There is no denying that the love handles are one of the most unloved and pesky deposits of fat. Many men and women are unable to achieve their desired body shape because of their presence.
Love handles are not just a nuisance; they can also be indicative of more dangerous health problems. That is why it’s essential that you know what they are and what you can do to get rid of them.
What Are Love Handles?
Love handles are fat deposits located on the top of obliques – muscles that extend from the ribs to the buttocks. They are also referred to as ‘spare tires’ or ‘muffin tops.’ Sitting on the sides of the waist, love handles are composed of subcutaneous fat instead of the more dangerous visceral fat.
Subcutaneous fat is present just beneath the skin, while visceral fat wraps itself around internal organs and causes more serious health problems. The presence of visceral fat can make love handles more prominent. Also, it should be noted that love handles aren’t dangerous, but they can be indicative of serious health problems.
What Causes Love Handles?
These are some of the causes of love handles:
Excess fat is the main cause of love handles. This happens when you’re consuming more calories than you’re burning (from eating high-sugar and fatty foods).
Body fat or fatty tissue is mainly composed of fat cells known as adipocytes. And the fat tissue grows because of the increase in the size of the fat cells and the formation of new fat cells. And your diet can influence these processes.
Ageing has also been associated with an increase in the storage of fat in the abdominal region. According to Mayo Clinic, in women, this happens because of a decrease in the production of the hormone oestrogen. This fat storage takes place even when they’re not gaining any weight. That’s because estrogen influences where the fat is stored.
In men, increased belly fat can be a result of a decrease in the production of testosterone. So, that can also give you love handles.
Other than weight gain, gender can also influence who ends up with love handles. For instance, women have more subcutaneous fat and tend to store it around the hips and thighs.
Men, on the other hand, have a tendency to store visceral fat and that too in the abdominal region. So, both men and women are likely to develop love handles in one way or another.
Hormones can also influence the formation of love handles. For instance, thyroid hormones in the body play a role in the metabolism, regulating overall body weight, any abnormalities in their production can also result in the formation of love handles.
According to the British Thyroid Foundation, when the body isn’t creating and releasing normal levels of thyroid hormones, metabolism slows down. The condition can also lead to weight gain if left untreated.
Other than that, the overproduction of the stress hormone cortisol can also be responsible for the development of love handles. Too much insulin can also do the same.
Certain lifestyle habits can also increase the likelihood of your developing love handles. If you don’t exercise enough and have a more sedentary lifestyle, you’re likely to gain weight and end up with muffin tops.
Also, stress can cause weight gain. When you’re stressed, your body releases the hormone cortisol. And as you’re in the “fight or flight” mode, your body will end up craving foods that are high in sugar and fat content; you can end up gaining weight as a result of that. Therefore, stress can cause you to gain weight which can result in the storage of fat on the sides of the waist, forming love handles.
Other than that, several researches have shown that if you sleep for less than 7 hours at night, you’re likely to have a high body mass index and weight gain. If you’re not sleeping well, your overall metabolism is going to be affected. You’re going to be too tired to perform any physical activity, and you’re likely to make poor food choices during that extra window of time. So, lack of sleep can result in poor eating habits and reduced physical activity, which can cause weight gain and love handles.
Are Love Handles Dangerous?
Love handles can be indicative of serious underlying health issues, so you need to keep an eye on them. A meta-analysis of 12 studies with over 360,000 participants showed that love handles are associated with an increased risk of heart failure. Being overweight is also linked to an increased risk of other health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
As mentioned above, love handles can also develop as a result of hormonal imbalances, which can also be dangerous. In addition to that, these ‘spare tires’ can indicate illnesses such as sleep apnea, liver disease, or even cancer.
How To Get Rid Of Love Handles?
Certain non-invasive and invasive techniques can also help you in getting rid of love handles.
Fat freezing therapy can also help you get rid of your handles. The procedure is only recommended for people who have a small amount of fat; otherwise, the results won’t be satisfactory. The process will essentially freeze the fat cells to death.
The fat tissue is broken down and then removed by the body. This can take anywhere between 4-6 months. So, it will take some time for you to see the final results. Additionally, you may need multiple sessions of this treatment.
Liposuction offers a surgical solution for getting rid of love handles. Under general anaesthesia, the fat is broken down and then taken out of the body with the help of a vacuum.
This surgery is best suited for those who have a considerable amount of fat that needs to be removed. Therefore, the results are far more dramatic. It will take a few months for the swelling to go away after which you can see the final results of your surgery.
Can You Get Rid Of Your Love Handles At Home?
There are different things that you can try to do to get rid of love handles. These are as follows:
Since love handles are usually the result of weight gain, which can be a result of a poor diet, you need to make sure that you’re eating well. To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume.
According to the US National Library of Medicine, you should be able to lose about 1 pound a week if you consume 500 fewer calories each day. For that, consider eating more whole grains, vegetables and fruits. You need to do that while ensuring that you avoid eating the following foods:
- Ice creams
- Processed meats
Staying away from fast food and fried foods is key. And while you’re dieting, make sure to drink plenty of water as it can help you feel full, which will decrease your appetite. Drinking too much alcohol can also lead to weight gain, so beware. These measures can help you get rid of your love handles.
In addition to dieting, you also need to exercise regularly (for at least 5 hours a week) to lose those love handles. Sitting in front of the laptop, computer, or TV can make up most of your day, which contributes to a sedentary lifestyle. It’s important that you engage in daily exercises, such as jogging, walking, running, swimming, rowing, or even dancing.
However, it’s a good idea to combine some core exercises with cardio so that you can also tone your obliques. For that, you can consider doing the following:
- Russian Twist – One of the most popular exercises to get rid of love handles is the Russian twist. For this, you need to sit down and extend your legs with arms joined ahead in front of your chest. With legs up the ground, twist from left to right.
- Crunches – There are different types of crunches that you can do. For bicycle crunches, lie down on your back and pull one leg inwards while your knees are folded. You can also try touching your opposite elbow with your knee.
- Planks – Another great exercise to engage the core muscles is planks. For this, turn over on your hands and feet with your arms below the shoulders. Hold this plank position for 10-30 seconds. You can also consider bringing both your hands closer together and making a diamond plank.
- Mountain Climbers – This exercise is also quite popular for getting rid of love handles. For this, first, you need to get into the plank position. Then bend your one knee inwards towards the stomach and hold it there for a few seconds. Repeat it with the other knee.
- Bridges – Another helpful exercise is the bridges. With arms extended at the side and knees bent, lie down on the floor. After that, slowly lift your abdomen and hips and then lower yourself back to the ground.
Also, squeeze in other physical movements during your day by taking the stairs, taking short walks during lunch break, and doing household chores.
Since stress and sleep deprivation can also wreak havoc on the body in countless ways, you should consider making some changes in your daily routine. You can consider getting in touch with a therapist for stress management.
Massages, yoga, aromatherapy, and tai chi can also help, among other things. Stress can cause sleep disturbance, which can also cause stress, locking you in a vicious cycle. So, while focusing on stress management, also try to improve the quality of your sleep.
Love handles can be a nuisance for many reasons. There are different things that you can do to get rid of them. However, make sure to consult a doctor before because love handles can indicative of more serious health problems. If you’re struggling with love handles, you should consult a medical professional as they can recommend you a treatment plan according to your needs.