Weight Loss Tips

Oh, For the Love! How to Get Rid of Love Handles

Written by: Marlee B

Despite their name, no one I know actually loves their love handles.

Love handles are the areas of extra pinchable body fat that hang or slightly bulge from the side and are also the little rolls on the lower back.

Both men and women can have these, and they often vary in size, from small, cute and curvaceous, all the way to…well, not so cute and curvaceous.

We are going to spread the love today, though, as we talk about the causes of side fat, how we can get rid of it, and how to appropriately target fat loss!

What Causes Love Handles

A woman pinching her side fat, wondering how to get rid of love handles

Unfortunately, love handles aren’t caused by tight clothing alone.

The underlying factor is fat retention. Generally speaking, weight loss and gain are based on the simple principle that our bodies store excess energy as fat.

If we eat more than we use, we gain weight. If we eat less than we use, we lose weight. So, fat cells accumulate when your body takes in too many calories, or when you don’t burn as many calories as you’re consuming.

Over time, these fat cells can become noticeable. Although fat can store itself anywhere it pleases, women’s bodies like to deposit it into the hip and thigh area, resulting in side fat or love handles.

Another common factor might be muscular imbalance. This occurs when one muscle is stronger than its opposing muscle.

For example, if you spend your workday in front of a computer, your mirror muscles (like the chest and abs), could be overworked. Your shoulders are likely pulled forward, creating a strength imbalance between the front of your body and the back.

Posture plays a role, and while it doesn’t actually cause us to gain side fat, it does affect the look of it.

Muscle atrophy can also contribute to side fat.

This is where a muscle or muscle group starts to lose its tone or muscle mass from not being used for long periods of time. Along with this or an overall lack of strength training, poor nutrition is likely the biggest factor in gaining excess body fat.

As I mentioned before, excess calories convert into excess fat, so be sure to control your diet in a healthy way.

How to Get Rid of Love Handles

Good news: Outside of general health or cosmetic concerns, you don’t have much to worry about when it comes to love handles.  It’s not like belly fat that can cause all sorts of concerns like type 2 diabetes or heart disease.

Better news: You don’t have to resort to extreme measures like burning or freezing your love handles to get rid of them!

But for me, love handles are sort of a “Debbie Downer” kind of friend. No matter my efforts to separate myself from her, she clings to me for dear life!

Now, perhaps, here is your “Debbie Downer”. I can’t give you a secret way to lose your love handles. I wish I could, but no one can actually spot reduce their side fat away.

What you can do, however, is reduce your overall body fat, making you slimmer and sexier everywhere! All you need to do is make a few simple lifestyle tweaks.

If you’re interested, keep reading, because I will teach you how!

1. Watch Out for Sugar

An ice cream cone

Ah, the love-hate relationship. We love sugar, hate the handles. But it’s no secret that sugar leads to excess body fat!

The recommended maximum amount of sugar is 25 grams a day for women – which isn’t much, considering a regular can of soda contains 35 grams alone! Thankfully, there is a difference between natural sugar and added sugar.

Natural sugar, like in a banana, is processed differently by your body when compared to added sugar, like in an Oreo cookie. It breaks down in your liver and doesn’t provoke an insulin spike (otherwise known as “sugar rush”) with the subsequent crash afterward.

Likewise, fruit offers some good stuff like vitamins, water, and antioxidants, while candy or other processed goods are nutritionally void. I’m not saying to eat fruit all day, every day, nor am I saying to cut fruit out of your diet in an attempt to limit your sugar intake.

Sugar itself isn’t toxic, but getting too much of it from cookies and cakes is! Overall, just remember that love handles start (and end) in the kitchen.

2. Drink More Water

woman's hand holding water bottle

Again, excess calories = excess fat.

However, one easy way to combat these cravings is to eat when our bodies actually need food.

If you feel hungry, say around 3:00 p.m. when you’re feeling like an afternoon snack will be the ultimate pick-me-up, try drinking a glass of water then waiting 20 minutes to see if you’re food cravings disappear.

If you’re still hungry, go eat! But keep it healthy and well-portioned.

3. Get More Quality Sleep

A woman sleeping

Did you know that proper sleep helps you stay in control of your appetite?

When we are sleep deprived, we crave denser foods for fast energy – like refined carbs, sugar, and fried food – which can make it really hard to lose weight.

When we get enough sleep, and it’s deep enough to allow us to be well-rested, real foods like fruits and veggies can sound much more appetizing to us.

If you struggle with getting into a good sleep routine, it might help to set a bedtime alarm.

Having a nightly reminder on your phone to shut off the computer, set aside the dirty laundry, and take 15 minutes to decompress your brain, your quality of sleep will improve and your love handles will, too!

4. Manage stress

Trainer Kami leading yoga

For most of us, stress is a fact of life. It’s also a fact of fat!

Even if you usually eat well and exercise, chronic high stress can prevent you from losing weight, or even add on pounds!

Here’s how: Every time you experience a stressful moment or an overall stressful day, your brain sends a burst of adrenaline and you respond by either fight or flee. At the same time, you get a surge of cortisol, which tells your body to replenish that energy through food.

This can make you hungry!

Your body keeps on pumping out that cortisol as long as the stress continues. However, few of us reach for a bag of carrots in these situations.

Instead, we crave sweet, salty, or high-fat foods because they stimulate the brain and reduce tension.

Now that you’ve learned all sorts of interesting things about stress, the trick is to manage it so you can keep your weight and side fat under control. Each person is different in ways they reduce stress, whether that is getting fresh air, talking to a friend, reading a book, doing 10 jumping jacks, taking a power nap, or cleaning the house.

Whatever your stress reliever be, use it! You’ll eat less, feel better, and look better, too!

Love Handle Workout

Trainer Kami doing a plank

You may have spent some time analyzing how those love handles got there in the first place, but you may have also spent even more time trying to get rid of them!

To mention it again, spot reducing just simply doesn’t exist. Side fat can’t be blasted off with 1,000 crunches or day or melted away with a special exercise machine.

The removal is a process, but it is possible and there are practical ways of doing so!

All it takes is some toning exercises that will have you feeling the burn and you will watch those love handles “waist” away.

Side Planks

Start by lying on the ground on one side of your body with your feet together and one forearm directly below your shoulder.

Contract your core and raise your hips until your body is in a straight line from your head to your feet. Hold this position without letting your hips drop!

Hold for an allotted amount of time, then switch sides and repeat!

Russian Twists

Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you, hips and knees bent at 90 degrees.

Keep your back straight (your body should be creating an imaginary V-shape with your back and your thighs), with your hands clasped together and centered at your chest.

Twist at your torso as far as you can to the left, bringing your clasped hands to the floor, and then reverse the motion, twisting as far as you can to the right. That is one rep.

Challenge yourself and complete as many reps as you can with proper form in 60 seconds!

Oblique Crunches

Again, lie on one side of your body with your feet together and one forearm directly below your shoulder.

Make sure your body is in a straight line from head to heels.

Keeping your core tight, slowly bring your elbow and knees toward each other, creating a “crunch” motion.

Reserve the move by slowly returning to the starting position. Repeat 8-12 times and switch sides!


These are just a few tips and exercise moves to get you started, but a great program for you to try is the free IdealShape for Life Challenge found on our website!

It is an excellent way to jump-start your general fat loss and will teach you wonderful skills to lose those love handles both in the gym and in the kitchen!

Lose Weight the Healthy Way!

Fad diets won’t help you live a healthy lifestyle, but with the IdealPlan, you will be well on your way to the health you’ve always dreamed of. Lose weight & keep it off with healthy meal plans, workouts designed for weight loss, and a supportive online community to keep you motivated.

Check Out the IdealPlan Today!

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