Flanks, or “love handles,” refer to the excess fat on the sides of your lower waist and back.
Although excess can build up anywhere on the body, it often occurs in this area. That’s because the body tends to store fat around the belly. This type of fat distribution may be due to factors like genetics, hormones, or gender.
Love handle formation is also more common as you get older. Over time, the body redistributes fat from your limbs to your trunk. Your metabolism also slows down, causing weight gain.
It’s not possible to target one area of your body for weight loss. If you want to lose weight in a specific area, you must lose weight everywhere. You can do this by practicing habits that burn calories and fat.
Weight loss requires a caloric deficit. A caloric deficit is when you burn more calories than you take in.
For healthy weight loss, it’s generally recommended to create a caloric deficit of 500 calories a day. This equals 3,500 fewer calories a week, or 1 pound of fat loss.
Here’s how to create a caloric deficit in a healthy way:
Healthy weight loss involves a balanced diet of nutrient-dense and low calorie foods.
Water has zero calories. It can help you burn more calories and reduce your appetite before meals.
When consumed instead of sweetened beverages, like soda, water can be very useful for weight loss.
Overall weight loss requires a regular cardio routine. Cardio exercise burns calories while improving energy, bone health, and mental wellness.
It’s recommended to get 30 minutes of cardio exercise a day, 5 days a week.
Examples of aerobic activity include:
As you lose overall weight, you’ll also lose flank fat.
Lack of sleep can disrupt your metabolism, making it harder to lose weight. It’s also associated with higher levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone. This can lead to greater appetite and higher caloric intake.
Thus, adequate sleep is essential for weight management. Adults need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
Mental stress is linked to factors that cause weight gain. For example, it can contribute to poor sleep, increased appetite, and poor food choices. It can also lower your motivation for exercise.
Therefore, reducing stress is important for weight loss. Strategies for stress relief include:
Though it’s not possible to target flanks for weight loss, you can define the muscles underneath. This includes your core and back muscles.
To sculpt these muscles, try the following moves along with cardio exercise.
The side plank works your abs, butt, and hips. It also challenges your side waist muscles, which are underneath your flanks.
The bicycle crunch is a classic move for your abs and sides. Be sure to move from your core, not your neck, which could cause pain.
If you prefer standing exercises, try the standing trunk rotation. You’ll need a light weight, like a soup can or medicine ball.
The bird dog defines your abs, back, hips, and butt. It’s also excellent for improving posture.
If you want to spot-treat love handles, nonsurgical fat reduction procedures may be an option.
Cryolipolysis, or CoolSculpting, uses freezing temperatures to damage fat cells. The body slowly eliminates the fat cells over 4 to 6 months.
You may need multiple sessions to achieve the results you want.
Some treatments can help reduce flanks by breaking down fat cells. Options include:
Liposuction, or “lipo,” is a surgical procedure that removes excess body fat. It can be used on various parts of the body, including the flanks.
During flank liposuction, you’re placed under local or general anesthesia. Your plastic surgeon makes small cuts in the fat. They use a cannula, or a narrow tube, to suction fat from the area.
If lifestyle changes and nonsurgical procedures haven’t produced the results you want, flank liposuction might be right for you.
Other surgeries for flanks include:
In an extended tummy tuck, fat and skin are removed from the:
An extended tummy tuck can be combined with a liposuction.
A lower body lift targets loose skin. It sculpts the lower body by removing excess skin and fat. The surgery is often used after significant weight loss.
A lower body lift can tone the:
If you want to make your love handles smaller, try focusing on habits that will help you lose weight in general.
You can also do exercises for your abs and obliques, which are the muscles at the sides of your trunk. This will tone and define the area.
If lifestyle changes don’t produce your desired results, talk with your doctor. You may be a good candidate for nonsurgical or surgical procedures.