A healthful diet and regular exercise can reduce chest fat in most males and females. However, in some cases, an underlying medical condition might be causing chest fat.
The chest muscles are important for lifting, pushing, and controlling arm movements. However, excess fat can still develop in this area of the body, and some people may wonder how they can reduce it.
In this article, we discuss the best ways for males and females to lose chest fat.
Body mass index (BMI) is a rough measure of body fat. A person can work out their BMI by dividing their weight in kilograms (kg) by their height in meters squared. There are many online tools for calculating BMI, including ones that use imperial measures.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), someone with a BMI:
- below 18.5 is underweight
- between 18.5 and 24.9 is a moderate weight
- between 25 and 29.9 has overweight
- of 30 or more has obesity
- of 40 or more has “extreme” obesity
People with a BMI of 25 or higher can lose body fat using a combination of diet and exercise.
It is not possible to lose fat just from one specific area of the body, such as the chest. Due to genetic variations, different people tend to gain and lose fat more easily in certain areas of the body.
However, building muscle in the chest can help tone the area.
Many diets for weight loss are available, but as diets work differently for everyone, there is no single best diet for losing weight.
The DIETFITS study compared a healthful low fat diet with a healthful low carbohydrate diet in 609 adults with overweight. They found that both diets had a similar effect on weight loss over 12 months.
Intermittent fasting and caloric restriction are popular diets for weight loss. They involve taking periodic breaks from eating or limiting the intake of calories on certain days.
A 2018 review found that intermittent fasting did lead to weight loss. However, the authors noted that many people dropped out of the reviewed studies, which may suggest that intermittent fasting is not practical for everyone.
General dietary tips for managing weight include:
- eating a diet of whole foods with plenty of vegetables
- avoiding highly processed foods
- avoiding sugary foods and drinks
- balancing meals to include protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthful fats
- being careful to avoid large portion sizes
- limiting alcohol intake
- using a food journal to track the diet
- setting achievable goals for weight loss
High intensity interval training (HIIT) can be an effective way to lose fat.
A 2017 review comparing HIIT with moderate intensity continuous training found that both types of physical activity reduce body fat but that HIIT takes up 40% less of a person’s time than the continuous training plan.
The pectoralis major and pectoralis minor are the muscles in the chest. Weighted exercises can target these muscles and improve muscle tone.
Some exercises for targeting the chest muscles include the bench press and pushup. It is possible to perform these exercises with or without weights.
In most cases, chest fat results from having too much body fat in general. Sometimes, though, chest fat occurs due to a health condition.
As they age, many people experience sarcopenia, which is a loss of muscle tissue that occurs over time. A person with sarcopenia will have more body fat than someone without the condition.
In females, hormonal changes can cause the breasts to grow. Anyone who notices unusual changes or lumps in the breasts should speak to their doctor.
A possible cause of chest fat in males is gynecomastia, which is an increased amount of breast gland tissue. Breast glands are present in males and females, but they are usually small in males.
Gynecomastia might be the result of hormone imbalances, obesity, or aging.
Experts have also linked the condition with the use of certain drugs, including:
- anabolic steroids
- angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors
In some cases, people with gynecomastia may have an underlying health condition, such as:
- liver disease
- kidney disease
- tumors in the testes or adrenal glands
- lung or testicular cancer
- thyroid disorder
- ulcerative colitis
- cystic fibrosis
In addition to dietary changes, exercising at home may help a person lose chest fat. Some good exercises for targeting the chest muscles at home include:
- pushups — either on the floor or raised against another surface, such as a table or wall
- chest press — this will require a bench and either dumbbells or a barbell
- chest fly — another exercise using a bench with dumbbells
- dips — it is possible to perform dips between two stools or chairs
Many activities outside of a gym can help with weight loss. The Department of Agriculture give some examples of how many calories a male weighing 154 pounds (70 kg) might burn during 1 hour of various activities:
- 370 calories for hiking
- 330 calories for light gardening or yard work
- 590 calories for jogging at 5 miles per hour (mph)
- 590 calories for bicycling at speeds of more than 10 mph
Exercising outdoors is also a good way to increase vitamin D levels from the sunlight, though a person should take care to apply enough sunscreen.
Most people can reduce chest fat through a healthful diet and regular exercise. The type of exercise can take many different forms, ranging from HIIT to strength training. Usually, a combination of different types of exercise is best.
Excess body fat might also be the result of a health condition. For example, hormone changes or gynecomastia can cause increases in chest fat. In these cases, the person should speak to a doctor about treatment for the underlying issue.