There’s nothing “lovely” about love handles as they take away from an aesthetic look and they’re darn difficult to get rid of.
But, you don’t have to deal with them anymore, however; it’ll take a little work and some discipline.
You’ll need a good diet and a few exercises to remedy this common issue but it’ll be worth it in the end. Body fat is ugly and it’s time for you to say goodbye to your love handles once and for all.
So, we’re going to show you how to get rid of love handles so you can have a nice-looking midsection…
What Are Love Handles?
“Love handles” are composed of visceral fat (Fat in between your organs and stomach) stores which develop around the center of the body.
Now, there are many factors which could potentially cause fat gain around the waist which mostly include…
- Excessive calorie consumption
- Not enough exercise
- High cortisol levels
- Lack of sleep
- Thyroid issues (Hypothyroidism)
Men and women both deal with fat accumulation around the waist and having visceral fat storage in this area make it even harder to get rid of love handles.
Love Handles and Nutrition
Proper nutrition and/or a caloric deficit to burn body fat is hands down the most effective way to lose your love handles.
But there’s not one exercise that will get rid of your love handles unless you’re training super hard every day to create a caloric deficit.
Now, 3500 calories generally equal one pound of bodyweight. So, if you’re daily caloric consumption continuously exceeds this caloric number, you’ll gain fat unless you’re weight training or doing cardiovascular exercise. (1)
But keep in mind, even if you’re weight training, you still shouldn’t go too much over your daily recommended caloric intake amount. However, a slight caloric surplus is necessary to put on muscle mass in a reasonable amount of time as long as protein is kept high.
Now, the foods you eat aren’t as important but rather how much. But, the problem with a lot of processed, junk food is that they are loaded with more calories than you might think at any given time.
So, it’s best to stick with natural, whole foods to keep the calories low. But you can eat more of these foods and many are very filling so you won’t starve either.
But fiber is also very important for keeping visceral fat at bay. According to research, 10 grams of soluble fiber per day decreases the chances for fat gain over time. (2)
Some diets are great like the Mediterranean diet which emphasizes monounsaturated fats that may help to reduce body fat. You can eat foods like avocados, nuts, oils, fish, vegetables, salads, and other great options. (3)
But overall, eating foods which are less calorically dense will help dramatically. Stay away from the sugars, junk food and watch for anything that’s very calorically dense.
And if you want an accurate way to measure your daily caloric intake we have a great “calorie calculator” just for that purpose.
Cortisol and Sleep Loss
It’s no secret that high cortisol levels contribute to visceral belly fat gain.
Stress is many times the main culprit and it doesn’t help that many people reach for comfort foods when mentally drained. The calories just pile on and before you know it… you’re sporting love handles. But stress hormones also affect blood sugar levels and it’s a vicious cycle since you’ll crave sugars like crazy.
Shawn M. Talbott, Ph.D., a nutritional biochemist explained, “More stress = more cortisol = higher appetite for junk food = more belly fat.” (4)
Research shows a connection between sleep deprivation and fat gain.
But it’s not just your stress levels that become elevated from little sleep that causes the fat gain. A study showed sleep deprivation to elevate the endocannabinoid (eCB) system (Allows the brain to regulate energy and appetite) while increases in appetite were observed simultaneously. (5)
“If you’re sleep deprived, your hedonic drive for certain foods gets stronger, and your ability to resist them may be impaired. So you are more likely to eat it. Do that again and again, and you pack on the pounds,” said Erin Hanlon, Ph.D., at the University of Chicago.
Tip: Want to wake up fresh ? Try out this simple sleep calculator.
Your thyroid runs your metabolism and if it’s not producing the necessary hormones, you’ll gain weight for sure. This is also called underactive thyroid. But, this problem can also cause heart disease, infertility, and joint pain aside from causing obesity if left untreated. (6)
How to Get Rid of Love Handles
Cardiovascular exercise is the best thing you can do for love handles, however; tightening up your midsection and building your lats will distract from the unaesthetic love handles.
But, fat loss/maintenance cardio is a rather simple method and Duke researcher Cris Slentz, Ph.D. explained… “Jog, if you’re already fit, or walk briskly at an incline on a treadmill if you’re not ready for jogging. Vigorous workouts on stationary bikes and elliptical or rowing machines are also effective.”
If you like sports… perfect! Just keep moving and gradually increase your physical activity.
How to Get Rid of Love Handles for Men
Men seem to carry more fat around the midsection and it becomes nearly impossible to get rid of it. But, the great thing is a good full-body and core training program can do wonders. Men have higher testosterone levels, therefore they can build more muscle and faster.
And this additional muscle mass can create the aesthetic illusion of making your love handles look more proportionate. But muscle also burns more calories than fat so you’re really killing two birds with one stone.
Each pound of muscle we have burns slightly under 10 calories at rest and slightly over after exercise. (7)
A natural and whole food diet is also essential while being more active and addressing stress which causes fat gain long term.
Best Exercises for Love Handles
One-arm bent-over dumbbell row
The one-arm bent over row is a power movement and is incredible building muscle mass and strength.
But it allows you to get a big stretch and contraction in your lats while really targeting the lower lats; which is essential for diverting away attention from your love handles.
When your lats are completely developed from top to bottom, your waist will look smaller overall by contrast.
To perform the bent-over row…
- Grab a dumbbell with your right hand and then place the knee side of your left lower leg on a bench. Place your left hand flat on the bench with your arm straight for support.
- Arch your back and then place your right leg back so the ball of your foot is on the ground.
- Now, bring your right arm up as high as you can and contract your lats.
- Complete the number of reps you desire and then repeat the movement using your opposite arms. You right lower leg should be on the bench and support your body with your right arm this time.
Tip: It’s very important to use a full range of motion. Bring your elbow up past your lats while you contract the muscle.
Cable lat pulldown
Cable training is extremely beneficial in any workout routine because of the constant tension and versatility it provides. The lat pulldown requires you to be in an upright position which is very effective for engaging the lats fully from top to bottom.
To perform the cable lat pulldown…
- Grip the bar slightly wider than shoulder-width.
- Lean slightly back and pull the bar down to your chest area.
- Allow your arms to extend back upward.
Tip: Use a V-bar to really activate the lower lats.
What!!… the crunch? That’s what you may be thinking and who could blame you…
Recently, a lot of fitness gurus and people in the industry have advised against the crunch. Many say it’s useless and the plank quickly took over as a better option.
But… Ace-sponsored research tested the abdominal crunch against the plank and essentially most popular ab exercises. And they found that the crunch was overall more effective and the other movements did not provide any benefit over the crunch. (8)
However, the crunch is not the best exercise for developing the abs as a whole. Other exercises like planks and ones which require leg flexion are still necessary and better in some areas than the abdominal crunch.
But… we hope this convinced you of its effectiveness now.
To perform the crunch…
- Lie on your back. Use a soft mat or surface.
- Place your hands across your chest or lightly behind your head.
- Contract your core and lift your upper torso off the ground.
- Hold for 2 seconds.
- Lower your torso back down.
Tips: Use several different abdominal exercise variations for complete core development.
The cable woodchopper is as good of an exercise can get for effectively targeting your obliques. Now, in order to really work these core muscles, you must follow the direction of the fibers during the movement. (9, 10)
So, since the oblique fibers are attached diagonally, the woodchopper allows you to train in the same direction.
To perform the woodchopper…
- Attach a single-arm handle to the cable pulley at the highest notch on the cable pulley.
- Grab the handle with both hands with arms straight and take a step away from the machine.
- Face your left side to the cable pulley and place your left foot slightly in front of your right foot.
- Pull the cable down across your body and contract your obliques.
- Perform your desired number of reps.
- Turn your body so that your right side is facing the cable pulley and repeat the exercise.
Tip: Use a light to moderate weight to keep your body stable during the exercise. You do not need to train heavy for an effective workout.
Just be active and don’t overthink it. The more calories you burn the less belly fat you’ll have. Eat right and take time to meditate and relax. This is not only good for burning fat but it is for your overall well-being.
We won’t tell you that losing your love handles is easy. It takes a lot of dedication and hard work like anything else. But, it’s possible if you understand how to lose body fat.
Weight training and being more active while consuming fewer calories than you burn is key!
But, keeping stress at bay and treating health issues is just as important. So, decide to develop good habits. Be consistent and don’t give up if you’re not losing body fat as quickly as you wanted because bodily changes take time.