One of the biggest complaints I hear from people who have lost a bunch of weight is their struggle with loose skin. This can be very discouraging when you’ve worked so hard to improve your appearance. After all, you may feel like you’ve just exchanged one unattractive problem for another.
I have good news. There’s not only a good explanation for loose skin, but there may be a solution. But, before I tell you how you can improve the problem, let me talk about why this problem exists to begin with.
The Deflation Process
When we’re overweight, our skin is jam-packed with fat cells. These oversized cells fill the skin out, making it seem “firm,” when really it’s just tight from the abundance of fat underneath the skin. This tightness can give the skin a tighter, smoother texture.
As we lose weight, our fat cells begin to shrink and the previously stretched-out skin loses that support, leaving us with sagging wrinkly skin.
Think about a balloon. When you fill up a balloon, the elastic skin stretches out nice and smooth. But as the balloon deflates, it starts getting dimples in the elastic skin. The same thing happens to our skin.
Ironically, people may actually feel flabbier as they are losing fat. They may notice their skin has more folds in the tummy area or more noticeable cellulite on their thighs. In reality, the skin has simply lost the support of all those big fat cells that once stretched the skin out nice and tight.
At first, this may seem hopeless, but our body is a marvelous creation with the incredible ability to adapt as it changes.
Here are 5 ways to fight the flab.
Limit Long Steady Runs
People often turn to running as a way to lose weight. While it does help burn calories, it can have some adverse effects. One of those side effects is muscle loss.
You see, our body doesn’t need a lot of muscle to run. A matter of fact, because running burns fat our body will want to store fat so it has the fuel, our body needs to perform well. Remember, our body doesn’t care what it looks like. It just wants to survive. If you are running from a dinosaur, it will do what it needs to do so you aren’t eaten.
On the contrary, excess muscle hinders a long-distance runner’s performance. Even at a resting state, muscle requires more energy to exist and weighs more than fat, giving your body two good reasons to ditch it.
However, this is not the case with sprinters. Sprinters have awesome muscular legs because sprinting requires powerful muscles. So if you like to run, it’s better to do sprint interval training rather than maintaining a slow and steady pace if you want to improve muscle tone in the legs and butt.
Dieters often lose muscle during weight loss. While weight loss is determined on calories in vs. calories out, our body’s shape is determined by where we get those calories. If you’re on a diet that’s low in protein, your body may use your own protein stores (your muscle) to meet those requirements. But if you boost your protein intake while incorporating exercise, you can preserve muscle mass (and even gain muscle) while losing weight.
Muscle can fill out the skin just like fat fills out the skin. If you’re decreasing your fat mass, you should lift weights to increase your muscle mass. One of the great thing about muscle is that it’s much more shapely and firm than fat could ever be.
Lose Weight Slowly
You don’t want to lose weight so slowly that you get discouraged, but going on an extreme rapid weight-loss program is more apt to leave you with loose skin. Since your skin is an organ, it can shrink as your body realizes there’s no need for the excess skin mass. If you lose 1-2 pounds a week, your skin can adjust slowly, along with your weight loss, with less-noticeable side effects.
Maintain Your New Weight
One of the biggest reasons people deal with loose skin is because their weight is constantly yo-yoing. Your body has no idea if you’re going to need that extra skin or not. The longer you stay small, the tighter your skin will get.
Of course, if you’ve lost 100 pounds, you can’t necessarily fix excess skin accumulated over years of being overweight, but the situation can definitely improve over time. The process requires patience, along with purposeful training and eating.
Meanwhile, while you wait on your body to change, focus on the positive changes your body has made. No matter how much loose skin you’re fighting, you are healthier, stronger, and thinner!