Love handles. One thing is for sure, we DO NOT love them!
If this is a problem area for you that you want to work on, here’s the lowdown on love handles plus how to get rid of them FOR GOOD!
What are love handles?
Love handles are the affectionate name that we often use for the excess fat and skin that sits above our jeans or hips. They can also be called a muffin top as they are more pronounced when wearing tight jeans and look like the top part of a muffin with the rest of your legs the base.
Despite these affectionate nicknames they indicate excess fat accumulation around the hips and abdominal area.
What causes love handles?
The underlying cause of love handles is fat retention.
Fat can accumulate anywhere in the body, but there are certain factors that increase the likelihood for retaining fat in the hip, lower back, and abdominal areas. Factors that contribute to love handle formation include:
- hormones, especially too much cortisol
- age (belly fat accumulation is particularly common as you get older)
- lack of physical activity
- diet high in fats, sugars, and high-calorie foods
- sleep deprivation
- undiagnosed or untreated conditions that slow down your metabolism (hypothyroidism — or underactive thyroid — for example, makes it difficult to burn off extra calories)
Do love handles pose risks?
Retaining fat even around your waist isn’t by itself dangerous however there other health issues that can come from love handles. There are also a range of underlying health issues that having love handles could indicate are a concern. These include:
- high blood pressure (hypertension)
- high cholesterol
- heart disease
- sleep apnea and other breathing issues
- type 2 diabetes (too much body fat can lead to insulin resistance)
- cancer, especially of the colon and breast
- liver disease
Preventing love handles may help boost your overall health, but if you already have them we have some tips on how you can ditch the love handles.
How to ditch the love handles
Love handles are notoriously hard to get rid of. Many people think that side planks and crunches are the way to banish them but that’s not always totally effective.
Here are some top tips and exercises to help you lose those love handles.
Cut out added sugar and alcohol
Healthy eating is key when you’re trying to lose fat in any area of the body. Ditching added sugar is one of the best ways to clean up your diet. Cutting back on the amount of added sugar in your diet can help reduce body fat, including love handles.
While drinking small amounts of alcohol has been linked to health benefits like a reduced risk of heart disease, drinking too much isn’t good for your overall health or waistline. Many alcoholic beverages are loaded with calories and added sugar, which can cause you to gain weight.
If you want to cut out added sugar from your diet we have a sugar detox meal plan available as part of the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge.
Focus on healthy fats and a high fibre diet
Focusing on high-fibre foods, like whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, and legumes will also fill you up and help tame cravings for sugar and fat.
The same goes for protein. Not only does protein keep you full, but it also helps repair muscles after a workout. The more muscles you build, the more calories you burn and fat you lose.
Also adding foods rich in soluble fiber to your daily routine may help you get rid of stubborn love handles. Soluble fiber is found in foods like beans, nuts, oats, vegetables and fruits.
Another way to help you stay fuller for longer is filling up on healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, nuts, seeds and fatty fish this can also help slim your waistline.
Properly hydrating your body is a must for optimal health.
Though water is the best fluid to drink, many people tend to reach for sweetened beverages like sports drinks, teas and juice when they feel thirsty.
Sleep and destress
As always, prioritising sleep and limiting stress will make losing weight and getting rid of unwanted fat easier. Be sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, and make an effort to do something relaxing before bed to help you destress and snooze better.
Think about what’s causing your stress, and what can you do to instantly feel good. The solution is different for everyone, whether it’s taking a relaxing bath, journaling, or meditating. Remember, stress will just make it all the more difficult to reach your goals, so it’s important to keep it in check.
Try our MIND.BODY.BREATH sessions as part of the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge to help you destress and get more restful sleep.
Get moving throughout the day
Many people lead sedentary lifestyles and work desk jobs that involve sitting for hours on end. Finding simple ways to increase the number of calories you burn throughout the day is an excellent way to lose excess body fat.
Creating a habit as simple as setting a timer every half hour to get up and walk to the water cooler can make a big difference for weight loss.
Add weights to your workout
Engaging in any kind of physical activity can help you lose your love handles, but adding weight training to your routine may be especially beneficial.
The terms weight training, strength training and resistance training are generally interchangeable. They all mean contracting your muscles against some form of resistance to build your strength.
Combining resistance training with aerobic exercise has been shown to be very effective for burning off belly fat. Plus, resistance training gives your metabolism a slight boost, helping you burn more calories throughout the day.
Add in full body exercises
Focusing on working out the part of your body that bothers you the most may be tempting, but exercising the whole body may be a more effective way to slim down love handles.
When working on dropping resistant body fat a full body workout is usually more effective, so add in aerobic exercises that work a large number of muscles at once.
Increase your cardio
Cardiovascular or aerobic exercise is defined as any activity that raises your heart rate for an extended period of time. Adding in more cardio to your exercise routine will not only help your overall health but will help blast that excess fat that creates love handles.
Swimming, working out on the elliptical machine or simply going for a brisk walk are all excellent ways to get into an aerobic workout routine.
Try out a HIIT workout
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) might be one of the most effective workouts for losing body fat. What’s more, HIIT workouts burn a ton of calories in a short period of time, meaning you don’t have to spend hours at the gym.
Check out the below Healthy Mummy HIIT workout from the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge.
Work in planks and side planks
Planks are one of the best exercises for getting rid of love handles because they engage the whole body and take major effort to hold with perfect form.
Find out more tips in our 15 tips to help you blast the belly fat for good.
Lose the love handles on the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge
With more than 4,000 delicious (and healthy) recipes, 350 exercises & 24/7 support – the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge is designed (and proven) to help busy mums like you lose weight!
To learn more and join the Challenge, click here!