Most people don’t want to have love handles despite the endearing name. They create an unsightly bulge when wearing jeans or tight clothing and generate a lot of discomfort in general. Even though we’ve become a more accepting society, many people still fear being fat-shamed or ridiculed about their appearance. Therefore, having love handles or excess fat in other areas can lead to low self-esteem and guilt.
Of course, appearances don’t matter at all compared to what’s inside your heart. But, storing extra fat around the hips and stomach can lead to health complications. So, it’s in your best interest to lose weight if necessary to maintain your health. Below, we’ll discuss a few common causes of love handles and how to eliminate them.
6 Things That Cause Love Handles (And Ways to Fix Them)
1. Eating too many calories.
When you consume more calories than you burn, it will inevitably cause weight gain and fat accumulation. You may not notice it at first, but the consequences of overeating will catch up to you eventually. It can seem challenging to break the habit of mindless eating or consuming large portions at mealtimes. However, to eliminate love handles, you must count your calories and eat a balanced diet.
Calorie trackers can help you keep tabs on what you eat and give you a better understanding of portion sizes. They also reveal how easy it can be to overeat in our modern world. Everywhere you look, the food industry tries to reel you in with advertisements catered to your primal instincts. We naturally crave high-calorie, dense foods to refuel our bodies after mental or physical exertion.
But if you want to feel your best, you should monitor your portions and try to eat more meals at home. It may seem daunting at first, but your hard work will pay off once you notice your love handles melting away.
2. Having high cortisol.
Chronic stress makes the body and mind work harder, increasing energy demands. While short-term stress often suppresses one’s appetite, persistent stress can have the opposite effect. You may notice this firsthand after a grueling day at work or school. Devoid of energy after all that exertion, you probably want something convenient and easy to eat. If that sounds familiar, you’re hardly alone in craving high-calorie foods to counteract stress.
Studies show that chronic stress can cause people to choose comforting foods over healthy ones. That makes sense because consuming sugary and fatty foods releases massive amounts of serotonin and dopamine. Unfortunately, the same foods that make us feel better temporarily cause long-term health problems. Responding to high cortisol levels by overeating creates a vicious cycle, and fat cells accumulate in the belly area. Cortisol also increases the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates appetite signals.
Practice self-care to help manage stress by meditating, yoga, or even taking a warm bath. Paying attention to your triggers before they overwhelm you can promote a healthy weight and eliminate love handles.
3. A sedentary lifestyle can cause love handles.
Not surprisingly, excessive sitting or leisure time can cause fat accumulation and love handles to form. Sadly, many sit most of the day between driving, working, and watching TV. Our comfortable lifestyles have afforded us many pleasures, but they’ve come at the expense of our overall health.
If you want to get rid of love handles, you must tackle the root cause of the problem. Storing too many calories (energy) without burning them off will inevitably lead to weight gain. So, exercise a few days per week to maintain fitness levels. Engaging in weight training and cardio for a balanced workout routine is a good idea.
4. Sleep deprivation.
Did you know the CDC recognizes insufficient sleep as a public health epidemic? For several reasons, people sleep fewer hours than they did decades ago. Chronic stress, overuse of technology, artificial lights, and myriad distractions have created a recipe for disaster. Simply put, we no longer prioritize sleep as a critical aspect of our health.
People try to sleep as little as possible to get ahead in our “hustle culture.” But the gains made from sleeping less only backfire when health problems arise. Sleep deprivation creates hormone imbalances and makes you crave fattier, sugary foods. In turn, your body stores the excess calories which can cause love handles to form.
Make sure to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night to avoid cravings and hormonal disruptions.
5. Having an underactive thyroid.
A thyroid disorder can also cause love handles because it interferes with your metabolic functions. Specifically, those with hypothyroidism have an underactive thyroid, making it challenging to burn extra calories. Make sure to manage any thyroid conditions and adopt healthy lifestyle habits. You can increase your metabolism naturally by exercising regularly and fueling your body with nutritious foods.
6. Consuming too many sugary or high-calorie foods.
Eating high-calorie foods often will hinder weight loss and other health goals you might have. Even if you exercise frequently and practice the other pillars of health, consuming nutrient-poor foods will undermine your efforts. Eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains, and avoid ultra-processed and boxed items. You’ll feel more energetic and keep the love handles at bay, both positive outcomes from following a healthy lifestyle.
Final Thoughts on How to Eliminate Love Handles
Some people believe having a bit of extra fat around the hips won’t harm them. After all, we require some body fat to survive, especially during winter. However, storing too much fat around the waist and hips can signal an underlying health problem. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and other serious health issues.
If you want to get rid of love handles and feel more vibrant, consider making a few lifestyle changes. Counting calories, exercising, eating a balanced diet, managing stress, and prioritizing sleep will get you on the right track.