Love handles are one of the toughest areas to get rid of.
But losing them is actually quite simple. And no, you don’t need to starve yourself. Using the latest science, I’ll show you 5 easy steps that I guarantee will get rid of them and keep them off for good.
But first, you need to understand how you developed your love handles in the first place.
And the cold hard truth is, it’s from overeating. Not from one night but from several months or even years of eating more calories than your body needs.
And guess what?
Our bodies prefer to store our excess calories as fat around the abdomen. This is especially true for men as well as women after menopause.
And to make matters worse, usually, wherever the body stores fat first is where it will lose fat from last.
This is what makes belly fat, lower back fat, and those love handles so easy to gain yet so tough to lose. These areas build up slowly over time without you really noticing — and then can seem almost impossible to lose no matter what you try.
But don’t worry.
Love handles are just like any other fat. Use the right approach, and eventually, they will go away.
But this starts with the most important step, nutrition.
Now you’ve probably heard you need to be in a deficit to lose fat, right?
Well, while a calorie deficit is key, it’s not actually going to cause much fat loss in your love handles right away.
Your body will instead prioritize other areas of your body, like the fat around your face, shoulders, chest, and arms, before it prioritizes stubborn areas like your love handles.
One of our Built With Science members, Archie, is a perfect example of this.
In the first few months, his belly and love handles didn’t change much. But if you look closely, you’ll notice improvements in his face, chest, shoulders, and upper stomach.
It wasn’t until after this point did he finally start to see some progress in his love handles, and he simply had to keep going until they eventually came off (total transformation = 11 months).
This is why you must use a calorie deficit that isn’t too aggressive.
Something that you can stick to consistently month after month without feeling like you’re about to drop dead.
Most people try to rush it, and while they may see some initial results, they can’t stick to their diet for long enough for fat loss to reach their love handles, or as soon as they do, they gain it all back again.
Instead, for most people, a good general target is to aim to lose about a lb of fat a week, which means you’ll need to eat around 500 calories less than you burn every day.
But don’t be afraid to take it even slower than this if you need to.
In fact, if you input your stats into our calorie calculator, it’ll:
Discover the exact number of calories you need to eat to lose those love handles:
Click the button below to figure out how many calories you need to eat to lose those love handles using our FREE calorie calculator:
Now, the next steps I’m about to show you can definitely speed this process up, but just remember, you’re not in a rush.
It took years for your love handles to build up, so don’t expect them to disappear overnight.
So the next two steps cover what exercises you should be doing.
First up is lifting weights.
Now while this won’t directly help get rid of your love handles, it will help indirectly in many ways.
First of all, increasing the size of your upper back and shoulder muscles can help create the illusion of a smaller waist and less noticeable love handles.
Second of all, if you don’t lift weights while your body is in a calorie deficit, more of the weight you lose will be from muscle rather than fat. This can not only negatively impact your metabolism, but the more muscle you lose during a diet also seems to be directly correlated with how likely you’ll be to regain the fat afterward.
So think of lifting weights as a way of making you not just look better after you’ve lost the fat but also as a safety guard to prevent fat regain in the future.
And if you need a lifting routine to get started with, here are links to a free 3-day, 4-day, and 6-day-per-week routine you can pick from:
However, if your main goal right now is to lose your love handles, then you actually don’t need much workout volume.
Studies have shown that as little as 3-6 hard sets per muscle per week is likely all you need to maintain your muscle, with older individuals likely needing the top end of that range.
So one strategy, especially if you struggle with consistency, is rather than lifting weights 5-6 times per week, consider for now bringing it down to 4 or even just 3 times a week. Or reduce your overall number of sets and exercises and use that freed-up time and energy towards the next step.
Alright, step 3. So although lifting weights is great for building muscle, it does have a downside.
Lifting weights has been shown to burn an average of about 1.7 calories per minute for women and around 3 calories per minute for men, which amounts to roughly 70 to 200 calories burned from an hour-long workout.
While this can be quite a bit higher for bigger, stronger individuals, it’s still just not a very efficient way to burn calories.
Jogging or cycling, for example, burns on average about 10-20 calories per minute, depending on your weight. So you could potentially burn the same amount of calories as you do from an hour-long weight lifting session in just 10-15 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio.
And the importance of this goes back to creating a calorie deficit.
Although you should primarily create a deficit through your diet, you should also aim to increase the calories you burn through exercise.
Part of this will be through lifting weights, but most of this should be with cardio.
Now I know the very thought of cardio might scare you away, but as you’ll see, cardio doesn’t have to be grueling running sessions, and you don’t have to do crazy amounts of it.
I’ll show you an easy yet effective weekly cardio routine that you can get started with right away, but first, let me explain why most people need it.
So some individuals will be able to get really lean and lose their love handles without any cardio at all.
But typically, these are people who are already active and on their feet all day.
In fact, if you use our calorie calculator, you’ll see there’s almost a 700-calorie difference in daily calories burned from someone who sits all day compared to someone with a very active job and on their feet all day.
So unless you have quite an active job or lifestyle, without any cardio, you’re going to have to eat quite a low amount of calories in order to lose fat.
And as I’ll explain in the next step, this amount will only get lower and lower as you get closer to losing your love handles.
Plus, one unique benefit of cardio is that regardless of if you lose weight or not, it’ll help reduce your visceral fat — the deep dangerous fat in your belly. This is obviously great for your health but also might even make a small difference with losing love handles by reducing the overall size of your belly.
But it’s important you do the right type and the right amount of cardio.
Just like your diet, you need something you can stick to week after week.
What I’d recommend is just to start with walking. Track on average how many steps a day you’re currently taking, and aim to bump that up by 2,000 steps a day.
Once you can do that, bump it up a little more and keep doing that until you reach 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day. That alone will make a massive difference in your daily calorie burn and might honestly be all you need.
In addition to that, you can also consider adding some low- to moderate-intensity cardio to your routine.
But again, only what you enjoy and can stick to consistently. If you hate running and won’t stick to it, then don’t run.
Here’s a great example of this from one of our Built With Science members, Ken.
He had always struggled with love handles but finally started seeing some progress after simply adding 20-30 minutes of incline walking after each of his workouts, combined with taking longer walks with his dog.
So try cycling, swimming, incline walking, spike ball, etc. Anything that gets you moving counts.
Start out with 15-20 minutes 2-3 times a week, and from there, use what I’ll show you in the next step to determine if you need to increase this further.
Alright, now the plan I’ve given you so far will work wonders if you stick to it.
But chances are, at some point, you’ll get stuck.
You see, as you lose weight, your body burns fewer calories. Part of this is due to you carrying less mass, but part of it also has to do with you subconsciously just moving less to preserve your fat stores.
As a result, research has shown that a 10% drop in body weight is accompanied by a 20-25% decrease in 24-hour energy expenditure.
This happens for a variety of reasons, and while being consistent with your steps and activity from step 3 can help prevent this, it’s still likely you’ll reach a point where what used to work is no longer working.
You can tell if you’ve reached this point if you haven’t noticed any fat loss or much drop in your body weight for at least 2-3 weeks.
But when this happens, it’s important not to make drastic changes to your plan. Generally, there are 2 things you can do:
Now if you stay consistent with everything I’ve shown you, I guarantee you’ll lose your love handles.
But honestly, the last step is to consider whether or not it’s even worth it.
You see, to completely lose your love handles, you have to get very lean. A level of leanness that for most people, including myself, is very difficult to sustain.
And I’ve seen many people fall into the trap of being so obsessed over losing their love handles that they overlook all the progress they’ve made elsewhere and don’t realize how great they already look.
For example, here are 2 of our Built With Science members, Saran and Dexter.
Both look incredible, and as you can see in Dexter’s case has already made a ton of progress with losing his love handles.
Yet both are still fixated on completely burning them off and would just have to continue pushing and dieting to a point where they just may not be able to maintain them in the long term.
Believe me, I know we all want to look like all the shredded guys on social media.
But most of these guys have incredible genetics, often aren’t natural, and also don’t share with you just how difficult it is to maintain that shape and how crappy and low energy it can make you feel day to day.
So don’t worry if you still have a little bit of love handles or lower belly fat.
Embrace all the progress you’ve already made, take breaks and just maintain whenever you need to, and realize that the extra push to lose that little bit of stubborn fat just might not be worth the trade-off.
And if you want a done-for-you plan that’ll guide you step by step throughout the whole process, just take the quiz below to find the best program for you and your body. It’s worked for thousands of others, and it will work for you.
Click the button below to take my analysis quiz to discover the best program for you:
Highly recommend giving this article a read next to learn about what to eat to further help lose that stubborn belly fat, and I’ll see ya next time.