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Lose Back Fat in Four Simple Steps E-mail
Written by Jeff Behar, MS, MBA   

Many people are so preoccupied with their fat gut, cottage cheese thighwoman_with_back_fats or flabby arms, they don't even think about fat in the back as being a problem. The one exception I often encounter is women who are aware that they have unsightly rolls of fat spilling from under their bra straps, and want to do something about it, but do not know how to do something about it.

Causes of Unsightly Back Fat 

A poor diet and lack of physical exercise are what usually leads to those unsightly pounds.

Tips for Erasing Unsightly Back Fat 

Step 1 Change Your Eating Habits. 

Eat the right foods. Eating the right foods more often than not will result in dramatic fat-loss in a relatively short period of time. Western diets tend to be full of sugar and processed foods, these need to be cut out (or at least cut back) right away. Ditch the sodas, cakes and sweets and be wary of consuming too many 'bad' carbohydrates such as white bread, breakfast cereals and French fries. Look to avoid fried foods altogether and instead use healthier methods of cooking such as baking. Focus on carbohydrates that are low on the glycemic index.

Add more low fat protein to your diet. Protein helps build and maintain and repair muscle tissue which is essential for quality fat burning as it helps increase the body's metabolism by burning more calories and therefore you will lose back fat faster.

To ensure that you can stay on track clean out the cupboards with the bad food, and replace the bad food with healthy alternatives. This includes replacing fatty and sugary foods with more healthy substitutions like fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, and other high-fiber foods.

Eat 5 to 6 small meals equally spaced throughout the day. This will help increase your metabolism, and minimize fat storage.

Increase your fiber intake. Fiber is the indigestible part of fruits, vegetables and whole-grain foods which acts as a sponge when it combines with water during digestion. It cleanses your intestines and helps food move through the body more quickly and with greater efficiency.

Some good examples of fiber-rich foods include:
  • Legumes (lentils, dry beans and peas)
  • Other vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Brown rice
  • Whole grains (wheat, oats, barley)  




Apples with skin

1 medium



3 medium


Apricots, dried

5 pieces



1 medium



1 cup


Cantaloupe, cubes

1 cup


Figs, dried

2 medium



1/2 medium


Orange, navel

1 medium



1 medium


Peaches, dried

3 pieces



1 medium



1 medium



1.5 oz box



1 cup



1 cup








Avocado (fruit)

1 medium


Beets, cooked

1 cup


Beet greens

1 cup


Bok choy, cooked

1 cup


Broccoli, cooked

1 cup


Brussels sprouts

1 cup


Cabbage, cooked

1 cup



1 medium


Carrot, cooked

1 cup


Cauliflower, cooked

1 cup


Cole slaw

1 cup


Collard greens, cooked

1 cup


Corn, sweet

1 cup


Green beans

1 cup



1 stalk


Kale, cooked

1 cup


Onions, raw

1 cup


Peas, cooked

1 cup


Peppers, sweet

1 cup


Pop corn, air-popped

3 cups


Potato, baked w/skin

1 medium


Spinach, cooked

1 cup


Summer squash, cooked

1 cup


Sweet potato, cooked

1 cup


Swiss chard, cooked

1 cup



1 medium


Winter squash, cooked

1 cup


Zucchini, cooked

1 cup








Bran cereal

1 cup


Bread, whole wheat

1 slice


Oats, rolled dry

1 cup


Pasta, whole wheat

1 cup


Rice, dry brown

1 cup









1 oz


Black beans, cooked

1 cup



1 oz


Flax seeds

3 tbs


Garbanzo beans, cooked

1 cup


Kidney beans, cooked

1 cup


Lentils, red cooked

1 cup


Lima beans, cooked

1 cup



1 oz


Pistachio nuts

1 oz


Pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup


Soybeans, cooked

1 cup


Sunflower seeds

1/4 cup



1 oz


 Note: Adding more fiber to your diet will likely help you lose weight and improve your health, but do it gradually. Rapid increases in consumption of fiber may result in gas or diarrhea.

And be sure to drink plenty of fluids when adding fiber to your diet. While fiber is normally helpful to your digestive system, without adequate fluids it can cause constipation instead of helping to eliminate it.

Step 2: Manage Stress

Stress reduction is not just good for your mental health; it's also good for your physique. Stress is counterproductive to weight loss goals because stress can actually shut down your digestive system. Stress causes many people to eat, and eat poorly, in addition to wrecking havoc on your health and well being. You are more likely to crave fattening foods such as pasta, bread and potatoes when you are under stress. Many starchy foods stimulate the production of serotonin, a chemical that makes you feel good. Instead of reaching for donuts, reach for lean turkey or bananas, other foods that raise serotonin levels. Stress-induced overeating makes it difficult to stick to a weight loss plan.

Step 3: Get the Heart Moving

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise. It uses up oxygen, causing your body to burn stored fat. Walking also strengthens muscles, which tones and shapes your body. The increased muscle mass boosts your metabolism. This means you burn calories long after you stop moving. And you don't have to get all of your walking in at once. If you don't have time for long walks, find pockets of time throughout your day for short jaunts. While any form of walking burns calories and improves muscle definition, to get the most from your walk, concentrate on these main points:

  • Choose distance over speed. It's better to walk at a steady pace than walk too quickly and have to quit early. As your fitness level improves, you can speed up gradually.
  • Go for the hills. To help build your muscles, alternate inclines. Try walking up stairs, bleachers, or hills.
  • Warm up slowly. Walk the first few minutes at an easy pace to get your body prepared. If your start is too brisk, you risk burning only the immediate sugar supply in your body rather than the stored fat you want to lose.
There are a number of other benefits of implementing regular cardio (aerobic exercise), such as:
  • Improved energy
  • Improved balance
  • Increased storage of energy molecules such as fats and carbohydrates within the muscles, allowing for increased endurance
  • Strengthening the muscles involved in respiration, to facilitate the flow of air in and out of the lungs
  • Strengthening and enlarging the heart muscle, to improve its pumping efficiency and reduce the resting heart rate
  • Toning muscles throughout the body
  • Improving circulation efficiency and reducing blood pressure
  • Increasing the total number of red blood cells in the body, facilitating transport of oxygen
  • Neovascularization of the muscle sarcomeres to increase blood flow through the muscles
  • Increasing speed at which aerobic metabolism is activated within muscles, allowing a greater portion of energy for intense exercise to be generated aerobically
  • Improving the ability of muscles to use fats during exercise, preserving intramuscular glycogen
  • Enhancing the speed at which muscles recover from high intensity exercise
  • Improved mental health, including reducing stress and lowering the incidence of depression
  • Reduced risk for many diseases, including but not limited to:

As an added bonus, according to a new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine a person who maintains aerobic fitness may delay biological aging by up to 12 years! 

Step 4: Lift weights

Men and women both, though, can improve their looks tremendously by developing a well-toned back. A muscular back is firm, sexy and key to giving you a leaner physique. One reason is by developing muscle tone and replacing fat with muscle you will burn more calories around the clock without doing any additional exercise, because you will raise your resting metabolic rate.

By focusing on the back through resistance training you will also look slimmer. How? A well-developed upper back gives you that coveted V-shape that makes your waist and hips look slimmer. There are many exercises you can do to help you achieve this goal in a gym or health club. Today I will follow the K..I.S.S. Principle....keep it simple and sexy, but discussing four simple exercises you can do in as little as 40 minutes, just once a week to help sculpt an attractive back, one you will be proud to show to the world.

The Beautiful Back Dumbbell Workout

  • 1 Arm Dumbbell Rows: Rows build the mid-upper back including the Trapezius, Rhomboids and Posterior Deltoid (shoulder) and biceps (indirectly). To perform this exercise, take a staggered stance and bend your knees. Then bend forward at the waist supporting you body with one hand on your knee or a bench. Keep your core tight, and your back and head almost parallel to the floor. Hold a moderately heavy weight hanging straight down in your free hand. Retract your shoulder blade, bend your elbow, and draw the weight up until your hand is touching your torso. Slowly lower the dumbbells. Switch sides.  Lower and repeat for 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions, with a 20-30 second rest between sets.You should feel this exercise primarily in your back, not your arms. Use a weight heavy enough so you start to tire around the eighth repetition. Stop if you feel pain.
  • Two Arm Dumbbell Rows. Dumbbell rows work the middle back, Rhomboids, Trapezius, Posterior Deltoid and also the lats. To perform this exercise correctly, grab 2 dumbbells. Start with your knees slightly bent, feet shoulder apart, and your core tightened. Then bend forward at your waist while keeping your abs engaged, let your arms hang fully extended. The dumbbells should be at shin level. While exhaling, bring your elbows (and the dumbbells) back as far as possible. As you do this, squeeze your middle back muscles like you are trying to hold a tennis ball between your shoulder blades. Return to the starting position and repeat for 8-12 repetitions. Perform 3 to 4 sets. 
  • Rear Delt Fly: The rear delt or reverse fly is a great way to target the the rhomboids, the trapezius muscles and the rear deltoids (shoulders). Because you're bent over, it is important that you remember to keep your core tight. The range of motion on this exercise is small. To perform the exercise right, lift to shoulder level only. How to perform this exercise: Sit on the edge of a bench, hold light weights in each hand behind the knees, lean forward from the hips with your back flat. Tuck your chin into your chest. Keep the back straight and the core tight. Raise your arms to the sides, gradually bending your elbows as they come up. Squeeze your shoulder blades together. Pause at the top of the extension and then slowly lower your arms back to the starting position. Lower and repeat. Work up to 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions each. Keep your rest between sets, minimal (20-30 second rest between sets).
  • Dumbbell Shrugs: Shrugs work the trapezius muscle (traps) which runs from the neck down through the middle of your back. To perform this exercise grab a set of dumbbells, hold them with your palms facing in toward your body and shrug the shoulders in an upward movement contracting your trap muscles and holding the movement at the top. Do NOT roll the shoulders. Lower and repeat for 10-12 repetitions. Aim for 4 set. Stop if you feel pain.

FatFree Back - Final Thoughts

Technically, fat cannot be spot-reduced. If you have rolls of fat on your back, it means you have too much fat on your body, period. You should combine dieting, cardiovascular exercise and resistance weight training to help you reach the fat Free back look you desire.  By employing sound eating principles, adding cardio into the mix and doing the right resistance exercises for your back and the rest of your body you will be well on your way to a stronger, more defined and better shaped torso!

Nutrition/Diet and Weight Loss Tools and Resources

About Jeff Behar

Jeff Behar

Jeff Behar, MS, MBA is a recognized health, fitness and nutrition expert, regularly writing about hot topics in the areas of health, fitness, disease prevention, nutrition, anti aging and alternative medicine. Jeff Behar's work often appears in several of the major health and fitness newsletters, health and fitness magazines, and on  major health, and fitness websites. Jeff Behar is also a well sought after personal trainer, motivational speaker and weight loss expert.

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