The side fat aka “love handles” or “muffin top” isn’t the most pleasant thing in the world.
Many people experience excess fat accumulation around the hips, waist, and back.
Read along to find out how to get rid of side fat and achieve your dream physique.
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You might have read or heard about exercises that are supposed to make you get rid of love handles fast.
But I am sorry to break it to you: Those exercises simply DON’T work.
What I am trying to say is, there are simply no workouts that can magically remove fat from ONLY your side area or abdomen area. This is just a myth that has been around for too long.
The purpose of working out your sides or oblique muscles is to strengthen and tighten the muscle fibers present. If you already have a low body fat percentage, working out obliques will give them a toned look. But don’t expect that you will magically get rid of side fat by doing endless side bends or side crunches.
Now you must be wondering “So how to get rid of side fat of the belly?”
Here are the best 15 ways you through which you can say goodbye to the side fat:
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NEAT is an abbreviation for Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). This is simply the calories you burn through movements other than your structured workouts.
For example: If you hit the gym every day in the morning, it is called ‘EAT’ (Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) but all physical activity outside of exercise is called NEAT. Getting up in the morning, bathing, dressing up, making shifts to the washroom, all of these form a part of NEAT.
One study of 300 people found that every 15-minute increase in sedentary behavior leads to a 0.05-inch (0.13-cm) increase in the waist size. (Sedentary behavior is defined as either sitting or reclining.)
Most of us today are a victim of a sedentary lifestyle due to no physical activity. All the things required are available within the click of a button and the majority of jobs require working straight for hours in front of a computer screen.
Finding simple and practical ways for increasing calories burned throughout the day is an excellent answer if you wonder how to get rid of side fat.
Making simple daily habits can get you way ahead in your fat loss journey. You can ditch the elevator and take the stairs instead. Walk to your grocery store or restaurant instead of always ordering online.
You can also get a fitness tracker band which helps in tracking calories burned throughout the day. It monitors a host of metrics such as heartbeat, steps walked and sleep patterns.
Cardio and HIIT
Cardiovascular or aerobic exercise is defined as any activity that alleviates your heart rate for an extended period of time.
Hearing about cardio might automatically turn off some people – “How to get rid of side fat without much effort?” If you feel intimidated by the high-intensity nature of most of the cardio workouts, then trust me you aren’t alone.
Rest assured that there are plenty of beginner-friendly cardio workouts which will put you into a fat-burning state without much struggle and might be even enjoyable.
How to get rid of side fat using Cardio?
Swimming, for example, is an excellent form of aerobic exercise which is also fun at the same time. Another example can be brisk walking. Just plug in your headphones and walk for 30 minutes while listening to your favorite podcast or music.
Professionals at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend at least 20 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every day for a healthier life.
And once you develop a daily routine and start giving some time to your fitness goals, you can then unleash the greatest tool against fat loss: HIIT
What is HIIT?
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is when you alternate between high and low-intensity movements or between high-intensity exercise and a short period of rest. For example, sprinting up the stairs, and then coming back down slowly, or alternating between Burpees and Rowing.
A recent survey of 20 studies that included over 1000 people found that HIIT is highly effective at lowering body fat and improving cardiopulmonary fitness as compared to the other low-intensity, steady-state cardio.
Experts in the fitness industry have proved that adding HIIT to workouts is more effective to get rid of side fat than traditional training alone.
HIIT workouts burn many more calories in the 24 hours period as compared to steady-state cardio like walking. This means that you don’t have to spend hours at the gym every day to get rid of those love handles. Instead, you can do it the smarter way with HIIT.
Aerobic exercise helps burn calories and reduces embarrassing excess fat on the body. Combined with HIIT, you have a great fat loss weapon at your disposal.
Complex Carbs to Get Rid of Side Fat
Yes, it’s true. You absolutely can get rid of side fat while eating carbs, but the point is to pick the right type of carbs i.e. complex carbohydrates.
Here are the two types of carbohydrates:
- A simple carbohydrate is basically sugar. This type of carbs is found in fruits & vegetables and also in the majority of processed foods known as “added sugar.” Simple carbs are refined and they cause your blood sugar levels to rise quickly. This in turn makes you crave even more sugar and this weight gain cycle goes on and on.
- Complex carbohydrates consist of long-chain sugar molecules. These carbohydrates offer a sustained release in the energy which keeps you full for longer and suppresses cravings.
Studies have shown that including complex carbohydrates in your diet can be an effective measure if you wonder how to get rid of side fat.
Complex carbs have high fiber content and that is why they are digested slowly, thus giving you sustained energy.
Replace refined carbohydrates like pasta, white bread, sugar, and white rice with nutrient-dense complex carbs like whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta, legumes, quinoa, and broccoli.
A study of 64 people found that those who had oatmeal instead of regular cereal stayed full for longer and were less hungry during lunch and dinner.
Choosing fiber-rich complex carbohydrates over simple refined carbs is a great solution if you wonder how to get rid of the side fat.
Minimize Added Sugar for Weight Loss
Healthy eating is an essential part of losing fat in any area of your body, whether it be the side fat, fat on your back, or fat on your hips. Added sugar is your enemy here which needs to be strictly monitored.
Simple sugar is found in the majority of packaged food we consume such as soda, biscuits, candies, sweets, sports drinks, and ice creams. (Note: Do not confuse it with the natural sugar found in fruits and other unprocessed whole foods.)
Added sugar is the major component of sweeteners used in the marketed products. They are either in the form of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or table sugar.
Many studies have found that fructose from sweetened beverages, causes an increase in belly fat including the sides of your waist. So think before opening the next can of your favorite soda.
Having a diet high in added sugar can greatly increase your deposits of fat on these love handles. Apart from increasing body fat, too much added sugar can make you susceptible to various health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, or metabolic syndrome.
Also, most of these high sugar items are calorie-dense and lack necessary nutrients required for healthy functioning. Limiting the amount of added sugar in your daily diet should definitely be in your checklist for how to get rid of side fat or how to get rid of back fat.
Embrace Calmness: Say Good Bye to Stress
Mental stress triggers the release of cortisol in our body. Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by adrenal glands as a response to stressful situations.
Being stressed can take a toll on your mental health as well as physical health. It is generally seen that people tend to overeat during stressful days and binge on junk food to compensate for the unpleasant emotions. This further leads to fat gain.
Long periods of constant stress and high levels of cortisol can cause unwanted side effects like anxiety, headaches, digestive problems, and fat gain.
To reduce stress and prevent belly fat, focus on activities like yoga and meditation that have been shown to reduce cortisol levels.
Try these tips to eliminate stress from your life:
- Repeat positive affirmations in your mind
- Meditate 15 minutes a day
- Exercise regularly
- Reduce the stress triggers in your life
- Perform deep breathing exercises
- Set realistic goals
How to Get Rid of the Side Fat by Weight Training
Performing any kind of regular physical activity can help you get rid of side fat of back, hips, and waist. Incorporate weight training in your routine to strengthen the muscles and achieve a toned look.
Strength training means contracting your muscles actively against some form of resistance to build your strength. When we lift weights we break down muscle fibers and when they repair, they come back stronger.
This is very useful because muscles increase your level of NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis). So having a higher level of muscle mass can give you twin benefits of looking better and also burning fat at a higher rate.
Combining resistance training with aerobic exercise has been shown to be very effective to trim down that extra fat from your sides.
A study of 107 obese people concluded that a combination of weight training and cardio was more effective at lowering body fat as compared to either one alone.
How to Get Rid of Side Fat with Protein
Various studies have found that protein-rich diets are more effective at reducing side belly fat than diets that are low in protein.
Aim for 0.5 grams of protein per pound of your body weight. And if you are lifting weights regularly in the gym then we recommend 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.
Some high-quality protein sources are eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes, seafood, poultry, and meats.
By including sufficient amounts of protein in your diet, you minimize the hunger hormones and boost various satiety hormones. This leads to a significant drop in hunger levels and that is how the protein will help you to get rid of side fat. You will automatically be eating fewer calories.
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Did you know that drinking water can actually make you burn more calories? Drinking water increases your resting energy expenditure by as much as 30% within 10 minutes of having water. This effect lasts for at least an hour. (Source)
Staying well-hydrated is essential for good overall health. It will also keep you feeling full and craving less for unnecessary snacking.
Water is the best hydrating agent for our body. Many people tend to drink lots of beverages like soda, ice tea, apple juice, etc in the name of “staying hydrated”. The problem is that these drinks contain added sugar which is counterproductive to get rid of side fat.
Another downside of such drinks is that you can easily go overboard with it without realizing the harm they are causing you. For example, you might develop a habit of opening a can of soda every time you get on the couch to watch Netflix.
Stick to plain water or sparkling water. You can also have diet soda but in moderation.
Eat Mindfully to Get Rid of Love Handles
Mindfulness is the art of being fully aware of what is happening within and outside your surroundings at the moment.
Eating mindfully involves noticing the colors, smells, flavors, and textures of your food while chewing each bite slowly. The goal here is to focus all the attention on food and get rid of distractions like TV or mobile phone.
Applying mindfulness to your eating habits will help you improve your relationship with food and suppress cravings for processed foods. You will automatically take healthier alternatives and master your cravings when you start eating mindfully. (Source: Harvard)
Adopting this simple habit will give you twin benefits of losing weight as well as being more focused throughout your day. We also recommend combining mindful eating with 15 minutes of meditation every day to see significant results in your mental as well as physical health.
A survey of 50 overweight and obese women found that mindful eating for 30 days leads to a decrease in the belly fat including love handles. This was accompanied by a reduction in the levels of cortisol (aka the stress hormone) in the blood.
Sufficient Rest and Sound Sleep
Similar to stress response, not getting enough sleep increases cortisol levels in the body, which might be the reason for side belly fat or love handles.
There is a correlation between sleep quality and body fat levels. One study of 2,000 people spread over 5 years found that those who sleep fewer than five hours each night gain more weight than those who slept for seven to eight hours.
Lack of sleep has also been linked to an increased risk of obesity and diabetes in adults aged 21 and above.
Try to get seven to eight hours of quality sleep to avoid putting on the extra weight and stay consistent on your fat loss journey.
Add Whole Foods in Your Diet
Not all calories are the same. Different types of food have different nutritional values and effects on your fat loss journey.
Studies show that people who frequently eat ready-made food items and order home deliveries, gain fat easily around the sides.
Highly processed and packaged foods such as crisps, sweets, pizza, burgers, and TV dinners are high in calories and sugar but super low in nutrition. Having a diet high in processed foods increases your chances of obesity and other chronic diseases like diabetes.
Add these wholesome foods to your daily diet for fat loss:
- Whole eggs
- Leafy green veggies
- Chicken breast
- Lean beef
- Beans and legumes
- Whole grains
Cooking meals at home with whole foods will improve your overall health and trim down your waistline.
Your Booze Might be a Cause of Love Handles
An easy way to cut calories and lose weight is to cut back on alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is very high in calories, along with the mixers used in many drinks.
Even if you are eating super healthy meals and working out thrice a week, too much alcohol can hinder your goal to shed belly fat and might even lead to weight gain.
Alcohol contains empty calories i.e. calories which do not fulfill any nutritional requirements but might make you gain fat over time.
In a study of over 3,000 people, medium to heavy alcohol consumption was linked to a higher risk of obesity in the participants.
Alcohol stimulates brain cells which indicate hunger. This is the reason we tend to binge on crisps and processed foods after a few pints of beer. It also relaxes our inhibitions, so we are more prone to giving in to the cravings.
It is popularly known that light-to-moderate, responsible drinking can help you ease out, build social connections. However, heavy consumption of alcohol can lead to belly fat and love handles.
Eat Fat to Burn Fat
You must be wondering: “What? I need to eat fat in order to burn fat?”
And the answer is yes.
Replacing unhealthy calorie-dense foods with healthy fats may help you lose body fat. It can be as simple as adding a tablespoon of peanut butter into your favorite sandwich. Or have some slices of avocado along with a dressing as an evening snack.
A study of more than 8,000 people was conducted where the subjects ate a high-fat Mediterranean diet with foods cooked with olive oil. As a result, participants lost a greater amount of fat on their belly and sides, when compared to others on a low-fat diet.
It is true that healthy fats are high in calories, but they do help in other ways to shed pounds from your waist.
Consuming healthy fats has two benefits:
- They help you burn fat from all parts of the body including sides of the belly
- They make you feel full for longer, hence consuming less junk food throughout the day
Consume More Fiber to Burn Belly Fat
Consuming fiber-rich foods in your daily routine will help you burn that stubborn fat hanging onto your sides.
Soluble fiber mixes with water to form a gel-like material. This slows down how fast the stomach releases digested food into your gut. It also helps to absorb the ingested food for maximum nutrients.
Fiber keeps you satiated for a longer period of time and minimizes your hunger pangs. This will help to break your bad eating habits by keeping you satiated throughout the day.
Some of the excellent sources of soluble fiber include Black beans, Avocados, Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli, Turnips, Pears & Kidney Beans.
In a recent study, people increased the amount of soluble fiber they ate by just 10 grams per day for five years. This leads to an average loss of 3.7% of their visceral fat. It is a type of belly fat that is harmful to your body.
They say good things come in combinations. This is true for fiber-rich foods because most of them are packed with many vital nutrients. Apart from this, they also promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.
Get Rid of Side Fat With Keto Diet
What if I told you that there is a science-based diet to lose fat without a struggle? It will help you lose love handles and achieve the physique you have always dreamed of.
And the best part about this diet? It is very flexible and can be incorporated even in a busy professional life.
A keto diet (Ketogenic Diet) is a low carbohydrate – high-fat diet. It turns your body into a fat-burning machine by utilizing fat as the primary fuel source.
Consider this: Whenever you eat a meal, such as a sandwich, your body produces glucose and insulin.
Glucose is the easiest for your body to utilize as energy and hence it is preferred over any other energy source. The insulin released helps to process the glucose in your bloodstream by taking it around the body.
Since the body is used to utilizing glucose for energy, the fat gets stored in your cells. The more you eat above your daily requirements, the more fat piles up.
But when you begin the keto diet, your carb intake is significantly lowered and the majority of your meals consist of fat. You then start burning fat at a fast rate because it is the only energy source available now. It will be a win-win situation for you because there are many additional benefits of the keto diet along with losing your body fat and getting rid of those love handles.
To know more about the keto diet, check out our post: Keto Diet Explained for Complete Beginners
How do you lose side fat?
You can lose side fat by reducing sugar intake, lowering stress, working out and staying in a calorie deficit.
What causes side fat?
Some causes of side fat or love handles are : High cortisol levels, age, genetics, lack of physical activity and eating high calorie foods.
How long does it take to get rid of love handles?
Time taken to get rid of love handles depends on the level of fat you have. However, you can see significant results within a month of following healthy lifestyle by working out, eating a balanced diet and managing stress.
What exercises get rid of side fat?
There are simply no exercise that can get rid of side fat. You can not burn fat from a specific area of your body. However you can lower your overall body fat which will vanish the side fat. Try to stay in a calorie deficit or if you want quick results then you can try the Keto Diet.
How can I lose my love handles fast?
You can lose love handles by staying in a calorie deficit, eliminating sugar, reducing stress and staying well hydrated. If you want faster results, try keto diet or intermittent fasting.
We hope now you know how to get rid of side fat.
Improve your diet by adding complex carbs, fibrous whole foods and limiting alcohol & sugar. Try to increase your physical activity throughout the day or workout at least thrice a week.
Following the steps mentioned in this article will definitely lead you to success and we wish the best for you.