Do you have love handles that you would just love to make disappear? Are you fighting with stubborn, lower belly fat? Making lower belly fat disappear might be the toughest challenge for you on your quest towards a lean, sexy body, but it can be done.
People of all ages and sizes struggle with lower belly fat and love handles, and it’s an even more common problem today than it was in the past. The modern lifestyle encourages people to live a sedentary lifestyle and eat unhealthy food, leading to increasing waistlines.
Along with being annoying, accumulating fat around the waist increases your chances of weight-related health problems like heart disease. This is true of both men and women, so there’s extra incentive to rid yourself of that spare tire.
The good news is, a few simple changes to your diet and exercise routine can clear up these pesky problem areas for good. Read on to discover some of the best tips and tricks on how to lose your lower belly fat and love handles.
Types of Fat
The body stores two types of fat: subcutaneous and visceral. Subcutaneous fat lives directly under the skin and causes things like cellulite. Visceral, often referred to as active fat, is stored around your body’s vital organs. You can fight both fats with a combination of diet changes and exercise. (1)
Subcutaneous fat is the fat on the surface, just under the skin. It accounts for 90% of the fat in the body. This fat, while often unsightly, is not entirely bad for you. It helps the body retain heat and slowly releases hormones that regulate blood sugar.
While you want to reduce this fat to flatten your lower belly and lose your love handles, this fat plays an important role in our bodies.
Reducing subcutaneous fat does give you the appearance of a lean, smooth stomach. After all, this is the type of fat that doctors remove with liposuction procedures. Getting rid of love handles often requires some focus on losing subcutaneous fat around the stomach area. (2)
Visceral fat, by contrast, is a much bigger health concern that should not be overlooked when discussing losing lower belly fat. This active fat produces various hormones and inflammatory molecules.
Harvard University states “that visceral fat pumps out immune system chemicals called cytokines — for example, tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-6 — that can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.” Harvard goes on to state that “these and other biochemicals are thought to have deleterious effects on cells’ sensitivity to insulin, blood pressure, and blood clotting.”
The following health conditions are associated with visceral fat:
- Colorectal cancer
- Breast cancer
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Heart Disease (3)
So in your quest to flatten your lower belly, you have to think about getting rid of this bad visceral fat, not just the subcutaneous fat.
What Are Love Handles and Why Do I Have Them?
Love handles are a combination of visceral and subcutaneous fat located in your lower belly and back. Love handles are known for sticking out above your jeans and there is typically one roll of fat on each hip that could be easily grasped, thus the name “handles”.
Love handles and lower belly fat can be the most difficult fat to lose. Because it is so hard to lose, it can be confusing and frustrating to deal with. A variety of factors cause fat to build up on the lower belly and love handles including:
- Poor diet
- Lack of exercise
While some of these factors can be controlled, others cannot without taking seriously drastic measures. However, controlling things like diet, exercise, and stress levels can help combat the lower belly fat and help youget rid of love handles.
In fact, stress is considered one of the leading causes for lower belly fat building around your midsection. Stress releases a hormone called cortisol that increases the amount of lower belly fat your body holds on to, according to a study from Yale. Essentially, as your stress increases, so does your levels of cortisol and as a result, so does your lower belly fat.
What Can I Do About Love Handles?
Wondering how to get rid of love handles? The short answer: work to change the factors you can control. Getting rid of love handles involves a number of lifestyle changes.
You’ll need to eat a healthy diet, get enough exercise and eliminate stress. This will do wonders for your lower belly fat and your overall health. To take control of your belly fat:
Unfortunately, there’s not much anyone can do about age, genetics, or gender. But that does not mean you should not take these factors into consideration when planning your strategies for reducing lower belly fat. The best things you can do to help control and reduce your body fat are to improve your diet and increase your exercise.
The Best Foods to Get Rid of Love Handles
For those interested in learning how to lose love handles, a natural question is what foods will help you achieve your fat-blasting goals? Which really translates into what horrible food are you going to suggest I eat this time? Fortunately, there are many healthy options out there that are not only good at reducing belly fat but also taste good.
Spinach’s high vitamin and mineral count support a healthy body, while the water and fiber in spinach help you feel full. Plus, research shows that spinach helps bust cravings.
A professor of appetite regulation at Lund University in Sweden, Charlotte Erlanson-Albertsson, explored the effects of spinach extract on 15 participants. The extract was given each morning and participants reported that it became easier to fight off those between-meal temptations as the study progressed. He discovered that a key compound found in spinach, thylakoid, makes spinach digest slower and alleviates hunger pangs. (4)
This combination of benefits can help you stave off morning cravings for sugary coffee drinks and pastries, donuts, and bagels.
So tomorrow for breakfast, cook up some eggs, any style will do. Just try to avoid eggs that require copious amounts of fat or carbohydrates. Remember to use minimal butter and oil when cooking eggs, and don’t forget that hard-boiled eggs are an egg-celent flat belly snack.
A very rich dietary food, beans are packed full of nutrients, fiber, and protein. The protein and fiber are particularly good at helping reduce hunger after eating and decrease cravings that lead to excessive snacking.
By helping reduce overall calorie intake, beans help reduce lower belly fat. Science Daily backs up these statements by reporting that beans “increased the feeling of fullness by 31 per cent, which may indeed result in less food intake.”
Further, they state that “including [beans] in your diet may help you lose weight, and we think more importantly, prevent you from gaining it back after you lose it.” (6)
Just be careful how you prepare and what you serve your beans with. If you are used to serving green beans with butter, cut the butter out. Avoid baked beans since they are cooked with large amounts of sugar, preservatives, and not good fats. Instead, try beans steamed or boiled and seasoned with herbs and spices.
Avocados sometimes gets a bad reputation because of their high fat content. However, as you may have heard before, there are both bad and good fats. And avocados are stuffed with the good for you fats.
In addition to being high in good fats, avocados are also loaded with fiber. This helps keep your digestive system moving, reducing excess build up by preventing constipation. Additionally, avocados help control and stop blood sugar spikes.
As a result, this prevents your body from storing excess fat in your lower belly and helps prevent love handles.(7)Like most foods, you’ll want to eat avocados in moderation. Adding a half avocado to a meal for a total of about two full avocados per week is a good number to aim for. Try to make your own guacamole, but be careful buying store bought guacamole because it can contain excess ingredients that make losing lower body fat harder.
Experimental Biology held a study where they studied the effects of adding freeze-dried blueberry powder to the diets of lab rats chosen because their breed was prone to being overweight.
After 90 days, the rats who consumed the extract had less fat in the abdominal region, lower cholesterol levels, lower triglycerides, and improved glucose levels. Blueberries are excellent at fighting lower belly fat because they are full of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.
Additionally, with about 83% of their density coming from water, they’re also low in calories. Blueberries are the perfect topping for oatmeal, yogurt, or as a snack on their own. Just avoid things like blueberry pies and pastries. The closer to raw the blueberries are, the better.
Water is a dieter’s best friend. On its own, it can be a powerful weight loss tool. However, adding lemon to water not only can help you slim down but has a vast range of health benefits that can keep you looking and feeling your very best.
There are many health benefits from drinking lemon water including fighting cancer, boosting the immune system, preventing asthma, and weight loss, to name only a few benefits. (8) Lemon water has nutrients that can actually help boost your metabolism.
Also, drinking lemon water before a meal helps reduce the overall amount you will eat. Another benefit is that adding lemon to water can make it more refreshing and makes you more likely to drink more during the day. The more water you drink in place of sugary or fatty drinks, the fewer calories you intake and the more likely you are to lose weight.
Studies show that diets full of these over-processed carbohydrates contribute to weight gain and cardiovascular problems and Type 2 diabetes. These quick to digest products do not leave you feeling full for very long.(9) In contrast, whole grains are rich in fiber and essential minerals.
Food full of fiber satisfies your hunger for a longer period of time than foods lower in fiber. Additionally, whole grains can help lower cholesterol levels. And in some cases, whole grains can help protect you against certain cancer types. If that’s not enough, whole grains can:
- Redistribute fat
- Regulate blood sugar
- Lower cholesterol
- Aid digestion
- Lower blood pressure
All of these factors can help improve your overall health, but more importantly, digestion, blood sugar, and fat redistribution aid in reducing your lower belly fat and love handles. Fat redistribution also helps remove fat surrounding your vital organs, which needs to be removed before you start removing the fat under the surface of the skin.
But before trashing all your food and buying anything that says “whole grain” on the label, be warned that not all products labeled as whole grain are created equal. Many products may contain whole grain, but the percentage is small and not enough to make a difference in your lower belly fat. Long ingredient lists almost always contain a mix of chemical preservatives and additives, which may actually cause additional weight gain. Look for instead items that are 100% whole grain.
Your only want to buy items that are 100% whole grains. Anything less could potentially have almost no grains at all. (10)
If you are in doubt, check the label for the ingredients listed. Here are some of the best whole grains for you to eat:
- Whole wheat
- Brown or wild rice
- Whole oats
Nuts are an excellent source of good fats, fiber, and protein. Some nuts have antioxidants that help fight against cancer. Adding nuts to your diet can help slim down your lower belly fat and love handles.
Psychology Today published an article discussing the many benefits of almonds in particular. They state that a “Harvard study found that when almonds—along with other nuts and olive oil… were added to a low-fat diet, participants lost as much weight as those who were on a low-calorie, low-fat Hdiet.” (11)
Don’t like eating straight nuts? Try all natural nut butters with a single ingredient: the nut it is made from. Be wary of overly processed nut butters that will not help you lose lower belly fat because of the added sugars and other additives.
How to Lose Love Handles: Essential Tips & Tricks for Eating
Exercises for Love Handles: Eliminate Them!
Exercise is strongly recommended not just for the reduction of lower belly fat, especially belly fat after c-section, but also its numerous other health benefits. However, just like some foods are better suited for reducing lower belly fat and love handles, there are certain exercises to get rid of love handles that are more effective than others. Here are some of the best exercises to shed pounds and burn fat that festers around the lower belly.
Cardio exercises cover a very large portion of possible options. Walking, running, and biking are some of the more popular cardio exercises that you can do outside and often inside as well. However, other cardio exercises include rowing, ellipticals, stair machines, and swimming.
How It Works: The secret to cardio workouts and losing belly fat has little to do with the actual exercise you choose. The key is the intensity at which you do it and the length of time you are doing it per day/week.
According to a study conducted by the Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders, if you routinely participate in high intensity workouts, you will burn more fat than if you participate in similar but lower intensity workouts where you burn the same number of calories. They conclude that intensity if the key to fat loss.
The American Heart Association recommends “At least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.” To lose belly fat, you will want to focus on vigorous, fat-scorching HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts over slow and steady walking. Not sure where to start? Youtube offers plenty of HIIT exercise routines to follow. These workouts are great exercises to get rid of love handles.
Exercises That Focus On Your Core
Core exercises go far beyond your grandparent’s idea of sit-ups and pushups. The core is everything in your trunk, from your upper legs, hips, abs, back, and chest. Exercises that focus on improving your core muscles help you improve your strength and tone beneath your fat.
Exercises for love handles should include plenty of core exercise. Focusing on your core should form a major component of your cardio routine and improved diet.
Some of the core workouts you can try include plank positions, leg lifts, and various types of crunches that work out the entire abdominal wall. Any workout routine should include a variety of exercises that target different parts of your core. In particular, you want to focus on your abs. That way, when you start to lose the weight through cardio exercises and better diet, you will have a toned midsection to show off.
How it Works: Core exercises by themselves may not reduce fat directly but they shape the muscles that you want to reveal by losing that stubborn lower belly fat. Core exercises help you improve your overall strength. And as you do lose the body fat around your lower belly and love handles, the work you put into your core will start to show more and more.
There are exercise routines that target building muscles and increasing your heart rate. Aerobics and plyo routines that focus on quick movements, jumps, and, at times, weights, are examples of combined cardio exercise and strength building which will result in a slimmer, tone look as you melt away your lower body fat and love handles.
How to Get Rid of Love Handles: Men and Women
If you’re thinking that there may be a difference between men and women when losing love handles, you are somewhat right. After all, men and women store fat differently than each other. Women tend to store more fat than men. In fact, women on average store between 6 – 11 percent more body fat than men.
This is true despite the fact that men typically have higher caloric needs than women. Scientists believe that women store more fat in preparation for child-bearing. It’s like an insurance plan that stores up extra fat so that women have plenty of nutrition to grow a baby, even if they’re not pregnant yet.
Not only do women store more fat, but they store it differently than men. Women often have pear-shaped bodies, storing their extra fat in their hips, buttocks, and thighs. Men, on the other hand often carry extra fat right around their midsection.
What does that mean for how to lose love handles men vs. women? As far as strategies go, there’s not much difference. What differs is the fact it’s unrealistic for many women to eliminate all fat in the love handles area, while for men, it may be a bit easier.
Bottom line: Can I flatten my Lower Belly and Love Handles?
It can be done! With some hard work, healthy eating, and commitment you can whittle away your stubborn lower belly fat and love handles to reveal a slim, sculpted waistline.
When it comes to getting rid of love handles, there is no substitute for quality cardio workouts, healthy diet, and commitment. You need all three components to be successful. Intense exercise and a poor diet will not help you reduce lower belly fat because you will constantly be taking back in the calories you are burning.
And though you may have success with cleaning your diet with minimal or no exercise, you will get faster results if combined with exercise. And finally, if you don’t commit to stick with your lifestyle changes in the long-term, losing your lower body fat and love handles will not work.
- Irving, Brian A. PhD et. al. Effect of exercise training intensity on abdominal visceral fat and body composition. Medical Science Sports Exercise, November 2008.
- Taking aim at belly fat. Harvard Health Publishing, 12 April 2021.
- Visceral Fat (Active Fat). Diabetes.co.uk, 15 January, 2019.
- Lund University Research Shows A Patented Spinach Extract Is Tied To Weight Loss. BioSpace, 28 April 2015.
- Fallaize, Rosalind et. al. Variation in the effects of three different breakfast meals on subjective satiety and subsequent intake of energy at lunch and evening meal. National Library of Medicine, June 2013.
- Eating beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils may help lose weight and keep it off. Science News, 30 March 2016.
- Dreher, Mark L. and Adrienne J. Davenport. Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 2 May 2013.
- Ware, Megan RDN. How can lemons benefit your health? Medical News Today, 4 November 2019.
- Hu, Frank B. Are refined carbohydrates worse than saturated fat? The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 21 April 2010.
- Yang, Qing. Gain weight by “going diet?” Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings. The Journal of Biology and Medicine, June 2010.
- Almonds: Get Heart Healthy. Psychology Today, 9 June 2016.