Being able to maintain a flat belly often becomes more challenging as we age. Factors like menopause, hormonal imbalance, and loss of muscle mass can often make it more difficult to lose weight around the tummy despite exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet. Fortunately, there are several tweaks you can make to your lifestyle that effectively fight age-related weight gain around your middle.
Follow these tips to achieve a flat belly beyond the age of 40.
Do more strength work
As you near menopause, your estrogen levels will naturally decline and cause you to lose muscle mass — unless your workouts involve strength training. Strength training helps you maintain and build muscle mass so you can stay trim while also lowering your risk of osteoporosis, and will help you keep a flat belly. Do body-weight exercises like pushups, squats, and pull-ups, or engage in high-intensity interval training that pairs cardio with strength work.
Eat more slow-release carbs
Many dieters tend to avoid carbs completely, but certain carbs can help naturally regulate your blood sugar and stave off cravings. Increase your intake of complex, slow-release carbs like lentils, sweet potatoes, and green vegetables, and avoid simple carbs like pastries, donuts, pasta, and white bread. Complex carbs will help you stay full for longer periods of time so you can benefit from eating less and keep your belly flat–while simple carbs will only expand your waistline.
Do more planks
The plank exercise works and strengthens your entire core — including your tummy, glutes, thighs, and shoulders. Planks are more effective at slimming your belly than sit-ups and crunches due to the way they work a number of major muscle groups. Add planks to your current exercise routine, and either watch videos or have a fitness expert confirm you’re demonstrating proper form.
Don’t drastically restrict overall calorie intake
Reducing your calorie intake too drastically can send your body into starvation mode, which means your body will reach into muscle mass for energy stores. Though cutting back on calories and sticking to light meals like salads and fruit all day may seem like the right way to lose weight, doing so can actually prevent you from losing fat. Allow yourself to eat when you’re feeling hungry, and stick to healthy, whole foods packed with nutrients.
Consume protein, vegetables, and healthy fats at every meal
Protein is the perfect complement to your strength training routine as it helps you build and maintain muscle, while vegetables are loaded with antioxidants and nutrients, and healthy fats will keep you feeling full for long periods of time. Make a point of including protein, vegetables, and healthy fats at every meal — including breakfast. Those who make this change in their diet report having a slimmer tummy within weeks.
Distribute calories differently throughout the day
Many Americans tend to skip breakfast and eat light throughout the day, then eat a huge dinner at nighttime to compensate for the day’s smaller food portions. However, this habit can gradually lead to weight gain since the body burns fewer calories when you’re sleeping and stores the rest as excess fat. When you’re over 40, fat tends to be stored around your abdomen, which is why many people do not have a flat belly. Instead of making dinner your largest meal of the day, focus on consuming the majority of calories at breakfast and lunch, and opt for a modest, balanced dinner complete with protein, healthy fats, and lots of vegetables.
Take the right vitamins
Boost your intake of vitamin D and calcium — both of which have been scientifically proven to effectively fight belly fat. Also, start consuming a daily multivitamin to make up for what your diet may be lacking in terms of nutrients. Talk to your doctor about other weight-loss supplements that can lend to a slimmer tummy like Pro-Trim — a green tea extract that maximizes fat-burning and energy levels so you can achieve your goal weight.
Need help developing a weight-loss and nutrition plan that works for you? Garcia Weight Loss and Wellness Centers deliver customized plans, complete with personalized supplements and consistent support to help you reach and maintain your health goals. Contact us today for your no-cost consultation!
Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on September 27, 2017