They may have a cute name, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a guy who actually likes having love handles. This extra fat at the side of a person’s waistline is an issue many men have to deal with, particularly as they get older. Simply put, as soon as you put on some extra weight, love handles tend to make an appearance.
This is problematic for two reasons. First up, it is not nice to look at – there’s no reason to beat around the bush with regard to this. Not everyone needs or wants to have six-pack abs, but you also won’t see anyone daydreaming about the love-handle physique.
Secondly, this is a sign of excess body weight, and the numerous health problems which can arise from obesity are well-documented and widely known. Therefore, if you are a guy who’s started to notice this issue, it is perfectly natural if your first instinct is to Google, “how to get rid of love handles for men?” We are here to shed some light on this question.
What Doesn’t Work
Love handles appear around the waist, so it might seem logical to try and counteract them with exercises that target that specific area. But if you think that sit-ups and abdominal crunches alone can remove love handles, you need to think again.
This is called targeted weight loss. Or, you might have also heard the expression spot reduction. Looking at it intuitively, it appears sound. You work your stomach, and the excess fat should disappear from there. Unfortunately, that is simply not how our bodies work.
Our organism will burn fat to use as fuel, but that fat will come from cells that can be anywhere in the body. So, (over)working a specific body part will not produce the results one would hope for. You’ll tighten the muscles but won’t get rid of the fat. In order to truly make a dent in those love handles, a different approach is required.
What Does Work
It’s easy to see why many would love for targeted weight loss to be a reality. It’s simply much easier to set aside half an hour each day and do abdominal exercises than it is to make a number of fundamental changes to your daily routine. Unfortunately, the latter is exactly what one needs to do to make their love handles a thing of the past.
When we say fundamental, we really do mean that. So, it’s not just about exercising. In fact, there are three areas to address.
In essence, the formula to any weight loss (love handles or otherwise) is very simple. If you use up more calories than you take in, you’ll burn your stored fat and lose weight. So naturally, the first step is in the kitchen.
The goal is to reduce your calorie intake. To help with this, there are online calorie calculators you can consult to help you plan out your meals. But, in order to get the best results, you cannot focus only on how much you eat. What you eat (and drink) is also very important.
An excellent first step is to cut down on sugars. To achieve this, you should limit your consumption of processed foods because a lot of sugar can be hidden in there. Also, stay away from sugary drinks. Sodas are the obvious target here, but also keep an eye on juices – it’s much better to eat fruit because you want the fiber.
Also, stay away from ingredients such as white bread and refined pasta – these are all sources of simple carbohydrates. Instead, go for complex carbs (whole grains, vegetables, etc.) and lean protein (chicken breast, lean beef, beans, and so on).
You can also try a Mediterranean diet rich in healthy fats – research proves this can help lower body weight. So, eat ingredients such as olive oil, fish, nuts, etc.
We said that spot exercising couldn’t remove love handles, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do crunches. It just means those exercises need to be a part of your workout routine instead of its entirety. What you need is a comprehensive regimen.
So, do cardio exercises (such as running or cycling) as they are great at burning calories. If you’re up for it, also give HIIT a try. It stands for “high-intensity interval training” and means you’ll switch between periods of high intensity and low intensity during your workout. Finally, doing some weight training is also excellent as you only want to lose fat – not lean tissue.
Now, this workout plan may seem too challenging, but it really does not need to be. Nobody said you needed to run a marathon or bench-press twice your bodyweight. As a matter of fact, exercising too hard is counterproductive.
It is not possible to give a broad recommendation as to how much you should work out – there are too many variables involved. It will depend on your age, fitness, and any medical issues you may have. Start out slowly and work your way up. Also, it’s a good idea to consult a doctor before you do any strenuous exercises.
Other Lifestyle Changes
Finally, we’ll mention two additional lifestyle changes you can make to help you deal with love handles. It may not seem immediately obvious how they can help with this, but science backs it up.
The first is to drink plenty of water. For one, studies like this one show increased water consumption is linked with weight loss. Secondly, this can make it easier to stay away from those sugary drinks we mentioned. Lastly, drinking lots of water before a meal may make you feel fuller, reducing how much you’ll eat.
The other lifestyle change is to get enough sleep. There are many studies linking poor sleeping habits with obesity (like this one). There is also research showing that a lack of sleep can increase your appetite or make you more likely to eat unhealthy food. When someone’s trying to lose those love handles, this is all a recipe for failure. Consequently, most adults should get at least seven hours of sleep each night – and maybe even a bit more.
“How to get rid of love handles for men?” is a question many will face at some point in their lives. The answer is – not easily. Still, it can be done. It just requires a dedicated effort on numerous fronts. It’ll take work, but by sticking to the right diet, exercising, and making a few lifestyle changes, the results are sure to come.