The belly fat battle gets harder with every year.
What is it about turning 40 that makes it (suddenly) harder for men and women to lose belly fat?
Now that I’m 45 and understand just how stubborn abdominal fat can be, I decided to find out why it’s so tenacious and how to get rid of it.
Though it will take some time and effort, there are some ways that we can beat belly bulge.
Stubborn Belly Fat: Why We Need to Lose It
As we get older, we tend to gain weight – especially in the midsection. The reason is because of decreasing hormones.
It’s hard to lose weight without the hormone levels we had in our 20s and 30s.
And the easiest place for our body to pack on the weight is the abdominal area.
Trying to lose weight under these conditions can feel like a struggle, especially for women who have a notoriously difficult time losing weight in the first place.
But it’s vital to win this battle.
Belly fat is the most dangerous type of fat.
It’s called visceral fat, as opposed to the subcutaneous fat found on other parts of the body.
Visceral fat invades the abdominal cavity, pushing against the internal organs. This stress on our vital organs makes it hard for them to function properly.
Those who have a lot of this visceral fat are more at risk for:
- Heart disease;
- Metabolic syndrome;
- And increased mortality.
To live a long, healthy life – we have to lose the belly fat and keep it off!
10 Ways to Lose the Bulge: Steps You Can Take to Win the Belly Battle
Over the last few years, I’ve done some healthy eating experiments. Here’s what I’ve found that helps me keep belly fat at bay.
1. Eat Less – There’s No Real Alternative
We’re human – we love food. But as we get creep past the big 4-0, eating the same amount of calories just isn’t possible.
According to studies, if we eat the same amount of calories we did when we were 20, we’ll end up gaining 30 pounds in a year. That sucks – a lot.
As we get older, our bodies require fewer calories to survive. In order to maintain or lose weight, we have to start eating less.
Here are two rules I live by.
The Law of Thermodynamics: The caloric goal for an adult to lose weight should be 1400-2000 calories from food. Two thousand calories amounts to 8.36 mega-joules each day, 100 joules per second, or 100 watts. Most of that ends up as heat. That’s right – you could warm a room just as much as a bright light bulb. If you cut your calories by 600 a day, you’ll lose a pound of fat each week. Cut anymore than this and you’ll just feel like crap.
Embrace Your Hunger: When you cut calories, it’s no secret that you’re going to feel hungry. But don’t worry – you’re not going to starve. You’re still eating an adequate amount of calories to live an active lifestyle. Of course, those cravings can get the better of you. That’s when you have to choose: eat the extra calories and gain the belly fat, or sacrifice instant gratification.
Start exercising your inner Jedi and you’ll defeat the cravings (and feel really powerful).
2. Follow the 80/20 Rule
Losing weight via exercise alone is tough stuff. It’s crazy: To burn one pound, you have to hike to the top of a 2500-story building. Or, you'd have to run 60 miles or spend 7 hours cleaning animal stalls. (It is amazing what scientists have actually measured.)
That’s why we have to put so much emphasis on our diet. It accounts for 80% of the weight we lose. Instead of going crazy trying to lose weight with exercise alone, focus most of your efforts on your diet.
3. Eat the Best Carbs and the Right Amount of Them
Researchers have found that a person is more likely to lose weight on a low-carb diet than a low-fat diet.
Cut out simple carbs, like breads, pastas, cakes, and cookies. Instead, eat nutrient-dense carbs like whole grains and sweet potatoes.
Just make sure to eat no more than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day.
4. Get Enough Protein
Protein helps the body build muscle. The more muscle we have, the easier it is to burn fat and calories.
Another reason to get adequate protein: Researchers have found that people who are protein deficient tend to gain weight easier. People in a 2012 study who ate the least amount of protein gained the most amount of weight.
My family and I try get about 20%-30% of our calories from protein.
5. Eat One Raw Vegetable Salad a Day…At Least!
One of the best things you can do to beat belly fat and improve your overall health is to add more vegetables to your daily diet. Greens and other vegetables are not your enemy. They are a low calorie way to get tons of nutrients.
Eat at least one raw vegetable salad every day and you’ll start to notice more energy, better immunity, and weight loss. Just make sure to watch the amount of dressing you put on the salad. Online you can find many real food, healthy fat, low calorie alternatives.
Of course, everyone needs some fat in their diet. Just use it sparingly and make sure it is healthy fat, like olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil etc.
6. Load Up on Water
Hydration is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. And it’s true that drinking water makes you feel full. But drinking water has another important benefit to those who want to lose belly fat.
Water can actually speed up our metabolism. In fact, some studies have found that the body’s resting caloric expenditure increases by nearly 30%. This happens 10 minutes after drinking the water and lasts for about an hour.
Based on the results of one study, researchers believe that it’s possible to lose nearly 4.5 pounds (2kg) in a year by making a simple adjustment to your daily diet: drink over 34 ounces (1 liter) of water each day.
My suggestion: Start your day off with some lemon water to detoxify and boost the calorie burn.
7. Toss the Junk Food
A big part of healthy eating is getting rid of the junk food in your house.
This is a tough one! Pre-packaged, processed snacks and entrees are quick and easy for a family on the go.
And my family is on the go!
With school, work, after school sports, practice, games, and errands, sometimes I feel like I’m in the car more than the house.
Pre-packaged foods can be helpful. But if they’re loaded with calories, sugar, sodium, and chemicals, they’re doing more harm than good.
Toss ‘em and don’t look back.
8. Eat Less Sugar – You’re Sweet Enough Already
Sugar is crack. It does crazy things to our brain, causes addiction, and leads to obesity, heart disease, diabetes and of course belly fat.
I’m not telling you to lose it all, but try to reduce it significantly. Start substituting high fructose corn syrup and cane sugar with lower calorie options like honey, maple syrup and stevia.
Soon, you’ll start to notice that your taste buds have adapted and your brain won’t crave the sweet stuff as much.
Have you ever heard of a “beer belly”? There’s a reason for that.
Not only does alcohol have sugar in it (hello, empty calories!), the body reacts to it differently.
Instead of burning fat, the body burns the alcohol. And the empty calories end up turning into fat. The result: a beer keg around your midsection.
10. Exercise Is Still Important
Just because exercise accounts for only 20% of your weight loss efforts doesn’t mean it should be ignored.
Just think of exercise as the icing on the cake?!?!
Ok, bad example. Just think of exercise as adding fuel to the fire. You’re already losing calories with your daily diet and healthy eating. Now you can make the fire roar by adding exercise.
Try to work out five days a week for 30 to 45 minutes. Throw in some weight training to really stoke the flames and you’ll be on your way to shrinking your waistline.
Winning the Battle against Abdominal Fat: Yes, It Can Happen!
After 40, it can seem like losing weight – especially the fluff we get around the middle – can be an impossible feat.
We can win the battle – but it will take time and effort.
Are you willing to commit to that? I really hope so. After all, losing belly bulge isn’t just for looking good, it’s for your health.
Though it can be frustrating at times, the battle is totally worth it.
Let’s beat the bulge and make life after 40 our best years yet!
What has helped you to lose belly fat? Let me know in the comments below or on my Facebook page. I’d love more tips and I’m sure my other readers would too!