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Despite their cute name, there is not a lot of to like regarding love handles. Also referred to as a muffin top, this fat may be a challenge to lose. Many people attempt to target this specific space with endless side crunches and alternative abdominal moves that concentrate on the obliques, muscles that run down the sides of the torso.

However, this is often not an efficient way to lose love handles. In order to eliminate love handles permanently, you are going to need to make dietary, exercise and lifestyle changes.

Here are some of the ways to help you lose your love handles:

1. Cut Back on Carbohydrates

When your body transforms carbs into glycogen, they are stored along with water in your liver and muscle. That means that the more carbohydrates you eat, the more water is stored in your body. “That’s why a lot of people find they lose a few pounds immediately on a low-carb diet. A lot of that lost weight was water weight,” says Moskovitz.

She suggests that you get a minimum of 75 to 100 grams of carbs on a daily basis, although some people might need quite a bit more depending on their height, weight, and activity level.

Just do not skip whole-grains altogether, since they are an excellent source of filling, heart-healthy fiber as well as folate, iron, magnesium, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.

2. Include More Fibers and Protein in Your Diet

Pack every meal with fiber and protein to boost weight loss, since both macronutrients help keep you fuller on fewer calories.

Protein, in particular, is essential to build the lean muscle that will make your legs look great. Moskovitz suggests trying for a total of 25 to 35 grams of fiber and 75 to 100 grams of protein per day from veggies, fruits, whole grains, and lean meats.

3. Drink Enough Water

It seems counterintuitive, but the less water you drink, the more your body holds onto it. Drinking plenty of water flushes out the excess salt and fluids your body does not need, reducing bloating.

It also helps curb your appetite, since dehydration mimics hunger. Moskovitz suggests aiming for two to three liters per day—on the higher end if you are exercising or it is hot outside.

4. Monitor your salt intake

Salt makes your body retain excess water, and that causes bloat that can affect your whole body, hips, and thighs included. “Water follows salt, so the more you eat, the more water gets stored into your body instead of being filtered out by your kidneys,” says Moskovitz. “By cutting back on salt, you’ll notice almost an immediate change in how you feel and how your clothes fit around your body.”

Per the American Heart Association’s recommendations, most people need 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day (the upper limit is 2,300 milligrams)—but many of us are getting way more than that. Cut back by limiting processed foods, like sauces, canned veggies, and soups, which are often loaded with sodium.

5. Burn More Calories

Make workouts short, intense, and frequent. Work out 5–6 days a week, for 25–45 minutes at a time. I recommend separating your resistance training and cardio workouts.

For weight training, you have two options. 1) 3 days of full-body weight training workouts like these, or 2) 4–5 days a week of body part split workouts like this leg workout. If you prefer to train at home, get a set of resistance bands and learn how to use them, along with a yoga mat, and maybe also a pull-up bar and pair of adjustable weight dumbbells.

For cardio, you also have two options. First, you could do 45 minutes of steady-state cardio, meaning go just as fast as you can sustain for 45 minutes.

6. Maintain Good Nutrition

After eating, either take a short walk or spend a couple of minutes doing air squats and pushups. This light activity helps to activate the GLUT-4 receptors in your skeletal muscles so that more of the food you just ate goes to your muscles, rather than being stored as fats.

Eliminate all sources of light from your bedroom. Have a good eight hours of sleep every night, and spend the last hour before that relaxing with the lights turned down. When you sleep better, you will have more energy, and thus move more and burn more calories. Your body will regulate its appetite better. Your hormonal profile will improve, allowing you to build more muscle and burn more fat, independent of diet and exercise.

Alcohol contains more calories than carbohydrates, disrupts your sleep, and raises estrogen levels so that your body stores more fat. Cut it out entirely from your daily meals until you reach your goal weight.