Ah, love handles. Such a pleasant sounding name, but for most of us – having them is not so pleasant. So what are they exactly? Well it’s an informal term for deposits of excess fat at the sides of a person’s waistline. For many, it’s the first place weight is gained, and the last it disappears from.
Although it can be difficult to remove stubborn fat from this area, it’s certainly possible. All you really need is a plan, and commitment to it. And in time, a few short weeks, you should see those love handles vanishing. So don’t fret, we have a plan for you.
Your plan consists of 3 elements; lifestyle, diet and exercise.
The first thing we want to tackle while on the plan is your lifestyle, namely your stress levels. If you feel pretty cool, calm and relaxed from day to day, that’s great – keep doing what you’re doing. If however like many of us, you feel pretty stressed out a lot, it’s time to develop some healthy habits to combat this.
Why? Well stress leads to the body releasing a hormone called cortisol. This causes fat gain around the middle, which leads to love handles. In order to lose the handles, we need to handle the stress. Find a way to improve your stressful situation, and take time out for yourself if you can. Healthy ways to deal with stress are meditation, yoga, running and journaling.
A sometimes overlooked key to fading fat at the waistline is better sleep. This is a crucial part of the plan, as late nights take their toll on your body and mind, resulting in cortisol overproduction. A good night’s sleep can work wonders, so aim to get 7- 8 hours every night. If you introduce a consistent sleep schedule – going to bed and waking up at the same times – your body will thank you, as this also helps eliminate stress.
The next and most important part of the plan is diet. What you eat and drink has the biggest influence on your love handles.
Drink plenty of water. Dehydration is a stressor to the body, and many of us do not even realise we are dehydrated. Start drinking two litres of water a day, with more on hot days or when exercising. This way you ensure the body is sufficiently hydrated. Drinking a big glass of water first thing in the morning will set you on the right track. If you can, buy a litre-sized water bottle and plan to drink two bottles worth each day.
Eat regular meals. This will help prevent spikes in blood sugar, which can lead to weight gain around your mid section. The best approach on this plan is to eat regular, small meals, stopping around eight in the evening. This gives your body a break.
Add fresh fruit and vegetables to every meal to decrease belly fat storage. These foods provide a range of vitamins and nutrients your body requires for optimal health. Fruits and vegetables are also high in fibre and water, and low in calories.
Incorporate healthy proteins and fats to power up your plan. Lean proteins, healthy omega-3s and other good fats will build success into losing your love handles. Include a serving of protein such as chicken, fish, or lean beef with your meals. Cured and processed meats contain preservatives and trans fats, so shun these. Vegetarians – we’ve got you covered. Substitute eggs, tofu, legumes, and leafy green vegetables.
Make whole grains and fibre your friends. High fibre will keep you feeling fuller for longer, making you less likely to devour as many calories at meal time. Grains like oatmeal and quinoa are great here, as well as fibre-rich fruit and vegetables, beans and nuts.
Banish processed foods for the plan. These snack foods, fast food and other factory produced stuff like white bread, canned soup and microwave meals contain too much sugar, white flour, corn syrup, hydrogenated oil, preservatives and colouring. Not good. Cook as much as you can.
The ideal is to prepare fresh meals every day, but most will find it more convenient to prepare extra to eat the following day. Salads are great and are quick and easy to prepare – with some protein added. Healthy snacks such as nuts, carrot sticks and sliced fruit will see you through the day.
Breakfast can consist of oat porridge with fruit, or scrambled egg. No sugary breakfast bars please, even the ‘diet’ ones are laden with sugar calories. Soft drinks and other sugary drinks are another no-no. Unsweetened herbal tea will serve you well, or add a little agave if you must.
Avoid alcohol while on the plan. The reason for this is that alcohol leads to swings in blood sugar, which tax the system and encourage belly fat storage. If you are tempted by a drink, but don’t want to abandon the plan altogether, go for a low sugar option, like wine, and limit yourself to no more than 1 or 2 drinks in a week.
The last part of your plan is exercise. It’s time to work those love handles. Any exercises that target your oblique muscles, meaning any move where you’re reaching to the side – work. You will also want to include any exercises that target your upper and lower abs – to sculpt and slim your entire middle section. Treat your core as one complete unit.
What’s recommended here is high intensity interval training (HIIT). This type of exercise switches between bursts of intense activity and brief periods of less-intense activity. HIIT burns a high amount of calories in a short time and carries on burning them after your workout. Get a session in 3 times a week.
A good HIIT program is to do 45 seconds of each of the following: push ups, squats, butt kicks, tricep dips and lunges. After one round, rest for 15 seconds and go again. Do 3 rounds in total. A HIIT program like this can help you lose belly fat, which will help shrink your love handles.
So there you have it, a plan for you to kick those love handles to the kerb.
Follow it, and you’ll soon have toned sides and abs to be proud of.