Some people tend to lose weight almost immediately from their hips and thighs, while others see their belly fat just disappear. But the love handles prove to be problematic for almost everyone. This subcutaneous fat at the sides and back of your waist is aesthetically displeasing, but doesn't pose a significant health risk.
Stubborn love handles may be a result of a poor draw in the genetic lottery, but they may also stick around because of the WAY you've chosen to lose weight. Simply decreasing calories without consideration of food quality and adding exercise may cause numbers on the scale to drop, but can leave you with too much body fat — including at your love handles.
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Often the first place you lose fat is the last place you gained it. If in the last few months you've noticed your stomach expand, this is the area where you'll see the most significant reduction in fat when you first start to diet. You also notice weight loss most in the places that store a great amount of fat, such as the butt, thighs, breasts and belly.
Love handles, on the other hand, are fairly small pockets of fatty tissue, so your body won't necessarily target these areas until later in your weight-loss journey. Sometimes, they're the last area of fat you shed.
Since you're losing weight already, you're on the right track. Eventually, your body will turn to love handle pockets of fat for energy. It just takes time, so continue following a calorie-controlled diet and getting regular exercise to promote weight loss.
Also pay close attention to what you're eating. Restricting calories but making those you do eat come from refined carbs, sugars and saturated fats can cause your body to not get all the nutrients it needs, especially protein, to support lean tissue. As a result, you may be losing weight in the form of lean muscle, not fat, so your love handles stick around.
And, if you're not eating enough calories, it can also prompt your body to turn to lean tissue for fuel — rather than burn fat. Men should eat at least 1,800 calories per day and women 1,200 to get all the nutrients necessary.
To promote maximum fat loss, ensure your low-calorie plan contains plenty of lean protein in the form of white-meat poultry, lean steak, tofu, low-fat dairy and fish. Augment this protein with whole grains, leafy greens, fresh fruit and small amounts of unsaturated fat, such as olive oil and nuts.
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As you increase the intensity or duration of your workouts, include some abdominal exercises in your exercise routine.
Crunches, sit-ups, planks and twists all help to strengthen and tone the core; and while they won't target love handles, they do burn calories like any other exercise and therefore can burn fat if they put the body into a caloric deficit. They also tone the muscle that lies beneath, so you look leaner once the fat is lost.
If you've hit your target weight and are still plagued by love handles, talk to a dietitian as well as a personal trainer. A dietitian can better assess your diet and help you make changes that may benefit those love handles, while a personal trainer can establish a workout routine that can help you get rid of the remaining excess fat.