For many people, losing excess belly fat gets harder and harder as we age. Eating habits change, physical activity decreases, and metabolism and hormone fluctuations all contribute to weight gain after the age of 50.
Some adjustments to lifestyle choices can help you lose weight at any age. These are just a few lifestyle changes you can implement to help you shrink a stubborn waistline.
THE IMPORTANCE OF STRENGTH TRAINING
Strength training is important for weight loss and overall health, especially for older adults. Many people lose muscle mass around the age of 50, a process called sarcopenia. Sarcpenia causes an imbalance between neurological signals ultimately leading to a loss of muscle. Due to this, the body has a harder time building muscle cells and a greater inclination to breakdown muscle cells.
For sedentary adults, muscle mass can decrease about 1-2% per year and muscle strength can decline up to 5% per year as we age over 50. Losing muscle mass and muscle strength lowers your resting metabolism, which leads to weight gain.
This of course does not have to be the case. Adding strength training exercises promotes a healthy body weight and helps you lose extra belly fat. You don’t need to purchase equipment to get started with strength training. Body weight exercises can significantly improve muscle strength and endurance.
Try plank pose and plant variations to help strengthen your core muscles, including your abdominal and low back muscles. Planks also improve your balance and posture.
Another body-weight exercise you can do at home that helps you lose belly fat are squats. Squats strengthen your legs, core, and back muscles. It’s easy to modify and increase difficulty with body weight exercises.
Yoga and pilates are also good strength training options, as they include poses that strengthen core muscles. Find the type of strength training you enjoy to stay consistent.
For a full strength training routine, I think you’ll really enjoy this workout which focuses on building strength and tone throughout the whole body.
MIX UP YOUR CARDIO
Regular aerobic exercise, like walking, swimming, and running will burn excess calories and some fat but it’s important to note that cardio exercise is more effective for weight loss when you vary the intensity throughout the workout.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a form of cardiovascular exercise, which includes short bouts of high-intensity and low-intensity moves. This type of cardio workout combines moving at a slower pace and then speeding it up for a short period. Then, repeat intervals for 20 to 30 minutes.
Boot-camp-style classes, spin, and other group fitness classes often include some intervals, so you get the most caloric burn during your session. There’s also some evidence that your body continues to burn more calories when you perform high-intensity movements.
You can make your cardio sessions more effective by just picking up the pace or changing your loop or course. The important thing about maintaining a healthy weight is being consistent and including cardio exercise in your schedule.
If you’d like to get started with a cardio workout now, I think you’ll really enjoy this HIIT routine which is doable but will still be a challenge and make you sweat!
BE SELECTIVE WITH SUGAR
Excess calories and sugar are a major driver of belly fat. Since sugar alone doesn’t have any nutrients, we use small amounts of it for energy, then we store the rest as fat. Most of us are eating more added sugars than we can use in a day.
Focus on adding foods with natural sugars, like fruits, and limiting foods high in added sugars, like sweetened drinks.
Keep in mind sugar is added to many foods, including some foods you wouldn’t expect to see it in, like nut butters, tomato sauce, and salad dressings. Read the ingredient label and look for “added sugars”. If you see it listed, try to find a brand with fewer grams.
EAT MORE PLANTS
Eating more plant-based foods may help reduce belly fat. Some plant-based foods are high in monounsaturated fats, like avocados, olives, and nut butters. These nutrient-rich foods have been shown to reduce inflammation and improve your body’s ability to use insulin.
Other plant-based foods like lentils, peas, chickpeas and beans are high in fiber and plant protein. These nutrients help regulate your appetite and your gastrointestinal system. Adding more plants to your plate can lower your risk of obesity.
Whole grains are also considered plant-based foods. Research suggests people who eat more whole grains lose more belly fat than those who eat highly processed grains.
Of course, fruits and vegetables are excellent additions to your plate. Fruit and vegetable are essential dietary inclusions for weight management because many are high in fiber, antioxidants, and natural sugars. Plus, fruits and vegetables are low in calories!
Keep in mind canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are good options. Just be careful to choose those brands that have not added extra sugar, syrup, cream sauces, or other ingredients.
MAXIMISE SLEEP TIME
Poor sleep may affect your weight loss efforts. Many studies have shown getting too little sleep increases the risk of excess body weight and other chronic diseases. Sleep restores hormones and helps keep our body running the way it’s supposed to.
Studies suggest people who are sleep-deprived also have an increased appetite. This likely happens because of two important hunger hormones, ghrelin and leptin. Both hormones play a role in hunger signals. When you don’t get enough sleep, the body makes more ghrelin (the hunger trigger hormone) and less leptin (the fullness hormone).
The first step to getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night is to determine what may cause poor sleep. Getting quality sleep is an important way to maintain your healthy weight.
Try drinking a cup of chamomile tea before bed and eliminating screen time at least one hour before lights out. The blue light emitted from our phones, computers and T. V’s have been shown to stimulate the brain and keep us awake.
Losing belly fat may seem more difficult as we age. Yet, many evidence-based strategies can help you achieve your health goals after turning 50.
Doing more strength training, eating more natural sugars, maximizing your sleep time are just some ways you can incorporate into your daily routine to improve your overall health.