Reaching a weight loss goal is exhilarating. You look and feel better, and you're excited to show off your new, slimmer physique. Unfortunately, losing a lot of weight can lead to loose skin that doesn't quickly snap back into shape.
But don't let that dampen your success. Proper nutrition, hydration, exercise and daily skin care can help tone and tighten your skin so you can go after that next goal with confidence.
Your skin becomes loose after fat loss because you've lost tissue volume. Compared to lean muscle, fat takes up a lot of space. Having excess fat overtime causes the skin to stretch. Once you've lost the fat the skin is still stretched, but no longer has the volume.
Not only will building muscle help you fill up that empty space, but it will also improve your metabolism because lean muscle is more metabolically active than fat. If you haven't been strength training, start now and do it regularly — two to four times a week. Make sure to target all the major muscle groups — chest, shoulders, arms, abs, back, glutes and legs.
If you have already been lifting weights, it may be time to up the intensity. It's important to keep changing up your routine so you don't plateau. Swap out exercises for new ones, gradually add weight or reps, vary lifting intensity and work in some plyometric moves.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
This isn't a secret, but it's worth repeating: Don't drop your healthy diet just because you lost the weight. Healthy eating is a lifestyle, not a temporary fix. Avoid processed and junk foods, sugary foods and beverages and foods high in sodium. Eat whole foods including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and healthy fats from nuts, seeds and avocado.
These nutritious foods contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants crucial for healthy skin. Vitamins A, E and C are vital for skin health, as are the minerals zinc and selenium. Essential fatty acids found in fatty fish, avocados, nuts and seeds and antioxidant flavonoids from fruits and vegetables also play an important role in skin elasticity.
Hydrate From the Inside and Outside
Drinking a big glass of water isn't just satisfying after a long workout; it's also vital for your body's health, including your skin. Dehydration can cause the skin to look dry and wrinkly — instead of full and supple. Drink plenty of fresh water throughout the day and more if you exercise a lot or live in a hot or dry climate.
Keeping your skin hydrated from the outside will also improve the appearance and elasticity of the skin. Use a good moisturizer every day after you shower and whenever your skin feels dry. There are lots of expensive lotions on the market claiming to firm and tighten loose skin. Whether or not they do what they say, they're probably not worth the high price tag. A quality moisturizer that feels good on your skin and doesn't break the bank is a less risky option.
While you may not be able to completely erase the effects of weight loss on your skin, you can prevent further damage. Weight loss that occurs too rapidly is one of the causes of loose, sagging skin. Instead, aim to lose weight at a slower pace — about 1 to 2 pounds a week — which will give your skin time to adapt to your shrinking shape.
A tan may temporarily hide skin imperfections, but sun damage can make sagging skin look worse and weaken the skin's ability to heal itself. Don't use tanning beds, and use a sunscreen with an SPF of 50 or higher on all exposed areas of the skin when going outdoors.