Maybe it’s our way of feeling more comfortable with things that frustrate us, but humans have a remarkable ability to come up with cutesy nicknames for less-than-desirable physical features. Think about it: we’ve got the elevens and crow’s feet (a.k.a. the wrinkles that form between your brows and around your eyes, respectively). There are also bat wings, love handles, saddlebags and, of course, muffin tops. Though it’s not as ingrained in the modern vernacular, the “banana roll” is another one.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, banana rolls are those crescent-shaped strips of fat that accumulate just under your buttocks. Dr. Anthony Youn, a plastic surgeon based in Troy, Michigan, says that carrying a little extra weight can increase your likelihood of developing banana rolls, but notes that it’s mostly just a matter of winning or losing the genetics lottery. “We [tend to] deposit fat in various areas due to genetic tendencies,” he explains. “For example, if your mom or dad has a double chin, then you are more likely to have one, as well. The same applies with banana rolls.”
Similar to other areas of the body where fat accumulates, including chins, thighs, and belly, getting rid of banana rolls can be a tricky and exasperating process. That said, there are a few exercises you can do that can help tighten and tone your body, and certain medical aesthetic treatments can target the area, as well. Below, we’ve outlined the most common and effective options.
Reducing Banana Rolls with Diet
Tara Allen, a registered nurse, nutrition coach, and personal trainer, says it’s important to keep in mind that our body is one cohesive, complicated, synergistic unit. In that sense, “spot treating” specific areas of the body — including banana rolls — with diet alone isn’t really feasible. Instead, your goal should be to reduce overall body fat through diet and exercise, while simultaneously building stronger muscles with specific movements.
“To lose body fat through diet, it is essential that you eat what your body requires for fuel,” says Allen. “The best way to get this dialed in is to eat a mostly unprocessed diet.” Seek out complex carbohydrates — such as sweet potatoes and quinoa — and dark leafy greens, which will provide your body with powerful nutrients and leave you feeling full longer. Lean proteins like chicken and fish will help build and maintain muscle, which burns more calories — even when you’re at rest! She also notes that slowing down the pace of your eating can help, too. “When we eat very fast, we're bypassing the system that would give us the heads up that we are satisfied. [By slowing down], you end up naturally wanting less food.”
Slimming Down Banana Rolls with Exercise
As for fitness, in the same way you can tone your abs with crunches or build muscle in your legs with squats, you can also improve tone and strength around your butt with specific exercises. According to Allen and Katelyn DiGiorgio, the VP of training and technique for Pure Barre®, these are the top moves for tackling the butt and banana roll:
Donkey Kicks: For this exercise, you’ll want to begin on all fours on a mat or soft surface with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. “With your right knee at a 90-degree angle, bring your knee up to hip level and keep your left leg on the mat,” explains Allen. “Lower your right knee to the starting position without touching the mat and repeat.” She recommends doing this for 10 to 15 repetitions before switching legs.
Single-Leg Deadlifts: Begin by standing on your right leg. “Keeping it stiff with a slight bend, hinge forward at the hip and extend your left leg out behind you,” says Allen. “Reach towards your right toe with your right hand until you are parallel with the ground, then return to the upright starting position.” Repeat 10 times on one leg and then switch sides. As you get stronger and better at this exercise, you can add a weight or kettlebell for extra resistance.
Lunge-to-Squat: This is one of DiGiorgio’s favorite barre moves for this area of the body. Start with your feet hip-width apart and knees and toes forward with hands on your hips. Step your right foot back to lunge, then step the right foot forward to your original position. Repeat on the left side, alternating between the two legs for one minute. Next, “place your feet slightly wider than your hips with knees and toes tracking forward again,” says DiGiorgio. “Bring your hands to a ‘prayer’ pose in front of your chest, squat down with your seat shifted back slightly and chest lifted, then stand back up.” Repeat this for 30 seconds.
Gluteal Bridge Dance: Start by lying flat on your back with your knees bent. Plant your feet hip-width apart and parallel, then squeeze to lift your seat up into a low bridge position. “Lower your hips to tap the floor then lift back to a bridge and repeat for 30 seconds,” says DiGiorgio. Next, hold your hips up and rise onto your tippy toes. Lower your hips to tap the floor, then lift back to a bridge for 30 seconds. She then says to hold your hips up, and close and open the knees for 30 seconds. “Finally, hold your knees together and pulse your hips for 30 seconds.” If it sounds tough, it’s because it is, but take it from us: this exercise is way more fun when you do it to the beat of your favorite song.
Medical Aesthetics Treatments For Banana Rolls
If you’ve tried diet and exercise and are finding that the stubborn banana roll fat just won’t budge, medical aesthetics treatments may be an option. One popular treatment for this area is CoolSculpting®, which uses a process called cryolipolysis to freeze stubborn pockets of fat with a special device in order to kill the treated fat cells. In the weeks and months following your appointment, the treated cells are eliminated by the body. The result is reduced fat in the treated area.
[Editor’s note: The CoolSculpting treatment is a non-invasive fat-freezing treatment that effectively reduces fat in certain self-proclaimed “problem spots” in the submental and submandibular areas, thigh, abdomen, flank, and upper arm, along with bra fat, back fat, and underneath the buttocks (you know, those bulges that just won’t go away, regardless of how much you sweat it out on the treadmill). While it isn’t a weight loss solution, fat-freezing can reduce pouches of fat. As with any procedure, there are risks and side effects, so talk to a licensed provider to see if it’s right for you.]
“This treatment method can address a banana roll quite effectively, especially if the banana roll is quite small,” says Dr. Youn. Keep in mind you may need multiple treatments to see the best results. That could be fat loss of up to 20 to 25 percent in the area being targeted.
Alternatively, you could try to tackle this concern with liposuction, which Dr. Youn refers to as “the original way” to target a banana roll. However, he does warn against a possible drawback. “The problem with liposuction for a banana roll, though, is that it's very easy to over-reduce it, leaving an unnatural-looking indentation,” he cautions.
As with any medical aesthetic treatment, it’s important to choose a reputable provider with experience in the part of the body you’re treating who can determine if you’re a candidate for any of the above. In some cases, removing banana rolls can result in drooping since sometimes the roll provides structure to the area. Your provider should be able to answer your questions about if a treatment is right for you and also provide examples of their work.
CoolSculpting® Treatment Important Information
The CoolSculpting® procedure is FDA-cleared for the treatment of visible fat bulges in the submental (under the chin) and submandibular (under the jawline) areas, thigh, abdomen and flank (love handles), along with bra fat, back fat, underneath the buttocks (also known as banana roll), and upper arm. It is also FDA-cleared to affect the appearance of lax tissue with submental area treatments. The CoolSculpting procedure is not a treatment for weight loss.
Important Safety Information
The CoolSculpting procedure is not for everyone. You should not have the CoolSculpting procedure if you suffer from cryoglobulinemia, cold agglutinin disease, or paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria.
Tell your licensed healthcare provider if you have any medical conditions including recent surgery, pre-existing hernia, and any known sensitivities or allergies.
During the procedure you may experience sensations of pulling, tugging, mild pinching, intense cold, tingling, stinging, aching, and cramping at the treatment site. These sensations subside as the area becomes numb. Following the procedure, typical side effects include temporary redness, swelling, blanching, bruising, firmness, tingling, stinging, tenderness, cramping, aching, itching, or skin sensitivity, and sensation of fullness in the back of the throat after submental or submandibular area treatment.
Rare side effects may also occur. CoolSculpting may cause a visible enlargement in the treated area which may develop two to five months after treatment and requires surgical intervention for correction.