Getting rid of love handles requires a combination of approaches and when I refer to ‘approaches’ I do not include surgical. In fact, for any sort of weight reduction, weight management, etc. I absolutely do not recommend surgery.
Let us first understand how love handles are created.
One of the hormones your body produces is called “Cortisol”. This hormone is usually released in response to any kind of stress or stressful situations. From a medical point of view, anything you do not like results in a stress. So even a low-calorie diet, common infections, inadequate sleep, or even intense exercise routines can result in stress and trigger the release of Cortisol. While body uses Cortisol primarily as a defense mechanism to regulate your heart beat and blood pressure (so things don’t go haywire under stress), Cortisol is also used as a mechanism to store visceral fat.
Visceral fat is packed deep in the abdominal cavity. It is typically found between organs – think packing material used to protect items that are couriered to you.
Unlike ‘regular fat’ which is located just below the skin, visceral fat begins from deep within and can extend all the way to the skin. Visceral fat is particularly dangerous because it tends to put stress and weight on the delicate organs. Very often the liver is bent and twisted around due to the presence of visceral fat. When visceral fat becomes extensive, the fat spills out on either side of the waist and are called ‘love handles’.
And now let us see how to get rid of love handles.
It would be very easy say that you need to keep Cortisol under control. However, since this would be almost impossible to achieve, the next best way is to tackle the love handles themselves and here’s how:
- Eat regular small meals. By ‘regular’ I mean every three to four hours. Each meal should be no more than 1/4th the size of a regular meal. When you opt for eating small regular meals, avoid the usual lunch or dinner. In other words, the usual lunch or dinner is split into 5 or 6 small meals and consumed at regular intervals. This creates a higher satisfaction level and ensures that hunger related stress is taken care of. You might consider including Green Smoothies as part of your meals.
- Get on to a healthier diet and by that, I don’t mean some commercial diet program. I mean the FDA’s recommended ‘MyPlate’ diet.
- Plan to sleep by 8 p.m. or sleep for no less than 6 hours each day. Adequate sleep will help curtail the release of Cortisol.
- Reduce alcohol intake. Alcohol may make you feel nice but it also triggers the release of Cortisol.
- Start cardio-vascular exercises – remember to consult your doctor about it first! Once you receive the go-ahead from your family physician, include targeted abdominal exercises. These will directly attack the love handles.
The reason you need to include cardio-vascular exercises is because the abdominal fat is like an iceberg. The bulk of it extends deep within the body. Normal exercises such as walking or cycling cannot effectively target visceral fat. In the case of women, visceral fat is stored in the hips, buttocks and thigh region.