Losing weight: Do you have to choose your ass or your face?
Can you dump kilos without gaining wrinkles?
There’s a saying that goes: “At a certain age, you have to choose between your face and your ass.” Often attributed to French actress Catherine Deneuve, it rings true for us all.
Indeed, in 2018 Jane Fonda admitted she’s 4.5kg heavier than she’d like to be for the sake of her face and, when asked about dieting, Nigella Lawson once said: “If I lost 20 kilos, I’d age 10 years straight away.”
Jean-Louis Sebagh, the French cosmetic doctor who works with Cindy Crawford, said: “After you have children, find a weight that’s easy to maintain and keep to it. The worst thing you can do to your face at this age is to yo-yo diet.”
So with that in mind, here’s what you need to know about losing weight without gaining wrinkles as a result:
Why it happens
“When you lose weight, you can’t ‘spot reduce’ and just lose it from your stomach,” says anti-ageing expert Dr Daniel Sister. “You lose it from everywhere, so it goes from your body and face, and the latter is ageing. You also carry less fat on your face, so if you lose 2% body fat, it will show up more on your face than on your stomach. When older women diet, it shows first in their face, then their body.”
Sister says rapid weight loss would show mainly around the temples, which become hollow (an age giveaway, apparently), the cheeks, which slowly slip down and become jowl-like, deeper nose-to-mouth lines and an overall drawn look to the skin.
Aim to maintain
“The beauty tip that really made me think is ‘pick the weight you can maintain’,” Cindy Crawford has said when asked about ageing. “So it’s not your skinniest weight, it’s your doable weight, and stay there. When you yo-yo that’s really bad for your skin because of the elasticity. Your skin stretches and then it goes back and then it stretches.”
Sebagh’s other tip is to take a slow and steady approach to weight loss. Something nutritional therapist, Amelia Freer, agrees with: “I have this chat with my clients often,” she says. “As well as being unsustainable (so more likely to lead to yo-yo dieting), rapid weight loss from crash dieting can be very ageing. If you want to lose weight, aim for around 1kg a week.’
After a certain age, excessive exercise can be very ageing, according to trainer Lee Mullins from Workshop Gymnasium, who works with Rosie Huntington Whiteley and Cressida Bonas. He explains that activities such as excessive running (when combined with dieting) can cause you to lose lean muscle as well as fat. “While rapid fat loss is ageing, lean muscle loss is even more so,” he says.
That’s because from our 30s onwards we start to lose muscle mass, which causes our metabolism to slow (muscle burns more calories than fat). Hence, waists get wider and diets get harder. “Running is a great exercise at any age, but from your 30s onwards, do it alongside things such as yoga and weight training,” advises Mullins. And if you don’t exercise at all, start now. Scientists from McMaster University in Ontario recently found that all types of regular moderate exercise slow down skin ageing.
You could try treatments
Obviously, there is the more drastic – and expensive – approach, but one taken by thousands of women for a quick-fix result. “Dermal fillers help to replace lost fat in the face and restore lost volume,” says cosmetic doctor Ravi Jain. “Hyaluronic acid (HA) fillers mimic the skin’s production of collagen and help to achieve natural-looking plumping.”
Jain adds that the new filler Profhilo hydrates skin, delivers pure HA and, “increases your collagen and elastin production like nothing else I know”.
Sister often recommends fillers to clients who have lost weight and look older as a result. “There are lots of very good machines and treatments around that help you lose fat from areas such as your stomach. Which, unlike dieting, can ‘spot reduce’ fat from your figure but spare your face.”
Your skin consists of billions of cells that are constantly regenerating, so it’s vital to eat in a way to protect them, says Freer. “The best things are fat and water.” Drink plenty of fluids and include good fats such as avocado, oily fish, coconut oil, nuts and seeds in your diet.
“Certain foods can also improve the production of collagen – the ‘glue’ that holds skin together and keeps it firm,” adds Freer. Collagen production declines with age, hastened by smoking, sugar, processed foods and too little sleep. Some foods, however, help to slow this decline, such as dark-green vegetables and colourful fruits and vegetables.
So it could be that the key to younger skin are the diet-friendly foods in your fridge. Win-win.
– © Telegraph Media Group Limited (2019)