Genetics, aging or hormones are just some of the factors that can trigger fat to accumulate at the sides of a woman's waistline. Although quickly reducing these love handles requires some lifestyle adjustments, it can better your health, since excess fat around your middle increases your risk of health conditions such as breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Instead of focusing on spot reduction, which is impossible, focus on losing fat from your entire body, because this will also reduce that undesired muffin top.
Set a goal of losing a maximum of two pounds per week, which, according to the Weight-Control Information Network, is a healthy and safe weight-loss rate. Avoid losing weight too fast, because it can slow your metabolism and make you hold on to fat instead of losing it.
Perform 300 minutes of moderate cardio per week, and do strength training on two days. For cardio, consider walking briskly, jogging, bicycling, climbing stairs, rowing or exercising on an elliptical machine. You should be able to talk, but not sing, during the exercise. During strength training, target your major muscle groups, and for each exercise, perform two or three sets of eight to 12 repetitions. Use enough resistance so the last two repetitions of each set are hard to finish.
Clean up your diet to reduce your caloric intake. Eat lean protein, whole grains, low-fat or nonfat dairy, veggies and fruits. Serve yourself smaller portions and consume low-calorie, nutritious foods over high-calorie foods. For instance, eat fruit instead of cookies and chips. Limit calories from sugar, because these are likely to make you gain belly fat.
Incorporate two high-intensity interval training sessions into your cardio workout. According to the American Council on Exercise, HIIT boosts your metabolism, improves physical fitness and reduces belly fat. During HIIT, alternate between two minutes of moderate cardio and one minute of high-intensity cardio, during which you can't talk anymore. Do this for about 20 minutes. For instance, jog for two minutes, and then speed up to a one-minute sprint.
Perform circuit training twice a week, on days where you're bored with your normal routine or when you're cramped for time. Circuit training stimulates muscle tissue, boosts your metabolism and improves your cardio fitness. Set up six to 15 weight-lifting stations that target your major muscle groups, and perform 15 repetitions of each exercise, taking 15 to 30 seconds of rest in between. Go through the entire circuit two to three times.
Perform targeted exercise to strengthen your obliques at the sides of your waistline. Consider doing wood chops with a cable or medicine ball, bicycle crunches and torso twists on a stability ball. These exercises won't reduce your love handles, but when your belly fat reduces, they'll make sure you have a tight waistline.
Reduce stress in your life, because excess stress stimulates the production of cortisol in your body. According to nutritionist and author Marilyn Glenville, cortisol increases your appetite for unhealthy, fattening foods, and the fat you gain settles around your middle. Delegate tasks, get enough sleep, meditate and consider practicing yoga and doing deep breathing techniques.
- Harvard Health Publications: Abdominal Fat and What to Do About It
- Weight-Control Information Network: Weight-Loss and Nutrition Myths
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- Helpguide.org: Healthy Weight Loss & Dieting Tips
- American Council on Exercise: High-Intense Interval Training
- American Council on Exercise: Circuit Training
- Ask the Trainer: Best Oblique Exercises
- Marilyn Glenville: Fat Around the Middle