Shedding stubborn body fat can be tricky, especially when it’s concentrated in a specific area of your body.
The arms are often considered a problem area, leaving many people seeking out ways to lose extra arm fat.
Fortunately, there are several methods you can use to slim down and tone your arms.
Here are 9 ways to decrease arm fat and promote overall weight loss.
1. Focus on overall weight loss
Spot reduction is a technique that focuses on burning fat in a specific part of your body, such as the arms.
Though spot reduction is popular in the fitness industry, most studies have found it to be ineffective.
One study in 104 people showed that completing a 12-week resistance training program using only the non-dominant arm increased overall fat loss but had little impact on the specific area being exercised.
Another small 12-week study found that resistance training focussing on one leg was effective at decreasing overall body fat but did not reduce body fat in the leg being trained.
Therefore, it’s best to focus on overall weight loss and use exercise for muscle toning rather than fat loss.
Summary: Multiple studies show that spot reduction is ineffective. Instead, try using specific exercises for muscle toning and focus on overall weight loss.
2. Start lifting weights
Resistance training is a type of exercise that involves working against a force to build muscle mass and increase strength.
Lifting weights is a common example. While it may not cause fat loss in your arms specifically, it can help increase overall fat loss and tone your arms to help them look slimmer.
For example, one 12-week study in 28 women with type 2 diabetes showed that performing low-intensity resistance training promoted total fat loss while increasing muscle mass and strength.
Another study in 109 people observed that resistance training alone or combined with aerobic exercise was more effective at increasing lean body mass than aerobic exercise alone.
Building lean body mass can help boost metabolism and increase the number of calories burned at rest throughout the day.
Bicep curls, overhead tricep extensions, overhead presses, and upright rows are a few examples of exercises that can help tone your arms and boost muscle mass.
Summary: Lifting weights can help decrease body fat, increase muscle mass, and tone your arms to help them appear slimmer.
3. Increase your fiber intake
Adding a few additional servings of fiber to your diet can jumpstart weight loss and help you lose excess body fat.
Fiber moves slowly through your digestive system, which increases the amount of time it takes to empty your stomach and helps you feel fuller for longer.
According to one study in 252 women, each gram of dietary fiber consumed was associated with 0.25% less body fat and 0.5 pounds (0.25 kg) less body weight over 20 months.
In another review, increasing daily fiber intake by 14 grams for 4 months was linked to a 10% reduction in total calorie intake and 4.2 pounds (1.9 kg) of weight loss — without making any other changes.
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes are some examples of nutritious, high-fiber foods that you can enjoy as part of a healthy diet.
Summary: Eating more fiber can enhance feelings of fullness to reduce hunger and increase overall weight loss.
4. Add protein to your diet
Increasing your intake of protein is another simple way to curb cravings and keep your appetite under control. This, in turn, may support weight management and help you reduce excess body fat.
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A study in 20 young women found that eating a high-protein breakfast reduced hunger, increased fullness, and decreased levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates hunger.
Another small study showed that consuming more quality protein at meals was associated with less belly fat. This suggests that a high-protein diet could help improve body composition and increase fat loss.
Meat, poultry, seafood, legumes, eggs, and dairy products are all high-protein ingredients that can help you lose arm fat fast.
Summary: Protein can help decrease hunger and increase fullness. Higher protein intake may aid both weight and fat loss.
5. Do more cardio
Cardio is a type of exercise that focuses on elevating your heart rate to burn calories.
When trying to lose arm fat, including cardio in your daily routine is essential.
Studies show that cardio can be an effective strategy for weight loss and can increase lean body mass.
For example, one study in 141 people showed that pairing 40 minutes of cardio 3 times per week with a weight management program resulted in a 9% decrease in body weight in just 6 months.
It’s typically recommended to do at least 20–40 minutes of cardio per day, or between 150–300 minutes each week.
Jogging, biking, rowing, swimming, jumping rope, and dancing are all activities that can help you meet your daily cardio goals.
Summary: Cardio can help increase weight loss and fat burning to help you lose arm fat over time.
6. Cut down on refined carbs
Refined carbs are carbohydrates that have undergone processing, resulting in a final product that is lower in several key vitamins and minerals.
Typically, refined carbs are high in calories but low in fiber, which can cause blood sugar levels to increase more rapidly and result in hunger.
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While whole grain intake is associated with decreased weight gain and body fat, eating more refined grains has been linked to increased body fat.
Examples of refined carbs that are often lacking in nutrients include pasta, white bread, breakfast cereals, and other pre-packaged ingredients.
Instead, select whole-grain foods like quinoa, buckwheat, barley, oats, sorghum, and spelt and enjoy in moderation.
Summary: Refined carbs are low in nutrients and may be linked to weight gain and increased body fat. Focus on whole-grain foods instead and enjoy them in moderation.
7. Set a sleep schedule
Aside from making modifications to your diet and exercise regimen, getting enough sleep each night is another important factor to consider for losing arm fat.
Several studies have found that sleep plays a role in regulating appetite and may also enhance weight loss.
For instance, one study in nine men found that just one night of sleep deprivation caused increased feelings of hunger and higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite.
Another small study showed that participants who slept 5.5 hours each night lost 55% less weight. Moreover, they lost 60% more lean body mass than those who slept 8.5 hours per night.
Try setting a regular sleep schedule by going to bed at the same time throughout the week, avoiding distractions before bed, and minimizing your exposure to stimulants like nicotine and caffeine.
Summary: Not getting enough sleep can increase hunger and slow down weight loss, which could prevent fat loss in the arms.
8. Stay hydrated
Drinking plenty of water each day is very important when it comes to losing arm fat.
Some research suggests that drinking water with meals could promote feelings of fullness and decrease the total amount of food and the number of calories consumed.
Water may also help temporarily increase metabolism, with one study showing that drinking 16.9 ounces (500 ml) of water increased the metabolic rate by 30% for 30–40 minutes.
However, be sure to select water, tea, or other unsweetened beverages instead of sugar-sweetened drinks like soda or juice.
Regular consumption of these high-calorie drinks can quickly cause extra calories to add up and may contribute to weight gain over time.
Summary: Drinking water can support weight loss by increasing feelings of fullness, decreasing food intake, and temporarily enhancing metabolism.
9. Do bodyweight exercises
If you don’t have access to a gym or are running short on time, doing bodyweight exercises is a great way to enhance muscle tone in your arms and keep them looking slim.
Bodyweight exercises involve using your body as a form of resistance to build up muscle mass and strength.
It’s not only convenient and budget-friendly but can also produce some pretty impressive results.
For example, one study in 23 men found that calisthenics — a type of exercise that involves minimal use of gym equipment — was effective at increasing upper body strength.
Next time you work out, try doing upper-body exercises like tricep dips, planks, and push-ups to build muscle strength and tone your arms.
Summary: Bodyweight exercises can help increase muscle mass and strength to keep your arms toned.
Although research shows that spot reduction may be ineffective, there are plenty of strategies that you can use to lose arm fat.
In addition to hitting the gym, switching up your diet and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can also play a role in regulating body composition.
Implementing just a few of these changes in your daily routine can support weight loss and help you shed your unwanted arm fat.