Why You Can't Exercise Your Love Handles Away

Let's be real you’ve been told eat less, do more your entire life but no matter how much weight you lose you still struggle with that one area. You do the squats or the sit-ups but it never seems to tone up. I get it, I've been there and I know it can be super frustrating. For me I those love handles used to make me super self-consciousness. At my lowest weight in high school, I remember looking at pictures and seeing the back fat hang over the side of my skirt. I was basically starving, yet that fat wouldn’t go away.

It wasn’t until I attended a functional medicine conference two years ago that I felt like I finally had insight into why had struggled with this for so long. Finally, someone who didn’t tell me I needed to target train or eat less which when you’re a 18 year old girl borderline eating disorder thats not exactly what you need to hear.

At this point in time, I hope you've come to understand that there is more to weight management than just calories in calories out. Yes, that may be one piece of this complex puzzle but there is so much more. Gut health, sleep, stress, insulin resistance, toxicity & hormones are a few of the many factors that may be impacting how and why you're storing weight in the areas you are.

So I’ve compiled a list based on my training that goes over target areas of your body and why they may be hanging onto a few extra pounds.

  • Pectoral: higher fat deposits in this area may indicate increased female hormones.

    • Decrease alcohol consumption as this increases breast development, especially in males.

    • Decrease consumption of food out of plastics & cans as these may contain hormone disrupting compounds that mimic female sex hormones.

    • Use the EWG’s Healthy Living app to ensure your beauty products and household cleaners are non-toxic. Many toxins found in makeup can be hormone disrupting. If you’re new to clean beauty check out this blog post to discover some of my fave products!

    • Increase consumption of magnesium, zinc & curcumin to help with body detoxification.

  • Bicep:  Fat deposits in this area indicates how well androgen hormones (i.e. testosterone & free testosterone) are utilized.

    • Increase intake of zinc, carnitine, stinging nettles.

    • Decrease consumption of high sugar foods like donuts, soda, other sugary beverages, candy, ice creams, etc.

  • Triceps:  Females with excess fat on triceps may have low androgen (i.e. testosterone) levels

    • Curcumin can assist with testosterone regulation.

    • Increase plant sterols.

    • Increase intake of plant based foods, aim for 9-13 servings of vegetables and fruits per day focus on eating primarily non-starchy vegetables.

  • Subscapular:  Fat deposits on this region of the back may indicate insulin resistance. It is also a predictor of heart disease. Less than 10 millimeters is ideal; greater than 10 millimeters indicates insulin resistance.

    • Increased back adiposity may indicate you’re not eating the correct carb diet for you. This means it may be too much or the wrong type of carbs. Decrease refined grains, sodas, chips, candy, sweets and increase plant based fibrous carbs like non-starchy vegetables.

    • Increase infusion resistance: high stress, inadequate sleep, pro-inflammatory diet, toxins & inadequate nutrient intake.

    • Nutrients to increase: magnesium, fish oil (EPA & DHA)

  • Australian (lower back): Indicates inflammation and gut dysbiosis.

    • Increase these nutrients: fiber, carnitine, grapeseed, curcumin.

    • Rebalance gut health. You may need to do a full gut reset. To read more on this topic check out this blog post.  If you would like to get on the list for my gut reset course shoot me a message on Instagram or an email dietitiandaydreams@gmail.com and I’ll notify you when the course launches.

    • Decrease pro-inflammatory foods like omega-6 oils, refined grains, sugar, pesticides, dairy and gluten. Consider a food intolerance test.

    • Increase anti-inflammatory foods. Consume 9-13 servings of non-starchy vegetables and fruits daily, increase fatty fish like salmon, herring, mackerel & sardines. Consume 1 oz nuts or seeds daily.

  • Superiliac:  Fat deposits around the front love handle region and sides are associated with consuming the wrong amount of carbohydrates for your body type.

    • Trial a lower carb diet with carbs around bedtime for improved serotonin production and sleep quality.  Reduce carbs with low nutritional value.

    • Incorporate Key Nutrients: magnesium, curcumin & fiber.

  • Mid Axillary:  Fat deposits in the area just below the armpits may indicate thyroid dysfunction or heavy metal toxicity. 

    • Promote thyroid function by incorporating: iodine, selenium, vitamin a, vitamin c, zinc. If your iodine intake is low (iodized salt and seafood) decrease cruciferous vegetables as they interfere with iodine absorption.

  • Umbilical (that tummy though): Long term cortisol aka stress exposure causes fat deposits in this region.

    • Reduce cortisol raising activities like excess screen time & excess caffeine intake, increases cortisol.

    • Increase cortisol lowering practices such as giving gratitude, staying hydrated & meditation.

  • Knee: May indicate liver toxicity. Decrease alcohol consumption and reduce toxic exposure.

  • Quadriceps: May indicate increased estrogen production within your body. I recommend seeing a functional medicine hormone specialist.

  • Hamstrings: Fat deposits and cellulite in this region indicate environmental toxins and xenoestrogens.

    • Target ranges: Females: <15 millimeters and Males: <7 millimeters

    • Use the Ewg.org and their app the Healthy Living app as a way to filter your household cleaners & beauty products for toxicity. Use their dirty dozen and clean fifteen lists for produce shopping.

    • Help with detoxification: increase antioxidants (eat 9-13 servings veggies & fruits daily), zinc, curcumin, resveratrol, grapeseed, grapefruit pectin extract

    **Remember with supplementation to speak with your healthcare provider before starting as some supplements may interact with medications. If you supplement Zinc please be sure to only do so for 6 weeks at a time as supplementation long term can lead to copper wasting and neurological complications.