Nothing spoils a form-fitting dress or a cute tank top like bulges of armpit fat spilling over the sides of your bra. You don’t even really need to have much excess body fat to experience bra bulge.
To a certain extent it’s a normal part of your anatomy. And, if the armpits are a place where you tend to store fat, it’s just inevitable. Choosing the wrong bra only exacerbates the problem.
So what can you do? You can lose some fat and go bra shopping. I’m not a lingerie expert, but I do know a thing or two about losing armpit fat. So let’s get into it!
What Causes Armpit Fat?
Both men and women may have excess armpit fat, but women are more likely to battle the bulge. Actually, a little armpit fat peeking out of the sides of your bra is anatomically normal.
Women have breasts comprised of fat, and not all of that fat can be completely contained by a bra. If you are large-chested, you’ll likely have more pronounced armpit fat spillage. But hey, you’ve got curves, and that’s something to be happy about!
Anatomically speaking, a “tail” of breast tissue called the “axillary tail of Spence” extends from the chest into the armpit area. All women have this and it’s a perfectly normal part of the female anatomy. That’s why even lean women have a little armpit bulge.
Certain factors can cause some women to have more bra bulge than others, including:
Genetics: Where and how your body stores fat is in large part genetically programmed. Some women tend to store fat in their hips and thighs and have a leaner upper body, while other women tend to store fat in their upper body and mid-section and are leaner in their lower body.
Excess body fat: But whether your store fat in your upper or lower body, if you have excess body fat you are more likely to experience bra bulge. Fat is soft and likes to spill out over bras, waistbands, etc, as unfortunate as it is. Leaner people with more muscle don’t have as much of a problem with this because muscle is hard and solid.
Ill-fitting bra: This doesn’t cause armpit fat, per se, but it does make it more pronounced. You’d be amazed at the things a properly fitting bra can do/hide.
Hormones: Some women need to keep a couple different sizes of bras on hand for different times of the month. Hormone fluctuations can cause the breasts to swell as much as a whole cup size. This change can increase the appearance of armpit fat. If you don’t change your bra size at the same time, a tight bra makes matters worse.
Poor posture: Slumping forward can accentuate the appearance of armpit fat. Standing tall with your shoulders back and chest out really makes a huge difference in your overall appearance.
How To Lose Armpit Fat
Unfortunately there aren’t any quick fixes to banish armpit bulge. You can work on your posture, which can help a little, but losing excess fat is really the surest way to make noticeable changes around your bra-line.
But first a few clarifications: You can’t change your genetics. Your body is still going to store fat where it prefers. And, depending on how you are genetically programmed to hold on to fat, you may find that fat to be quite stubborn to lose. So you have to have patience and stick with a healthy lifestyle to see results.
If your breast tissue is creating your armpit fat, you will see a reduction as you lose weight because you will lose volume in your breasts. That’s just something to keep in mind.
Your hormones are still going to fluctuate. If you think your hormones fluctuate abnormally, check in with your doctor. Otherwise, it’s all part of being a woman.
Diet to Reduce Armpit Fat
The subheading is misleading. There is no specific diet to lose armpit fat because you cannot spot reduce. You can’t target just one area on your body to lose fat with diet or exercise. You have to lose total body fat, some of which will come from your armpit.
And by diet, I’m not talking about calorie restriction. I’m talking about the overall quantity, but more importantly the quality, of what you eat. This is the number one way to make a difference in your body composition.
If you are regularly eating more calories than your body needs each day, especially low-quality foods, your body will store that excess energy as fat. You have to eat the right foods in the right quantities to reach your body comp goals.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. Diets don’t work. You can restrict your calorie intake, cut out certain foods, swear off sugar and starve yourself but any rewards will be short-lived. Most people who lose a lot of weight on a diet end up gaining it all back. According to Cleveland Clinic, this is true for about 80 to 95 percent of dieters.
The key is to start with some small dietary changes that you know you can stick with. Everyone is different, so you have to pick and choose what works for you.
Here are a few easy things you can do to get started:
Drink lots of water. Water fills up your belly and can curb cravings rather effectively. Sometimes people think they’re hungry when in fact they’re just thirsty. Drinking a glass of water before each meal can actually help you eat less at that meal, according to a 2018 study in Clinical Nutrition Research. Keep a water bottle with you at all times. Invest in a smart water bottle that tracks your water intake and integrates with a cell phone app. This is the one I have and I love it!
Give up one treat a day. Just one! Do you have a soda with lunch? An afternoon cookie? A bag of chips on your commute home. Give up one of those things. You can cut over 100 calories just with that one sacrifice.
Trade in sugar for erythritol. I’m not telling you to give up sugar in your tea or coffee, just swap it with a natural, calorie-free substitute. Erythritol is my holy grail of plant-based sweeteners and it is magical. Here’s the one I use. Try it and let me know what you think. In addition to using in in your coffee, you can also bake with it, make homemade ice cream and really use it in any way you use regular sugar.
Try this recipe for sugar-free brownies made with erythritol!
Eat more vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Fill your plate with more foods as close to their natural state as possible. Opt for fresh steamed broccoli, a seasoned lean chicken breast, and a side of brown rice instead of that processed frozen meal or fast food.
Fill up on fiber. If you eat more veggies and whole grains, you will automatically get more fiber in your diet. Fiber improves digestion but it also helps you feel fuller at meals for fewer calories.
Don’t undereat. Weight loss is often focused on eating less than you normally do. But in fact, some people may not eat enough to lose weight.
Huh? Yep, it’s true. When you don’t eat enough, your metabolism actually slows down to preserve energy. Years of one calorie-restricted diet after another can royally mess up your body’s natural energy regulation ability.
You want to eat enough high-quality foods to support your activity level and fuel your body. It helps to work with a nutritionist or a nutrition coach for a short period to find out just how much you as an individual should be eating—because it’s highly individual.
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Exercise Routine to Banish Bra Bulge
A sedentary lifestyle is a major contributing factor to excess armpit fat and excess fat anywhere on your body. To change your body composition you have to get active, not only to burn calories but to build muscle and rev your metabolism.
Cardiovascular exercise that raises your heart rate for a period of time and makes you sweat can help you burn off extra calories your body doesn’t need that it might otherwise store as fat. But, it’s also just good for you. It improves your heart health, reduces your risk of many diseases, boosts your mood and overall well-being, improves cognitive function, reduces stress, and so much more.
I recommend four to five 30 to 60-minutes sessions of a combination of low, medium, and high-intensity cardio each week. This doesn’t mean you need to go to the gym and run on the treadmill; there are tons of things you can do that are enjoyable and burn calories.
You can take dance classes. Ballroom, ballet, hip-hop, Zumba. It’s so much fun, and it’s great for burning that excess armpit fat.
Ride your bike. Find a nice path near your house and get out for a lunchtime ride. Or make plans to ride on the weekends with some friends.
Go hiking. Fresh air, nature and hills! Great for burning calories and, as a bonus, hill-walking is a great workout for the glutes.
Try rollerblading. It might seem scary or hard to learn, but it’s really not. It’s a blast once you get the hang of it and it can get you in really good shape! Check out this blog post I wrote about getting started with rollerblading.
Find a fitness influencer you like on YouTube or Instagram. Take classes with them online in the comfort of your own home. There are some really fun workouts out there! Find someone who’s personality you love and who you look forward to “hanging out with” every day. Some have Facebook groups you can join and challenges you can enter, which provides motivation and accountability.
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|You Need More NEAT|
|NEAT stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. It encompasses the energy burned doing anything except sleeping, eating, and sports/exercise. So, getting up from your desk to get a glass of water, walking up the stairs to your bedroom, walking across the parking lot to get to the grocery store, lifting the groceries out of the car—those all count as NEAT. |
These seemingly small activities can actually impact your body’s energy balance in a big way. Even standing instead of sitting while you’re working can make a big difference. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, a person who weighs 145 pounds burns about 100 calories an hour working at their desk, but could burn
It’s important to also include strength-training in your armpit fat-blasting workout routine. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat. A lot more. Your body uses a lot of fuel just to build and maintain muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn all day long—even when you’re doing nothing!
A lot of cardio activities will also build muscle, but I recommend doing targeting strength-training sessions two or three times a week to target all the major muscle groups—the legs, arms, chest, back, shoulders and core muscles.
Just like with cardio, this doesn’t mean you have to go lift weights at the gym, unless you enjoy that. There are lots of other ways to get a full-body workout. Rock climbing, barre class, yoga, Pilates, or taking a fun strength training class online in your living room. You don’t need a lot of equipment, either. You can get a great workout with just your bodyweight and/or a few resistance bands.
What are the best exercises for getting rid of armpit fat?
I knew you were going to ask that. Really, there aren’t any. They’re allll good. That’s because you can’t spot-reduce. You have to lose total body fat, via a healthy diet, cardio, and strength training, and then you’ll start to see results where you want them.
But here are a few of my favorite exercises that will give you the toned appearance you’re looking for once your body composition shifts:
Push-ups are a great all-around upper-body exercise that works the chest, back, triceps, and shoulders. They are suitable for people of all fitness levels and can be easily modified to be made easier or more challenging.
- Start in a plank position, with your shoulders aligned directly over your wrists and your toes tucked under.
- Keep your body in one straight line and your core muscles contracted.
- Bend your elbows and lower your body down until your chest is a few inches from the floor, then push back up.
You can make this move easier by leaving your knees on the ground.
Bench dips work the shoulders, chest and triceps. You can use an exercise bench or the edge of your bed or sofa.
- Sit on the bench and place your hands on the bench on either side of your hips.
- Please your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent.
- Lift your hips off the bench and walk your feet out a bit.
- Bend your elbows and lower your hips down in front of the bench until your upper arms are parallel with the floor.
- Press yourself back up and repeat.
Rows target the muscles of the upper and middle back. You can easily do these at home with a resistance band.
- Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you.
- Wrap the middle of the band around the soles of your feet and hold the ends of the band in both hands.
- Bend your elbows back and pull the band toward your ribs. Squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Extend your arms and repeat.