The ring of fat around your waist may affectionately be referred to as "love handles," but you don't love it. Love handles show you're carrying a little too much extra fat. They keep you from looking your best in clothes and discourage you from taking off your shirt at the beach. All the side bends and crunches you can do aren't going to make those handles go away, though. To lose love handles once and for all, revise your eating plan so you're eating quality foods and fewer calories. Also, perform focused exercise that includes total-body strength training to build muscle and high-intensity intervals to turn on your fat-burning capabilities. It may take time to shed this excess abdominal fat, so take steps today to get started.
Love-Handle Fat Makeup
Love handles are most likely subcutaneous fat, which lies just under the skin and has a characteristic pinchable-ness. Although not aesthetically pleasing, love handles are not as dangerous as visceral fat in your abdomen, which surrounds your internal organs and significantly increases your risk of diseases, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Unlike visceral fat, subcutaneous fat may actually release some beneficial molecules -- but that doesn't mean you have to like having a spare tire.
If your love handles are accompanied by a waist that measures 40 inches or more, you may be carrying both subcutaneous and visceral fat. Losing weight to shrink your middle is imperative to protect your health, not just to improve your looks. Visceral fat responds pretty readily to moderate exercise, stress reduction and reduced calories. Love handles, however, can be more stubborn. Dietary and exercise efforts can work, but it might take time to see results. If you always tend to gain weight first in your waist, this might be the last place you notice a decrease in fat.
A Diet For Men to Lose Love Handles
Eating fewer calories than you burn daily yields weight loss. You can't directly target your love handles, but as you trim down all over, you'll see those rolls reduce. Use an online calculator to determine your daily calorie burn rate. It should take into account your age and activity level, as well as your gender. Then, subtract 500 to 1,000 calories from the number you get to determine how many calories to eat daily to start dropping pounds. Don't reduce your calories too much in attempts to lose love handles too quickly though. Skimping on calories can cause your metabolism to stall, and you could lose valuable muscle; it's recommended that men consume at least 1,800 calories per day.
In addition to monitoring your portion sizes, cut down on sugar, and choose quality, unprocessed foods. An easy mealtime strategy is to fill your plate with one-quarter lean protein, one-quarter whole grains and the final half with fibrous, watery vegetables.
Good protein choices include grilled chicken, lean steak, Greek yogurt and broiled fish. Optimally, eat about 0.6 grams of protein per pound of your body weight per day -- that's 105 grams for a 175-pound man -- because this helps you feel satisfied and preserves lean muscle.
Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa and barley, and vegetables and fruits contain fiber to slow digestion. Measure for measure, these usually contain fewer calories and more nutrients than refined carbohydrates such as white bread, chips, snack mixes and pastries.
Cardio Routine to Shed Love Handles
Moderate-intensity cardio keeps your heart healthy and burns calories, but high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, performed at a few workouts per week kicks your fat-burning processes into full gear. This method of exercise involves alternating short bursts of all-out work, such as sprinting, with bouts of easier activity, such as walking. HIIT-style exercise can result in relatively quick gains in your aerobic fitness, and can positively affect the size of your middle.
Eight weeks of training with one HIIT session weekly and two vigorous-intensity, steady-state workouts resulted in notable abdominal shrinkage in men, showed a 2003 study in the European Journal of Endocrinology. HIIT affects both subcutaneous love handles and deep visceral fat in the belly.
Strength Train Major Muscles to Lose Love Handles
Crunches, planks and wood chops strengthen the abdominal muscles, but don't directly target the bulging fat that's creating the love-handle look. Your body burns excess fat when it senses a calorie deficit, but you can't pick and choose the area where the fat is burned. If you make your body more efficient at burning fat in general, it will eventually use the stores that make up the love handles. Muscle requires a greater number of calories to maintain compared to fat. A more muscular body thus has a higher metabolism and an easier time creating a calorie deficit.
For a minimum of two times per week, strength train with exercises that address all the major muscle groups. Use heavy weights that tire you by the last couple of repetitions in a set of eight to 12 total. Squats, lunges, pushups, pullups, flyes, presses, dips and curls are fundamental moves to incorporate. As you progress, increase the weight, and sets and number of workouts per week. For a detailed workout plan, consult a fitness professional.
- American College of Sports Medicine: Metabolism is Modifiable with the Right Lifestyle Changes
- Harvard Health Publications: Taking Aim at Belly Fat
- British Journal of Nutrition: Dietary Protein - Its Role in Satiety, Energetics, Weight Loss and Health
- Journal of Obesity: High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss
- American Council on Exercise: Why is the Concept of Spot Reduction Considered a Myth?
- European Journal of Endocrinology: Absence of Exercise-Induced Variations in Adiponectin levels Despite Decreased Abdominal Adiposity and Improved Insulin Sensitivity in Type 2 Diabetic Men.