If you’re over 40 years of age, a flat belly may feel like something short of a fantasy. Perhaps you’ve had a kid or two and the baby weight never really melted off. Or your long hours at the office and family household duties are restricting you from dedicating a consistent workout schedule. Or maybe you are working out regularly, but your results aren’t as visible as they used to be in your 20s or even 30s. With the promise of old age comes less muscle mass and a slowed metabolism. Here are five things that are making it harder for you to shed your belly bulge, and what you can do about it.
You’re adding artificial sweetener to your morning coffee
Some people may think that they’re doing their bodies a favor by opting for Splenda or Equal because they’re low– or no-cal. With the exception of those with prediabetes or diabetes, the rest of us should stay away. According to Kate Patton, Med, RD, CSSD, LD, “artificial sweeteners can [actually] cause you to crave more sweet and sugary foods.” They’ve also been a subject of health concern in several different studies.
If you need a bit of sweetness in your food or drinks, try the all-natural route and use fresh or frozen fruit instead.
You’re pushing too hard at the gym
You may be frustrated and impatient. After all, you’ve worked hard to carve out time to actually show up and work out. But high-impact exercises aren’t necessarily the answer. “Cortisol, a potent stress hormone that’s tied to belly fat, actually increases when you eat less and exercise more,” says yoga and Pilates instructor, Claudia Matles.
Try a few compound exercises. They work out multiple muscle groups simultaneously without overdoing it – and at a fraction of the time of your usual routine.
You’re making the “I’m too busy to work out” excuse
If you don’t recognize yourself in the previous situation, chances are you are more likely to relate to this scenario. A busy schedule shouldn’t sacrifice your ability to incorporate movement into your daily routine. Even just two hours of brisk walking (or 75 minutes of jogging) a week can do wonders for your body – both physically and mentally.
Two hours a week may sound like a lot at first, but this translates to less than a half an hour each day. If you can, step outside during your lunch break for a quick stroll or (if possible) take an alternate route to work that includes more walking.
Your meals are backwards
You may be thinking, who has time for breakfast? True – but did you know that it’s better to eat more earlier in the day and eat less for dinner? Sticking to carb-heavy foods for breakfast will allow you to burn it off rather than store it as belly fat. When dinner time rolls around, decrease your portion and eat lighter protein-based meals.
You’re not taking fiber seriously
Generally, all women over age 40 should be getting at least 25 grams of fiber per day. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that regulates the body’s use of sugar, keeping hunger and blood sugar in check. As an added bonus, it keeps you full longer while providing fuel to keep you energized throughout the day. But be careful not to load up on fiber all at once; it can trigger the opposite effect and cause bloating.