Once you hit 50 it is not as easy to lose weight as it was when you were younger. And back then the weight didn't collect around your middle like it does now. But it can be done. Read on to find out the best ways for women over 50 to lose belly fat.
When you hit 50 it seemed, seemingly overnight, your once flat belly took on a mind of its own and the very expensive jeans you bought in the sales last season no longer fit.
In fact the scales aren't showing much difference but as lean muscle mass is shrinking body fat is expanding and usually around your middle in what we horribly call middle aged spread.
You’re doing the same exercise and eating the same healthy foods...
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 cottage cheese belly fat. When I looked in the mirror I didn't like what I saw and if I was being honest with myself hadn’t done for some time.
I had been turning a blind eye to it and pretending that I was okay. But I 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.
So why is it difficult to lose belly weight after 50?
Once we hit 50 our estrogen levels drop and fat redistributes to our bell. Our metabolism slows down, we lose lean muscle mass and as a result, our body becomes less efficient at burning fat and calories.
So how do you lose belly fat over 50?
The good news - Starvation and flogging yourself in the gym doesn’t work.
The bad news - no exercise at all doesn’t work either and yes, you may have to cut some empty calories out of your daily diet.
The best way to lose belly fat over 50 ia a combination of the following.
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The best exercise for losing belly fat
The benefits of cardio for women over 50 are:
- Increased muscle mass
- Increased bone density
- Better sleep
- Less stress and anxiety
- Better heart and lung health
- Increased metabolism
I used to think of cardio as me, swimming in sweat, red faced, puffing hard and hating every minute of it.
This kind of cardio puts quite a lot of stress on the body which is not ideal when your over 50.
Cardio training can be as simple as a brisk walk 5 or 6 days a week. Even better, maybe you could include a hill or two. I would recommend you do at least 30 minutes but preferably 40 minutes.
The reality is cardio is anything that even slightly raises you heart rate.
Other suggestions are:
You can reverse the muscle loss that comes with this time of life with just a minimum amout of strength training.
Don't worry I'm not suggesting you mix it with the testosterone fueled muscle bound men eyeing themselves up in the mirror at the gym.
This is about working your muscles with appropriatley sized weights to suit your level of ability. And it is easily done at home.
Whats an appropriately sized weight?
Use a weight that you can do 2 to 3 sets of 10 reps with. The last 2 or 3 of those reps should be a little tough. That's when you know your muscles are working.
Try for 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. My first weights were 3 kg each ( 6-7 pounds), and I have built up from there.
If you find you can only do a two fine that's two more than yesterday. Tomorrow or the day afer do three. Keep going until you build up to ten.
Then start on the second set.
When you get to three sets of 10 add a little more weight in and repeat the whole process.
RELATED POST: Lifting Weights In Midlife For Better Health
The best diet for losing belly fat
Cut out sugar. If you can't cut it all out then at least cut out added sugar and refined sugars.
Avoid refined grains. Examples of these are white flour, white bread, white rice and pasta.
Avoid animal fats. Eat lean meats, cut out butter and try to keep cheese and dairy to a minimum.
Focus on eating plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Choose lean protein or plant protein. Lentils, legume, and chickpeas are good sources of plant protein and are high in fibre as well as full of helpful nutrients.
Eat healthy fats such as avocado and olive oil.
Make sure you include plenty of fibre soluble and insoluble.
Examples of soluble fibre are
- phsyllim husk
- ground linseed
- brussel sprouts
- sunflower seeds
Insoluble fibre examples are:
- Beans, lentils and legumes of all kinds
- Berries, including blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc.
- Quinoa, sorghum, millet, amaranth, oatmeal and rye
- Green peas
- Coconut (grated flakes or flour)
- Apples with skin
- Pears with skin
- Sunflower seeds
- Sweet potatoes
Often foods that are high in fibre are high in both soluble and insoluble.
See these two posts for more on healthy foods during menopause.
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Lack of sleep won't help
7-8 hours of sleep per night is optimum.
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 high in sugar and processed carbs.
Indulging these cravings can wreak havoc on our insulin and blood sugar levels and that takes us full circle to more belly fat.
On top of all that who on this earth feels like exercising when they are tired.
It all becomes a vicious circle with only one winner, the clothes manufacturers because you're going to need some new jeans.
Stress and belly fat
Continual stress can also increase your cortisol levels.
If you find you are often stressed it is a good idea to practice mindfulness.
Meditation or Yoga or both are great ways to calm the body from stress.d
Yoga is also a fabulous way to increase strength, flexibility and balance which is important as we start to age.
it is absolutely possible to lose belly fat in menopause. It is definitely not done by starving your self and doing xcessive exercise.
It does, however, require us to increase exercise a little and be carefule about the type of exerecise we choose to do.
Eat a balanced diet high in fibre and insoluble fiber and low in refined carbohydrates.
Get adequate sleep and keep stress to a minimum.