“Love handles” is a common name for the accumulation of fat around the oblique area (or the sides of your abdomen) of your stomach and your lower back. These fatty deposits usually develop over years, from a diet too high in calories and a lifestyle that doesn’t include enough exercise. Unfortunately there isn’t one specific exercise to get rid of love handles. Removing love handles will require a combination of reducing body fat with diet, stress reduction and exercise. Making changes to these areas can help you get rid of love handles.
1. Changing Your Diet
-Reduce your calorie intake
In order to lose body weight and excess fat, especially from love handles, you’ll need to decrease your overall calorie intake.
- You cannot lose fat mass from one specific area of your body, but losing weight in general can reduce your overall body fat levels. Over time, you’ll notice your love handles will get smaller.
- Cut out about 500 calories a daily. This generally results in a 1 – 2 pound loss each week.
- Start counting calories for an entire day. Use this number as a starting point. Then, subtract 500 from this number to get an average calorie target that will result in weight loss.
-Limit processed and fried foods
Both processed foods and those that are fried are generally higher in calories. When you eat these types of foods regularly it will be hard to lose weight and get rid of love handles.
- Processed foods and fried foods are known to be high-calorie. In addition, these foods may also be high in added sugars, harmful types of fat and a lot of additives or preservatives.
- Foods to limit include: sweetened beverages, fried foods, fast foods, chips, crackers, ice cream, candy, processed meats, frozen TV dinners, canned meals, cookies, cakes and breakfast pastries.
- If possible, do not eat many foods with high amounts of added sugars. Many studies show that foods high in sugar are typically stored around the stomach area and can worsen the looks of love handles.
-Replace carbohydrate-rich foods with non-starchy vegetables
Many studies show that men who consume a higher amount of carbohydrates have an increased amount of fat around their stomach. Reduce carbohydrate-rich foods to minimize this and reduce love handles.
- Carbohydrates are found in many types of foods. Examples of carbohydrate-rich foods include deserts like cake, cookies, pie as well as other grains like the bread you use to make a sandwich. Other foods contain small amounts of carbohydrate as well, including dairy products, legumes, starchy vegetables and fruit contain carbohydrates.
- Men need at least five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Measure out appropriate portions of each — 1 cup of vegetables, 2 cups of salad or 1/2 cup of fruit.
- Try making half of your plate a non-starchy vegetable at each meal.
- Stick to lower sugar fruits like berries. Also, stick to non-starchy vegetables and limit your intake of items like carrots, peas, potatoes and corn. These starchy vegetables are higher in carbohydrates.
- Minimize your intake of grains as these are the most carbohydrate-dense foods. If you choose to eat them, go for 100% whole grains since these are high in fiber and protein.
-Replace fatty meat with lean meat
Protein consumption is essential for men when they’re working out and following a reduced-calorie diet, but that doesn’t mean just any protein will do. Leaner protein can help reduce love handles.
- Fatty cuts of meat like sausage, bacon, full fat dairy and 80/20 beef are high in sagurated fat. High levels of saturated fat have been associated with increased stomach fat in men. Reduce your consumption of these foods and switch to leaner cuts of protein.
- Choose chicken, fish, turkey and leaner cuts of red meats. In addition, try to eat items like salmon, tuna, nuts and nut butters as these are high in protein and are considered “healthy fats,” which have been shown to reduce belly fat and love handles.
-Increase water consumption
Although water doesn’t necessarily decrease your love handles, it can help men lose body weight and reduce love handles in the long-term.
- Typical recommendations for water intake range from eight to 13 8-oz glasses (2 to 3 liters) daily for men. You may need more based on your activity level.
- In addition, drinking adequate amounts of fluid can help decrease your appetite throughout the day. Plus if you drink a glass before a meal, it can help decrease how much you eat and stick to your calorie limit.
2. Including Exercise
-Begin an aerobic exercise training routine
Cardio is essential for men to reduce body fat, especially around the stomach area and love handles. Incorporate regular aerobic exercise to help get rid of your love handles. Men should include 30 to 40 minutes of moderate to intense cardio exercise four to five days per week.
- Try any moderate intensity activity like: jogging/running, using the elliptical machine, swimming, doing aerobics classes and cycling.
-Do interval training
Research suggests that alternating between periods of hard exertion and medium to light exertion burns more calories and fat than maintaining a constant pace.
- Join a cardio burn or boot camp class at your local gym. These classes use various equipment to do interval training. It is aimed at developing muscles and reducing body fat.
- Do a flow yoga class. These classes combine extremely hard poses with rest periods.
- Join a running group. Look for a group that does sprints and jogging. You can also time yourself to run for two minutes and walk fast or jog for two minutes. Do 30 second sprints every five minutes.
3. Incorporating Core Strengthening Exercises
-Do abdominal crunches
Crunches are a classic abdominal exercise that can help tone and slim your waistline. This particular exercise will work the front of your stomach muscles. Remember that core exercises will not reduce your body fat or your love handles — you need to reduce your overall body fat with diet and cardio for that. Strength exercises like crunches will develop your core muscles, but no one will be able to see them if there is still a layer of fat over the muscle.
- Lay on your back with your knees bent. Stack one hand on top of the other on the back of your neck. Keep your elbows wide.
- Lift your shoulders a few inches off the ground, until you feel your deep stomach muscles engage. Raise up 1 more inch, so you lift your upper back off the ground.
- Slowly lower your upper back down to the floor. Repeat this crunch in three sets of 10 to 100. Once you feel you are ready for the advanced version, raise your legs so that they are straight in the air or bent in a tabletop.
-Do bicycle crunches
This version of the crunch will work into the sides of your stomach and hips.
- Return to the original crunch position. Lift your legs so that they are in a tabletop position. Your knees are bent and your shins are parallel to the ground.
- Raise your chest until your shoulders are off the mat. Twist toward your right leg. Simultaneously extend your left leg out so that it is straight out and parallel to the floor.
- Reach your right leg out and bring your left leg in as you crunch toward your left to meet it. You will not be able to touch your arms to your inward knee. Keep your elbows wide, so that the effort remains in your abdomen, not your neck. Do two to three sets of 10 to 20.
This is a great exercise as it works every muscle in your core.
- Turn over on your hands and knees. Place your forearms on your mat in a bend, 90 degree angle position. Grasp one fist with the other hand.
- Reach one leg straight behind you. Pull in and tighten your abs as you do this. Reach the second leg out, and adjust so that your body forms a perfect straight plank. Hold for 30 seconds to two minutes while breathing steadily.
- Do the same exercise on your hands (in push-up position), instead of your elbows. Make sure your arms are right below your shoulders when you get into position. If you have a hard time doing this exercise in the beginning, do it against a kitchen counter at a 45 degree angle.