Love Handles

Love handles, or those pockets of excess fat across at the lower sides of your body, aren’t easy to manage. In fact, even loyal gym-goers often strive to shed these seemingly omnipresent pockets of fat, no matter how diverse their workouts are.

But fear not! Though love handles may be unyielding, they aren’t impregnable. Here’s what you need to understand about beating this common foe.

What are Love Handles?

“Love handles” are part of the skin from the hips that stretches outward. When you wear fitted clothing, the love handles can be obvious. They show excess fat accumulation around the hips and abdominal region.

Do Love Handles Pose Risks?

Love handles aren’t fatal, but they may show underlying risk factors for chronic illnesses. These incorporate:

Stopping love handles to develop may help support your overall health.

What Causes Love Handles and How to Prevent Them?

This side fat exists due to sheer physiology, and there’s not much you can do to beat that.

As experts stated, most men have fat cells in this area. This serves as a convenient storage for excess triglycerides.

Of course, love handles emerge over time not overnight. A lack of workouts, empty calorie intakes, loads of stress, and poor sleep boost cortisol and adrenaline levels. These hormones stimulate fat storage. Age and genetics are other factors to consider when it comes to having love handles.

The disadvantage? Once love handles surfaced, biology makes them difficult to ditch. You drop fat in the reverse order that you store it. And normally for men, the last place they fall fat would be that midsection region—the first place where fat storage happened.

What gives? If you ever think about fat storage from an evolutionary viewpoint, it could be that we settle fat in our midsection first because it’s an easily obtainable energy. When we are fasting, our body has a shortage of food; therefore, of energy. And the fats from our midsection is where we usually source our energy.

So when you strive to lose fat, your body first separates it from “less vital areas” like the face.

Areas with the highest density of fat cells are also the most challenging to firm up. The love handles, in particular, are problematic due to the muscles under them—your obliques.

Think of your obliques as segments of cable rather than a 6×6 section of sheetrock. There’s not a lot of muscle to accumulate on. These are thin, so they won’t bulk up.

Learn more about the causes of love handles and how you can manage them.

You’re eating too much

While it may seem reasonable, if you want to dissipate your love handles, you’ll be required to consume fewer calories. And one of the simplest ways to do that is to just reduce your portion sizes.

Planning a deficit of 500 calories a day can help you drop a pound a week. This can help with getting rid of fat around the love handles.

One of the easiest methods to lessen your calorie intake? Swap in high-caloric foods with broccoli, spinach, or other non-starchy vegetables.

You’re not eating enough

When you’re shaving calories, note that you don’t want to reduce your intake too quickly.

Extreme dieting and not eating enough can wreak havoc on your hormones. Not only is this bad news for your metabolism, but it can also ruin your sleep condition, energy levels, mood, and strength. 

If your hormones aren’t in balance, then it will be difficult to attain your beach-bod goals.

That said, consume adequate amounts of wholesome food, try doing resistance training with intensity, and don’t over-exercise or do abusive cardio. If altering your diet and exercise routine doesn’t help you to feel and look better, then getting bloodwork done to suppress hormone levels would be the next best move.

You’re only doing ab workouts

If oblique exercises and crunches were all that was required to completely banish love handles, we’d be a nation stuffed with swimsuit models!

We see so many women coming into the gym and performing an entire work consisting of crunches, sit-ups, and side bends to attempt to burn stubborn fat from their bellies.

In reality, while core workouts will help to tone your abs, your main concentration should be on performing full-body workouts and eating a healthy diet. This is to build an overall caloric deficit, which is the only means to lose fat from any region of the body.

You only work small muscles

You know you have to stimulate your muscles with weight training to develop your overall body composition. But if you’re hitting tiny muscles like the triceps and biceps, you’re not getting as much bang for your buck.

Larger movements that include the total body helps to build muscle mass, which then enables glucose to be utilized by the muscles instead of stored as fat.

Workouts that help you lose love handles should include a variety of muscles. Examples include:

  • Dumbbell squat
  • Bent over row
  • Reverse lunge to overhead press

Perform eight reps of each exercise in order and you should feel the benefits within a couple of weeks.

You only stick to cardio exercise

Don’t get us wrong, performing cardio exercises can surely help you burn calories and lose weight. But if you want to slim your hips, you’ll have to lift some iron, too.

Cardio exercises may work to burn calories. However, they won’t significantly target the specific area you’d like to get toned. Although you can not perform spot reduction, hitting certain areas with weight training may help to establish lean muscle mass, lowering overall fat.

You’re constantly stressed out

Hip and belly fat is usually a result of high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Stress is inflammatory and can direct to spikes in blood sugar, which happens when you eat a pastry!

To prevent waist-widening stress at bay, experts suggest reassessing how you respond to stressful situations. Connect with people and join activities that bring you joy. This not only helps uplift your mood, but it also makes you slimmer and more confident. 

Some experts also agree that stress can lead to the development of love handles. Hence, you should also include stress-management to your diet routine,

Luckily, there are many techniques that can help you relieve stress. Some of them can even help you lose weight like yoga.

You unwind with a glass of alcohol

Sure, stress triggers our body to store fat. However, booze is not the key to stress management that can help you get rid of your love handles.

Alcohol carries a lot of calories. Just two glasses of wine a day can add approximately 1,500 calories to your weekly calorie consumption. That can sum up to a half-pound of weight increase per week and two pounds per month.

If you’re going to an event where drinking is part of the socialization, do so carefully. Opt for less caloric wines whenever you can.

You’re running too much, too often

Many people believe that they need to run, and run, and run some more if they desire to shed the pounds. However, if you overdo your cardio, you could cause more harm to your body than good.

Spending months performing extreme steady-state cardio, like long-distance running, can lead to adaptation, reduced testosterone levels, and a sustained discharge of cortisol.

While our bodies cannot adjust to anaerobic exercises (like jumping and sprinting), they can adjust to increased aerobic activity. This suggests that over time, the body will not require to apply as many calories to power you through your miles. That also indicates that you will need to keep on running just as much to simply maintain your weight.

Meanwhile, excessive running has been shown to lessen testosterone levels, a key hormone in muscle maintenance and growth.

Your body fat percentage is too high

It may seem reasonable but if you have too much fat on your frame, then you’re surely going to have a pretty tough time hitting the fat that’s covering your hips.

If a woman’s body fat percentage is over 25 percent or a man’s body fat percentage is above 15 percent, the shape of their body may be less than perfect. To reduce your overall body fat percentage, hit the gym five days a week, combining both cardio and weight training, and add some fat-fighting ingredients into your daily diet.

You graze on food throughout the day

Love handles begin and end in the kitchen. Some individuals do intermittent fasting and the results have been incredible. They’ve turned it into a meditative act and eventually, it gave them great satisfaction to be able to control themselves better.

Recent research recently presented at the Obesity Society’s annual meeting backs the expert’s suggestion.

For the study, researchers observed 11 overweight men and women, over two four-day duration. During the first duration, the study participants consumed all of their meals within six hours. During the second duration, they ate their meals between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Although both diets carried the same number of calories, participants stated being less hungry while following the time-restricted feeding plan. Restricted feeding may “undeniably affect body structure both by enhancing fat oxidation and by lessening energy absorption,” the study concludes.

You love processed starches

Love handles normally form when a person holds excess stomach fat. For a lot of us, this is a result of consuming too many processed starches and grains.

These foods spike blood sugar levels and make it biologically difficult for you to burn fat.

Look at the ranges of your diet where you are reliant on carbohydrates. From there, substitute carb-laden foods, like white bread and pasta, with healthier alternatives. For example, you could substitute the toast that you typically enjoy along with your eggs with some avocado and kale.

You don’t make time for healthy eating

Rushing from work meetings to the kid’s soccer game and back to the office, again, is simply enough if you want to leave feeling strung out. In turn, this could drive to excess pounds around the hips.

A stressful life can lead to higher levels of cortisol in the body, which triggers us to binge eat. As such, developing healthy eating choices are more complicated and can fall off of your priority list.

You may not be able to shed the amount of stress in your life, but you can generate a better plan to help you handle it. Experts recommend this morning schedule to lessen stress and help target love handles:

  • Try to wake up 15 minutes earlier
  • Empower yourself to wake up slowly and apply this time to set the tone for the day
  • Start your day in tranquil and sit with a cup of detox tea in the dark
  • Pray, meditate, and enjoy those cherished morning moments
  • Withstand the temptation to check your email or hop on social media

If you do these morning tips, you will certainly feel more in control and you’ll be in a better place to make healthier decisions throughout the day. Over time, this can help you attain your body goals.

Your diet and exercise plan isn’t sustainable

When it comes to weight loss, slow and steady surely wins the race. That means it’s super critical to look for a diet and fitness routine that’s sustainable.

If you want to shed fat from those stubborn, tricky sections it will certainly take some time and patience. If you can’t stick to your fitness routine long-term, the probabilities are you’ll lose patience instantly. Then you are likely to give up before reaching your goals.

So eat healthily, but let yourself have a cookie or burger once in a while. Work out hard, but provide your body with appropriate rest when needed. Find workouts and food alternatives that will suit your goals and your life.

You haven’t tried carb cycling

While complex carbs like oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and beans does not really cause weight gain, having them all the time may be hindering your fitness goals.

That said, we recommend that you try some carb cycling. This means eating more carb-dense meals on workout days a few hours before you hit the gym and restricting carbs on days when you’re not training.

This approach has helped a lot to put on muscle and shed fat in a way some people never thought possible.

You change diet without exercising

Experts suggest following the 60/5 rule when you’re trying to cut off love handles.

In addition to shredding 500 calories a week through diet, experts explain the rule is solely based on working out for “60 minutes of exercise five times a week.” This amount of time should be sufficient to help you consume an additional 500 calories a day by combining weight training and cardiovascular training into your routine.

Your goals are all aesthetic

Research reveals that when goals are aesthetic-based, rather than health or strength-related, they’re more challenging to stick with long-term.

There’s nothing wrong with desiring to slim down, firm those love handles, or develop a little bit of muscle and definition. But when you also focus your energy on non-appearance-based goals, you’ll certainly enjoy your workouts more and feel better about your body all around!

Want to perform a pull-up? Run a 5k? Great! Fix your mind on those athletic-based goals and the aesthetics will surely follow.

Exercises That Target the Back, Abs, and Hips

A quick exploration on the internet can show you a plethora of targeted exercises for specific areas of the body, including love handles. But fat loss can’t be accomplished with spot exercises alone.

While strengthening and resistance exercises can assist with muscle tone and flexibility, they don’t shrink fat cells. Thus, try merging cardiovascular exercises with weight lifting and targeted movements for best results. If you’re attempting to lose weight and overall body fat, you may require up to five hours of steady exercise per week. It’s also essential to keep a healthy diet and avoid taking in more calories than you’re burning.

For continuous fat loss and weight maintenance, include aerobic activities, such as walking, bike riding, and swimming. Even if you can’t fit in a full-length workout every single day, you’ll still obtain the benefits of simply being more active.

Here are just some of the exercises that target the back, abs, hip, and your love handles:

Side planks

There are various modifications for side planks that can make the move more or less challenging. To do the basic side plank:

  1. Begin by lying on your side. Establish yourself up on one arm: Your elbow should be in line with your shoulder and your forearm should be flattened against the ground, at a correct angle to your body.
  2. Place your legs, one on top of the other, so that your body makes a straight line from head to toe. While your knee is still touching the ground, raise your hips.
  3. Squeeze your glutes (gluteus muscles) and hold them for 30 seconds to a minute.
  4. While performing the move, concentrate on keeping your abs tight to help support your body.
  5. Do the same procedure on the other side.

For a more progressive move, try lifting your knees off the ground. That way, the only portion of your body touching the ground is the side of your foot and your forearm.

You can also include hip dips. To do this, while in your side-plank stance, slowly lower your hip an inch or two and then slowly lift it back up. Do the same process for 30 seconds to a minute.

Bicycle crunches

It can be tempting to hurry through bicycle crunches, but the key to this exercise is slow controlled movements.

  1. Lie on your back with your hands placed behind your head while your knees are bent.
  2. Raise your shoulders and head off the ground as you contract your abs. At the same time, raise your feet off the ground, keeping your knees bent, so that your shins are in line to the ground.
  3. Gradually twist your body so that your left elbow goes toward your right knee. As you twist your body, stretch your left leg straight out in front of you.
  4. Gently twist in the other direction, then bring your left leg back to 

Russian twists

This is another seated workout. If you’re new to this exercise, try performing it without weight first. As you get used to it, you can try carrying a hand weight, filled water bottle, or even a can of soup or vegetables to build the resistance.

  1. Begin in a seated position on the floor with your glute on the ground, your knees bent, and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Contracting your abdomen, tilt your torso back so that you’re at about a 45-degree angle to the floor. If you’re not using a weight, hold your hands together. If you’re using a weight, keep it in your hands, just above your abdomen.
  3. Still, with knees bent, raise both your feet off the ground so that you’re balancing on your glutes. For further assistance, you can cross your ankles.
  4. Twist your torso to the right, drawing your clasped hands or your weight to the right portion of your body.
  5. Twist to the left, drawing the weight or your hands to the left portion of your body.
  6. Keep on doing the exercise for 30 seconds to a minute.

Mountain climber

This move can help raise your heart rate as you grow your muscles. Work up to improving your speed as you get stronger.

  1. Begin in a plank position. To get yourself into a plank position, lie flat on the floor, face down. Put your hands underneath your shoulders, bend your toes so that they’re pushing into the floor, and push up. Your arms should be vertical to the floor, but not locked, and your body should create a straight line from your head to your toes.
  2. Raise your right foot off of the ground and draw your right knee toward your left elbow while keeping your abs tight.
  3. Hold the move shortly, and then return your foot to its first position.
  4. Repeat on the other foot.
  5. Keep on doing this move for 30 seconds to a minute.

You can progress your speed and extend the time as you acquire more strength.

Final Thoughts

Love handles can be a side effect of excess body fat, particularly fat in your hips and lower abdomen. Staying active and healthy eating can help shrink those stubborn fats.

However, keep in mind that the process also takes some time.

If you’re incapable of losing weight despite diet and exercise, consult your doctor for advice. They may order blood tests to monitor for possible underlying problems, such as hypothyroidism, or have suggestions for surgical procedures.

Stick with your plan for a healthier lifestyle, and you’ll ultimately reap both the aesthetic and underlying health advantages.