If that stubborn side fat won't seem to budge, fear not -- you can shrink your love handles and saddlebags with diet and exercise. While there are no exercises that specifically target the fat on your sides or anywhere else on your body, losing weight will make your side area thinner along with the rest of your figure. In addition, the right strength-training moves will add definition and make your waist, trunk and hips appear tighter.
Fat loss is all about burning more calories than you eat. And for calorie burn, cardio is the top exercise choice. Perform cardio, or aerobic, activity 300 minutes a week, broken down into 60-minute sessions. If your schedule is tight, fit in shorter routines of 10 minutes or more. Combine moderate activities such as brisk walking and cycling on a flat surface with more intense exercises such as running and climbing stairs.
Resistance training won't reduce the fat along your sides. However, it will tone your muscles for a tighter appearance. For the muscles on the sides of your waist and trunk, focus on moves that work your obliques. These include twisting situps and crunches on the floor, as well as standing twisting crunches and twisting crunches on an exercise ball. To work the muscles on the sides of your hips, do leg lifts while lying on your sides.
Math dictates that you must eat 3,500 fewer calories than you burn to lose a single pound of fat. For healthy weight loss of a pound or two per week, take in 500 to 1,000 fewer calories than you burn each day. You'll have long-lasting results by focusing on lifestyle changes rather than dieting. This means shifting away from fast food and fried or sugary products, focusing instead on whole foods high in fiber and protein. Plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole-grain cereals and brown rice should make up the bulk of your diet; be sure to also include lean proteins like cottage cheese and tofu.
Your diet and exercise plan will get you on the road to fat reduction, but it doesn't cover the whole picture. Other lifestyle factors affect the way your body handles fat storage. For example, stress contributes to visceral fat that can expand your waistline and lead to serious medical issues, so incorporate relaxation techniques into your schedule. Lack of sleep triggers overeating as well as poor decision making, so get seven to eight hours of shuteye a night. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, as well; your body can mistake thirst for hunger.
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.