If you’re looking for information on how to get rid of a muffin top, you’re not alone.
Also referred to as love handles, this roll of excess fat that covers the obliques (the muscles on the sides of the waistline) is a problem for a lot of us, and it can be difficult to shift.
Not only is it unsightly, but it is unhealthy, with excess fat in this area increasing the risk of getting diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.
Dieticians advise that the best way to get rid of love handles is to lose weight. Some fitness experts say that you can get rid of your love handles by doing specific exercises.
So which is more important: diet or exercise? The reality is that both are important, and a few other factors also come into play.
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know to get rid of a muffin top.
How to Get Rid of a Muffin Top
If your waist is flabby, but you’re otherwise slim, muffin top exercises could be all you need to reduce your belly fat and eliminate your love handles.
If on the other hand, you have love handles and you’re overweight, toning exercises alone will not be enough. You will also need to eat less and do cardio on a regular basis to burn calories and lower your body fat percentage.
A recent study compared the success rate of three groups whose aim was to get rid of their love handles. Group 1 cut their carbohydrate consumption. Group 2 reduced their carb intake. The best result came from group 3 who restricted carbs and did strength training plus regular cardio workouts.
Too many late nights, a high level of stress, and our hormones can also cause midsection weight gain.
The Part Diet Plays
If you are overweight, the first thing you will need to do to get rid of your love handles is to modify your diet. The calories we consume provide the energy our bodies need to perform essential daily tasks such as breathing, digesting food, and moving. If you consume fewer calories than you burn or burn more calories than you consume, your body will be forced to use your fat stores to function, and you will lose weight.
In theory, if you cut enough calories you will shed pounds, regardless of what you eat. However, getting your calories from junk food would not be healthy. For the best result, avoid processed foods, and those that are high in refined sugar and saturated fats. Along with having a high caloric count, these foods digest quickly, so they won’t keep you feeling satisfied for long. They also provide little nutritional benefit.
Center your diet around lean proteins, whole grains, healthy fats, low-fat dairy products, and fresh fruits and vegetables. These are nutritious, and they take longer to digest. Eating foods that digest slowly will keep you feeling full for longer, so you will find it easier to eat less.
Also be sure to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. This will help to take the edge of your appetite and hydrate you for your workouts.
The Part Cardio Exercise Plays
While cutting your portion size will go a long way towards getting rid of a muffin top, dieting alone will not enable you to achieve your weight goal as quickly as you will if you also exercise. Any exercise that elevates your heart rate and keeps it elevated will burn body fat.
Combining HIIT and weight training can give you an excellent result quickly. HIIT workouts are shorter than most cardio workouts, and they burn a lot of calories. Weight training also burns calories, and it will enable you to maintain the muscle you already have and build on it. With a higher muscle to fat ratio, you will burn more calories, even when you are inactive.
The Part Toning Exercise Plays
When you lose weight, you will lose it all over, but you may still have love handles. This is where toning exercises can really help if you do the right ones.
The best muffin top exercises work the upper, middle, and lower abs, and involve lateral movement. One of the most effective is the Three-Way-Rollout, which you can do using ab equipment such as the Ab Dolly Plus, or the Ab Carver Pro. If you are a brand new exerciser or you have mobility issues, the Wonder Core Smart with Twister Seat may suit you better. (Click on any of the previous link to read a review of the relevant product.)
If you don’t want to buy any equipment, here are two short workouts containing some of the best muffin top exercises you can do. The first workout contains six exercises, while the second one has four.
Quick Muffin Top Workout
Planks target the transverse abs (the internal abdominals), to strengthen your core and nip in your waistline.
1. Get on the floor in a Push-Up position, then bend your elbows so that your forearms are on the floor supporting your weight. (Your body should be in a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.)
2. Tighten your abs, holding the contraction and your position for 30 seconds.
To increase the challenge, as your strength improves, maintain the position for 45 seconds, then 60 seconds, building up to 3 minutes.
Side Planks target the core, hips, and back muscles, fighting love handles from every angle.
1. To do a Side Plank, lie down on your left side with your legs straight, and your feet stacked, one on top of the other.
2. Supporting your upper body on your left elbow and left forearm, lift your hips off the floor until your body is in a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders. As you do this, bend your elbow and place your right hand on your right hip, or lift your right arm straight up so it is pointing towards the ceiling.
3. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
As your strength improves, maintain the position for 45 seconds, then 60 seconds, building up to 3 minutes.
Scissor Kicks work the obliques.
1. To do Scissor Kicks, lie down on your back with your hands by your sides and your legs straight out in front of you.
2. Contracting your abs so as not to arch your back, lift your feet approximately 6 inches off the floor.
3. Kick one foot and then the other towards the ceiling. This counts as one rep. Do 15 reps.
To increase the challenge, do the exercise while wearing ankle weights.
Another one which targets the transverse abdominals, Vacuum Exercise is easy to do, and it will flatten your belly fast.
1. Get down on the floor on your hands and knees.
2. Keeping your back relaxed, inhale deeply then exhale, pulling your navel up towards your spine. Maintain this position for 12 seconds, then release the hold. Do 15 reps.
Opposite Arm and Leg Raises
Opposite Arm and Leg Raises are great for strengthening the core and lower back and slimming the waistline.
1. Starting on the floor on your hands and knees, simultaneously lift your left arm straight out in front of you and your right leg straight out behind you, so that there’s a straight line from your fingertips to your heel.
2. Hold this position for approximately 3 seconds, before returning to your starting position. Repeat, working your right arm and your left leg. This counts as one repetition. Do 20 reps.
Bicycle Crunches target the rectus abdominals, which are the muscles that hold us upright.
1. Start by lying on your back on the floor with your hands behind your head.
2. Lift your knees up towards your chest so that your hips and knees have about a 90-degree bend.
3. Curl your head and shoulders off the floor as you twist your torso to the left. As you do this, pull your left knee up towards your right elbow and extend your right leg so that it’s at about a 45-degree angle to the floor. Repeat, working your other side. This counts as one repetition. Do 15 reps.
If you’re pushed for time, check out the muffin top exercises in the video below. The workout is super short, it targets the entire abs, and it includes one of the best muffin top exercises you can do, that being the Russian Twist.
Muffin Top Exercises
The Part Hormones Play
Our hormones have a huge impact on our weight, especially as we age. From our forties and onward, our level of growth, thyroid, and sex hormones declines, and we experience a reduction in muscle mass.
Furthermore, we tend to become less active around this time, which exacerbates the problem. Even if our activity level remains the same, with less muscle mass, we burn fewer calories. This means that if you don’t eat less and exercise more, you will gain weight.
While this impacts both genders, as the female hormone estrogen decreases, women who previously stored weight in their chest, hips, and buttocks, often find that weight gain shifts to their midsection.
Those who could once eat dessert every night and snack on cookies and potato chips without putting on weight can suddenly find themselves not just having avoid these, but also cut the size of their meals to avoid weight gain.
Research has documented that around 40 percent of adult females have an undiagnosed underactive thyroid. If you’re always tired, crave sugar, and retain weight around your middle and nothing you’ve done has shifted it, the reason could be your thyroid.
The thyroid plays a major role in the number of calories we burn and how fast or slow our metabolism is. You could cut calories to the bare minimum and exercise for hours every day, and if your thyroid is out of sync, still be unable to eliminate your love handles. Treatment for this condition will balance your thyroid function, enabling you to reduce your belly fat and feel better in yourself quickly.
Lack of Sleep:
Research has shown that people who are often sleep-deprived tend to weigh more than those who regularly get seven hours or more of shut-eye each night.
A lack of sleep impairs our fat cells’ ability to respond to insulin, a hormone which regulates energy storage and use. Over time, this disruption can result in a bigger waist measurement.
Leptin and ghrelin are two other hormones that can be compromised when we don’t get sufficient sleep. Ghrelin lets us know when we are hungry, while leptin signals the brain when we’ve eaten enough.
When deprived of sleep, your leptin level will drop, and your ghrelin level will rise. When this occurs, you will feel hungry and tend to eat more without feeling satisfied. This will make it difficult for you to stick to an eating plan that will help you to eliminate your love handles.
Stress impacts our weight by elevating cortisol levels. With a too high level of cortisol comes an increase in fat around the waist, and a decrease in muscle mass.
To help manage stress, learn some simple relaxation techniques and practice them often. Switch off your computer and mobile phone and listen to calming music. Lose yourself in a book, or watch a funny movie. Commune with nature, take a walk along a quiet beach or in the forest, and the stress will melt away.
Yoga is excellent for promoting relaxation, particularly if you do poses that focus on slow, mindful breathing and gentle stretches. And, another good reason to do regular cardio workouts is that along with burning calories, they help to alleviate stress.
Final Thoughts on How to Get Rid of a Muffin Top
Our motivation for getting rid of a muffin top is most often a desire to improve our physical appearance. But it’s the fat you can’t see that lies beneath the love handles that is the bigger problem. Known as visceral fat, this pads the internal organs, increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, and strokes.
It takes dedication to get rid of a muffin top because it involves making a number of lifestyle changes. You will need to cut calories and do cardio regularly, along with exercises that target the abs and obliques. You will also need to get sufficient sleep and manage your stress levels.
Do these five things. and you will lose weight, reduce your belly fat, get rid of your love handles, and improve your health prospects. It won’t happen overnight, but if you’re consistent, you will achieve your goal.