What Causes Love Handles and How to Get Rid of Them

This content has been Fact-Checked by a Certified Nutritionist in our Publishing Team. Learn more here. Always consult a medical professional before commencing any diet.

What causes love handles and how to get rid of them? Have you been trying to get into your desired shape but the waistline fat just won’t go off? Well, that is what this article is all about.

Love handles, also known as the fat accumulated in the midsection are the easiest area to gain fat but the toughest to get rid of. However, difficult does not mean impossible.

A fat-free and toned midsection dream can become true with a special combination of diet and exercise.

What Are Love Handles?

Love handles are the excess fat around the lower waist side areas. It is also known as muffin top, one of the most difficult parts of our body to lose weight around.

What Causes Love Handles?

Before you even try to banish the fat around your gut, it is essential to understand what causes love handles.

The causes of love handles vary from person to person. The fat accumulated in the form of love handles is hard to get rid of for both women and men. For men, the waistline is the area where fat cells are accumulated the most. For women, on the other hand, fat also tends to retain in the hip area, which makes love handles more noticeable.

Here are the main causes of love handles:

1# Hormonal Imbalance

In many cases, people that are facing the ‘muffin top’ problem are the ones that have insulin resistance.

Insulin is the hormone responsible for storing fat into the body from the excess sugar in the blood to be used as a source of energy after that.

If the body is resistant to insulin, the sugar will get stored instead of acting as a ‘fuel’ for the human organism. The fat accumulated as a result of insulin resistance leads to love handles.

Another hormone that plays a major role in the battle against love handles is cortisol.

High cortisol levels also known as the “stress hormone” are closely associated with gaining weight.

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2# Foods that Cause Love Handles

As difficult as it is to accept, love handles are often the result of our poor eating habits and daily wrong food choices.

Keep in mind that fat around the waist may be a result of both overeating and undereating. Drastic changes in calorie intake can result in hormonal imbalance and mess up your metabolism.

Foods that cause love handles may include some of your favorite snacks and drinks, so let’s get to know them and so we can avoid them!

In addition to getting a fat-free waistline, eliminating these products from your dietary regimen will protect you against other health risks that come with having an excessive amount of fat around the gut, such as high cholesterol levels, hypertension, etc.

Foods to avoid if you planning on beating those love handles once and for all:

  • Trans fat foods – baked goods (pie crust, frozen pizza, doughnuts), margarine, creamed candies, fried chicken and fries, etc.,
  • White carbs – white rice and white bread
  • Soda and other drinks that contain a lot of sugar (chocolate milk, energy drinks, coffee in bottles, juice)
  • Alcohol;
  • Sodium rich foods – canned food, fast foods, bagels, etc.
  • Processed foods – microwave meals, processed meat products such as sausage and ham, cereals

3# Lack of physical activity or a poorly organized workout routine

One of the main causes of gaining love handles is being physically inactive.

Nevertheless, even if you are working out on a regular basis, it does not imply that you are guaranteed to have a fat-free midsection.

There are two common mistakes that people make while working out and that results in sweat and tears but not an inch off from those stubborn love handles.

Firstly, running on the treadmill is not a way to lose the lower back fat area. Our body gets used to running and stops burning fat to produce energy after some time.

The second most common reason people make while working out is exercising only the abdominal area.

These workout sessions consist of nothing but oblique exercises, including bends and crunches.

While these abs workout will help you get toned abs, love handles will stay unbothered.

4# Are Love Handles Genetic?

Some people may have a genetic predisposition to love handles.

However, if one of your parents has a body type with love handles, it does not necessarily mean that you are going to have them too.

If you have already figured out that your body is more prone to accumulating fat in the abdominal area, take necessary steps to either prevent or demolish those love handles.

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5# Ageing

woman in her 40s

It is no secret that with years, fat distribution changes and our bodies acquire different shapes.

In fact, people tend to gain weight as they get older. This happens as a result of decreased lipid turnover in fat tissues.

So, aging is another cause of love handles which, with age, becomes harder to demolish. But, if you took care of your body from the young by eating healthy foods and doing exercises, this won’t be a big problem for you.

6# Metabolism

Certain conditions slow down metabolism and thus result in weight gain, especially around the gut area.

Hypothyroidism is one of the widespread conditions that cause weight gain and difficulty in burning off unwanted calories.

It implies a low thyroid hormone level, which has to do with the fact that the thyroid gland does not produce an adequate amount of thyroxine hormone.

Hypothyroidism is closely associated with a slow metabolic weight. The latter makes losing weight a problem, as well as results in weight gain.

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How to Get Rid of Love Handles?

Getting rid of love handles is not the easiest of tasks, as the complexity of exercises and diet changes are needed to ‘reshape’ your body.

In addition to these major changes, some extra lifestyle changes would also assist you in getting in shape and feeling confident and beautiful inside and out.

Love Handle Exercises

what causes love handles and how to get rid of them

If you are truly determined to get rid of those love handles, then exercising at least 5 hours a week should become a part of your life.

Some people think that the best way to get rid of midsection fat is to target that area only spending hours in the gym doing exercises that work muscles of the abdominal area.

However, the reality is that the most effective way of getting rid of love handles is doing a combination of aerobic, weightlifting and ab-, hips- and back targeting exercises.

Aerobic exercises, such as running, swimming, hiking, jumping, can turn into a perfect workout that will reduce the fat level of your body overall.

Whole-body exercises are essential if you are trying to lose fat at any spot of your body. Check out Insanity Max 30 Tabata Power – Complete Workout Program.

Weightlifting is another must for love handles fighters.

Lifting weights, combined with aerobic exercises, is one of the best combinations that help getting rid of fat around the belly and hips.

Due to weight training, you will be able to build more lean muscle, speed up your metabolism, as well as burn calories at an accelerated rate. That equals fat loss!

In addition to weightlifting and aerobic workouts, spot training exercises should also be taken into consideration.

Here are some exercises to help you tone your midsection and get rid of love handles.

Russian Twists

Start with a lying position, with your knees slightly bent. Raise the upper part of your body to form a 45-degree angle. Keep your hands together in front of you. Start twisting your torso from left to right.

Russian twists are the perfect exercise to eliminate fat in the midsection area. If you want to make this exercise more efficient, you can add some weights to it. Click here to watch the exercise video.

Side Planks

Start with the typical side plank position, with your elbow rested on the ground and your hips and leg off the ground. Keep in mind that your body should form a straight line.

To make the side plank more effective, start doing hip lifts. Lower and raise your hips and legs for 15 times per workout. Repeat on both sides. Click here to watch the video.

Bicycle Crunches

To do bicycle crunches, first lay on your back. Then, put your hands behind your hand and raise your shoulders off the ground.

Lift your legs. Make sure to keep them away from your body and not fully straightened out.

What you should do next is twisting your torso, first left, then right. While you are twisting to the left, bring your right knee to your chest and make sure you touch your left elbow.

In bicycle twists, the right elbow should meet the left knee and vice versa. Check this link to watch the video.

Check out our guides on how to lose belly fat:

How to Get Rid of Love Handles – Diet

In order to get rid of love handles, you should certainly make some diet changes.

A good workout routine with a well-balanced diet and mindful eating will help you get that flat stomach you have been striving for.

Here are our top diet tips to help you lose weight in a nutritious way:

Healthy Fats

Firstly, you should eat more healthy fats. Make guacamole with some ripe avocados or some tuna salad to get a good amount of fats that won’t hurt you.

Walnuts and almonds are other sources of healthy fats that can also be a great snack.

Healthy fats are high-calorie but they keep you full for hours, which prevents snacking constantly or having additional meals but keep in mind that these healthy fats should be consumed in moderation because of their high-calorie content.

Fibre & Fruits

Secondly, incorporate foods rich in fiber such as black beans, oats, and wholegrain products.

Try to eat a couple of fruits a day. Fibre rich fruits such as raspberries and grapefruit will slow down digestion and keep you feeling full for a longer time.


Last but not least, do not sleep on protein. Having protein as a part of your eating course is an efficient way of losing fat around the belly area.

Some foods rich in protein include eggs, legumes (chickpeas, frozen peas) and seafood such as oysters. Protein-rich food also helps to maintain the weight once you start seeing the desired number on the scales.

In our Flat Belly Diet Recipes | 7 Easy & Fast Recipes article we have combined some of the healthiest and delicious recipes you can try out while fighting against the muffin top.

Lifestyle Changes

Changes that may seem unimportant, can actually contribute to acquiring the long-awaited body shape.

Here are a few healthy changes to help you get rid of excess midsection fat:

    • Control the stress. Do not let the cortisol level mess you up. Check out some great ways to control stress.
    • Get an adequate amount of sleep – Minimum 6 hours! But 7-8hrs is ideal.
    • Reduce alcohol intake and drink more water instead of sugary drinks and soda – you could try drinking a cup of tea/coffee for a change, they don’t have calories!
    • Don’t eat your meals during the night before sleeping.
    • Be consistent with your diet and workout routine – that’s the hardest part! Check out our article 8 Diet Mistakes You Are Probably Making every day for some diet habit tips to help you stay on track.

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This content has been Fact-Checked by a Certified Nutritionist in our Publishing Team. Learn more here.

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