These are some of the most common requests from new clients wanting to lose their belly fat. It is also important to understand that belly fat has so much more to do with hormonal balance than it has to do with how many sit ups you’re doing everyday.
One of the number one reasons why people may tend to store belly fat more than any other area of the body is because of the persistent elevated levels of the STRESS hormone, cortisol.
When cortisol is not managed in the body, it can be very dangerous to your health, as well as leave you with stubborn fat stores around the abdominal and belly button region.
Studies done by numerous health departments, as well as the department Of Psychology in Yale University, all show that chronic stress-induced cortisol increases fat distribution in the abdominal.
As you age, other hormonal changes come into play too, so here are some ways you can drop the belly fat no matter what your age.
In Your 30’s
Start focusing on more strength training and a better breakfast.
It’s in your 30’s that the majority of women are most likely to concentrate on two things, their family or their career. This means that regular exercise may become less of a priority. When Researchers in Toronto asked women in their 30’s why they didn’t exercise, 40% said they didn’t have time.
Less exercise means less muscle mass and loss of muscle decreases the rate at which your body uses calories. So, if you continue to eat the way you always have but your physical activity decreases, you are more likely to gain fat.
A number one tip for those in their 30’s is to try to do at least 45min of activity, preferably strength training at least 3x per week. (More if you can) Strength training also improves insulin sensitivity, which helps your body to utilise carbs for fuel rather than store them as fat.
Also, no matter how busy you are, never skip breakfast. You can reduce the stress associated with blood sugar imbalance by eating a high protein breakfast. Research also proves that your body needs a full spectrum of aminos from protein to be able to adequately detoxify. And it’s the first 30g of protein you start your day with that help your body’s detoxification pathways get off to a good start. Did you know that your body stores toxins in body fat? The better your detox pathways, the leaner you will be.
In Your 40’s
If you were stressed in your 30’s and haven’t learnt to deal with it, then by the time you have a mortgage, kids and saving for university fees for your kids your cortisol levels may have sky rocketed by now. This means MORE fat storage around your midline.
Try yoga, meditation or going for a coastal walk with your partner to relax the body and mind.
Of course, I’m a huge advocate of Strength Training, however try not to follow the meathead advice you’ll see all over the internet if you’re looking for a program to follow. By the time you’re 40 you’re not made of rubber bands anymore, so you will need to focus on great technique and exercises that improve your posture and structural balance.
Avoid “grinding” your sets in the gym. From now on, consistency is King and trumps any amount of weight you can lift.
A personalised program written especially for you is always a better way to get started in the gym.
Aim for regular high protein low-glycaemic meals spaced no more than 3-4 hours apart to control your insulin sensitivity. Also, try to include seeds in your diet, especially flax seeds, because they promote elimination of chemical estrogens that also can cause you to store excess belly fat. Eating plenty of foods high in antioxidants rather than junk food will combat the stress of free radical damage which accelerates aging, so choose organic brightly coloured vegetables rather than anything that comes in a box or a packet.
In Your 50’s and 60’s
This is a time where not only cortisol may play a part in belly fat, but a time many women start to feel the affects of menopause. With menopause comes a drop in estrogen; this decrease alters where the body stores fat, making women more prone to gaining visceral belly fat.
Some of the symptoms of menopause cause hot flushes, which cause sleep disturbances.
Poor sleep is associated with with decreased levels of leptin (an appetite suppressant hormone that tells you to put down your fork!) and increased levels of ghrelin (an appetite stimulant).
Try to take a good magnesium supplement at night, which will help you to wind down and get a better night’s sleep.
Vitamin D3 is another supplement you may want to consider, as vitamin D receptors in muscle cells become less receptive as we age. “A new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition tested the effect of supplementing with vitamin D or a placebo on visceral belly fat loss. The vitamin supplement produced a significant decrease in visceral belly fat and an overall loss of 5.4 pounds over the 16-week study—a substantial fat loss without additional exercise or dietary intervention!”
This is also a time when the kids may be less needy of you, or your career is under control, so start focusing on yourself. You’re NEVER too old to start a customised exercise plan. Strength training is far better than aerobic training for reducing belly fat as strength training has less of an effect on cortisol due to the elevation of anabolic hormones like growth hormone and testosterone that help decrease the bad effects of cortisol.
If you need more proof, check out the testimonials from our awesome clients who started weight training and have never looked back.
If you want to know more about how your hormones can make you store fat, you need to see a Metabolics Analytics (Formerly known as Bioprint) Coach. At Shredded, all our Senior Coaches are certified in this method.