and monitoring your progress.
Ideal Body Fat
Body fat is a normal part of the human body. Its role is to store energy for metabolic processes. In my previous article, I discussed the different types of fat, such as visceral, white, and subcutaneous fat. But this time, our focus is on subcutaneous fat as it is mostly responsible for our obese appearance.
In this table, body fat percentages show their indication.
|Male Body Fat Percentage||Female Body Fat Percentage|
|5-9||Minimum body fat where every muscle in your body is visible.||5-9||A dangerously low body fat range that may compromise a woman’s health.|
|10- 14||Still considered lean, but healthier and easier to obtain than the 5-9 % range.||10- 14||Muscles are well-defined, and abs may be visible.|
|15-19||Muscles are not well-defined, but this range can still be considered healthy.||15-19||An athletic build which requires strict exercise and a diet plan.|
|20- 24||Abs are no longer visible. This is on the higher end of average.||20- 24||Average body fat and more physical activity is advised.|
|25-29||Considered obese and making lifestyle modifications is advised.||25-29||Lots of facial features are lost due to excess fat.|
|30-34||Unacceptable body fat and a weight loss program is needed.||30-34||Close to obesity and abdominal muscles are no longer visible.|
|35+||At risk for diabetes and heart disease.||35+||At risk for diabetes and heart disease. Weight loss management required.|
Christian Bale is a great example of the glow-up you can achieve just by losing weight. Just by losing weight, he gained cheekbones and a jawline.
Extra Muscle Caveat
Keep in mind that when calculating your body fat or BMI, the amount of muscle you have is going to change your readings. The BMI doesn’t care if your weight is from fat or muscle, so if you’ve packed on a lot of muscle, just realize that you have much more leeway and are allowed to have a worse score.
With body fat percentage, the amount of muscle you have is factored in. However, the higher your muscle mass goes, the higher your fat is allowed to be. So you actually have less leeway when it comes to body fat percentage. You’ll need an even lower score. At 10% body fat, you could be skinny and frail or you could be very muscular and still have a good amount of fat.
This is why I recommend to keep losing weight until you get a 6 pack, and then go just a little bit further. That way you’re at a very good range for facial aesthetics and physique, but don’t come off as a starving African child.
BMI vs. Body Fat %
Body Mass Index (BMI) and Body Fat Percentage measure your body fat and fitness progress. BMI measures body fat based on your height and weight. Here is the formula to compute the BMI score:
BMI = Your weight (in pounds) x 703 / Your height (in inches squared)
After you determine your BMI, you can categorize yourself according to this table:
|18.5 or below||Underweight|
|18.5 to 24.9||Normal|
|25.0 to 29.9||Overweight|
|30 or above||Obese|
Body fat percentage attempts to directly measure the amount of fat relative to your muscle and organs (lead body mass). You can then see which body fat percentage category you fall into:
|Body Fat %||Female||Body Fat %||Male|
|32% or more||Obese||25% or higher||Obese|
Ways of Measuring Body Fat
The most common methods to measure your body fat percentage are:
|1. Skinfold calipers||measure the thickness of fat on various areas of the body|
|2. Body circumference measurements||measure the circumference of body parts such as the waist and arms|
|3. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA)||uses two X-rays to estimate body fat composition|
|4. Hydrostatic weighing||measures body composition based on the body’s density|
|5. Air Displacement Plethysmography (Bod Pod)||Measures body composition and density using air|
|6. Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA)||Uses electrical currents to determine how much is fat and muscle|
|7. Bioimpedance spectroscopy (BIS)||Uses electrical currents with different technology to calculate body fat|
|8. Electrical impedance myography (EIM)||Uses electrical currents through the body, but in smaller areas|
|9. 3-D body scanners||Uses infrared sensors to generate a shape of your body and estimates body fat percentage|
Most of these methods need a highly-specific device and trained personnel. For the most accurate body fat composition measurement I recommend the DEXA scan. But you can try body circumference measurements and bioelectrical impedance to track your body fat at home.
Facial Fat vs. Facial Musculature
Body size has a direct impact on attractiveness, dominance, strength, employment, and leadership (de Jager et al. 2011). The study found that humans are good at guessing a person’s overall body fat percentage and overall health by just looking at the face.
Xue et al. (2019) conducted a study that compared how facial fat vs. facial muscle can affect attractiveness and masculinity in men. For men, having more facial muscle is correlated with increased attractiveness. On the other hand, more facial fat just increases attractiveness when you go from underweight to healthy. According to this study, women mainly seem to care about muscle mass in the face and not fat mass.
However, this can explain why some people look better with more body fat. Some people lack facial fat, especially with age. The line between underweight and healthy can be different for different people and not necessarily at a fixed spot on the BMI/body-fat percentage chart.
Facial Fat and Age
You lose facial fat as you age. Aside from wrinkles, the shape of your face changes as you age. Here, we list the things that make your face change as you grow old.
- The face appears to deflate because the subcutaneous fat becomes less firm.
- Skin starts to sag as collagen decreases. The skin loses elasticity.
- The skin around the nose loses strength. As a result, the nose sags downward.
- Eye sockets become larger, which gives the face a sunken appearance.
- Lips look thinner as they roll backwards.
- Bags appear under the eyes while eyelids start to droop.
Ways to Reduce Excess Facial Fat
A study conducted by Willis et al. (2012) among 119 sedentary adults with obesity concluded that doing aerobic exercises is enough to burn body fats. Aerobic exercise is a simple activity that you can sustain for minutes. Examples of this type of training are cycling and walking. While losing weight generally favors face slimming, doing regular cardiovascular exercise may help reduce facial fat.
Simply by controlling when you eat instead of just what you eat, can have a huge impact on your weight. Fasting increases metabolism, reduces hunger, and contributes to satiety, as well as other health benefits. Try to compress your eating window to 8 or 4 hours, and see what happens.
3. Facial exercises
Facial exercises don’t directly get rid of fat. But they tone the facial muscles, which makes the face appear firmer as a person loses weight.
4. Reduce alcohol consumption
Packed with empty calories, alcohol contributes to weight gain. The calories from the alcohol can really add up. Frequent and excessive intake of alcohol can also cause dehydration. Alcohol intake can trigger water retention and make a face appear bloated.
5. Drink more water
Drinking one glass of water before a meal promotes lipolysis and breakdown of fats. A study conducted by Girona et al. (2014) proved that drinking water increases energy expenditure while resting. Furthermore, cold water causes the body to spend more energy to heat it up to aid in digestion. It also prevents overeating since the person feels more full. This reduces the number of calories a person consumes daily. Drinking water before meals can gradually promote weight loss.
6. Get enough sleep
Ghrelin is the so-called hunger hormone that stimulates appetite. Not getting enough sleep may lead to weight gain by increasing levels of ghrelin.
7. Avoid processed foods and refined carbohydrates
Processed foods contain salt, calories, and sugar, which increases the tendency to gain weight and excess fat. Refined carbohydrates such as white rice and pasta have low fiber contents. These foods underwent extensive processing. They can just be considered empty calories.
A person can use the aforementioned tips one at a time to reduce body and facial fat. Just remember it takes several weeks or even months to see noticeable results.
Losing weight has a huge impact on facial aesthetics.