We all have parts of our bodies that we absolutely hate. For many women, it’s the love handles. They lead to the annoying phrase “muffin top” when we wear the jeans and pants that we adore.
It’s not possible to get our bodies to lose weight from certain parts of our bodies, is it? That’s something we keep hearing when it comes to weight loss. And it all certainly seems true. No matter how hard we try, our arms, chests and legs slim down and tone up, but the love handles remain.
We’ve tried dieting, crunches, running, and so much more! Are we doomed to have our love handles for the rest of our lives?
Of course not! You can minimise love handles. It takes time, and you have to promise me that you’ll put the effort in. Trust me when I say that it is all worth it in the end.
Here’s all you need to minimise love handles and get the body of your dreams. Get your celebrity body and make your friends jealous.
It’s a Combination Plan
I wish I could say that you do one exercise and your love handles will vanish for the rest of your life. I wish I could tell you that there’s some super secret formula that you can follow, whether it’s a secret food or a plan that is guaranteed to work within days.
Unfortunately, minimising your love handles takes time, and it requires a combination plan. That means you need to diet and exercise and do a variety of exercises on top of that.
See, I told you that it required hard work. So, are you ready to kick some butt and get rid of those love handles for good? Are you ready to find out more about this combination plan?
Oh, and let me say that this is the case for everyone. Even those celebrities that you see with the perfect bodies have gone through weeks and months of training. They are forever working out and eating just right to make sure they keep the body that has landed them the roles or the careers they have. Many of them have personal trainers to make sure they keep their love handles at bay.
This combination plan isn’t just about food and exercise, either. You need to get your body and mind just right for weight loss and toning. No, stress won’t cause your love handles to appear and lead to weight gain, but it certainly doesn’t help. The stress will lead to you overeating or stress-eating. You’ll find it harder to exercise and look after yourself.
Your body needs rest and sleep. You’ll need to make sure you aren’t ill, while you protect yourself from injury. There’s a lot that is going to go into the minimising of love handles.
Now, are you ready? Here’s everything you need to help minimise your love handles, avoid insulin spikes, reduce stress, and much more.
Skipping Breakfast is Making You Fat
Okay, skipping breakfast on its own isn’t just suddenly going to make you gain pounds, but it certainly creates the optimum formula for weight gain.
But doesn’t skipping breakfast mean that you eat fewer calories? Surely that would mean your body has to take the calories from elsewhere.
Yes, it does, but it also puts your body under extra stress. You’ve already gone six to eight hours without any food at all! You’ve gone through a fast for a third of your day, so your body needs energy after that. If you don’t give it the energy it needs, then you end up causing a rise in cortisol—the stress hormone.
By skipping breakfast, you put extra strain on the other parts of your body. Your digestive system needs to work, or it ends up getting blocked up. Your metabolism needs the energy to burn, or it starts to wonder when it will get something. It can slow down to make sure your body gets all the energy it needs throughout the day.
And on top of that, you’re more likely to snack and eat more calories throughout the day! Your body needs the fuel. If it doesn’t get it, you start to crave the food you shouldn’t. By 11 AM, you’re going to be reaching for the biscuits with your coffee break. You’ll go after those muffins in the office or reach for the snacks in your drawer. You’ll eat the chocolate and cookies that are on offer.
If you have breakfast, you stand a better chance of fueling the body until lunch. This is definitely the case if you have a filling and lasting breakfast—one full of protein and fibre, which break down slower than other food groups. Even if you do feel hungry, you’re more likely to crave food that is good for you. You’ll have a piece of fruit to tide you over until lunch time.
You don’t even need a full breakfast to start your day! Just eat something, like a piece of fruit or a couple of slices of toast. Anything is better than nothing to start your day just right.
Your Body Needs Food Regularly
And it’s not just breakfasted that we tend to skip. We start to skip other meals throughout the day.
Be honest with yourself about your eating habits. Do you really have lunch or do you feel the need to work through it? Is dinner your only real and substantial meal throughout the day?
Our bodies need food on a regular basis—and by that, I mean every four hours or so. It doesn’t need a main meal, but small meals that will keep your energy up and insulin levels down. Without the food, the body can go through insulin spikes throughout the day.
You start to slump for seemingly no reason. You then need a pick-me-up during the day to get your energy levels going again. These pick-me-ups are usually high in sugar or simple carbs that end up causing an increase in the blood sugar levels. Your body releases insulin to deal with that, and you have what is known as a sugar crash.
All the time that happens, your body is consuming high-calorie food without any other benefits. You’re not getting the vitamins, minerals, proteins, and everything else your body needs. And the energy is burned so quickly that you have to eat more again. This leads to more insulin spikes, as it deals with yet more high calorie, high sugar foods.
You end up gaining weight, and the chances are that weight is going to your hips and waist. You’re making your love handles worse, and all because you’re not eating regularly enough and reaching for the junk when you do eat something.
Don’t Forget to Sleep!
Okay, how can you forget to sleep? It’s not really that you forget but that you don’t think it is that important. The truth is that a good night’s sleep is more than just getting rest to deal with another day.
Your body needs to rest. It needs six to eight hours sleep. Without it, your stress hormone increases, your mood drops, and you’re more at risk of obesity. Why? Because we find anything to get our energy levels back up and that usually comes from high sugar foods that have no benefit at all for our health. The only thing these high sugar options do is make us eat far more calories.
The body starts craving the high-calorie foods because it will get the short bursts of energy that it thinks it needs at the time. Your filling breakfast and healthy dinner just aren’t enough! And if you don’t give it sugar, it craves caffeine, and we don’t know the full health problems linked to too much of that.
You also won’t have the energy needed to get through a workout. Those runs really aren’t appealing, and the body won’t have the ability to push the muscles and tone up your love handles. Even if you ate the right food, you wouldn’t get the toning that your sides need to minimise your love handles completely.
One night’s bad sleep isn’t going to do too much harm. The problem comes when you can’t sleep regularly enough, and you don’t make up for it with naps throughout the day.
Get out of that mindset of being able to sleep when you’re dead. Your lack of sleep is killing you, and making you look worse while it does that!
Exercise Isn’t Enough
Sure, exercise is good for toning and burning some calories, but it is not going to be enough to minimise love handles. Around 80% of weight loss is linked to the diet. That’s right, only 20% is linked to exercise!
If all you’re doing is crunches, planks, and other abdominal exercises for your love handles, you’re not going to get rid of them. You need to fuel your body in the right way to lose the weight and help show the toned muscles through the skin. Exercise isn’t going to change your fat,but it will grow your muscle. And no, your fat does not turn into muscle because you work out! The two are completely different things!
But just how do you change your diet to help you lose weight from those annoying love handles?
The first step is to reduce your sugar intake—your added sugar intake. A lot of foods have natural sugar, and we’re not saying that you need to get rid of that completely. It’s time to get rid of the refined sugar in your diet. This comes from the chocolate, cakes, cookies, and other foods. Anything with added sugar is bad for your diet.
Not only are these foods causing the insulin spikes mentioned above, but they’re giving you empty calories. In essence, this means that you’re getting nothing but weight gain from them.
When you take in calories, you want to gain something beneficial from that. That’s what you do when you eat substantial meals that don’t sugar as much, this includes those simple carbs. Instead of white pasta and rice, switch to wholegrain versions that are full of fibre, for example.
At the same time, you want to make a switch from unhealthy fats to healthy ones. Yes, your body needs fat to help give it energy and protect the body. But you need to get unsaturated fats. The trans and saturated fats that you get from meals full of refined sugar or from greasy junk food just end up clogging the arteries and causing health problems like heart disease and stroke.
Cut down on the animal fats and focus on healthy oils like coconut or olive oils. You can also opt for omega-3 fatty acids from fish or lean cuts of your favourite meats to get the animal version protein in your body. The protein will help to build and strengthen muscles.
Ditch the Sweeteners
Many people make a switch to “all-natural” fructose or artificial sweeteners instead of refined sugar. There is a view that these are healthier for you, but they’re really not. In fact, some of them are more addictive than actual sugar and can lead to some serious health problems.
Let’s take the natural fructose first. This is still sugar. It still has calories, and it will still cause a boost in your blood sugar. Your body will still need to release insulin to counter it, and you will end up with a sugar crash afterwards.
Honey and agave do offer some benefits, but there are still some downsides to it that you need to consider seriously. That doesn’t mean you need to cut them out completely, but do make an effort to cut down on the amount that you eat.
What about artificial sweeteners? Surely they have no calories, so they are great for the waistline. There are actually studies that show artificial sweeteners could be linked to the obesity crisis! We tend to eat more of something because it is sugar-free, believing that it is going to be good for us. While these foods contain no calories from the sweeteners, there are still other calories that we need to consider.
At the same time, sweeteners are highly addictive. Some of them have been linked to issues like cancer and heart problems. There are links to raised stress levels, and we’ve already discussed how these levels are linked to our love handles. The best thing we can do is get rid of the sweeteners altogether.
But now you’re probably thinking that you can’t get rid of the sweet stuff. Your body craves it, and you just have to give in. Well, that’s all linked to the artificial sweeteners, too! They’re highly addictive—more addictive than sugar because of the lack of calories. If you went through the process of cutting out sweeteners altogether, you’d find that your overall health and mind would benefit, while you get rid of your love handles.
Alcohol is Just Empty Calories
Another tip for minimising the love handles is to cut out or at least reduce the amount of alcohol you drink daily. This is just full of empty calories, especially if you reach for the beer, cider and some wine.
Sure, a glass of red wine has shown to offer some health benefits, but overall, we know that alcohol is bad for us. It doesn’t just affect our lives, but it makes our body store fat. In essence, alcohol is making us fat and giving us the love handles!
The alcohol leads to the brain releasing cortisol in the body. This causes a reduction of testosterone in the body, which is essential for muscle building. Even as women we need testosterone, and our body produces it naturally. It’s up to use to keep it working effectively. The muscles can’t tone as well without the testosterone, and we don’t produce it on nearly the same level as men already, let alone once alcohol suppresses it.
On top of that, we’re more likely to eat when we drink. There’s the sugar crash and our moods swing like crazy. You know how much you crave the fries at the end of a night out or all you want is cheese, bread, and other food that you wouldn’t usually want at that time of night. We just find it so much harder to say no to our cravings, so while we’ve already consumed empty calories we have extra calories afterwards without needing them.
That doesn’t mean you have to cut out alcohol completely. After all, there are studies that show having one or two glasses of wine a week is better for you than being completely tee-total. So, have a couple of glasses and really enjoy them after a long week.
HIIT is Your Best Friend
As I said right at the start, getting rid of the love handles is a combination plan. While food affects 80% of your weight loss efforts, it doesn’t do all the work for you. There is still a part that requires exercise.
So, now that you have your food under control, it’s time to look at the exercise plans that will help you minimise the love handles. Guess what; it’s not all about the crunches!
Right now, I want you to think about a cardio workout seriously—and not just a 30-60 minute run around the park. High-intensity interval training (HIIT for short) is one of the best things for toning muscles and burning fat at the same time. You don’t even need to do it for long. Seven to 12-minute workouts are amazing when you use HIIT to your advantage. You can do up to 20 minutes to really benefit those love handles.
The aim of an HIIT workout is to do bursts of training at maximum effort and then have very short rests in between. You want to get your heart rate down as quickly as possible between the workouts so you can go full-out for the next burst of energy. These bursts could be 30 seconds of exercise with 10-15 seconds rests. Yes, really, that’s what I mean by bursts!
These HIIT workouts don’t need to focus on your stomach area, although there will be some exercises that target them. The aim is to get your blood pumping and your fat burning. Your body improves the way it uses the energy from your muscles and will use the energy throughout the day far more effectively.
You’re targeting muscle, rather than just the heart and lungs that you do with cardio. Why is this so important? Because the muscles burn at least triple the amount of energy than fat, so your body gets more from it throughout the day. You’ll increase the metabolic rate throughout the day, so your body burns far more calories on a daily basis. You even burn calories effectively while you sleep!
And you have to admit that the idea of working out for 15-20 minutes at the most sounds more appealing than going on a 60-minute run, right? Be honest with us right now.
Make sure you found a tried and tested HIIT workout or as a personal trainer for an effective workout. You need to target all your muscles with these types of workouts and not just those connected to your love handles. You’ll get an all-over workout, which means every little bit of your benefits.
Pushups are Better than Situps
If you’re still doing all those crunches to get rid of your love handles, it’s time to stop. Situps don’t get rid of the fat around your body, and they’re not actually that effective for the love handles. You see, the muscles are at the side of your body and around your core. With situps and crunches, you’re working on the abs.
You want to switch to working out with pushups instead. If you haven’t done them for a while or can’t hold your whole body up in your arms yet, start by doing pushups on the knees. To get the positioning right, start in the actual pushup position and then drop down to your knees. Your back and legs to your knees will then remain straight so your butt can stay down.
There’s a misconception that your pushups will work on your arms only. However, you’ll soon realise that they also help you build your core muscles. You’ll find that you have to work on the abs, obliques (side muscles) and even lower back to keep your whole body in line during just one pressup.
You can work on your core strength even more by doing kegel exercises at the same time. These are the exercises where you pull in your pelvic muscles, almost like you’re trying to stop yourself urinating! Draw up towards your bellybutton with the muscles, so you pull in the whole core. Squeeze the muscles throughout the lowering and raising of the exercise.
Get the Situps Just Right
If you really want to do situps, make sure you do the right type. You can’t just do 10 crunches and hope that it’s enough. You’ll need to work on the obliques, and this means adapting your positioning.
Start by laying on your side, with your knees slightly bent. Keep your shoulder blades flat on the floor, as if you’re doing a normalsitup but so there is a twist around your waist area. Now crunch upwards and lower. You’ll feel the muscles on the side working as you try to sit up.
You’ll need to do 3 reps of 10 side crunches on each side to tone the oblique muscles. As you lose weight, you’ll find that these muscles are toned, and your love handles diminish.
Another type of situp is the twist situp. Do a normalsitup but as you get to the stop make your right elbow touch your left knee and then the left elbow touch your right knee before lowering down. These aren’t as effective as the side crunches, but they will still do some work on your oblique muscles.
You can do a slightly more effective version of the side situps. Instead of a full situp, do a crunch with a twist, but pull one leg up at the same time. Your right elbow will touch your left knee and vice versa. This is known as the bicycle crunch. The aim with this is that your upper body remains in the crunch position, and you work your legs instead—a bit like riding a bicycle. Your core is always engaged, and your whole stomach area is working instead of just your abs.
Try a Few other Core Exercises
As mentioned with the pushups, you need to work your core. So, it’s worth looking at other core exercises to minimise love handles.
One of the best options is the plank. While in the plank position, make sure you pull your stomach in and engage your core. Pull it all the way up to your bellybutton. As your core strengthens you’ll find that planks are much easier and you can hold them for much longer than normal. Start by holding them for 30 seconds and work your way up to 90 seconds. Take 15-30 seconds in between.
You can convert the planks into side planks instead. Lay on your side with your elbow on the ground. Lift your body off the ground, so it remains completely straight from chest to toe. You’ll certainly feel the side muscles working a lot more than the rest of your core.
These planks are harder than normal ones, and you will certainly need to keep your whole core engaged to keep your balance. If you really struggle at first due to a weak core, bend your bottom leg backwards at the knee and lower your weight onto the knees. This helps to reduce the amount of work your core has to do. Once you get your core into shape, move back to the full planks.
You’ll need to switch sides for this side plank workout to make sure both love handles are taken care of.
The Russian Twists
The Russian twists are worth doing on a weekly basis too. Start this by sitting on the floor with your feet flat. Hold onto a dumbbell that you find comfortable and then lean back so you’re at a 45-degree angle. You should feel your core being used to keep you in position.
Hold the dumbbell with both hands and move it side to side. You can make this exercise harder by lifting the feet off the ground too.
This workout involves the whole core and is one of the easier ones on the list. Start on all fours, with your head up. Raise your right hand and left leg off the floor. Stretch your arm in front and your leg behind, so you look like you’re Superman—hence the name!
Put your arm and leg back down and repeat on the other side. The aim is to engage your core so you don’t wobble while in the Superman position. You need to keep your back straight and your butt down.
Try Kegel exercises while you do the Superman to engage much more of your core. As you build the strength, you can use a light dumbbell for your hand to lift with each Superman pose.
This is also known as the bird dog exercise. The traditional Superman exercise has been classed as pointless and damaging to the body.
Yes, You Can Minimise Love Handles
If you think that getting rid of the love handles is impossible, think again. This is something that you can do, but you need to work at it.
I wish this were something that would change overnight. I think we all do. But it really is worth doing when you get the results at the very end.
It takes a mixture of diet and exercise, and you’ll need to make sure your mind is in the right place. Eat right and do the right type of exercise and your love handles will be gone for good.