To lose belly fat after 50 can be difficult.
You hit 50 and seemingly overnight your once flat belly has taken on a mind of its own and the very expensive jeans you bought in the sales last season no longer fit.
you always have so what the heck? The thought of having to starve and flog yourself as you did in your 20’s is crushing. Back then your diet consisted of lettuce leaves and low fat cottage cheese on a cracker and at least 4 times a week you wrestled your way into a leotard to do jazzercise!
I empathise. At 50 years old I could no longer ignore my ‘spare tyre’. When I looked in the mirror I didn't like what I saw and hadn’t done for some time. I had been turning a blind eye to it and pretending that I was okay. But it really wasn’t. Then I saw myself in a photo and I didn’t recognise me. Not smiling, because I hated having my photo taken, slouching to try and diminish myself and THAT BELLY! Call it vain. Call it what you want. I was not comfortable and I was going to damn well do something about it.
Once we hit 50 our estrogen levels drop and fat redistributes to our tummy. Our metabolism slows down, we lose lean muscle mass and as a result, our body becomes less efficient at burning fat and calories.
The good news - Deprivation and flogging yourself in the gym doesn’t work
The bad news - no exercise at all doesn’t work either.
What works is a combination of the following:
Cardio - and this can be as simple as a brisk walk 5 or 6 days a week. I would recommend you do at least 30 minutes but preferably 40 minutes.
Weight training - At least 2 sessions per week targeting the main muscle groups. Go for 2 to 3 sets of 10 repetitions. Start with smaller weights and when you feel it is manageable increase them.
Cut out sugar, refined grains, saturated fats and trans fats. Focus on plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Choose lean protein. Eat healthy fats such as avocado and olive oil. Make sure you include plenty of fibre.
Check out these two posts for more on healthy foods during menopause.
And if you would like an easy cheat sheet for food swaps you can make now grab this!
Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night.
Inadequate sleep causes less insulin to be released into the body after you eat. At the same time more cortisol is released, a hormone which helps you stay awake but makes it harder for insulin to do its job. We, therefore, end up with too much glucose (blood sugar) in the blood-stream causing us to put on weight around our bellies and leaving us at risk of diabetes.
On top of the extra cortisol lack of sleep can reduce the hormone which tells us when we are full, so we crave high-calorie foods which are usually high in sugar. Indulging these cravings can wreak havoc on our insulin and blood sugar levels and that takes us full circle to the belly fat.
Plus when your tired as heck who feels like exercising?
High stress can also increase your cortisol levels so it is a good idea to practice meditation and/or yoga. Yoga is also a fabulous way to increase strength, flexibility and balance which is important as we start to age.
it is completely possible to lose belly fat in menopause. It is not a matter of deprivation and excessive exercise. It does, however, require us to increase exercise, eat a balanced diet get adequate sleep and keep stress to a minimum. Easy, but easy that works!