Fellas, admit it. When an attractive woman walks by, you suck in your gut. You smile. She smiles. You start talking and feel a little light-headed by the time she walks away. Whew! You can finally let it out! If you’re one of millions of guys who wear a T-shirt even to go swimming, there’s good news: You can get rid of love handles without going on some weird diet or doing crunches until you pass out.
What Exactly are “Love Handles” Anyway?
If you’ve ever wondered where the term “love handles” came from, it seems to have started in the 1960s. It’s a sexual reference referring to the part of a person’s body you might grab during lovemaking. It’s similar to the slang “spare tire” or the saying, “more to love”. In other words, it’s a nice way of saying you’re heavy around the middle.
The medical term for love handles is abdominal obesity. Even if you’re not heavy enough to be considered medically obese, excess belly fat has a strong connection to the development of heart disease.
Diet for Love Handles
In order to get rid of love handles, you need to know a little bit more about nutrition and diet. It may be called a “beer gut” but it’s not just beer that causes it. There are certain foods that can your belly to bulge right before your eyes. On the other hand, there are plenty of foods you should eat to shrink your waistline so you can get reacquainted with your feet!
Foods That Cause Love Handles
You may not know the difference between whole food and processed food. Don’t feel bad. Lots of guys don’t. In a nutshell, processed foods include all those convenience foods you’re used to scarfing down.
If you want to lose weight, it’s important to limit your intake of these middle-enhancing foods:
- Snack Cakes
- Potato Chips
- Microwave Meals
- Fast Food (Burgers, Pizza, French fries)
The list goes on but you get the basic idea. These foods and especially anything containing the artificial sweetener, high fructose corn syrup will really pack on the pounds. Don’t believe the hype? Despite what the commercials have been saying to the contrary, it has been scientifically-proven that HFCS is a leading cause of the obesity epidemic!
A lot of men feel they don’t have time to get good nutrition on the run but believe it or not, it’s easier than you think to eat healthy even if you don’t have time to cook. The popular natural health website, Health on a Budget offers a great lazy man’s nutrition guide just for busy professionals like you.
Foods That Fight Love Handles
Now that you know which foods to avoid, let’s take a look at some foods that can help you fight love handles and lose that embarrassing midsection. These foods include:
Cheese – When it comes to fat-burning foods, cheese might not have been your first thought. After all, it’s usually associated with weight gain, not weight loss. But cheese is loaded with protein and low in calories-from-fat. It also contains linoleic acid, which helps boost your metabolism. When choosing cheese, make sure you read the labels. Opt for string, hard or cottage cheese with no chemical additives.
Seafood – Wild-caught fish such as salmon, cod, and tuna can help you get rid of love handles. Not only is it loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, it reacts positively with leptin, a natural hormone that helps your body burn calories.
Olive Oil – Unlike other fat sources, olive oil is an excellent source of monounsaturated fat, which can help decrease bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise good (HDL). Your body craves fat; you just have to offer it the right kind. When you trade in junk food sources for pure olive oil, your waistline will thank you by shrinking.
Apples – According to a study published in Nutrition, eating apples can help you lose weight by stabilizing blood insulin levels. Apples are also rich in fiber, an essential weight-loss nutrient.
Beans – Gross as it sounds, a large middle can sometimes be caused by chronic constipation. Cooked dried beans are loaded with digestion-regulating fiber and filling protein. They’re also low in fat, making them a great weight-loss food.
Cayenne Pepper – If you like spicy foods, cayenne pepper is a tasty way to lose that beer gut. This hot little pepper speeds up your metabolism while increasing your energy, so you have more desire to work out. Cayenne pepper also acts as a diuretic and helps remove toxins built up in your body.
Sauerkraut – Keeping your gut bacteria in balance is a major key to proper digestion and weight loss. Cooked or eaten raw, sauerkraut can help you lose love handles by decreasing intestinal inflammation and keeping your elimination regular.
Workouts for Love Handles
If you’re thinking crunches, you’re only half right. Workouts for love handles start with cardio. You can do sit-ups until you’re blue in the face but if you don’t burn calories with cardio, you won’t ever actually see the abs you’re building under that flab!
You can improve your fitness with just about any type of cardio exercise: Swimming, jogging, hiking, running, cycling or interval training. If you get bored, switch it up but don’t be tempted to do strength-training alone or you’ll have a hard time losing that stubborn mid-section.
Once you lose a little bit of weight around the middle with cardio exercises, you can tone your abdominals and achieve washboard abs! This goes beyond simple crunches. If you want to tone your mid-section, you’ve got to target your middle, sides, and back to get a balanced look.
Here are a few exercises to get you started:
The Ten-Second Crunch – Lie on your back with your knees bent toward the ceiling. Lift your shoulder blades off the ground and hold for ten seconds. Do 10 repetitions.
Side Crunch – Lie on your back with your knees bent toward the ceiling. Pull your knees up toward your face and lean toward the right. Pull your knees back to center and lean toward the left. Repeat 5 times. Rest. Do 10 repetitions.
Dumbbell Crunches – Lie on your back with a set of 5 or 10 pound weights raised over your head. Pull your arms toward the ceiling until they’re at a right angle. Here, you’re not really doing crunches but you’re toning your side abs with resistance.
Lower Back Exercises – Lie on your stomach with your arms extended outward. Lift your left arm and your right leg off the ground and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat in reverse. Do 10 repetitions.
Important Note: If you’ve recently suffered a back injury, consult a doctor before doing these exercises.
Losing love handles is a whole-body effort. It starts with diet, continues with regular cardio, and finishes with ab-sculpting exercises. Combining these three efforts can help you get the head-turning six-pack you’ve always dreamed about. Stop sucking in your gut. Transform yourself from the inside out and get a body you can be proud to show off!
How about you? What are your favorite gut-busting exercises?