Everyone has some hip fat — it's a common place to carry excess tissue. But if your goal is to shed weight in that area, you may wondering how to get rid of hip fat. And indeed, there are some changes you can make to lose weight throughout your body, including your hips.
Ever wonder why fat deposits on your hips? Where you carry extra fat is determined by factors like your genetics, age, sex, hormones and lifestyle, according to the Mayo Clinic. As a result, the reason you have more fat on your hips than others may be out of your control to an extent.
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When it comes to back and upper hip fat specifically — sometimes referred to as love handles — there are two types of fat to consider. Per Harvard Health Publishing, these are the two types of abdominal fat:
- Subcutaneous fat: the fatty tissue just beneath the skin
- Visceral fat: The deep fat that lies beneath the abdominal wall and surrounds your organs
Subcutaneous fat fits the definition of love handles, as it's the fat you can pinch through your skin. Visceral fat is more dangerous, because it increases your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, osteoarthritis and other conditions.
But even modest weight loss can reduce your hip size and improve your health to lower your risk for these diseases. With those benefits in mind, here's how to get rid of love handles and how to lose weight from the hips through lifestyle changes that support full-body weight loss.
You can't target weight loss in one body part, per the American Council on Exercise (ACE). In other words, you can't lose fat around your hips only. So instead of focusing on how to get rid of fat around your waist and hips, build habits that support full-body weight loss.
1. Cut Back on Calories
Remember — the best way to get rid of love handles is to lose weight across your body, according to the ACE.
Here's how to get rid of side hip fat (along with excess fat throughout your body): Create a daily calorie deficit by eating less and burning more energy through exercise, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Experts recommend losing weight at the safe and sustainable pace of 1 to 2 pounds a week by cutting your calorie intake by 500 to 1,000 calories a day. But keep in mind, there are many more factors that determine how much weight someone will lose, including metabolism, level of physical activity, genetics and overall health.
Calorie intake should not fall below 1,200 to 1,500 per day for most adults, except under the supervision of a doctor, per Harvard Health Publishing. Eating too few calories can deprive you of essential nutrients.
2. Eat a Balanced Diet
Prioritizing nutritious foods is another method for how to get rid of stubborn fat on your hips.
- Whole grains like whole-wheat bread, brown rice and oatmeal
- Legumes like lentils, peas and beans
- Nuts and seeds
- Low-fat dairy products like yogurt and cottage cheese
- Lean proteins like fish and poultry
3. Get Plenty of Fiber
You can also get love handles to go away (along with fat throughout your body) by eating enough fiber, an essential nutrient that supports good digestion and that can help you shed pounds and maintain weight loss, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Good sources of fiber include:
- Legumes like lentils, peas and beans
- Whole grains like spelt, buckwheat and oatmeal
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend adults anywhere between 22 to 34 grams of fiber per day.
4. Don't Forget Protein
Another important component of your diet for getting rid of love handles is protein.
According to June 2015 research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, protein is a crucial source of fuel and can help prevent or treat obesity by helping to regulate your metabolism and appetite.
Nutritious sources of protein include:
- Lean poultry like chicken
- Dairy products like low-fat yogurt and cottage cheese
- Nuts and nut butters
- Legumes like lentils, peas and beans
- Whole grains like whole-wheat pasta and quinoa
- Soy products like tofu and tempeh
How to Get Rid of Love Handles Quickly and Easily
There's no quick fix when it comes to sustainable weight loss. Developing long-term habits — like eating a balanced diet and exercising — is the best way to support safe, full-body weight loss, per the Mayo Clinic.
So if you hear about a fad diet or supplement that claims to be the fastest way to lose love handles, be wary: These branded ways to get rid of love handles quick are typically scams and can be dangerous, per the Cleveland Clinic.
The takeaway: The quickest way to lose love handles isn't so quick, but is safer and more conducive to lasting weight management.
5. Stick to Complex Carbs
Another important tip for how to lose hip fat (and fat across your body) is to prioritize complex over simple carbs, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Simple carbs are the sugars found in packaged snacks, soda and baked goods, and they don't provide your body with sustainable nutrition or energy. Complex carbs, however, are more nutritious sources of lasting fuel.
Complex carbohydrates to incorporate into your regimen to get rid of hip fat include:
- Legumes like lentils, peas and beans
- Starchy vegetables like potatoes
- Whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal and quinoa
6. Prioritize Beneficial Fats
Though it may seem counterintuitive to eat sources of fat when your goal is to learn how to decrease your hip size, dietary fat is an essential source of energy and nutrition, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Stick to healthy sources of fat — that is, unsaturated fat — such as:
- Nuts and nut butters
- Seeds like flaxseed, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds
- Oils like olive, canola, peanut, sunflower and safflower oil
- Fatty fish like salmon, herring and sardines
7. Limit Processed Foods
Eating a balanced diet is the fastest way to get rid of love handles in the long term. And it's not just about the foods you should eat — it's also important to limit or avoid certain snacks.
While eating highly processed foods high in trans or saturated fat, added sugar or salt from time to time is fine, they can contribute to weight gain if they're a regular part of your diet, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Here are some other processed foods to limit if you're wondering how to get rid of fat on your hips:
- Packaged baked goods
- High-sodium snacks like chips
- Fried foods
- Fast foods
8. Limit Sugary Liquids
Excess calories from sugary drinks can add up and contribute to weight gain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). So when it comes to how to lose your love handles, cutting back on sweet beverages may help.
Here are some drinks to consider limiting:
- Energy drinks
- Sports drinks
- Sweetened coffee or tea drinks
9. Stay Hydrated
On that note, drinking plenty of water is a better alternative to sugary beverages, according to the CDC. It helps your body run smoothly and prevents dehydration.
What's more, staying hydrated may support weight loss (including helping you to lose weight off your love handles), according to Johns Hopkins University. Water fuels bodily functions, including burning fat. It can also support your metabolism, fuel your workouts and regulate your appetite.
How Much Water Should You Drink?
Use this equation to determine how much water you should drink every day:
Body weight (in pounds) ÷ 2 = minimum ounces of water you should drink per day.
10. Practice Portion Control
You can also optimize your eating habits to to get rid of side fat by controlling portion sizes.
Sticking to the recommended serving sizes of different foods can help support lasting weight loss by preventing excess calorie intake, according to the Mayo Clinic. For instance, one serving of carbs (like pasta or rice) should be about the size of a hockey puck.
11. Do Aerobic Activities
As mentioned previously, there's no magic solution that can help you get rid of your love handles fast. Instead, eating nutritious foods and moving your body can help you lose — and keep off — weight in the long term.
Regular aerobic activity is a piece of that puzzle: The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend doing at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activities per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise.
Here are some cardio activities to try if you're wondering how to train your love handles away:
12. Don't Forget to Strength Train
Strength training is an essential part of any exercise program to reduce hip fat. It helps you build muscle, which burns more calories at rest than fat and can contribute to full-body weight loss, per the American Cancer Society.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend doing full-body, muscle-building exercises at least twice a week. Here are some types of strength training to consider:
You can also do body-weight exercises to build muscle strength and burn fat. Include exercises that hit multiple muscle groups at once, like:
- Triceps dips
Aim for four to five sets of 10 to 12 reps per exercise.
13. Work Your Core
Remember, you can't target fat loss in a specific body part, according to the ACE. As a result, there are no exercises to get rid of love handles specifically. Instead, strength training can help build muscle and burn fat throughout your entire body.
Still, though, there's a reason to target your abs: Building strength in your midsection can help reduce your risk for injury, prevent back pain and improve energy and endurance, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Here are some core exercises to work into your fitness routine:
- Bicycle crunches
- Leg raises
- Russian twists
- Weighted side bends
14. Give Interval Training a Try
Short on time? High-intensity interval training (HIIT) may be for you.
HIIT is a training style that alternates bursts of maximum-effort exercise with brief periods of rest (like doing burpees for 30 seconds, then resting for 20), per the Mayo Clinic.
Indeed, HIIT may help you to shed fat faster than other types of activity: A February 2018 review in Sports Medicine found that people who used HIIT while cycling or running had a significant reduction in total body fat, visceral fat and abdominal fat mass compared to those who did not.
15. Add Movement to Your Routine
You don't have to hit the gym to get some activity in — making an effort to sit less and move more throughout the day can help, according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
Here are some tips to help you get active:
- Take short walks
- Take the stairs
- Clean the house
- Stretch at your desk
16. Manage Your Stress
High stress levels can trigger behaviors that may lead to weight gain, like snacking on more processed foods or eating larger portions, per the Mayo Clinic.
The fix: Keep your stress levels under control. Here are some tips to help:
17. Get Adequate Sleep
May 2014 research in Obesity that studied almost 300 people for six years found that the people who slept less than six hours per night or more than nine hours per night gained significantly more visceral fat than people who slept seven to eight hours a night.
Lack of sleep is also linked to an increased risk for diseases like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and depression, per the Mayo Clinic.
18. Set Realistic Goals
There's no magic wand for weight loss, which is why it's important to set realistic goals when it comes to shedding fat anywhere in your body, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Aim for the expert-recommended 1 to 2 pounds of weight loss per week — any more than that could mean you're depriving yourself of fuel, per Harvard Health Publishing.
And remember, where you carry excess fat (and how much fat you have) is also determined by factors like your age and genetics, per the Mayo Clinic.
So if you're eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly but your love handles won't go away, this may be because you naturally tend to carry more weight in that area. As a result, taking measures to get rid of love handles fast may not have a big effect.
Similarly, there's no specific body fat percentage at which love handles disappear, so love handles won't magically go away once you lose a certain amount of weight. How your body changes as you shed pounds depends on your body type, genetics and lifestyle, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- American Council on Exercise: "Myths and Misconceptions: Spot Reduction and Feeling the Burn"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Abdominal obesity and your health"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans"
- Mayo Clinic: "Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet"
- Mayo Clinic: "Weight-loss basics"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Fad diets"
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "What are the best ways to trim my waist?"
- Mayo Clinic: "What you should know about processed foods"
- Mayo Clinic: "Portion control"
- Mayo Clinic: "Dietary fat: Know which to choose"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Water and Healthier Drinks"
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition"
- American Cancer Society: "5 Benefits of Strength Training"
- Mayo Clinic: "Core exercises: Why you should strengthen your core muscles"
- Sports Medicine: "Effect of High-Intensity Interval Training on Total, Abdominal and Visceral Fat Mass: A Meta-Analysis"
- Mayo Clinic: "How many hours of sleep are enough for good health?"
- Obesity: "Change in sleep duration and visceral fat accumulation over 6 years in adults"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calorie Counting Made Easy"
- Mayo Clinic: "Weight loss: 6 strategies for success"
- Harvard Health Publications: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights