Love handles -- those deposits of fat on the sides of the waist -- can be a challenge to get rid of. While exercises that work the muscles around the area will build muscle, they won’t target the fat there specifically. The only way to get rid of love handles is through an overall weight-loss program. How fast your love handles disappear once you lose weight depends a lot on genetics and body shape. Consult your doctor before you begin any weight-loss or exercise regimen.
The idea that you can work certain areas of the body to reduce fat there is known as “spot reduction.” If you do situps, for example, the calories that you burn will contribute to weight loss, but the weight loss will be spread evenly throughout the body, according to the American Council on Exercise. However, exercises that work the obliques, the muscles under the love handles, and the abdominals will tone muscle and help lift the love handles up, so don’t avoid them.
To lose 1 lb. of fat, you need to burn 3,500 more calories than you consume. The recommended rate at which to lose fat is 1 to 2 lb. a week. A good way to start the weight-loss process is by dropping 500 calories a day. If you are consuming as many calories as you are expending on a daily basis, this will create a caloric deficit of 3,500 calories in a week -- a 1-lb. loss, even before exercising. Burn the rest of the calories with exercise. Keep track of your calories in a journal to help keep you focused.
To lose weight, the American Council on Exercise recommends doing 45 or more minutes of cardio, five to six days a week. The exercise should be enough that it makes your heart beat faster and makes you sweat. Start slowly if you are just beginning an exercise program. Walk for 20 to 30 minutes a day and gradually build your way up to more vigorous activity. Running, jogging and biking are classic forms of cardiovascular exercise, but anything that works the heart and lungs will suffice. Varying your routine can help avoid boredom and burnout.
Building muscle through lifting weights or doing some form of resistance training can help build valuable lean muscle. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be and the more calories you will burn, even when at rest. Do some form of strength training at least twice a week on non-consecutive days. Work each major muscle group, focusing on the abdominals. Start by doing one set of each exercise for eight to 12 repetitions. When you are stronger, you can increase the number of sets and the weight or resistance. Crunches, hip rolls, situps and hanging knee-ups are all effective exercises for the abdominals and obliques. You should always do some form of exercise for the back when you work the abdominals, to create balance, according to physical fitness expert Stew Smith.
Eating a healthy diet will help keep calories low and will give your body the proper nutrients it needs to function. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends eating lean meats, fish, poultry, nuts and eggs for valuable protein. Fresh fruits and vegetables along with whole grains and low-fat dairy products are also recommended. Avoid eating too many foods high in added salt and sugar, fats, trans-fats and cholesterol. Monitor portion control and avoid eating large meals. Leave two to four hours between meals to keep your metabolism regulated and aid proper digestion.
Consult with a doctor before beginning any exercise or weight-loss program. A doctor may prescribe a specific, low-calorie diet for you if you are obese or overweight. The best way to lose weight and keep it off is by creating healthy habits of eating and exercise. Whether or not you lose your love handles will depend on how your body stores weight. If you find that exercise and diet aren't sufficiently reducing your love handles, discuss other options with your doctor.