How do you get rid of your love handles and go from skinny-fat to fit? Here’s a seven-point plan from  fitness advisor Craig Ballantyne.

1. Love handles will disappear fastest with two powerful techniques.

a. Interval training

A recent study from Australia showed that interval training produced more belly fat loss than slow cardio. The study involved women, but the authors said it would work just as well in men.

b. Tight nutrition

“Listen,” Ballantyne says, “if you want advanced results, you have to do advanced things. Such as cutting all the processed carbohydrates from your diet. One cheat reward meal per week—that’s cheat MEAL, not cheat DAY.”

Replace breakfast cereals and grain carbs with fruits, vegetables, and nuts. “Losing your love handles isn’t going to happen if you insist on treating yourself to a Frappacino, Pepsi, and a slice of pizza every day,” he says. “It means eating meals of lean protein, fiber-rich vegetables, and snacking on apples and nuts between meals.”

2) A common mistake is too much cardio.

“It’s not going to work as well as interval training,” Ballantyne says.

This is related to another issue, he says: Many guys don’t have enough muscle in the first place.

Losing love handles, like bodybuilding, is a game of illusion. Muscle on your chest and back can essentially “hide” excess fat in your love handle area.

“So most guys are skinny-fat, and then try to lose love handles with cardio only, and basically become even smaller versions of themselves—but still skinny-fat,” says Ballantyne. “It’s better to use intervals and weight training to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time—which IS possible—and change your body’s overall appearance.”

3) Replace classic ab exercises like crunches and twists with interval training.

“Ab exercises like crunches are generally a waste of time,” Ballantyne says.

4) But exercise is really not the main barrier. It’s diet.

It’s just too easy for most guys to cheat, Ballantyne says. “They have to realize that they have to have more discipline if they want results.”

5) So what type of interval program to use?

Here’s one Ballantyne uses to banish skinny-fat. After a thorough warmup:

  • 20 seconds of hard exercise, 40 seconds recovery.
  • Repeat 6 to 8 times.
  • Finish with 5-10 minutes of cooldown exercise. If you have extra time, do 10 minutes of regular cardio pace.

6) Build up pecs, lats, deltoids and traps to create the illusion of smaller love handles.

“Most guys don’t have enough muscle to focus on just losing weight,” Ballantyne says, “so every guy must build some muscle in these areas.”

7) How to build the muscle and lose fat at the same time?

Do two to three total body workouts per week.

  • Use 5 exercises per workout (1 lower body, 1 upper push, 1 lower body single leg, 1 upper pulling, 1 total body ab exercise).
  • Do as a circuit. go through circuit 3 times. 8-12 reps per exercise.

Finish with interval training.