Weight gain is a common problem that can happen as we age and after 40 losing stubborn belly fat does become more challenging, but not impossible. With the right mindset and healthy lifestyle choices, getting rid of excess weight around the waist can happen and Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Megan Mescher-Cox, DO, Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Lifestyle Medicine and Obesity Medicine of Dignity Health Group who explained how to burn off belly fat after 40. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Why It's Hard to Lose Weight After 40
Cox explains, "It's harder to lose belly fat as we age for many reasons. Physiologically, our basal metabolic rate decreases but also because our daily habits are dramatically different as we age. The average child needs to play and move for hours daily, whereas the average adult spends most of the day in a more sedentary role with exercise as a built-in activity for 30-60 minutes daily. Our skeletal mass also decreases as we age, especially over 30-40 years old and this decreased skeletal mass is a large contributor to our metabolic rate."
Eating Lots of Vegetables and Fruits
"Intake of vegetables and fruits is associated with lower weights and less chronic disease," says Cox. "This includes diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol but also associated with less dementia and certain cancers. Vegetables and fruits are high in antioxidants which counter the oxidative stress that leads to aging."
Getting Good Quality Sleep
According to Cox, "Sleep is critical for weight management and normalization of hormones in the body. This is when your body repairs from the day and when the body performs 'housekeeping' activities. Aim for 8 hours nightly. We can't "make up" for lack of sleep so it's especially important to get your body regular sleep all throughout your life."
Cox reminds us, "Exercise is a great way to keep people feeling young but also for your body to physiologically function better. Aim for at least 30 minutes at least five days a week although an hour five times weekly is even better. If someone is having a difficult time with the presence of abdominal fat even with regular exercise, increasing the intensity of the activity will help with the stubborn pounds."
Regular Activity Avoidance of Sedentary Behavior
Cox states, "Independent of exercise, sitting all day is an independent risk factor for a shortened life span. Aim to get up for at least 5 minutes an hour or consider an under-desk bicycle to keep blood moving."
Adopt Healthy Lifestyle Changes, Not Fad Diets
"Things that are ideal for your health are the typical: a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in junk food, regular exercise, regular sleep, not too much stress, and good healthy relationships," Cox emphasizes. "Aim for true lifestyle change, not a diet or exercise kick."