How Do You Get Rid of “Love Handles”?

Well, it’s not by doing tons of abdominal crunches.  Sorry. Don’t shoot the messenger!

“Love handles”, those little rolls of fat at your waistline, are often the last thing to go when you’re on a fat loss program.  As I’ve mentioned before at this blog, WHERE you hold your body fat is determined in large part by your genetics. However, HOW MUCH body fat you have is almost a direct correlation to to how you live your life:  your calorie intake, your exercise activities, and even your choices of exercise activities.

If you’re battling with your love handles–or you’re struggling to lose your last 5-10 pounds, here are some ideas that will help you win the battle:

Replace some of your longer, moderate intensity cardio workouts with shorter, high intensity interval training workouts. You’ll burn more calories in an interval training workout and you’ll also stoke your metabolism to burn more calories for a few hours after your workout it over.  Some studies have shown that high intensity interval training may help reduce abdominal obesity.

-Decrease  your consumption of sugary treats and beverages. We’re not sure why, but there seems to be a correlation between  high sugar consumption and fat accumulation in the belly.  This is the one time where genetics isn’t the only thing putting stored fat around your waistline!  So, cut down on added sugar wherever possible.  If you want to take it a step further, cut down on processed carbohydrates in general (white bread, white rice, cakes, cookies, etc.) , and switch to whole grain carbohydrates eaten in moderation.

-Strength train. And, no, I’m not talking dozens of side bends (spot reducing doesn’t work, remember??).  I advocate strength training for lots of reasons.  With regard to the “love handles” issue, my reason is this:  Regular strength training (done right)  increases your resting metabolic rate over time.   Choose exercises that work several muscle groups/joints at a time like squats, lunges, deadlifts, push ups and pull ups.  Lift or push enough weight so that your muscles become extremely fatigued.  This creates “protein turnover”, or muscle rebuilding.  This protein turnover stuff requires energy  (calories) and results in more muscle mass over time.

-Make sure the fat you add to your diet is good fat.  Choose monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, nut butters, and canola oil as your sources of added at.  Mono-unsaturated fats are heart healthy fats.  Some studies have shown that consumption of mono-unsaturated fats decreases abdominal obesity in individuals who carry excess fat in their bellies.

-Add in two more servings of vegetables every day. Okay, so I’m fibbing a little bit here.  I don’t know of any studies that have shown eating more veggies every day will decrease the size of your love handles.  However, most of us don’t eat enough veggies.  Chances are, if you add in two more servings of veggies every day, you may decrease your consumption of some not-so-good for you foods.  In addition, by eating more veggies you’ll increase your vitamin and mineral intake and your fiber intake for the day.  All good things to do for your body.

I could probably add another 3-5 bullet points here, but let’s keep it at a manageable five for now.

The bottom line is this:  You CAN decrease the size of your love handles.  Side bends and ab crunches won’t do it.  A slightly negative energy balance (fewer calories IN than OUT), good food, and smart exercise WILL get you there.

Have you decreased the size of your love handles recently?  Please share your success here by leaving a comment!

Committed to your success,