Love handles. Muffin tops. Spare tire. Thunder Thighs. Junk in the Trunk. . .
There are a lot of endearing pet names for the extra padding around your midsection. But no matter how attached you may be to your belly folds, it’s time to lose that fat!
“A big waistline puts you at increased risk for many health problems,” explains Robert Eckel, MD, president of the American Heart Association. “Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.” 
According to studies, individuals with a higher waist to hip ratio were 1.4 times more likely to die at an earlier age compared to the control group. 
“The level of risk attributed to normal weight but central obesity appears to be similar to smoking a pack a day,” adds Dr. Lopez Jimenez. 
Fortunately, even losing a few extra pounds may reduce your risk by almost 60%. 
But how exactly can you trim those extra inches?
Here are a few tips to get started:
Skip the Crunches
Many dieters assume that when a particular body part is flabby, exercising that part will melt away the extra fat. While exercising plays a key role in burning fat, however, there is no such thing as spot reduction.
“Working the area with exercises will not get rid of excess fat,” explains Kyla Gagnon, personal fitness trainer. “What it will do is strengthen the muscles underneath the fat, which is important.” 
The fastest way to get rid of love handles is to use a combination of strength training, cardio, and diet – the age-old recommendations you’ve heard time and time again.
Need some extra help?
Try some of these exercises to jumpstart your metabolism and put your fat-burning mechanisms into overdrive:
- Bicycle Crunch: Lie flat on your back with your hands by your ears. Elevate legs to a 90-degree angle. Bring your left knee toward your chest and twist your right elbow to meet it. As you bring one leg in, stretch the other one straight out. Repeat on the other side.
- Side Plant Hip Dips: A variation of the plank exercise, start in side plank position with elbows touching the ground. Drop hips to the floor as you inhale, then exhale while bringing them back up.
- Deadlight: Keep legs shoulder-width apart. Slightly bend knees into a squat position. Using a kettle bell or weights, bring weights in front of you with your arms forward. Then drop them back slowly.
- Swimming: Swimming is a full body workout that strengthens core muscles and blasts belly fat. Try doing dolphin kicks with a kick board or sign up for a swimming Pilates class.
A Moment on the Lips. . .
Forever on the hips . . . This popular quote applies perfectly when it comes to losing weight. No matter how much you exercise, the extra weight won’t drop off if you don’t watch what you eat.
When you eat foods high in fat, the fat is broken down into fatty acids in the intestine. This then signals the pancreas to secrete insulin. Insulin tells cells to absorb and convert fatty acids into fat molecules, which are then stored in fat cells.
But reducing your fat intake is easier said than done. Instead of trying to do it all on your own, you can implement an appetite suppressant that keeps your cravings at a minimum. With less desire for fatty foods, natural appetite suppressants keep your diet on track.
In addition, eating low-glycemic foods such as whole fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans can keep insulin levels from spiking, resulting in less fat stored over time.
“When you focus on choosing low-GI carbs along with lean protein and healthy fats,” explains David Ludwig, MD, “you will naturally crowd out many of the less nutritious high GI foods and lose weight.” 
Try incorporating more of the following foods into your diet:
- Almonds and other nuts
- Beans and legumes
- Spinach and other dark, leafy green veggies
- Whole grain breads and cereals
Turns out, some of your belly flab may just be excess water retention.
“Water retention, or edema, is an accumulation of extra fluid that is commonly caused by a temporary imbalance in your electrolyte and fluid levels.”
Rather than restricting your water intake, however, the best method to cut this excess water retention is to drink more water and stay hydrated throughout the day.
Water flushes out toxins and impurities that can build up in the body. If you’re not drinking water, your body will hang onto the water you have, making you feel and look bloated.
Additionally, sweating via intense physical exercise helps release sodium ions trapped underneath the skin. Sodium regulates fluid levels, and much like Mary’s little lamb, anywhere sodium goes, water is sure to follow.
 Davis, Jeanie Lerche. “Lose belly fat to reduce your risks for heart disease, cancer, and more.” WebMD Feature. Available from: http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/the-risks-of-belly-fat
 Glatter, Robert. “Why Love Handles and Belly Fat Are So Dangerous To Your health.” Forbes.com. Sept. 3, 2012. Available from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertglatter/2012/09/03/why-love-handles-and-belly-fat-are-so-dangerous-to-your-health/
 “Diabetes prevention: 5 Tips for Taking Control.” Mayo Clinic. Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/diabetes-prevention/DA00127
 Patel, Arti. “Best Exercises for Love handles: 10 Ways to Lose belly Fat.” The Huffington Post. Dec. 6, 2012. Available from: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/12/06/best-exercises-for-love-handles_n_2246243.html
Zelman, Kathleen. “The Glycemic Index Diet (low-glycemic diet).” WebMD Expert Review. Available from: http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/glycemic-index-diet
 “Bloating or Water Retention?” Go Ask Alice. Available from: http://goaskalice.columbia.edu/bloating-or-water-retention