The arms can be a stubborn area in the body in which to get rid of fat, and people go to any lengths to get rid of their arm fat. Arm fat may be disproportional to the rest of the body and can make the arms look unattractive.
You can get rid of arm fat through proper exercise and losing weight while gaining muscle. Arm fat loss is also possible through liposuction, arm lifts, and body contouring procedures like CoolSculpt, Airsculpt, and Emsculpt.
It can be very frustrating to have a large flab of fat in your arm that does not look great on the rest of your body. Even skinny people have arm fat when their arms’ fat accumulation does not match their overall appearance. Wearing sleeveless shirts and looking good in photos can be quite difficult when your flabby arms are always in the way. The extra fat makes you feel self-conscious and can lower your self-esteem.
Generally, women are more likely to have extra arm fat than men. This disparity is due to the effects of sex hormones on fat storage, which we will discuss more in the next section. However, arm fat is a problem in both men and women, and the solutions proposed in this article apply to both sexes.
Why Some People Have More Arm Fat Than Others
One of the reasons why people struggle with arm fat is that they store fat disproportionately more in those areas. Where people store fat in their bodies is a phenomenon that’s mostly influenced by factors such as genetics, biological sex, stress levels, and insulin production.
Fat in the body is stored in the adipose tissues. These adipose tissues are stored differently around the body and can either be subcutaneous or visceral. Subcutaneous fat is fat that’s just below the surface, and visceral fat surrounds the organs.
Fat storage is affected by genetics since genetics determine metabolic capability, insulin production, and how stress affects the body. Women are more affected by arm fat since they are more likely to have subcutaneous fat. Estrogen causes women to store more fat in the hips, arms, trunk, and buttocks.
Also, chronic stress (i.e., increased cortisol levels) compounds the effects of fat storage. Excessive stress can also change how the body stores fat in the body as stress can lead to more fat accumulation in the central part of the body.
Losing Arm Fat Through Exercise
Losing arm fat does not only entail losing the fat itself. Gaining muscle tone and definition is also very helpful in creating an overall sculpted appearance. Unlike with weight loss, you can target specific muscles in your workout routine. You can specifically craft your exercises to hone your arm muscles. But, if you want to do away with all the muscle toning and focus entirely on losing weight, that’s perfectly fine as well.
The good thing is that many exercises can tone your arms without requiring going to the gym. Sure, going to the gym will give you an extra boost, but you can also make do with household items. You can improve muscle definition by lifting weights, even if they are just minor weights. You can purchase dumbells for low prices, and they are easily accessible. If that still isn’t an option, you can repurpose containers at home or use equally heavy items to use as your weights.
Pushups and dips are good for toning your arm muscles. Pushups can be quite challenging, but they are excellent at toning the arms. If you cannot manage plank pushups just yet, you can start doing wall pushups and pushups at an incline. Once you get used to those and gain some strength, you can try out the plank version. Dips are great for training and defining your triceps. Plus, you can do them at home with a sturdy object that can hold your weight.
The first thing you should know is that it’s impossible to lose fat in a chosen area of the body. No specific exercise will target weight loss in the arms, for example. Although you may lose fat in a certain area particularly quicker than in other areas, this has less to do with the exercise and more with your bodily functions. But there are theories that exercising a muscle helps break down more fat closest to that muscle to meet the muscle’s energy requirements.
That said, the exercises that will help you lose arm fat the most will be, of course, the fat-burning exercises.
Focus on cardio exercises to maximize fat burning. The best part about cardio is that you can do many of these exercises at home and while having fun. Here are a handful of effective cardio exercises that you can do with limited equipment.
- Dancing – Dancing is an excellent way to burn fat while enjoying your workout. You can try following dance workouts on the internet as a guide on what to do. However, dancing as an exercise may take some time and will not burn calories as fast as others on this list.
- Jump rope– Jump rope is one of the best cardio exercises out there. All you need is a jump rope, and you’ll have access to many variations of intense fat-burning exercises. If you’re short on time, jump rope exercises are one of the fastest fat-burning cardio exercises.
- Running– Of course, let’s not forget about the classic: running. You can go for a run outside, or you can jog in place if you want to stay in. Running can be quite relaxing and will still give you the fat-burning component you want in a cardio workout. Running is also an excellent way not to get winded quickly, and you’ll have much more endurance.
- Jumping Jacks- Any exercise with jumps in it can pack quite a bit of intensity, so jumping jacks are also a good way to burn fat. If you don’t have a jump rope at home, you can substitute it with some jumping jacks. However, do take note that jumping exercises are high in intensity, so not doing them correctly could strain your muscles or cause injuries. Make sure that you are doing the exercises correctly to eliminate these risks.
A better long-term strategy, though, is to weight train. The more muscle you build, the faster your metabolism is. You will never have a healthy relationship with food if your metabolism is too slow. You’ll burn off weight with cardio and then bounce right back to where you were before because your metabolism is shot.
Check out our article for an in-depth guide to shredding fat.
What to Eat to Lose Arm Fat
The total calories eaten is the main component in determining how much fat you gain or lose. But, what foods are you supposed to eat and avoid to lose arm fat?
As previously mentioned, you cannot target a single, specific area of your body to lose weight in. However, some foods promote fat loss and protein synthesis, two processes that help slim down your arm. The goal of dieting to lose fat is to eat healthy portions and stay full for as long as possible. Staying full means eating foods that are relatively low in calories but will make you feel fuller for a longer amount of time, such as foods rich in protein.
Eating protein-packed food such as fish and beans is a great way to start your journey of losing arm fat. However, please pay attention to how you prepare them since frying things could add many calories to an otherwise simple serving of fish. Proteins promote muscle synthesis, and they also make you feel fuller for longer, which is a win on both counts.
Fiber also helps promote weight loss. In this study by Yunsheng et al. (2015), the researchers found that fiber could help the study participants lose weight. High fiber foods include oatmeal, chickpeas, apples, bananas, avocados, and many more fruits and vegetables. Just be sure not to overeat even healthy types of food, especially fruits that contain a lot of sugar. There are some high fiber foods where you may not notice that you are eating many of them. Moderation is key when it comes to eating right to lose weight.
How Long Does It Take to Lose Arm Fat?
Everybody is different, and we all react to exercises in different ways. Even the way we metabolize the food we eat varies from person to person. It may take you as little as a few weeks to see improvements in your arms, or it may take you longer than that.
But however long it may take, comparing yourself to other people will be counterintuitive. Not only will it impact your goals, but it also does not make sense, given that we all have different body types and locations of adipose tissues.
However, some people can’t lose weight in certain areas until they burn off almost every ounce of fat. Common areas that people can’t lose weight in are the cheeks or under their chin. But it is also true for those who can’t lose the excess fat in their arms. In those cases, cosmetic procedures may be necessary to help get rid of the fat.
Fortunately, we live in modern times, where there are already plenty of existing options to deal with stubborn fat. Before you make any decisions, make sure to do your research on what you plan on doing and make sure that you trust your medical practitioner to do the job well.
Losing Arm Fat Through Cosmetic Procedures
An arm lift aims to sufficiently remove enough fat and skin from the arm to give a toned appearance to the patient. An arm lift also works for people who suffer from a saggy arm due to aging. The surgeon makes an incision to reposition the tissue in the arm and ensure that everything is smooth and firm. Once the surgeon has achieved this, they will then position the skin to make the arms look toned. In cases where the extra fat pockets will make it difficult for the incision to heal, the surgeon will remove the extra fat through liposuction. Although one of the most common applications of an arm lift is to help with aging, saggy arms, it can still help with fat removal.
With an arm lift being a surgical procedure, the patient should take proper precautions before the surgery. People who use tobacco products should avoid it completely for at least 2-4 weeks before the procedure. The customary pre-op requirement is for the patient to undergo a series of medical examinations to ensure that they are a healthy candidate for the procedure.
Like other invasive procedures, there are risks with an arm lift, such as infection, scarring, and decreased sensitivity in the arms. Smokers are slow to heal, which is why the patient should not smoke around the surgery. A longer healing process increases the likelihood of getting the wound infected. The repositioning of arm tissue could also cause some asymmetry in the arms. Thus, it is of utmost importance to choose a board-certified surgeon with a good reputation for the procedure.
Body Contouring (Liposuction)
Liposuction (The Traditional Way)
Liposuction is the process of removing excess fat from various parts of the body. The thighs, arms, and belly are common areas of interest for a liposuction procedure. The surgeon uses a cannula to move around and suction out excess fat. In most cases, the process involves a special liquid that breaks down fat into a manageable form. Once the fat has broken down, the excess fat can move through the cannula. There are also other ways to break down fat, such as through the use of lasers. The method used in liposuction depends on the preference of your surgeon.
Liposuction is best for patients who have good skin elasticity. Patients without the proper elasticity will end up with excess skin that won’t look firm and tight on the arm. That said, the surgeon will evaluate the patient first for candidacy, and if they don’t check the right boxes, then liposuction won’t be the procedure for them.
There will be some swelling and discomfort for a couple of weeks after the procedure, but the intensity greatly depends on how large the treated area is. The patient will also have to wear a compression garment to help reduce the swelling. Liposuction also has risks associated with it, such as possible asymmetry or infection. The surgeon will provide antibiotics in some situations to help prevent infection, and choosing the right surgeon will help manage the risk of asymmetry.
There are also several other types of liposuction. The procedures are not always advertised as actual liposuction, but many body contouring procedures operate similarly to lipo. The main difference between the traditional form of lipo and the new procedures is that many are supposedly less invasive and less risky than lipo. We’ll go over one of the more common procedures for removing arm fat.
AirSculpt is a patented method of laser liposuction. Their website indicates that AirSculpt is not like liposuction. In several ways, this statement is true because AirSculpt is not nearly as invasive as traditional lipo, and it also has less recovery time. Airsculpt is also less abrasive and does not require the manual moving back and forth of the cannula. However, Airsculpt still uses a cannula to suction out the excess fat from the problem area.
The surgeon uses a laser to break down the fat cells first before sucking it out through a cannula. An AirSculpt cannula is quite small and does not touch the dermis at all. Since it moves at 1000 times per minute, the AirSculpt cannula moves much faster than any skilled surgeon ever could.
Dermal abrasion from traditional liposuction can sometimes cause scar tissues and lumps. With the AirSculpt, you can avoid these risks. Downtime is also significantly lower at only a couple of days instead of a couple of weeks required of traditional lipo. Many patients report that they could go back to work after only a couple of days, although it might still be uncomfortable by then.
The larger the area, the longer and more uncomfortable the recovery period will be. Some patients also complain about numbness weeks after the surgery. But with proper communication with your surgeon, you should be able to manage side effects like that very well. Like traditional liposuction, and unlike completely non-invasive procedures, AirSculpting is a one-time procedure that will last very long. With time and age, the arms will still sag like they normally would even after an AirSculpt procedure. Weight gain will also cause the arms to look larger, although this fat won’t necessarily be the same stubborn fat as existed pre-op.
Sculpsure is another method of body contouring. The entire process is non-invasive and can be what we consider a ‘lunch break’ procedure. This minimal downtime means that you can get Sculpsure done for around half an hour and then get back to work without an issue as the procedure’s recovery time is virtually nonexistent. The process involves the use of laser technology to melt away the excess fat in the target area. Unlike liposuction, there is no involvement of a cannula in this procedure. The body will flush out the remaining fat cells after a couple of weeks. This process works differently for everyone and can be underwhelming compared to traditional liposuction.
Although SculpSure is a relatively easy process, the results are not immediate. The patient can start to see the results within a few weeks after the procedure, but the full results usually show around the 12-week mark. Since SculpSure has been around for a relatively short amount of time compared to liposuction or arm lifts, there is still limited research on the procedure. Very few serious adverse effects happen due to SculpSure, but again, the limited research poses a risk. For a procedure that is quick and non-invasive, SculpSure is an excellent option to get rid of the stubborn fat in the arms.
CoolSculpting is very similar to SculpSure in the way that they both break down and melt away the fat without harming the surrounding tissue. But instead of using laser technology, CoolSculpting involves freezing the fat to destroy it and so that the body will eventually flush it away. CoolSculpting is also a non-invasive procedure that does not take much time and has little to no downtime. And like SculpSure, don’t expect it to be as effective as liposuction.
CoolSculpting is cleared by the FDA and has few risks associated with it. However, the patient may experience some tingling sensations during the process. Post-op will be swelling and bruising, but these are all minor and normal side effects. These side effects should abate in a few weeks.