How to Get Rid of Love Handles

By Beth Rifkin

Love handles is an affectionate term used for the excess fat that sits on top of the oblique muscles, which are located on the sides of the torso. Spot reducing fat from just one area of your body is not possible, however, you can reduce your overall body fat percentage through a fitness program that includes a healthy diet and regular exercise. As the weight is burned off and your waist slims, the love handles are likely to start withering away.

Weight Loss

Losing excess weight throughout your body requires creating a calorie deficit by burning more calories than you consume. Caloric needs are different for everyone and based on individual factors, such as age, weight, metabolism and activity level. The CDC recommends losing weight at a slow and steady pace, such as 1 to 2 pounds per week. A deficit of 3500 calories equals one pound of fat loss. Therefore, reducing your caloric intake by 500 to 1000 calories per day can help you to meet your weight loss goals.

Diet

Eating foods with a high nutritional value can help you to cut calories, feel satisfied and shed the love handles. Choose real food over food that is processed or filled with sugar or that contains saturated fat. For example, eat lean proteins, whole-grain carbohydrates, poly- and monounsaturated fats and fresh fruit and vegetables. Combine proteins with carbohydrates to stay satiated, such as turkey with whole-wheat bread, apple slices dipped in peanut butter or chicken with a side of brown rice. Eat four to five times per day to keep your appetite under control and prevent overeating..

Exercise

Participating in physical activity can help you burn calories and fat and improve your overall shape. The CDC recommends 60 to 90 minutes of moderately intense activity on most days of the week to lose weight. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day if you have been sedentary and are new to working out. Gradually increase your sessions until you meet the CDC guidelines. Workouts should consist of both cardiovascular and strength-training exercise. Cardio gets your heart pumping and consists of activities like running, swimming, bicycling and jumping rope. Strength training, which consists of using some form of external resistance, builds lean muscle mass, which helps to boost your metabolism. Examples of resistance methods are weights, body weight, resistance bands, kettlebells and medicine balls. Aim to work the major muscle groups in your body, which are the latissiumus dorsi, pectoralis major, abdominals, glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings. Give your body one full day of rest per week so that your muscles have a chance to repair and recover.

Target the Obliques

Abdominal exercises that target the sides of your torso -- twisting crunches, side planks, side bridges and standing side bends – can help the obliques to look toned once the excess fat is lost. Include two to three abdominal moves in your workouts three times per week. Aim for three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions. Using a prop like a stability ball can increase the challenge of a basic exercise, such as the twisting crunch. Sit toward the front portion of a medium-sized stability ball with your knees bent in a 90-degree angle and your feet flat on the floor. Lie back over the ball. Place your hands behind your head and extend your elbows out to your sides. Engage your abs and tilt your chin down slightly. Lift your head, shoulders and upper back toward the ceiling. Simultaneously twist to bring your left elbow toward your right knee as far as possible. Return to the starting position. Repeat the crunch but this time bring your right elbow toward your left knee. Continue to alternate sides for a total of 20 repetitions.

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