We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it.

Does Fat Get Jiggly Before You Lose it? (Explanation & Solution)

Weight Loss & Diets | Written by Nathan | Updated on 5 February 2022

During your weight loss journey, you may find that your skin appears bigger or looser. You might ask yourself — does fat get jiggly before you lose it or does this squishy fat a good sign? 

The truth is many people get jiggly or flabby fat during their weight loss journey, as they’re losing it or before losing the bulk of it….and it’s ultimately a good sign. It can feel like soft, flabby fat rather than a more dense overall fat and to keep motivation high, it’s a good idea to know why this is happening and what you can expect next.

Why Does Fat Get Jiggly Before or During Weight Loss?

Don’t worry if you notice floppy skin and belly fat — this is a natural part of every weight loss journey! Sometimes, it is the fat that’s getting jiggly, and other times it is a combination of wiggly fat and excess skin. Extra skin flab can gather on your stomach, underarms, belly, and inner thighs [1]. 

Here is the truth — avoid reading ‘bunk’ or bro science that can provide you with false information regarding weight loss and fat loss. In the past years, one of the most common theories was the Whoosh effect, which claimed that when triglycerides empty out of fat cells, your fat cells then become squishy, and your weight loss will plateau. However, researchers know that this false weight-loss phenomenon is not true, but it can be harmful to those struggling to lose weight. 

Instead, analyzing the science behind jiggly fat can teach you how you can lose weight safely. Before we explain the long-term fix for the jiggly fat problem, let’s go over why this happens in the first place. 

Subcutaneous Fat is Harder to Lose Than Visceral Fat (Soft Fat vs Firm Fat)

Subcutaneous fat is known as “soft” fat, loose fat, or jiggly fat that can be difficult to lose during your weight loss journey. Subcutaneous fat makes up approximately 90% of your body and comprises the layer just beneath your skin. Also known as adipose tissue, this loose connective tissue aids in storing lipid energy and insulating your body from the outside temperature [2]. Since fat gets softer when losing weight, this adipose tissue can be harder to lose. 

On the other hand, visceral fat, also known as visceral adipose tissue, is “deeper” fat that wraps around your internal organs. This internal fat does not change your physical appearance or overall health, whereas excess subcutaneous fat is detrimental to one’s health. 

During your weight loss journey, subcutaneous fat can turn from thick to wobbly, creating stubborn fat that is more time-consuming to get rid of through diet and exercise. If you have ever felt ‘marbles’ under your skin, it can be time to start researching how to get rid of jiggly fat, lose belly fat overnight, and lose subcutaneous fat. 

Loose Skin

After weight loss, loose skin is one of the main culprits of low self-esteem and can be mistaken for “jiggly fat”. Even though you have done all of the hard work to lose excess weight and get to a healthy BMI, loose skin can gather on your stomach, underarms, inner legs, lower back, and face. Depending on your previous weight, diet, exercise regime, and genetics, your skin can lose elasticity and cause squishy skin. 

If you are tired of loose skin or fat, investing in body contouring plastic surgery can help after extreme weight loss (i.e., bariatric surgery). Using body contouring procedures can even help individuals maintain a long-term healthy BMI for sustained optimal health [3]. 

How to Get Rid of Jiggly Fat

A woman is holding her stomach or jiggly fat while wondering how to get rid of it.

As you can see, having jiggly fat after weight loss is extremely common — you are not alone in your quest for a more aesthetic figure. Not to mention, adipose subcutaneous adipose tissue is still necessary for optimal health and protection against age-related diseases [4]. The real key is reducing excess jiggly fat through healthy measures. 

Just because it seems like there is no way out right now, this doesn’t mean you should stop trying healthy measures to reduce jiggly fat. As a last resort, surgery can help you safely achieve your desired body type after trying specific exercises, medications, supplements, and a healthy diet. 

When starting to research how to get rid of jiggly fat while losing weight, beginning with a healthy exercise routine can be the starting point for a long-term change in your life. 

Build More Muscle & Slim Down

One of the best ways to reduce jiggly fat when losing weight is to build more muscle and slim down. Studies have shown that weight-loss therapy (including physical activity like resistance-type exercises) is essential to maintaining muscle mass and improving muscle strength [5]. 

Individuals with softer skin in specific areas can target these muscles by using certain exercises. For example, if the jiggly fat is around the belly, bulkier abs can help. Start a workout plan including core work, such as planks, crunches, V-ups, and other ab exercises to reduce the appearance of skinny fat. 

Furthermore, if the jiggly fat is on the inner thighs, try to get wider legs using squats and adduction exercises where you squeeze your legs together using bands or a machine. Adduction exercises involve bringing your limbs towards your body. Hip adduction can tone the inside of your thighs to create a leaner physique. 

Beginning an exercise program with squats or squat modifications — such as barbell back squat, front squat, hack squat, leg press, single leg squat, or box squat — can all help build the quadriceps and reduce the appearance of jiggly skin. In addition, doing hip adduction exercises, like Copenhagen planks and the hip adduction machine, can build the adductor muscles to ‘fill in’ the loose skin. 

Despite the most intense exercise regimen, there can still be excess skin, depending on the amount of weight loss in the past and your starting point. But luckily medications and supplements can be helpful to continue your skin tightening journey. 

Tighten Skin Using Medication & Supplements

If you are wondering, “does fat get jiggly before you lose it”, don’t worry because there are numerous ways to tighten your skin. If you go the holistic route via mediation and supplements, whether due to exercise restrictions or lifestyle choices, it can take longer — but it’s not impossible. Using medications can help keep your skin tighter throughout your lifetime, so it can be helpful to look into some of these options regardless. 

  • Retinoids

Retinoids are topical vitamin A drugs that contain powerful anti-aging compounds that have the potential to firm up skin and increase elasticity in addition to reducing wrinkles (i.e., crow’s feet), fine lines, and age spots. In short, retinoids work by increasing collagen production and stimulating blood vessels [6].

Tretinoin is a prescription-only retinoid that was first used back in the 1970s, and has since gone on to be used for various types of skin conditions. Tretinoin is a vitamin A derivative that is used for treating mild, moderate, and severe acne [7]. However, for those who have jiggly fat in the face, tretinoin can be used to tighten skin and bolster elasticity. 

Some common over-the-counter options tretinoin alternatives is 0.1% adapalene. Even though it’s not as strong as prescription retinoids, they are still effective in helping with age spots, firming your skin, and retaining a youthful look.

  • Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is helpful in reducing face fat and creating softer facial skin. The key molecule that improves skin moisture is hyaluronic acid, which can retain water, avoid cell degradation, and maintain resilience and flexibility [8]. Hyaluronic acid has multiple essential properties to your body’s processes, such as inflammation reduction, wound healing, and cell regeneration. Compared to other skin products, hyaluronic acid has beneficial qualities that make it stand out from the rest, such as moisturizing properties and anti-aging ingredients [9]. 

In today’s world, hyaluronic acid is used in a wide range of applications – one of the most common applications is the cosmetics industry. This type of acid is a versatile and effective medication that can help you tighten your skin and establish a youthful look. 

  • Supplements

Collagen is an essential protein that helps form strong bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles, hair, and skin. Without collagen, we would not be able to safely play sports, run, lift objects, brush our hair without it breaking, or avoid injuries. In terms of our appearances, collagen is what prevents sagging skin and establishes a youthful look. 

However, over time, collagen decreases. Beginning in our young adulthood, our collagen production begins to decline. Individuals can combat the drop in collagen production — especially immediately after menopause — taking collagen supplements can help restore youthful skin and avoid sagging skin. Studies have shown the use of collagen helps improve skin hydration, elasticity, roughness, and density [10]. 

In addition, things like omega-3’s, vitamins A, C, D and E have also shown to improve skin health and hydrate your skin from the inside out. Ultimately, looking into various  forms of supplementation and using supplements backed by research can help you tighten your skin and lose weight.  

Skin Removal Surgery

As a last resort, skin removal surgery can be the last straw to achieving the body of your dreams and getting rid of excess fat on your body. If you have already tried eating healthily, performing an exercise routine, and taking vitamins or supplements, it can feel like you’re doing everything right – but you are not seeing any physical changes. 

If this is the case, skin removal surgery might be the only way to get excess skin removed and achieve a more pleasing body type. Skin removal surgery includes various body contouring options for patients, such as removing excess skin or folds on target areas, like the belly, buttocks, or legs. One of the most common skin removal surgeries is the Brachioplasty, where the skin is removed through an incision from the axilla toward the elbow [11].

Patients who are considering skin removal surgery should first look into the criteria to see if they are an ideal client. Individuals who have reached their goal weight, are in good health, contain realistic expectations about the results, and can take off weeks to recover are all good candidates for this life-changing surgery. 

Conclusion

Yes, fat can get “jiggly” before or during weight loss — BUT, it’s a good sign, and there are ways to prevent it or make it better. When asking yourself or your doctor, “does fat get jiggly before you lose it?” you may be disheartened by the answer. However, taking medications and supplements, engaging in a consistent exercise program, eating a healthy diet, and exploring skin removal surgery options are all safe and effective ways to get rid of that spare tire around your stomach. 

References

[1] Get Rid of Flabby Loose Skin After Weight Loss. (2014). Disabled World. 

[2] Mittal B. (2019). Subcutaneous adipose tissue & visceral adipose tissue. The Indian journal of medical research, 149(5), 571–573. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijmr.IJMR_1910_18

[3] Agarwal, S., Shenaq, D., Teven, C., Prachand, V., Roughton, M. & Zachary, L. (2017). Body contouring after obesity surgery is associated with a weight loss benefit among patients. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg., 70(9), 1186-1190. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28625758/

[4] Corrales, P., Martín-Taboada, M., & Medina-Gomez, G. (2019). The risk of jiggly fat in aging. Aging, 11(15), 5298–5299. https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.102147

[5] Cava, E., Yeat, N. C., & Mittendorfer, B. (2017). Preserving Healthy Muscle during Weight Loss. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 8(3), 511–519. https://doi.org/10.3945/an.116.014506

[6] Mukherjee, S., Date, A., Patravale, V., Korting, H. C., Roeder, A., & Weindl, G. (2006). Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety. Clinical interventions in aging, 1(4), 327–348. https://doi.org/10.2147/ciia.2006.1.4.327

[7] Yoham, A. & Casadesus, D. (2021). Tretinoin. StatPearls Publishing, Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557478/

[8] Papakonstantinou, E., Roth, M., & Karakiulakis, G. (2012). Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging. Dermato-endocrinology, 4(3), 253–258. https://doi.org/10.4161/derm.21923

[9] Juncan, A., Mois, D., Santini, A. Morgovan, C. Rus, L., Vonica, A., & Loghin, F. (2021). Advantages of Hyaluronic Acid and Its Combination with Other Bioactive Ingredients in Cosmeceuticals. Molecules, 26, 4429. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34361586/

[10] Bolke, L., Schlippe, G., Gerß, J., & Voss, W. (2019). A Collagen Supplement Improves Skin Hydration, Elasticity, Roughness, and Density: Results of a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Blind Study. Nutrients, 11(10), 2494. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11102494

[11] Boswell C. B. (2010). Body contouring following massive weight loss. Missouri medicine, 107(3), 189–194. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6188338/

About the Author

Nathan

Nathan has been a fitness enthusiast for the past 12 years and jumps between several types of training such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, cycling, gymnastics, and backcountry hiking. Due to the varying caloric needs of numerous sports, he has cycled between all types of diets and currently eats a whole food diet. In addition, Nathan lives with several injuries such as hip impingement, spondylolisthesis, and scoliosis, so he underwent self-rehabilitation and no longer lives with debilitating pain.