If you’re struggling to get rid of stubborn love handles and trim excess fat around your waistline, you’re not alone. Luckily, there are many effective ways to banish belly bulges and achieve a leaner, more toned midsection.
In this article, we’ll explore the best ways to get rid of love handles, including targeted exercises, healthy eating habits, and lifestyle changes that can help you shed unwanted fat and achieve your fitness goals.
So let’s get started on the journey to a slimmer, trimmer you!
Despite its adorable name, love handles aren’t really appealing. Many people attempt to target this exact area by performing countless side crunches and other abdominal routines that target the obliques, which are muscles that run along the sides of the body.
Nevertheless, this is not an efficient method of losing love handles. To permanently lose love handles, you’ll need to adopt nutritional, exercise, and lifestyle modifications.
What Causes ‘Love Handles’?
‘Essentially, if you are consuming more calories than you expend through activity, you will gain fat, and the hips is one of the potential places this extra fat will be stored,’ says Upton.
Tom Ward, Director of Personal Training at Embody Fitness, notes that: ‘Body fat will be distributed around different areas of the body depending on a person’s genetic predisposition to fat storage sites.’
However, as previously mentioned, said predisposition is all about giving your body a buffer between your visceral and reproductive organs and the outside world.
So, it’s sort of your body’s way of protecting itself.
How To Lose Love Handles?
To lose love handles, you need to focus on reducing overall body fat through a combination of diet and exercise. Here are some steps you can take:
1. Cut Out Added Sugar
When trying to shed fat in any area of the body, healthy food is essential. One of the most effective strategies to improve your diet is to eliminate extra sugar. Sugar is added to meals and beverages such as cookies, candy, sports drinks, and sodas. Natural sugar present in nutritious foods such as whole fruit does not fall under this category.
Aside from being connected to a plethora of health problems like heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes, eating too much added sugar can contribute to an increase in body fat, particularly in the abdomen.
Sweeteners such as table sugar, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), honey, and agave nectar all include fructose, a simple sugar. Several research has demonstrated that fructose, particularly from sweetened beverages, increases belly fat.
Furthermore, most sweet foods are high in calories but low in nutrients. Cutting back on added sugar in your diet can help you lose body fat, particularly love handles.
2. Focus On Healthy Fats
Consuming healthy fats such as avocados, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fatty seafood can help you lose weight. Healthy fats not only taste wonderful, but they also make you feel full, causing you to consume fewer calories throughout the day.
In one study of over 7,000 people, participants who ate a high-fat Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil lost more weight and developed less belly fat than those who ate a low-fat diet.
Replacing fewer nutrient-dense foods with healthy fats may aid in weight loss. This might be as simple as incorporating a few slices of delicious avocado into your dinner.
In fact, one study showed that people who consume avocados tend to weigh less and have less belly fat than those who don’t. Even though healthy fats are high in calories, incorporating moderate amounts into your diet can help you shed pounds.
3. Fill Up On Fiber
Including soluble fiber-rich foods in your regular diet may help you lose persistent love handles. Beans, nuts, oats, vegetables, and fruits contain soluble fiber. It aids in keeping you fuller for longer by slowing digestion and lessening sensations of hunger.
Fiber’s sustained feelings of fullness have been demonstrated to reduce the number of calories people consume throughout the day, resulting in weight loss. One study found that increasing soluble fiber consumption by just 10 grams per day for five years resulted in a 3.7% reduction in visceral fat, a dangerous type of belly fat.
Furthermore, whole foods high in soluble fiber are frequently high in nutrients. They’re also beneficial to the friendly, health-promoting microorganisms in your stomach.
4. Move Throughout the Day
Discovering simple strategies to burn more calories throughout the day is an effective strategy to shed excess body fat.
Many people live sedentary lifestyles and work desk occupations that require them to sit for long periods of time. Long durations of sitting, according to studies, are bad for your health and your waistline.
According to one study of 276 participants, every 15-minute increment of sedentary activity was connected with a 0.05-inch (0.13-cm) rise in waist size. Reclining or sitting was characterized as sedentary behavior.
Setting a timer every half hour to get up and walk to the water cooler can make a significant impact in weight loss. Investing in a pedometer is a great way to track your steps and see exactly how much you are moving during the day.
5. Stress Less
Stress has a bad impact on both your mental and physical health, and it can even lead to belly fat accumulation. This is because stress causes the hormone cortisol to be produced. Cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone,” is released by the adrenal glands in response to stressful conditions.
Although this is a normal function, persistent stress and cortisol overexposure can result in undesired side effects such as anxiety, headaches, digestive problems, and weight gain. Several studies have connected elevated cortisol levels to weight gain, particularly around the midriff (
Focus on activities that have been known to lower cortisol levels, such as yoga and meditation, to reduce stress and prevent belly fat.
6. Lift Weights
Any type of physical activity can help you decrease your love handles, but incorporating weight training into your program may be very effective.
Weight training, strength training, and resistance training are all phrases that are commonly used interchangeably. They all refer to tightening your muscles against some type of resistance in order to increase your strength.
While aerobic exercise burns more calories during a session, resistance exercise helps the body grow lean muscle and burns more calories during rest. Mixing weight training and aerobic exercise has been demonstrated to be quite helpful for losing abdominal fat.
Any type of physical activity can help you decrease your love handles, but incorporating weight training into your program may be very effective. Weight training, strength training, and resistance training are all phrases that are commonly used interchangeably.
They all refer to tightening your muscles against some type of resistance in order to increase your strength. While aerobic exercise burns more calories during a session, resistance exercise helps the body grow lean muscle and burns more calories during rest.
Mixing weight training and aerobic exercise has been demonstrated to be quite helpful for losing abdominal fat.
7. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep deprivation, like stress, raises cortisol levels in the body, which can lead to weight gain. Sleep-deprived persons tend to weigh more and have more body fat than those who get enough sleep, according to studies.
A five-year study of over 1,000 participants discovered that those who slept for less than five hours per night weighed more and had more belly fat than those who slept for seven to eight hours per night.
Sleep deprivation has also been related to a higher risk of diabetes and obesity. To avoid gaining weight as a result of insufficient sleep, strive for seven to eight hours of unbroken sleep per night.
8. Add in Whole-Body Moves
Working out the region of your body that troubles you the most may seem appealing, but working out your entire body may be a more effective approach to losing love handles. Spot training is not a worthwhile way to lose stubborn fat and has been demonstrated in multiple studies to be useless.
Including whole-body motions and aerobic exercises that work a large number of muscles at once is a superior strategy to decrease stubborn body fat. Exercises that work the entire body, such as burpees or combat ropes, have been found in studies to burn more calories than typical activities such as push-ups.
9. Boost Your Protein Intake
Including high-quality protein in your meals can assist you in losing fat and maintaining a healthy weight. Protein keeps you satisfied between meals and may even lower your desire to snack.
Furthermore, studies have shown that high-protein diets are more successful than low-protein diets at reducing belly fat. A high-protein diet may also help you maintain your weight once you’ve reached your goal.
Including high-quality protein sources in your diet, such as eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes, fish, poultry, and meats, may help you lose unwanted fat, especially love handles.
10. Increase Your Cardio
Cardiovascular exercise, often known as aerobic exercise, is any activity that causes your heart rate to rise for a sustained length of time. Aerobic workouts help burn calories and remove excess body fat, which can aid in the reduction of love handles.
The high-intensity aspect of some aerobic workouts, such as spinning or running, intimidates many people. There are, however, numerous low-impact, beginner-friendly cardio activities that are simple to perform.
Swimming, elliptical machine workouts, or simply going for a brisk walk are all terrific methods to get into an aerobic fitness program. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. That equates to around 20 minutes per day.
11. Drink Water to Stay Hydrated
Hydrating your body properly is essential for good health. Despite the fact that water is the greatest fluid to drink, many people reach for sweetened beverages such as sports drinks, teas, and juice when they are thirsty.
The calories and sugar in sweetened beverages add up and can lead to building belly fat. Sugar-sweetened beverages have been associated with weight gain, particularly in the stomach area, according to studies.
Furthermore, because liquid calories do not have the same effect on hunger as solid food, it is easier to consume an excessive amount of calories and sugar. Instead of sugary drinks, try plain or sparkling water or unsweetened tea.
12. Add in Complex Carbs
Substituting nutrient-dense complex carbs like sweet potatoes, legumes, oats, and brown rice for refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, and white rice can help you lose belly fat. Complex carbs, as opposed to refined carbs, keep you feeling satiated throughout the day and may help you eat less.
Because of their high fiber content, complex carbs are processed more slowly. According to research, integrating fiber-rich carbohydrates into your diet will help you lose weight and shrink down love handles. According to one research of 48 adults, those who ate oatmeal for breakfast stayed satisfied longer and ate less at both breakfast and lunch than those who ate cereal.
13. Try a HIIT Workout
Short bursts of intense aerobic exercise are followed by a recovery time in HIIT training. These workouts are short and effective, and multiple studies have shown that they can help you shed body fat.
A recent evaluation of 18 trials involving over 800 persons discovered that HIIT was more effective than typical, low-intensity, continuous training at decreasing body fat and improving cardiovascular fitness.
Furthermore, HIIT has been found to be an effective weapon in the fight against abdominal fat. One study of 39 women discovered that incorporating HIIT into exercises was more beneficial than standard training alone at reducing belly fat.
14. Practice Mindful Eating
Concentrating on your meals and paying attention to how you feel while eating will help you lose weight around your stomach. Mindful eating is a discipline that can help you acquire control of your eating habits and potentially lead to calorie reduction.
Paying attention to hunger and fullness cues, eating deliberately and without distraction, and knowing how food affects your emotions and health are all examples of mindful eating. This is a great way to get better, both physically and psychologically, and it has been found to be an effective approach for losing weight.
One study of 48 overweight and obese women discovered that mindful eating practices resulted in better belly fat loss and cortisol reduction when compared to no intervention. Furthermore, once you’ve attained your ideal weight, practicing mindful eating can help you maintain a healthy weight.
15. Engage Your Abs With Pilates Moves
It might be tough to find an exercise that is both productive and enjoyable. Pilates, fortunately, is a beginner-friendly training regimen that is effective for toning the abdomen. The exercise improves flexibility, posture, and core strength.
Including pilates workouts in your routine may even help you lose weight and slim down. In one research of 30 overweight and obese women, eight weeks of pilates reduced body fat, waist circumference, and hip circumference considerably.
Pilates may be tailored to your fitness level and is suitable for people of all ages. For instance, one research of 50 senior women aged 60 and up discovered that eight weeks of mat pilates lowered body fat while boosting lean body mass.
16. Cut Back on Alcohol
Cutting back on alcoholic beverages is a simple approach to reducing calories and losing weight. Too much alcohol consumption has been related to obesity and an increase in body fat, particularly in the stomach.
Moderate and excessive alcohol use was connected to an increased risk of overall and central obesity in one research of over 2,000 participants. Alcohol also stimulates hunger by stimulating brain cells that regulate appetite, which may lead to you eating more calories.
Furthermore, many alcoholic beverages are high in calories and sugar, which can lead to weight gain. While moderate alcohol consumption has been linked to health benefits such as a lower risk of heart disease, excessive alcohol consumption is harmful to your general health.
17. Eat Whole Foods
Eating a diet high in whole, unprocessed foods is one of the simplest ways to lose love handles. Fast food, fried foods, desserts, and TV dinners are examples of highly processed foods that contain unhealthy elements.
According to studies, those who consume a lot of processed foods are more likely to develop obesity, as well as chronic ailments like diabetes and heart disease. Including more whole, natural foods in your diet is a wonderful method to lose weight. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, lean meats, and whole grains are examples of healthy whole foods.
Cooking meals from whole foods at home rather than buying ready-made dishes may also be an effective strategy to decrease love handles.
Are Love Handles Genetic?
Partially. As with most things linked to your body, it’s a combination of your genetic propensity to various fat-storage areas, as well as your lifestyle choices about what you eat, how much you exercise, and your stress levels – all of which we’ll discuss further below.
To summarize, the following factors may contribute to ‘love handles’:
- Stress levels
- Sleep habits
- Poor nutrition
- Lack of exercise
Exercises for Love Handles
You cannot spot reduce fat as you would any other portion of your body. You also can’t determine where your body loses weight first. Nonetheless, with regular exercise and a good diet, you will finally reach the desired area.
Ward recommends a structured and balanced weight training regime targeting your body’s major muscle groups and integrating progressive overload,’ since this will have the most impact on excess body fat.
‘In general, we would choose exercises like squats, deadlifts, and lunges, increasing or regressing the exercise based on your existing abilities. Working at a heart rate of 80-85% of one’s maximum will produce the best fat-burning results.’
The Link Between Love Handles and Stress
While it’s only one piece of the puzzle with things like weight lifting, NEAT and a healthy diet being some of the other pieces, stress can play a part.
‘High levels of stress can lead to elevated levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body, which have been shown to have a negative influence on body fat storage especially around the midsection,’ says Ward.
‘Stress management strategies such as yoga, controlled deep breathing or mindfulness may have a positive influence on cortisol levels and play a part in reducing body fat levels.’