Love Handle Solutions for Men: 5 Strategies That Never Fail

by | Body Image, Fitness, Weight Loss

Stubborn love handles? Here’s everything you need to know to get rid of waist fat. No empty promises or quick fixes. The real truth revealed.

What Causes Love Handles in Men?

It’s not “bad” genes. Not hormonal issues. You can’t blame chemicals in the food. Age is also not the reason.

The answer is far more obvious. That spare tire around your waist is caused by excessive body fat. The result of overeating and not enough movement.

When you gain weight fat starts accumulating in certain areas more than in others. As your body weight increases, you’ll inevitably get love handles. This is true both sexes. Though men are more likely to store fat around the midsection, while women around the hips and thighs.

Yes, genes and a few conditions make some difference. There are men that get their love handles earlier than most. And some store more fat around their waist than others. Regardless of those differences, lean people don’t have love handles.

You have no excuses! Everyone can achieve a slim waist and a flat belly. Even if you’re over 40 and crazy busy. You just need to reduce the excess fat. And we’ll show you how.

Understand This and You Can Skip the Rest of the Article

Food is energy. We need it to function and remain active. But if we overeat we may not manage to use all of it immediately. The excess is stored in the form of body fat.

There are fat depots all over our bodies. Some of the most frequently used ones are around the abdomen. Though some other areas include the face and around the chest. The more you fill up the abdomen depots, the bigger your love handles become.

However, you can reverse the process. This happens when food intake decreases and activity increases. The body will tap into its energy reserves to remain functional. The more you drain the fat depots, the slimmer you get.

Yes, you’ve heard it before – “eat less, train more.” It always comes down to this simple rule. If you manage your energy intake properly you’ll eventually get rid of your love handles. That’s guaranteed. You can’t cheat the natural laws of thermodynamics.

#1 Diet: What to Eat to Lose Fat Around the Waist?

There are many diets that work. You can be quite flexible. The main goal is to limit consumption. Not volume specifically, but rather energy intake. The size of the portion may often be misleading. That’s why we use calories to measure energy in food.

Low-calorie options include:

  • lean meats
  • low-fat dairy
  • legumes
  • root vegetables
  • colored veggies
  • leafy green veggies
  • most fruits
  • berries
  • mushrooms

The most popular weight-loss diets focus on these types of foods. Note that none of the options have any magical fat loss properties. They are just low in calories. Hence the body is forced to use more of its fat reserves. For more ideas check out our grocery list for ripped abs.

Which Foods Cause Fat Accumulation in the Midsection?

No food has inherently fattening properties. But energy-dense foods should be avoided if you want to slim down. Regardless of their health properties. That’s why we’ve included both processed and whole foods on our list.

Note: you can still lose weight if occasionally eating high-calorie foods. But you need to exercise portion control. Also, have great discipline to avoid overeating when the food is really tasty.

Foods you should better avoid:

  • candy and chocolates
  • deep-fried treats
  • pastry and bread
  • pizzas and burgers
  • soda and other caloric beverages
  • fatty meats
  • full-fat dairy
  • nuts and nut butters

Does your busy schedule make you overly-reliant on processed foods? That’s okay, you can still learn to balance your intake and get a flat belly. Though you’ll need to pay extra attention to food labels. Or use calorie-tracking apps like MyFitnessPal.

#2 Training: Which Exercises Help Tone Your Obliques?

Any form of activity can help you lose your love handles. Exercise burns extra calories and makes it easy to reduce body fat. The more energy you burn, the faster you lean down.

Just make sure you pick activities you like and you can do consistently. Also, consider the level of technical proficiency required. If your goal is to simply slim down, no need to engage in high-intensity or super technical exercises.

Ultimately, the type of exercise itself doesn’t matter much. Consistency is important. Some forms of training burn more calories. But those are usually very intensive exercises. You can’t engage in such activities often. While light cardio and walking burn less per unit of time, but can be done daily.

Do (Side) Planks Help You Get Rid of Love Handles?

Certain exercises target the abdomen muscles very well. Most ab isolation exercises work amazingly for developing the core musculature. The problem is all exercises target the muscles, not the fat.

Imagine a great painting with vivid colors and great detail. You won’t be able to see it if the lights are off. It’s the same with ab training. Your muscles are getting more developed. But if they are covered by layers of fat you won’t see any change.

However, training your obliques does affect the energy balance. That indirectly helps reduce your love handles. But any form of extra activity has that effect. Fat reduction is affected by the amount of energy burned. And ab training is not as energy-demanding as some other exercises.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train abs. Once you lean down having well-developed core muscles makes a huge difference. If your goal is to get a nice ripped midsection, don’t skip ab training. Most core exercises work equally well. No need to be super picky.

#3 Sleep: How Does Sleep Help Reduce Belly Flab?

Sleep is more important than training and nutrition. Most of the recovery, growth, and repair processes happen while you’re in bed. The body can’t function properly when it’s sleep-deprived. It’s like not bothering to service your car properly and wonder why it keeps breaking.

Sleep is a multiplier. When you get plenty, all positive results from training and dieting will be amplified. Or if you have poor fitness habits, the negative effects will be minimized.

But poor sleep will hinder all your gym and diet efforts. Regardless of how great your routine is. And when you combine lack of sleep with already poor fitness habits, you’re in serious trouble.

Here a few of the consequences of poor sleep:

  • increased appetite and cravings
  • diminished willpower and motivation
  • increased stress and anxiety
  • decreased rate of fat loss / increased fat retention rate
  • female-pattern fat distribution in men
  • slower muscle gain rate or even muscle loss
  • decreased strength and physical performance

How Much Sleep Do You Need to Get Fit?

Even getting 1-2 hours less than optimal may lead to the side effects highlighted above. Most men should aim to get about 7.5 hrs of sleep a night.

In certain situations, you might benefit from even 9-10 hrs. This is usually the case for people:

  • working in high-stress environments
  • involved in manual labor tasks
  • training very intensively

Sometimes getting enough sleep may not be an option. Though naps and getting extra bedtime during the weekend can help deal with sleep debt. But sleep should always be a top priority. Especially if you want to build and maintain an aesthetic body.

#4 Stress: Can Reducing It Help Eliminate Excess Ab Fat?

Stress has similar effects to those of sleep deprivation. In fact, poor sleep elevates cortisol levels and negatively affects mood. Though the same process works the other way around. Chronic stress can cause problems falling asleep. For some people, that’s a closed loop.

Anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders can cause love handles. You get very prone to fat gain. Cravings go up, while portion control becomes hard. Some people may even use binging as a coping mechanism.

Reducing stress helps you in two ways. First, you’re more likely to engage and maintain healthy habits. Habits that result in weight loss. Also, stress reduction improves and speeds up diet results.

How to Lose Weight Despite Being Overstressed?

Stress comes in different forms. Though it’s usually the environment that is causing or triggering a negative response. Changing your surroundings and avoiding toxic people can help. But you might also have to learn to interact with your environment in new ways.

Note: Stress-management is outside the scope of this article. But you can check one of our other posts to help you deal with work-related stress.

Stressed out or not you can’t cheat the laws of thermodynamics. If you reduce food intake and move more you’ll be losing fat. Your love handles will shrink down. Stress makes the process harder, but not impossible.

It’s like swimming in cold water. Your limbs go numb, breathing is hard, and you feel like giving up at every stroke. But if you persevere you’ll eventually get from point A to B. Don’t underestimate stress, but don’t use it as an excuse either.

#5 Alcohol: Do You Need to Give up Drinking Completely?

The biggest problem with alcohol is that most drinks have a ton of calories. A single night of heavy drinking can easily ruin a whole week of dieting. Though it’s not only the calories you need to worry about.

When you start getting tipsy decision-making will be affected. You may make some really poor diet choices. And if you frequently suffer from hang-overs it’s hard to stick to а training routine. Also, excessive drinking disrupts sleep and health. All this complicates fat loss.

But no, nothing in alcohol can directly cause love handles in men. Abdomen fat is the result of too many calories. Doesn’t matter if they came from alcohol directly. Or as a result of the post-drinking munchies. Though heavy drinking will affect health and lead to health issues.

Is it Possible to Get Abs If You Occasionally Enjoy a Couple of Drinks?

When you control for calories and maintain decent eating habits a few drinks are not a problem. Also, a couple of light beers are not enough to mess with your head.

And if you plan on having more, you can adjust your diet accordingly. Alcohol shouldn’t be on top of your usual diet. But an occasional trade-off between food and drinks. Skip dessert in favor of a cold beer. That will naturally balance your intake.

There are different strategies to lose fat even when you frequently go out. Most of them revolve around moderation, planning, and damage control.

How Long Does it Take to Lose Your Love Handles?

Love handles are a clear sign you’re overweight. If are only a few pounds over your ideal weight your waistline should look normal. Getting rid of excessive abdomen fat takes a while. You likely need to lose about 10 lbs, or in some cases, a lot more.

As already mentioned, your fitness routine (or the lack of one), stress, sleep, and drinking habits create many variables. If you have everything dialed up you can see rapid results. But if you don’t take fat loss seriously you might never reach your body goals.

Lastly, remember it takes effort. There are no shortcuts. You will need to change your habits. Change is not pleasant. If it was easy, everybody would be walking around with six-pack abs. You need to earn your lean body before you can enjoy it.

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Until next time!

~Niki, Fitness Mastery Coach

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