Despite the fact that having side fat or love handles means there’s more of us to love, most people don’t like having them.

Not only do love handles make it hard to wear tight clothing without them being noticeable, but they can also indicate certain underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure.

The National Institute of Health explains the primary reason for this condition.  “People gain weight when they eat more calories than they burn through activity. This imbalance is the greatest contributor to weight gain.”

What Factors Cause Side Fat?

Fat can accumulate anywhere in the body. A report issued by the National Library of Medicine describes specific factors that increase the likelihood of retaining body fat. But before you read this list of contributing factors and despair, rest assured that the next section addresses how to reduce your weight and slim down again.

  • hormones, especially too much cortisol (the stress hormone)
  • age (belly fat accumulation is particularly common as you get older)
  • lack of physical activity, a sedentary lifestyle, sitting too long at a job
  • smoking cigarettes or nicotine use
  • a diet high in fats, sugars, and high-calorie foods
  • sleep deprivation
  • undiagnosed or untreated conditions that slow down your metabolism. For example, hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, makes it difficult to burn off extra calories.

Luckily, you can get rid of side fat by doing targeted exercises consistently You can also consume a diet full of fresh,  whole foods like fruits, veggies, lean protein, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

In this article, we’ll go over how you can get rid of side fat with five fun and easy to learn exercises. Let’s get to it!

The 5 Exercises That Melt Side Fat

Side fat, aka love handles, are stubborn! Fortunately, performing these five exercises can help you shed these excess pounds.  Do each of these exercises for three circuits at least three times per week.

And of course, before you start any workout or diet program, check-in with your doctor to receive custom-tailored advice for your health concerns.

1. Woodchoppers

With a hand weight of your choosing, stand with your feet hip-width apart and place the weight in both hands above your left shoulder. Then, twist your body toward your right hip as if you’re chopping wood (hence, the name of this exercise!)

Pivot your feet and knees as you twist. Then, bring the weight back up to your left shoulder and repeat for 20 reps. Switch to the other side and repeat for 20 reps.

2. Russian Twists

Most of you have probably heard of this exercise. You’ll definitely feel your abs burning after this one! To perform it, sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat. Lean your torso back at a 45-degree angle. Get a dumbbell, and hold it on each side.

Then, lift your feet up, and either cross them at your ankles or leave them side-by-side. Put all your weight in your butt for balance. Then, twist your torso to the right and touch the dumbbell to the ground. If this isn’t possible, simply reach as far as you can to your right side without losing your balance.

Then, repeat on the left side, and keep twisting back and forth until you’ve done fifty reps. Make sure you keep your feet off the ground and your torso leaning back.

3. Side Plank Hip Lifts

The only weight you’ll need for this exercise is your own bodyweight! Get into a side plank position with your elbow, legs, and hips flat on the ground.

Keep your body in a straight line and raise the lower half of your body up into a side plank. Lower your body and repeat for 15 reps, and then do 15 on the other side.

4. Bicycle Crunches

Ah, yes, another exercise that seems to be in all the ab videos, and for good reason! Lie down flat on your back with your knees bent and your hands behind your head. Lift your shoulders and upper back off the ground and simultaneously move your right elbow toward your left knee until they meet.

Quickly switch to the other side so that your left elbow meets your right knee. Continue this as long as you can, but aim for 30 reps.

5. Heel Touches

Yay, you’ve made it to the last exercise! These are fairly simple to do. Just lie flat on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the ground, and arms out by your sides.

Then, raise your chest toward the ceiling, and bring your right hand down toward your right heel. It’s okay if you can’t touch it; just reach as far as you can. Bring your arm back up, and then bring your left arm down toward your left heel. Repeat for fifteen reps on each side.

What to consume when you’re trying to shed fat

As mentioned in the intro section of this article, weight gain and fat come from consuming more calories than you expend in a day. So while exercise is excellent to help you shed those unwanted pounds, you should also consider trying out a new, healthier way of eating.  Combining exercise with healthy eating habits yields you the quickest results.

According to the Mayo Clinic, you must aim to reduce your caloric intake by 500 to 1000 calories per day to lose one to two pounds per week. Fortunately, you know some new exercises that makes this caloric reduction relatively easy to achieve!

Here are some things to eat to help you shed those pounds:

  • Lean poultry: Grilled, roasted, or smoked chicken or turkey
  • Fish and seafood: These items include shrimp, oysters, and scallops (grilled or steamed)
  • Water: Drink plenty of water to continue to eliminate the fat cells as you break them down.
  • Vegetable greens: Steamed or stir-fried kale, spinach, collards, and mustard greens.
  • Organic vegetables: Any vegetables you like – be sure to steam, grill, or stir-fry them
  • Eggs
  • Fruits: Feed your sugar craving with delicious fresh fruits. Think apples, oranges, grapes, pineapple, melons, peaches, or whatever you like.
  • Healthy fats: Skip high-fat butter and canola. Instead, use olive oil, sunflower oil, or grapeseed oil to cook your meals.
  • Popcorn: Hot air-popped popcorn topped with a savory herb or a small sprinkle of buttery parmesan cheese can curb your cravings for crunchy snack foods.

Here are some things to avoid when you are in weight-loss mode:

  • Soda: Skip soft drinks, even “diet” ones. They might trigger cravings for sweets.
  • Sugary treats: Skip the candy and chocolate bars while you’re attempting to trim down.
  • Baked goods: Pass up on the pies, cakes, and brownies.
  • Red meat: Beef and red game meats contain higher amounts of fat.
  • High-fat dairy foods: Avoid eating butter, high-fat cheese, full-fat milk, and other dairy products with heavy cream.
  • Salty snacks: Say no to potato chips, tortillas, snack crackers, and other salty treats.

Remember that these foods serve as general guidelines while you are diligently losing weight. After you reach your goal, you may enjoy some of the foods on the “avoid” list in moderation.

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Final thoughts on exercises to help trim down side fat

Exercise is cumulative. Nobody expects you to shoot out of the gates and perform massive quantities of reps on your first day.  Instead, focus on watching the video and doing each exercise, mastering good form to prevent an injury.

Start with a small number of reps and work up over several weeks. After you find they become too easy, add a resistance band, dumbbell, or kettlebell weight to challenge yourself to even harder moves. Believe it or not, you can get there with time and determination.

Once you begin looking forward to your three-time-weekly workouts, you will see you already melted away much of that fat!