A sustainable way to shedding the pounds and fending off the fat.
Stubborn fat is can be the bane of anyone’s attempts to get into shape. Whether you’re incredibly fit or just starting out, the middle-aged-spread has no prejudice and will affect most to some degree.
Outfits become much more difficult to coordinate with the bulge intact and no matter how hard we try we just can’t shift it.
Why is it so difficult to shift?
As we age our body composition changes due to the estrogen drop thanks to the menopause. This causes fat to make an unwelcome move to the abdomen. With age also comes sarcopenia or the loss of muscle mass. Muscle burns more calories than fat meaning energy expenditure lowers as we are less efficient at burning it.
But the fat isn’t just affecting your appearance, it has some pretty serious underlying consequences to your health.
Beneath the belly bulge resides visceral fat. It’s deep in the vital organs and although it may not be visible it increases the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases. Although the majority of your abdominal fat is subcutaneous, 10% of it is likely to be visceral and so the more fat there is the more visceral fat you’ll have.
For signs of excess visceral fat, you’ll need to measure your waistline at the level of your belly button. A circumference of 35 inches or higher for women shows you have an excess. This is not relative to body size so for some this may be completely fine. For a true indicator, consider your hip measurement and if your waist-hip ratio is higher than 0.85 you most likely have excess visceral fat.
It’s important for your health to get rid of this, but as we reach middle age and beyond it looks like the odds are stacked against us. But it’s still very possible to shift even the most stubborn fat with the right methods, see our recommendations below.
1. Gain Muscle
Combat sarcopenia and make your body more efficient at burning fat by gaining muscle. At 50 it’s not late at all to start weightlifting and we wholeheartedly advocate it.
More middle-aged women are hitting the weight room than ever before and it’s not only a fantastic way to tone up but helps prevent a lot of chronic diseases associated with age.
Muscle burns energy more efficiently than fat which will, in turn, make weight loss easier. See our best exercises for women over 50 guide for tips to help you get started.
2. Take a sustainable approach to dieting
Fad diets leave you feeling low-energy and sluggish with the urge to cheat. Find high-fibre foods which keep you satiated throughout the day. Avoid processed foods, refined sugars and simple carbs as much as you can.
Budget your calories for the occasional treat. There’s no need to cut out anything and the odd cake is absolutely fine and recommended to keep you on target and avoid a total pig-out later down the line.
Five low-cal foods that will fill you up:
- Legumes (chickpeas, black beans, lentils)
- Broth-based soups
- Baked Potato
3. Reduce stress
Studies show that high-stress levels increase appetite and abdominal fat storage. Invest in yourself and dedicate some time to relax and actively reducing stress.
Find our top tips on how to beat midlife stress to help you.
4. Use a tracker
Use apps like myfitnesspal where you can input data such as weight, height, activity levels and goals and will get a target calorie intake for each day to reach your desired weight. You can also track the foods you eat to ensure you’re not going over your target.
You’ll need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight and shift stubborn fat, so it’s a great way to keep in check. Visible data showing your journey can help keep you motivated to reach and maintain your goal.
5. Eat more often
Have a meal or a snack every three hours and your metabolism will speed up, it’s scientifically proven. It also keeps the urge to overeat at bay as you’ll stay consistently satiated throughout the day.
6. Drink Green Tea
Green tea has antioxidants called catechins which have been shown to improve metabolism. Studies have illustrated this ability by revealing people are more likely to lose weight while taking them.
But to gain these benefits you’ll have to be guzzling 3-5 cups of green tea daily. If you’re not much of a tea drinker an easier way to get the benefits is through supplementation. Try a green tea extract from MyProtein. One tablet has 45 mg green tea extract and 18 mg of catechins, it makes getting your daily dose much easier.