Belly fat is the most stubborn fat to get rid of and the type of fat you want to lose most.
Every year it seams easier to put it on an extra layer of “insulation” and harder to take it off .
While looking slimmer is important, you’re also very motivated by the protective health qualities a slimmer waist provides. Specifically, you are two times more protected against cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes and premature death when the belly fat goes down.
Belly fat may be stubborn, but when you implement these 3 science backed strategies geared specifically towards shrinking the belly, not only will you flatten the tummy, but you’ll feel healthier and more energized too.
3 Reasons Why You Gain Belly Fat After Fifty:
The three best strategies to combat belly fat have to take into consideration the biggest factors affecting your weight and body composition after the age of fifty. Once you’re armed with this powerful knowledge, the solution seams simple and achievable:
While Menopause does cause weight gain, on average your weight will only increase by 5 extra pounds.
The problem is most of this weight gain will go right to your tummy.
Estrogen, like all hormones, are messengers in the body. Estrogen signals fat receptors in your hips and thighs to store fat. As estrogen levels decline, new signals take over which tell your body to increase fat storage in the belly.
These new signals also tell your fat cells to store more fat, and to burn less fat, making it very difficult to lose the belly.
Estrogen and Over Eating:
The decline of estrogen also changes how you eat. Low estrogen levels are linked to an increase in appetite. Here’s how it works:
Ghrelin is an important hunger hormone that tells you when you’re hungry. It’s usually signalled by the stomach. When your stomach is empty ghrelin is released and tells the brain to eat.
But Ghrelin is also regulated by the hypothalamus, a part of the brain, and estrogen tells the hypothalamus to decrease hunger hormones.
So, you eat more!
To show you how significant the change in your hunger is, one review conducted on over 100 studies on post menopausal women found that increasing estrogen levels through hormone replacement therapy completely reversed the hunger.
(This isn’t to advocate for hormone replacement therapy. This is just to show you how significant estrogen is in regulating hunger).
As we age we lose muscle mass. Inactive adults experience a 3 percent to 8 percent loss of muscle mass per decade after the age of thirty. With a decrease of muscle, there’s an increase in belly fat. Muscle loss accounts for an increase in visceral or abdominal fat by approximately 25%
The good news is that over 50 percent of muscle loss may be prevented. So let’s take a look at the science backed strategies that specifically target the causes of belly fat over fifty.
A Special Type of Walking That Shrinks Belly Fat:
Studies show that High Intensity Interval Training is most effective at targeting stubborn belly fat and you don’t even need to change your eating habits to see the results.
This form of fitness suppresses the hormone ghrelin. That same hunger hormone that is less regulated due to decreased estrogen levels in menopause. Your hunger is suppressed, you eat less and shrink the fat more effectively.
High intensity interval training (HIIT), which consists of small bursts of all-out, maximal and vigorous activity followed by short periods of rest targets belly fat more effectively than moderate intensity exercise.
But you don’t need to learn fancy, fast paced exercises to get these slimming results. Simply change your walking pace two days a week to short bursts of fast paced walking for as little as 30 seconds to one minute, interspersed with your normal walking pace. This counts as high intensity interval training.
Full Body Weight Training 2 times per week:
Weight training specifically targets belly fat by increasing the amount of lean muscle in the body. It is estimated that over 50 percent of muscle loss may be prevented by adding a weight training program into your belly shrinking plan.
Simply by adding weights two times per week for ten weeks you can increase your lean muscle by as much as 1.4 kg (or 3 pounds). This revs up your metabolism by an extra 7 percent which reduces fat mass by as much as 1.8 kg (or 4 pounds).
In other words, the more lean muscle you have, the more efficient your body will be at burning fat and keeping it away permanently.
Work smart not hard: Crunches are fun because they feel like you’re targeting that specific area, but they only tighten the muscles, they don’t burn fat. Full body weight training is the most efficient at increasing lean muscle mass so you burn more fat.
Think about the amount of muscle you have in your legs, your back and your chest. If all of the biggest muscle groups in your body are all burning fat quickly and efficiently, then the fat can melt away so much more easily.
Portion Sizes and Lower Estrogen:
Estrogen isn’t the only hormone that regulates your hunger hormone ghrelin. Your stomach does too, once you begin to eat.
The problem is, it takes 20 minutes for the full signal to travel from your stomach and register in the brain. By that time it may be too late. You may have continued eating for an extra 20 minutes without realizing you were already full. That’s a lot of extra calories and even more belly fat.
Being mindful of proper portion sizes ensures that you don’t overeat during the 20 minute time frame it takes for your stomach’s ghrelin levels to be suppressed and to feel full.
Of course you never want to go hungry, so if after 20 minutes (when you can trust your ghrelin would be suppressed if you were full) you can always add another half portion and know you’ll prevent excess belly fat.