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 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.
Quick Answers To Common Questions
What exercise is best for burning belly fat?
It is important to include a good mix of aerobic activity and strength training. Your aerobic activity can be exercises like walking, swimming, cycling, and running and should include bursts of high intensity interspersed with lower intensity. Strength training is about doing enough that it’s not easy and once you feel your not being stretched step it up a notch. This will keep you muscles strong and metabolism fired up.
It is important to include a good mix of aerobic activity and strength training. Your aerobic activity can be exercises like walking, swimming, cycling, and running and should include bursts of high intensity interspersed dwith lower intensity. Strength training is about doing enough that it’s not easy and once you feel your not being stretched step it up a notch. This will keep you muscles strong and metabolism fired up.
How can I lose belly fat fast?
Top 7 things to do to lose belly fat fast
- Cut out sugar
- Move more
- Lift weights
- Sleep 7-8 hours
- Reduce Stress
- Eat healthy wholefoods
- Intermittent fasting
What foods are best for losing belly fat?
The best foods to include in your diet that help you lose belly fat are:
- Plant based food such as vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds.
- Lean good quality protein or plant protein such as lentils, legumes and chickpeas.
- Healthy fats such as olive oil and avocado.
- Plenty of soluble fibre eg: phsyllium husk, lentils, ground linseed and brussel sprouts.
- Insoluble fiber eg: berries, spinach, cocount and peas
You’re doing the same exercise and eating the same healthy foods…
you always have so why are you puttin on weight still?
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 belly. 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.
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The best exercise for losing belly fat
The benefits of cardio for women over 50 who want to lose belly fat 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.
Don’t think you need to be sweating and puffing as you push hard for an hour.
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.
What’s 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.
When it starts to feel easy that’s when it’s not working. You should feel like it could be almost too hard to do.
RELATED POST: Lifting Weights In Midlife For Better Health
The best diet for losing belly fat over 50
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 to include in your diet to lose belly fat.
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Add more protein in your diet to lose belly fat
Including plenty of good quality protein in your diet will not only help with weight loss but will help slow muscle loss.
Older women have higher protein needs than those of their younger counterparts and it is shown that eating a protein rich diet can not only prevent but reverse muscle loss that occurs at this time in your life.
A bonus of eating protein is that it keeps you feeling fuller for longer meaning you are less likely to snack.
Move, move, move
Get a pedometer and track your steps. Many women have jobs where they sit for long periods which makes it difficult to lose weight especially around their middle.
Having a pedometer makes it easy to see just how much you move and encourage you to do more if needed. A good goal is 10,000 steps but remember start where you are and build up.
Cut out the takeaways
I get it, you’ve worked late, got stuck in traffic on the way home and the last thing you feel like doing is cooking, especially for four people.
When you cook the meals yourself you can have control over the ingredients. It doesn’t have to be difficult, just a piece of lean protein and a simple salad is all that is needed and can be prepped in the time it would take to pick up a take away and cost a third of the price.
Stop eating at least 3 hours before bed
Going to bed with a full belly can interfere with your sleep.
Your digestion slows down at night so you may experience indigestion if you try to sleep before your last meal has been digested.
Food close to bedtime will also spike your blood sugar levels meaning you will have energy that wants get out right when you want to rest.
Take A Good Supplement
As you get older, your ability to absorb some nutrients declines and being deficiant can short circuit some of the body’s processes leaving the way open for weight gain and other issues.
Women in midlife should consider taking B Vitamins, Vitamin D which helps us absorb calcium, magnesium, calcium and omega 3,
Lack of sleep won’t help
7-8 hours of sleep per night is optimum.
But when spen night after night waking and not sleeping well, your glucose-carrying hormone called insulin, stays higher than usual overnight. This hormone will thne interfere with both melatonin and another sleep hormone called Adenosine.
As sleep deprivation accumulates, it can increase the risk of heart problems, anxiety and depression; resulting in even more sleepless nights and worsening night sweats.
As well as this, 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.
And, 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.
Lack of sleep will also cause more stress which brings me to my next point.
Stress and belly fat
Continual stress as we transition into menopause can also increase your cortisol levels.
This powerful stress hormone works in tandem with your sleep hormone, melatonin. So too much cortisol will interfere with your sleep which then causes your insulin to remain high overnight when it is usually decreasing. The insulin will hold onto fat making it doubly difficult to lose the weight around your middle.
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.
Yoga is also a fabulous way to increase strength, flexibility and balance which is important as we start to age.
Consider Intermittent Fasting
This is an easy way to lose weight by only eating in a specified period. Generally your eating period will be 8-10 hours while fasting for the other 14-16 hrs.
This type of fasting has many benefits such as:
- More energy
- Weight loss
- Increase in lean muscle mass
- Balancing hormones
Improve Your Gut Health
Thanks to diets high in processed foods and sugar, dairy products full of hormones, antibiotics, and constant chronic stress, many women have impaired gut health.
Your gut health is even more important as you age. Keeping it healthy will help with weight loss and reduce bloating. Plus as an added benefit when you reduce toxins you will siffer less skin irritations and look amazing.
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.
The best ways for women over 50 to lose belly fat.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you get rid of menopause belly fat?
1. Eat a healthy wholefoods diet full of fiber, vegetables, a moderate amount of protein and good fats.
2. Exercise regularly especially resistance training.
3. Drink plenty of water.
4. Get good sleep.
5. Lower stress levels.
6. Avoid added sugars.
7. Intermittent fasting.
Do you gain belly fat during menopause?
Hormonal changes during menopause be some of the reason for weight gain around your middle. With estrogen levels decreasing muscle mass also declines so affecting the muscles effectiveness to burn energy and fat. Lifestyle, ageing and genetic factors can also play a roll in the weight gain.
How can I speed up my metabolism after 50?
After 50 muscle mass is starting to decline slowing down your metabolism. Your best defence against this is to do strength training to maintain your muscles. Also eat more lean, good quality protein such as fish, chicken, eggs and lean beef which will fuel you for longer and help build muscle.
Why is it so hard to lose weight after menopause?
1. Declining estrogen and progesteron levels lead to a slower metabolic rate.
2. Muscle mass also declines, less muscle means less fat burning ability.
3. As women age they often exercise less.
4. With less exercise and more belly fat insulin becomes less effective which in turn means less glucose (carbohydrates) is burnt for energy and instead is turned into fat which in menopause tends to go on around the belly.