Love Handles

I’ve been heavy for a few years now, and recently I set out on a quest — nay, an odyssey — to get rid of my love handles. Exhausted by the glut (ha, a pun) of weight loss options available, I decided to do some research. I was (and am) primarily concerned with my prodigious belly and the aforementioned love handles, which stick out like a clown at a funeral…though not nearly as frightening. While scouring the web, I kept coming across companies or people who, respectively, promised to or wanted to get rid of love handles quickly . . . or overnight. Other problem areas — such as spare tires, saggy underarms, cankles, and man boobs — were also (supposedly) an easy fix. After much reading and talking to experts, I found out that spot-treating “love handles” is the wrong approach. To get rid of them, you’ll need to reduce your overall body fat.

That being said, there are people (precious few) who would benefit from spot-treating love handles. Where people store fat is primarily the result of genetics (thanks, Mom and Dad). Some people are blessed with the ability to spread it throughout the body, while others seem to accumulate fat in certain areas, and love handles are a common culprit. If you are fit and trim save for your slight bulges, then doing exercises to target the external obliques and latissimus dorsi can help reduce fat and create muscle tone, but even that may not work — and then liposuction may be an option. Remember, the weight loss industry is morbidly obese (it’s ironic) with schemes that make getting rid of fat both unrealistically fast and unnecessarily complicated. Weight loss is hard, but it isn’t complicated. With discipline, resolve, and a little knowledge, you can meet your goals. Below, you’ll find scientifically researched, healthy ways to get rid of love handles and body fat in general.

Best Ways to Get Rid of Your Love Handles

Write it down

Since you need to reduce your overall body fat to get rid of love handles, and you don’t want that fat to return, a lifestyle change is in order. Fad diets, pills, and absurd contraptions peddled by celebrities don’t work. Your doctor will tell you this. Changing how you live isn’t easy. Start out by assessing where you are: try journaling about your goals, your weaknesses, and impediments to change in your life, such as finding time to exercise. If you’re going to get rid of your love handles and have lovers lustily grabbing at your firm stomach instead, you’ll need to remove these roadblocks to true change.

Consume fewer calories

If you want to get rid of excess fat, you’ll need to consume fewer calories than you expend each day. The average healthy person should be getting 2,000 calories a day, but if you are trying to lose love handles and fat in general, you’ll want to ingest somewhere between 1,400 and 1,800 daily. If you reduce your daily caloric intake much further, you’ll suffer energy loss, reduced cognitive function (extended brain farts), and other health problems related to inadequate nutrition. When adjusting your diet, keep in mind that losing more than 1 – 2 pounds a week is not recommended.

Make fruits and vegetables the foundation of your diet

Diet is the most crucial variable in weight loss. Mad scientist philosophies abound where diet is concerned, and depending on age, gender, and genetics, individuals have differing nutritional needs; however, there are some basic principles to consider. You’ll need to limit your intake of high energy density foods (saturated fat, starchy carbohydrates, red meat) while making low energy density foods (fruits and vegetables) the foundation of your diet. These foods have few calories per gram, so you can eat them almost without limit. Fruits and veggies also contain essential vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that prevent disease.

Get exercise

Aerobic exercise and weight training will accelerate weight loss. For getting rid of love handles, aerobic exercise (walking, jogging, sustained exertion, etc.) is more important than any abdominal exercise. This will have many benefits beyond your appearance, such as increased energy, improved moods, and better athletic health. My doctor recommended that I increase my heart rate and breathing for at least 40 minutes as many days a week as possible, but anything helps. Weight training, or anaerobic exercise, will increase muscle mass, which leads to increased metabolism. So lifting weights and working those obliques will help you burn fat faster and develop muscle tone.

Strengthen your core

Yes, there are “love handles exercises,” but they don’t work as advertised. Abdominal exercises like side bends do burn calories, but these anaerobic exercises are mostly about building and toning muscle, and you won’t see results if said muscles are hidden under fat folds of shame. Without weight loss through diet, aerobic exercise, and lifestyle changes, the love handles exercises are without merit; however, if you’re dealing with slight love handles or just a little flab, you may see results in a matter of weeks. Rather than looking up exercises on the Internet, go to a local gym and have a personal trainer safely demonstrate how to strengthen your whole core. Specifically targeting certain areas while neglecting others can lead to imbalance and injury.

Love Handles Exercises

Again, these toning exercises are not a replacement for fat-burning cardio workouts or a sane diet. These are for creating a shapely core once the fat is melting away.

The Swimmer

This exercise works the lower/middle back, which is essential for balance and getting rid of love handles.

  • Lie flat on your stomach with head raised slightly. Your arms should rest against your body.
  • Tense your core and raise your legs and knees off the ground in a fluttering motion like you are swimming. Go for at least twenty reps or until you can’t do any more. Repeat for more than one set.

The Oblique Crunch

  • Lie flat on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor. Keeping your knees together, bring them to one side while keeping your back on the floor.
  • Place your hands behind your head without using them to support your neck. Bring your shoulders straight off the ground using your stomach muscles, not your upper body. Do at least 10 reps, then move your legs to the other side and repeat. For more resistance, try lifting your knees off the floor a few inches.

More Ways to Lose Love Handles

Weight Watchers

Many of my friends and colleagues have recommended Weight Watchers, which is a scheme-free, research-based weight loss program. The philosophy behind Weight Watchers is that weight loss is a lifestyle rather than a crash course. The program advocates a healthy and well-rounded diet, exercise, community support, safety, and sustainability. The program also incorporates a point system that helps members count calories. Weight Watchers has been around for nearly half a century, and it is a viable way to drop extra pounds.

Green Tea

Replacing those calorie-infested sodas with green tea will help you get rid of extra body fat . . . and avoid diabetic coma. Green tea contains “catechins,” a type of polyphenol that suppresses the body’s penchant for storing fat and creating love handles. Other studies suggest that catechins induce “thermogenesis” — a state in which the body expends energy through the digestion process. Beyond helping you lose weight, green tea is inexpensive; it can be infused with a variety of flavors; and it has a subtle, delicious taste. We recommend Tazo Green Tea (link to Amazon).

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a natural appetite suppressant. Adjusting to a lower-calorie diet can be hard; your stretched-out stomach will yearn for deep-fried chocolate lard balls dipped in ranch, but you’ll have to decline. Take two tablespoons of a high-quality, organic apple cider vinegar before a meal and you will feel sated much sooner. You can find a wide variety of Apple Cider vinegar for sale at Amazon.


Some individuals may be more prone to love handles because of genetics, which greatly affects where we store our fat. Genetics also curses some with fat cells that are stubborn to change and just won’t shrink. The love handle region is one of the most common areas liposuction is used for. The benefits of liposuction are that the fat cells removed are gone for good, and that same area will be resistant to storing fat in the future — you will become almost impervious to love handles. The downside of liposuction is that it is surgery, and all surgeries present risks. Liposuction is also expensive, and insurance companies won’t pick up the tab. Cosmetic operations should be considered an extreme last resort when all else has failed. It is best for those who have healthy, elastic skin and are fit (to avoid stretch marks) or only moderately overweight.

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About the Author

Julianne Ragland

Julianne Ragland