What Is The Cause Of Love Handles: Melt Your Belly Fat Once And For All


Many people are puzzled with the question ‘what is the cause of love handles?’, since this stubborn belly fat is notoriously difficult to get rid of. Nevertheless, you can still do away with your pesky belly fat with some dedication and effort. Love handles are hard to deal with, yet with proper lifestyle changes, you can totally win the battle for a flat and toned up belly.

What Are Love Handles?

This is pinchable fat on the sides of your stomach that causes a «muffin top» when you wear tight underclothes, skinny jeans, or shorts.

What Is The Main Cause Of Love Handles?

Well, if you were wondering about that, the main issue is not different from what causes fat on any other part of the body – fat retention. When you consume too many calories and don’t burn enough of them, fat cells accumulate in certain areas of your body, like your waist or hips. Generally, there is a higher likelihood that excess fat will accumulate in those areas than in others because of certain factors. So, what are those factors that cause love handles?


Cortisol is the main stress hormone in your body. Persistent stress can trigger significant weight gain and overeating. If your life is full of stress, your body will produce a lot of cortisol, which may lead to Cushing syndrome, which causes excess abdominal fat (5, 2). Decreasing the amount of stress in your life is not an easy task, but you can try meditation or yoga to crush all the pent-up stress and nagging negative thoughts that throw you into a state of anxiety.


As people become older, their fat tends to accumulate in the abdominal region rather than elsewhere. Lower levels of testosterone in men and estrogen in women also contribute to this condition (3).


This is a rather obvious one, but excess consumption of high-fat, sugary, and salty processed foods will trigger weight gain and love handles.

Lack of exercise

Exercise keeps your belly toned up and slim. If you’re not exercising, the fat will accumulate around your waist. Exercises like bicycle crunches, planks, deadlifts, hanging leg raises, kettlebell swings, burpees, and others will help you get rid of love handles once and for all.


Excess consumption of alcohol can contribute to weight gain. Alcoholic drinks oftentimes have much more calories than you’d expect (6). Also, if you’re a heavy drinker, your liver tends to spend more time processing alcohol than fat, which causes its accumulation.

Lack of sleep

Poor sleep has a strong link to obesity. It increases your appetite, decreases self-control, and, consequently, increases your calorie intake (4). In addition, poor sleep prevents you from exercising due to a lack of energy.


This is the last factor. If you’re following all the recommendations, and love handles still won’t budge, the cause might be your genes (9).

Do Love Handles Pose Risks?

Yes and no. Love handles might be signs of problems in your body in some cases, in others they are not. Largely this is because of the difference between subcutaneous and visceral fat.

Subcutaneous fat is a kind of fat you can see and pinch directly under your skin (7). It is harmless.

By contrast, visceral fat is fat that wraps itself around the organs in your body. You can’t see or touch it (8).

In general, love handles can be considered subcutaneous fat. However, if you’re noticing your waistline expanding, this might be the sign of visceral fat. 35 inches or more in women and 40 inches or more in men are signs of visceral fat.

Visceral fat is quite dangerous for your body. It can put you at the higher risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, increase the amount of harmful cholesterol, and increase blood pressure (1).

How To Get Rid Of Love Handles?

The recipe for a slim and toned up belly without love handles is actually very simple. Since spot reduction is a myth, the only way to melt that pesky fat is a healthy and nutritious diet combined with regular workouts. First of all, you need to lower your calorie intake. The recommended calorie intake for an adult woman is between 1600 and 2000 calories a day. Therefore, you’ll need to fit your diet within this range. Remember that rapid weight loss and extreme calorie restriction are harmful for your body and eventually ineffective. As to the content of your diet, switch to complex carbs instead of eating cookies, cut down your sugar and salt consumption, consume fiber-rich foods, and those filled with healthy fats, as well as lots of fruits and vegetables, and you’ll see that love handles gradually disappear. In addition, it is highly recommended to lower your stress levels and sleep for 7-9 hours every day.

Final thought

To sum up, getting rid of love handles is possible. The only way to do that is by following a balanced and nutritious diet combined with a thoroughly planned workout. While some causes of love handles like age might be unavoidable, there are still multiple factors you can change with your actions in order to sculpt a healthy and beautiful body without those annoying love handles.


  1. Abdominal fat and what to do about it (2019, health.harvard.edu)
  2. An Overview of Cushing’s Syndrome (2019, verywellhealth.com)
  3. How Your Body Shape Changes With Age (2020, verywellfit.com)           
  4. Sleep Linked to Gains in Abdominal Fat (2020, sleepfoundation.org)
  5. The Cortisol Weight-Loss Controversy (2020, verywellhealth.com)
  6. The Truth About Beer and Your Belly (2010, webmd.com)
  7. The Truth About Fat (2009, webmd.com)
  8. What Is Visceral Fat? (2019, webmd.com)
  9. Why Am I Losing Weight Everywhere But My Love Handles? (2018, livestrong.com)

Written by Megan Taylor
Megan is a beauty expert who is passionate about all things makeup and glam! Her love for makeup has brought her to become a beauty pro at Glamour Garden Cosmetics.