Fat around the back of your waist is affectionately known as your spare tire or on the sides, as love handles. The only way to get rid of this fat is to double down on your efforts to eat right and exercise. Portion control, reduced intake of certain foods and being physically active are key strategies to losing fat.
Targeting Fat Around the Back of Your Waist
Visceral fat lies deep inside your middle surrounding your organs and can push outward, creating a bigger belly. It's just as much of a health concern as a cosmetic one, because this type of fat increases your risk for metabolic disorders and cardiovascular disease. Fat around the back of your waistband, however, is subcutaneous fat, which is a layer of fat just under the skin. Visceral fat responds relatively readily to the classic weight-loss strategies of reducing your caloric intake, eating healthfully and engaging in moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise, and may be the first fat you lose. Fat around the back of your waist may take a little longer to disappear.
Encourage fat loss by creating a calorie deficit by eating fewer calories than you burn. A pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories, so if you make this deficit equal to 500 to 1,000 calories per day, you'll lose 1 to 2 pounds a week. Engaging in more physical activity to raise your calorie burn, and reducing your calorie intake will make this deficit a possibility. Do not try to eat fewer than 1,200 calories per day, though. Consuming fewer than 1,200 calories a day is too low to meet your nutritional needs, and could lead the loss of valuable muscle tissue, which is an asset when you're trying to burn calories.
Eating to Lose Fat
Step one in targeting fat for loss is to cut out sugar and refined grains. Foods that have these ingredients as their primary ingredients offer little nutritional value but they have excess calories. Soda, candy, baked treats, white bread, white pasta and commercial pizza are examples of foods that are mostly sugar or are refined grains.
You'll also want to reduce your intake of saturated fat found that's found primarily in fatty meats and full-fat dairy such as whole milk, cheese and butter. A 2014 issue of Diabetes published a study, which showed that too much saturated fat can increase the amount of visceral fat your body stores. Keep saturated fat to just 5 to 6 percent of your total daily calories, recommends the American Heart Association. Polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in nuts or salmon, are healthier choices.
Meals for losing weight include eating plenty of fibrous vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. Aim for broccoli, flank steak and quinoa; eggs, peppers and whole-wheat toast; or, a roast chicken breast and a green salad with olive oil dressing. Moderate your portion sizes so that you don't eat too much -- which negates your calorie deficit.
Exercise For the Back of Your Waist
Russian twists, wood choppers and back extensions work the muscles of your core, which make you stronger and more functional. These exercises don't burn fat from your waist area, however.
The calorie deficit you create with additional cardiovascular exercise helps burn off excess fat more so than targeted reduction workouts. Aim for at least 250 minutes of cardio per week and do most of it at a moderate intensity -- such as a light jog or swimming laps. At one or two workouts per week, add interval training during which you alternate a minute or two of all-out effort with an equal amount of recovery. High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, seems to target fat more effectively than steady-state exercise, explains a paper published in a 2011 issue of the Journal of Obesity. You don't want to do HIIT every day, though; it could become too fatiguing, resulting in burnout.
Specific exercises for your waist don't burn the fat there, but a comprehensive program of resistance training increases the amount of lean muscle mass you have and thus boosts your metabolism, making a calorie deficit easier to create. Go for at least two strength training workouts per week on nonconsecutive days that address all the major muscle groups with moves such as squats, lunges, presses, pullups, curls, extensions and crunches.
Lifestyle Changes to Help You Lose Fat
Too much stress can expand your waist. When you're anxious or worried, your body pumps out more the hormone cortisol, which can cause uncontrollable cravings for high-fat and high-sugar foods. It also encourages your body to accumulate weight in the mid section -- right where you're trying to reduce.
Stress can interrupt sleep, and lack of sleep derails efforts to drop weight. Aim to get seven to nine hours a night for optimal functioning and appetite regulation.
- The Royal College of Nursing of the United Kingdom: Body Fat Percentage
- Harvard Health Publications: Abdominal Fat and What to Do About It
- Ask the Dietitian: Overweight & Weight Loss
- Diabetes: Overfeeding Polyunsaturated and Saturated Fat Causes Distinct Effects on Liver and Visceral Fat Accumulation in Humans
- American Heart Association: Saturated Fat
- Journal of Obesity: High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss
- AARP: How to Lose Your Spare Tire
- Sleep: Diet, Exercise and Sleep
- National Sleep Foundation: How Much Sleep Do We Actually Need?