Love handles! What is there to love?!
They prevent you from putting on fitted t-shirts, tops or dresses. They make your hips look narrow in jeans, giving you a ‘muffin top’ and they wreak havoc when you are looking for the ultimate beach shorts or bikini. In addition, love handles indicate an underlying health problem. Realistically, they should be called “Hate handles”.

What causes love handles?

Ultimately, overeating and under-exercising. Fat accumulation and retention around the hips and abdominal area begin when you eat too many calories and, or don’t burn enough calories. Generally speaking fat can accumulate anywhere in the body, but the key causes for it’s choice of stay around your hips and waist are:

  • Hormonal imbalance – in particular excess cortisol or hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
  • Age – fat becomes harder to burn as you get older
  • Lack of exercise
  • A diet high in unhealthy fats, sugars and high calorie foods
  • Lack of quality sleep

What underlying risks can love handles potentially indicate?

  • Heart Disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Sleap Apnea
  • Insomnia
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Liver Disease

How to fight your love handles face on?


First things first, since love handles are deposits of fat, let’s start with looking at changes to our current diet.

  • Cut out the refined sugars and processed carbs! – Just stop, don’t defend the taste of those donuts or associate McDonald’s ice cream with childhood happiness. Just stop! Please.
  • Eat more vegetables, nuts, high fibre fruits and lean proteins – you know all this already and it has been said a few thousand times before, let’s stop ignoring this advice and just try.
  • Eat little and often – try and eat 5-6 small meals a day, not because it magically burns fat or ramps up your metabolism, but because it is one of the best ways to prevent huge insulin spikes (causing you to store rather than burn).
  • Reduce your saturated fat intake – Although you still need some saturated fat, scale back dramatically. That means take the skin of your meat before eating it and opt for low fat dairy.
  • Opt for Canola, Coconut or Olive Oil when cooking – these oils are mono-unsaturated and promote the use of fat as an energy source, better heart health and an immune system boost.


Now you have a few basic food changes to start on the next part is the exercise. Don’t moan and groan, just face the facts “You need to move if you want to lose those handles!”

  • Swap long steady cardio sessions for high intensity fat busting sessions – High intensity training (HIT) and High intensity interval training (HIIT) are extremely effective at burning fat because it produces high levels of post-oxygen consumption. The more oxygen you consume, the more fat you burn! In addition, HIIT helps to ramp up your metabolism and help you torch those excess calories.
  • Train your abs and obliques! – Abs are not only made in the kitchen. Many people forget that abs are muscle, and more muscle means more calorie burning, less fat. Train your abs equally as hard as you would train any other body part!
    Here are a few ab exercises that help target your “hate handles”- Cross-body Mountain Climbers
    – Spiderman Crunches/Spiderman Push ups

    – Single leg toe-touches
    – Dumbbell Side Bends
    – Russian Twists
    – Wood Choppers
  • Train more than 3x per week – We at like to exercise every day, if we are too sore to lift weights then, HIIT will suffice, if we can’t do HIIT then steady cardio will do. Treat exercise as part of daily life and it won’t feel like a chore!


Bottom Line

“Love handles”, “Hate handles” or whatever you want to call them, should be taken seriously. Although, aesthetically it may not be pleasing for you, it is the underlying issue that should be of more concern. Exercise was never meant to be about the looks, it is about survival. Prolong your life and extend your health by taking some of the necessary suggestions above and you will feel better for it. If planning a diet is tough for you have a look at the list of diets in our navigation menu. If exercise is your issue and you are stuck for ideas or plans, check out our workout section.
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