If you don’t get hungry and crave sweets when hearing the words “muffin top,” you probably know its second meaning. No, we won’t discuss delicious sweet pastries in this article; we’ll cover something less pleasant – the dreaded lower belly muffin top. 

The lower belly fat that spills over the waistband is known as a muffin top, apron belly, spare tire, or love handle. It can be incredibly stubborn to get rid of through exercise and diet, refusing to go away no matter what you do. Should you try more fad diets, intense HIIT workouts, or start fasting to get rid of your lower belly? What’s the secret here? 

To lose fat in your lower belly, you can’t just target this part of your body in isolation – the key is to lose fat everywhere and tone your abdominal muscles. A clean diet, in combination with cardio and weight training, will help you see muffin tops only in bakeries from now on. 

Table Of Contents

What is a Muffin Top Made Of?

There are two main types of body fat: visceral and subcutaneous. 

Visceral fat is located near your vital organs: liver, intestines, and stomach. In healthy amounts, it protects the organs, but its excess can lead to serious health issues such as heart disease, type 3 diabetes, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Does it mean that if you have some belly fat, it’s made of visceral fat? Not necessarily. 

In most cases, the muffin top is made of subcutaneous fat – it’s the outer fluffy layer of fat often stored in the lower belly and other parts of the body under the skin. Subcutaneous fat is one of your body’s ways to store energy, regulate body temperature, and protect your muscles and bones. 

While everything is great in moderation, too much subcutaneous fat can give you stubborn love handles; it can also lead to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and other health conditions. 

Also, read – Chair Yoga for Seniors – Experience the Power of Movement

Belly Overhang Causes: Why Do You Have a Muffin Top? 

What causes muffin top belly? We wish there were a single cause for a muffin top and a simple solution, but, unfortunately, that’s not the case. Multiple factors, including hormonal imbalances, genetics, stress, diet, and lifestyle, cause muffin tops. 

Before looking for a quick fix, try to figure out the cause of your apron belly: 

Hormonal Imbalances

When it comes to your hormones, everything is interconnected. The slightest change in one hormone level can make other hormonal levels out of whack, influencing everything from your mood and sleep to fat storage and various diseases. 

If you’re dealing with a stubborn muffin top, check whether your insulin, cortisol, estrogen, and testosterone levels are normal. Insulin imbalances, for instance, can increase fat storage, especially around your abdomen, making it puffy and soft. 

Genetics

Yep, sometimes it’s just in our genes. Often, your muffin top is just your genetics – you have a predisposition to store more fat in your abdominal area and develop love handles fast. You can’t go against genetics, but you can use this knowledge to make more informed lifestyle choices and think of ways to manage your weight better.

Stress and Anxiety 

Stress isn’t just in your head; it’s also in your belly. Chronic stress triggers the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which is known for increasing your appetite and fat storage, particularly around the midsection. 

Notice how you start eating more when stressed, looking for solace in sweets and your favorite junk foods? Emotional eating is another cause of belly fat accumulation, so if you want to get rid of your muffin top, find ways to manage stress. You can start meditating, doing your favorite sports, or practicing mindful relaxation techniques.

Diet and Exercise 

We’ve all heard the saying: abs are made in the kitchen. While that’s not entirely true (exercise plays a big role, too!), what we eat certainly matters. 

To keep your waistline in check, stick to a cleaner, healthier diet without processed and sugary foods. You can still enjoy your favorite snacks occasionally! Just be mindful of what you eat and look for healthier alternatives.

Exercise matters, too! Finding activities you enjoy – whether it’s a dance class, a hike with friends, or a quick HIIT workout – can make staying active a whole lot more fun. 

Wait, but do push-ups burn belly fat? Unfortunately, they have little to no impact on your muffin top without a comprehensive fitness plan, so focus on the big picture for fat loss. 

How to Lose Muffin Top Fat Through Diet and Exercise

Dealing with stubborn muffin top fat can feel like an uphill battle, but with the right methods, you can start chipping away at it. Here’s a roadmap on how to get rid of muffin tops for women and men, battle that excess belly overhang, and reclaim a trimmer waistline.

Diet Changes for Belly Overhang

Focus on Whole Foods

Fill your plate with nutrient-dense whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. These foods are packed with all the essential minerals and vitamins, keeping you full and reducing the chance of overeating. 

Eat Less Processed Foods

We get it – everyone loves a good snack, but it’s easy for your weight loss to be derailed with one too many snacks. You don’t have to cut out your favorite foods – just limit their consumption. Processed foods are packed with sugar and saturated fats, which you don’t need on your weight loss journey. 

Watch Your Portions

Good health starts with moderation – eating too much or too little can exacerbate your muffin-top belly problems. When you consume too many calories, they get stored as fat, especially in your lower belly. What if you limit your calorie intake? At first, you might notice that your pounds are shedding, but a prolonged calorie deficit can lead your body into starvation mode. As a result, it can lead to more fat storage

Stay Hydrated 

Hydration is key! Drink your H2O throughout the day, adding a splash of lemon juice or fresh berries to add more flavor. 

Limit Alcohol Intake

The majority of alcoholic drinks are packed with calories and sugar, so drinking lots of alcohol can lead to abdominal fat accumulation. You can still enjoy a drink occasionally; make drinking alcohol an exception rather than a rule. 

Muffin Top Exercises for Newbies

Are you new to exercising but want to incorporate some easy moves into your routine to get rid of your muffin top? We’ve got you covered. These easy but effective side fat workouts will introduce you to a new fitness routine gently, help strengthen your muscles, and shed those pounds. 

Plank

Muffin Top Exercises Plank

A plank exercise is an excellent start to your fitness routine. Begin by holding a plank position on your forearms and toes; keep your body straight and hold for 30 seconds, increasing the time to 1 minute and more as you get stronger. This exercise will help engage your core muscles and make you stronger.

Twists

Muffin Top Exercises Twists

Sit on the floor with your knees bent. Lean back and lift your feet off the floor, trying to balance on your sit bones. Hold a weight in front of your chest, such as a dumbbell or medicine ball. Twist your torso from side to side. Attempt to touch the weight to the ground beside you as you twist.  

Bicycle Crunches

muffin top exercises Bicycle Crunches

Lie on your back, put your hands behind your head, and bend your knees. Lift your shoulders off the ground, bring your right elbow towards your left knee, and straighten your right leg. Then, switch sides and repeat. 

Muffin Top Workout for Gym Goers

If you’re hitting the gym on a regular basis, we’ve got some moves for you, too. Use gym equipment for maximum impact, targeting those abs and melting your muffin top. 

Cable Woodchoppers

Muffin Top Exercises Cable Woodchoppers

Use a cable machine for this exercise. Stand sideways to the machine with the cable set to shoulder height, grasping the handles with both hands. Plant your feet as you rotate your torso and pull the cable across. Return to the starting position and repeat. 

Hanging Leg Raises

muffin top exercises Hanging Leg Raises

Use a pull-up bar for this one. Hang from the pull-up bar with an overhand grip and straighten your legs. Now, engage your core muscles and lift your legs towards your chest, keeping the legs straight, or bend the knees for an easier variation. Lower the legs down with control and repeat. 

Medicine Ball Slams

Medicine Ball Slams

Stand tall, with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a medicine ball overhead and slam the ball to the ground with full force. While you do that, bend at the hips and knees. Catch the ball on the rebound in a squatting position and repeat. 

Also, read – Transformative Yoga Challenge: Find your Inner Zen

Apron Belly Exercises for Men and Women

Muffin top is not a single-gender issue; it can happen to anyone. No matter your gender, dealing with love handles or a muffin top can be a common concern. 

Fret not! These apron belly workout plans for men and women can help you tackle this stubborn area and achieve a more toned physique. Let’s break a sweat and embrace the challenge together! 

How to Get Rid of Muffin Top Men

Mountain Climbers 

muffin top exercises Mountain Climbers

Start in a plank position. Place your hands under your shoulders and keep your body straight. Ensure you engage your core muscles and bring one knee towards your chest. Switch legs quickly by alternating knees in a running motion. 

Sprinter Sit-Ups

muffin top exercises Sprinter Sit-Ups

Lie on your back, bend your knees, and put your feet flat on the ground. Perform a sit-up and extend one leg straight as you sit up while bringing the opposite knee towards your chest. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side. 

Standing Oblique Crunches

muffin top exercises Standing Oblique Crunches

Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your hands behind your head, crunch your torso sideways, and bring one elbow towards the opposite knee. At the same time, lift the same-side knee towards your elbow. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side. 

Muffin Top Woman Exercises

Side Plank Hip Lifts 

muffin top exercises Side Plank Hip Lifts

Set up in a side plank position. Your elbow should be directly beneath your shoulder, and your body should be in a straight line. Engage your core, lower your hips towards the ground, and lift them back up towards the ceiling. Repeat 15-30 times on each side. 

Reverse Crunches

muffin top exercises Reverse Crunches

Lie on your back with your arms by your sides. Your legs should be extended towards the ceiling, and your lower back should be pressed into the ground. Engage your abdominal muscles and lift your hips off the ground. Slowly lower back down with control and repeat. 

Standing Side Bends 

muffin top exercises Standing Side Bends

Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, extend your arms straight over your head, and clasp your hands. Keep your core engaged and your back straight, and lean to one side by lowering the torso towards your hip. Engage your oblique muscles to lift back up and repeat on the other side. 

Get Rid of Muffin Top in 3 Weeks

Ready to melt that muffin top in the next three weeks? We’ve got a challenge for you. Our 3-week plan combines the best muffin top exercises, diet changes, and consistency – all helping you achieve great results, so you can start seeing those abs in the mirror more quickly.

Week 1: Lay the Foundation

Exercises: Start off gently with a mix of cardio and strength training exercises. They will help you kickstart your metabolism and build lean muscle mass. Add moves like planks, twists, and mountain climbers to your routine to target your abdominal muscles. 

Nutrition: Clean up your diet by eliminating any junk foods and sugar-packed snacks. Focus on eating cleaner and include foods that are high in protein, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains in your meals. 

Week 2: Increase Intensity

Exercises: It’s time to increase the intensity. Add high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions to your workout routine. These workouts are awesome for burning fat and targeting the pesky muffin top. Do burpees, high knees, and jumping jacks to keep your heart rate elevated and your metabolism revved up. 

Nutrition: Stay on track with your healthy eating habits and reduce the overall calorie intake slightly. Be mindful of your portion size and say “No” to snacking and emotional eating. 

Week 3: Push Yourself 

Exercises: Ready to challenge yourself and push your limits? Perform advanced core exercises and full-body workouts that engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Try out bicycle crunches, reverse crunches, and standing oblique twists to target the muffin top. Don’t be afraid of incorporating strength training exercises into your routine, including squats, lunges, and deadlifts. 

Nutrition: Listen to your body during this journey: be mindful of your hunger levels, eat more if you feel tired and fatigued, and incorporate more metabolism-boosting foods (lean proteins, vegetables, and spices) into your diet. 

Also, read – How to Workout With a Busy Schedule

Belly Overhang Exercises at Home

No gym membership? No problem! You can still target your love handles with these simple yet effective exercises. Get ready to sweat!

Mountain Climbers

Start in a plank position, engage your core muscles, and bring one knee towards your chest. Quickly switch legs, alternating knees in a running motion. Continue for 30 seconds to 1 minute. 

Sprinter Sit-Ups

Lie on your back, bend your knees, and put your feet flat on the floor. Perform a sit-up, but extend one leg straight as you sit up. Bring the opposite knee towards your chest. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side. 

Standing Oblique Crunches 

Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your hands behind your head, crunch your torso sideways, and bring one elbow towards the opposite knee. At the same time, lift the same-side knee towards your elbow. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side. 

Intense Exercises for Muffin Top

Are you bored of doing the same repetitive exercises every day, and craving a little more fire in your muscles? These intense exercises are designed to torch calories, build muscle, and sculpt your midsection for a more toned and defined look. 

Twists with Medicine Ball

Get Rid of Muffin Top Twists with Medicine Ball

Sit on the floor and bend your knees. Hold a medicine ball in front of you with both hands and arms extended. Lean back and lift your feet off the ground, balancing on the sit bones. Twist your torso right, and bring the ball beside your hip. Repeat on the other side. 

Bicycle Crunches with Leg Extension

Get Rid of Muffin Top Bicycle Crunches with Leg Extension

Lie on your back, put your hands behind your head, and lift the legs in a tabletop position. Perform a bicycle crunch by bringing your right elbow towards your left knee while straightening your right leg and vice versa. 

Side Plank Hip Dips 

how to Get Rid of Muffin Top Side Plank Hip Dips

Start in a side plank position. Your elbows should be directly beneath your shoulder. Lower your hips to the ground with control, engaging your core muscles. Lift the hips back up and repeat on the other side. 

Wrapping Up: Muffin Top No More!

Congrats on embarking on a muffin top-busting journey! With all the exercises and diet changes, you’re bidding farewell to the stubborn belly overhang. Remember – progress is not always an easy journey; it takes time and dedication. 

Persevere, believe in yourself, and picture the new version of yourself you want to see in the mirror – it will become a reality soon. You’ve already proven that you have the determination and commitment to overcome obstacles and reach new heights of health and wellness. 

Here’s to the future with strength and a muffin top-free waistline! 

Doctor of Physical Therapy, Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Alex is a health sciences writer with experience in sports performance and rehabilitation settings. His areas of expertise include health and fitness, sports nutrition, and injury prevention. He is passionate about health science education and health/wellness optimization for people of all ages.