Love handles, also known as flanks and muffin tops, are a common area of fat accumulation around the sides of the abdomen. It can feel as though fat in this area is just not meant to shrink.
But according to personal trainer and nutrition coach Jenna Collins, this is not the case. The YouTube sensation, who has 180,000 subscribers, shared three “bulletproof” steps that can help you say goodbye to your love handles on her channel.
First of all, Jenna explained why people get love handles in the first place: “While several factors such as stress, medication, genetics can contribute to the accumulation of fat around our abdomen, the simple truth for the vast majority of people is that they’ve developed these love handles over a long period of time through excess calorie consumption – eating more for than your body burns on a daily basis resulting in those extra calories being stored as fat.”
Our bodies do tend to store more fat around our abdomen as we get older, especially after menopause, Jenna said, and it does become harder to get rid of. She continued: “Biologically our bodies do have more stubborn, harder to burn fat cells around our abdomen than other parts of our body.
“Women especially after menopause are more prone to storing fat in this area due to decreased estrogen levels.”
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But love handles don’t just develop overnight – they don’t appear because you went on vacation for a week and ate too much food or drank too much, said Jenna.
She added: “This happens over a long period of time – often years. We become so used to bad habits and the quantity of food we’re consuming that the problem can go undetected over a long period of time – more likely ignored.”
So can you target just love handles to lose fat? One thing you cannot do is spot reduce fat, said Jenna.
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But there are things you can do to help entire body fat loss, that can in turn get rid of love handles.
1. Get your nutrition in check
It might sound obvious, said Jenna, but this is the most important part, and the part people aren’t taking seriously enough.
She explained: “You need to be in a calorie deficit to lose fat – this is by consuming less calories than you burn on a daily basis. When you’re in a calorie excess, your body will store those extra calories as fat.”
But you can’t just be in a calorie deficit for a few days or a few weeks and give up because you’re not seeing much progress or any progress. Jenna said: “It’s highly likely that you won’t see change for quite some time and that just depends on how much excess fat you’re currently holding.
“It’s also likely that because our abdomen likes to hold on to fat, you’ll notice fat loss in other parts of your body, such as your face, chest arms and legs before you notice much change in your abdomen, especially your love handles.”
Jenna recommended to reduce your daily calorie intake by no more than 500 calories to be able to lose fat at a steady but sustainable pace. It may take many months or possibly even years to see results, depending on how much fat you need to lose.
One of the most common questions Jenna said she gets asked is what is the best exercise to get rid of belly fat. Jenna’s answer – go for a walk.
She said: “If I had to choose one exercise for all people and all fitness levels, walking is your best exercise to lose fat.
“You cannot spot reduce fat so there’s not one particular exercise you can do to target a specific area of your body.”
Jenna added: “With all abilities aside, you should focus on a combination of resistance training, with or without weights, as well as some form of cardio, such as running or walking.
“Resistance training will help you to tone and build muscle – the more lean muscle mass you have, the more calories your body will burn at rest. It is also really important to perform resistance training while in a calorie deficit so you don’t waste away your muscle.”
But if there’s one exercise everybody can do, said Jenna, it’s walking. She explained: “Walking is accessible for all people, it’s something you can easily stick to, and it burns calories.
“Walking for 45 minutes at a steady pace can burn as many calories as a 15 minute high intensity interval training (hiit) workout.”
3. Remain consistent
It’s probably not what you want to hear but it is what you need to hear, said Jenna.
She continued: “If you can’t put the first two steps in practice consistently then those steps are kind of pointless…you won’t get any results.”
Jenna added: “Consistency is key.”
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