What Are Flanks On A Woman And How Can You Deal With Them?

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Published by Christiana Mikesch, CPT | Senior Coach
Last updated: November 26, 2023
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As a personal trainer, I get a lot of female clients who have very specific ideas about what they would like to change about their bodies.

It’s most often about getting rid of excess body fat around the belly, especially the goal to lose flank fat. It’s also often one area that is most difficult to target with exercises, and there are certain things that many women do that won’t do much to slim down this area.

So, what are flanks on a woman?

Let’s take a look and find out how to properly deal with them.

Quick Summary

  • Flanks on women are on each side of the belly, specifically from the waist to the lower back.
  • Water retention, and accumulated fat are the main causes of weight gain in flanks in women.
  • To reduce belly fat accumulation, embark on a healthy diet, perform aerobic workouts, and take fat burners supplements.

Where Are The Flanks On A Female Body?

A woman pinching her flanks

The flanks on the female body are an area to each side of the belly from the waist to the lower back.

It’s about the area between your hip bone and your rib cage, and you’ll often hear people talk about the love handles.

It’s one of the first areas, along with the lower belly, where excess fat accumulates.

And too much fat around the belly becomes very visually obvious and not that easy to deal with.

One thing this fat accumulation can end up causing is severe flank pain as the muscles become too weak to support the weight.

A balanced diet and regular exercise can help you lose weight and reduce excess fat in the flanks and love handles.

But let’s see why it comes to these love handles.

What Causes Weight Gain In Flanks?

Accumulation of fat cells and water retention are the common causes of weight gain in flanks. Water retention often happens when you don’t drink enough water or process enough electrolytes like potassium [1].

It’s also an easier problem to deal with than dealing with fat cells.

When it comes to hip fat accumulation, the most common issues are diet and a lack of physical activity, or a combination of both.

By far, the biggest problem is consuming too much alcohol, sugar, and other simple carbs [2]. These lead to sudden blood sugar spikes, usually at times when you might be relaxing on the couch or sitting in your car.

And that excess glucose then finds a new home around the belly and hips, where it becomes increasingly obvious.

Excess fat cells in the flanks can contribute to weight gain and the appearance of love handles.

Taking in too many calories and being sedentary can make fat cells expand and multiply.

Addressing this fat cell accumulation through healthy eating, regular exercise, and a balanced lifestyle can help reduce weight gain in the flanks.


3 Ways To Avoid The Love Handles

A person eating a strict vegetable diet

You can reduce belly fat accumulation and not have to resort to flank liposuction by understanding how simple changes in your lifestyle will impact your flanks.

1. Diet

The very first thing you need to do is cut out processed carbs and sugar. These cause sudden increases in glucose, and if the body has nowhere to use the energy, then the body redistributes fat [3].

And your body will store fat mostly around your belly and thighs.

In order to trigger weight loss in this area, you have to first stop eating what’s causing it. Otherwise, the fatty area will simply not change, even when exercising vigorously. I always tell my clients that 70% of their weight loss will come down to what and how much they eat.

2. Aerobic Exercise

Performing an aerobic exercise

The other thing you’ll need to do to lose fat is a regular cardio routine.

This is the type of exercise where your heart is pumping, you break into a sweat, and you’re physically drained when it’s over.

But you have to do this without feeding your body lots of easily accessible energy.

So, restrict your calorie intake and do some exercising at least 3 to 4 days a week. Otherwise, your body will continue to store fat, and you’ll fuel the exercises with excess food and calorie intake.

“So while carbohydrates can inhibit fat burning, putting the onus on carbohydrates themselves (instead of excessive calories) as the cause behind fat gain is incorrect.”

- Kamal Patel, Editor & Co-Founder of Examine.com

3. Supplements

Another part of a healthy weight loss routine should be supplements that help to lose weight in a natural way. I’m not talking about those dodgy pills you might see on social media.

There are natural supplements that you can take that boost your metabolism so that you burn off some extra calories and avoid a lot of hunger cravings.


Does a Tummy Tuck Include Flanks?

Yes, a tummy tuck can include flanks, but some surgeons will refer to this as an extended tummy tuck. It involves the same procedure but may require additional incisions to get all at the fat reserves.

Are Heavy Flanks a Sign of Bad Health?

Yes, heavy flanks are a sign of bad health and a poor lifestyle. This kind of belly fat is most commonly down to eating lots of sugar and not engaging in enough physical exercise to counteract those sugar rushes.


  1. https://www.insider.com/difference-between-water-weight-and-gaining-weight-2018-12
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/belly-fat/art-20045809
  3. https://healthcare.utah.edu/the-scope/shows.php?shows=0_7frg4jjd
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