Need to get rid of the middle-age spread? This is the extra layer of fat many get around the midsection as they get older, and it seems impossible to lose.
You’re not alone if you’re asking yourself why you’re putting on this weight around your middle. Stubborn belly fat can creep up and build up over the years. Then one day, you’re shocked when you look in the mirror and step on the scale!
But fighting the middle-age spread doesn’t have to be a losing battle. There are some very common reasons for this extra weight around the midsection in your 40s and 50s. All you have to do is stop doing them and start doing what works to eliminate it.
Here you’ll find the common reasons for the middle age spread and what to do to lose it. A simple diet plan and exercises is included below for you to follow so you can get rid of the middle-age spread fast and forever.
How to Combat Middle Age Spread
Is middle-age spread a myth?
You’ve probably heard how your metabolism slows down with age. Something that seems to happen in your 30s, 40s, and 50s makes it much more difficult to lose extra weight.
You used to be able to eat more freely with your food choices, but once middle-age hits, it can seem like you gain 5 pounds just looking at a cheeseburger.
Contrary to popular belief, your metabolism doesn’t slow down with age until the age of 60. But other contributing factors can slow your metabolism down making weight gain inevitable.
Why do people get middle-age spread?
Hormonal imbalances, low muscle mass, and insulin resistance all contribute to slowing down your metabolism. It just so happens all these can occur as you age when combined with poor habits. A slowed-down metabolism is compounded by eating too many calories, snacking, bad foods, lack of physical activity, poor sleep, high stress, etc.
Years and years of these contributing factors build up, and then one day you look in the mirror or step on the scale to see how much things have changed. But the truth is that this has been building up over some time. So it’s now that the ramifications are just coming to light.
But just because you’re a little bit older and hormones aren’t as optimal as they used to be for a fat-burning, does it mean it’s downhill from here. You just have to start doing what got you here in the first place and then start doing the things that’ll burn the stubborn middle-age creep off.
Middle Age Spread After Menopause
Many middle-aged women gain weight and belly fat after menopause due to shifting hormonal changes. Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels are lower than before, making it easier to gain weight around the midsection.
This is the reason why older women can have stomachs that stick out. Women’s fat distribution shifts after menopause causing body shape changes. They are much more likely to store excess fat in their gut, which leads to the buildup of deep visceral fat.
Women in their middle ages can get menopausal belly fat due to lower estrogen levels. Higher estrogen levels distribute fat to the hips and thighs, which is why many younger women have a pear-shaped bodies. But with this menopausal weight gain it’s relocated to the belly, where it stubbornly sticks around.
Women can get the middle-age spread from lack of muscle mass. Muscle mass decreases with age but plays a vital role in body composition, fat-burning metabolism, and strength. Without enough muscle on the body, it becomes flabby and can make belly fat appear even worse and more challenging to burn off.
Diet Plan for Middle Age Spread
The amount of calories you’re eating plays a role in the middle-aged spread, but they’re not everything. Many people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s still struggle to lose weight even though they cut their calories down and are more physically active.
The weight in these years isn’t going to come off as quickly or easily as it once did in your younger years. So you’ll have to have a more well-rounded approach to boosting your metabolism so
you can get back down to a healthy weight.
Cut the Carbs
There are bad carbs and good carbs. The bad carbs are the ones that make you gain weight, like white bread, pasta, and sugary drinks. These carbs quickly raise blood sugar levels and make you feel hungry soon after eating them. They can also trigger cravings for more unhealthy foods.
Sugar, refined grains, starches, high glycemic foods, fruit juices, etc., should be avoided. Insulin resistance is caused by eating too many of these foods too often. Therefore, you will need to cut them out of your diet to maintain healthy insulin levels.
As long as your insulin is high and if you’re insulin resistant, you’ll be less metabolic flexible. That means you won’t be able to burn off fat quickly until you get this under control. So cut out the bad carbs and eat more good carbs like vegetables and low-sugar fruits like berries.
Stop Eating Bad Fats
Since the late 1970s, eating fat was viewed to be right up there with the devil. But the truth is there are good fats and bad fats. Your body needs some of the good fats to thrive. And not consuming enough good fats makes it harder for your body to burn fat.
The worst fats you can consume are seed oils. These bad vegetable oils are highly concentrated in omega-6 fatty acids. Your body needs a delicately balanced ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. But this ratio quickly skyrockets and gets way out of balance from these seed oils.
Seed oils are also highly oxidized due to the manufacturing process. This can then cause inflammation that can impact your body on a cellular level making it harder to burn fat. Many processed foods today use these seed oils so it’s best to check the label to ensure they’re not in there.
- canola oil
- cottonseed oil
- corn oil
- soybean oil
- sunflower oil
- safflower oil
Instead, eat more good fats like avocados and extra virgin olive oil. But be sure to keep an eye on your calorie count for the day when eating fats since they are higher in calories.
Eat More Protein
Your muscle mass will decrease as you age unless you are strength training and eating enough protein. Protein contains the building blocks your muscles need to maintain their size, strength, and integrity. Without enough protein, your muscles will break down.
Many women today aren’t eating enough protein that their body needs to build more lean muscle mass. Women on a vegan diet have a hard time reaching their daily protein requirements without me. Protein won’t cause women to “bulk up” but will help build a toned and well-shaped body.
Aim for 1.0 to 1.5 g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. If you have trouble reaching this, try adding a low-carb protein shake to your daily routine to increase your protein count quickly.
Better Quality Foods
The quality of the foods you eat will play a significant role in keeping you from gaining weight. A healthy diet consists of real whole natural foods that are processed or refined. Processed foods may be convenient, but they’re also packed with a lot of junk that causes a slowing metabolism.
Ideally, you make your own meals to know exactly what you’re eating. But if you are eating processed foods from a box, then check the label to ensure no harmful ingredients have been added, such as seed oils.
Snacking is undoubtedly another significant cause of gaining weight in the middle ages. Most all snacks are usually high in carbs and calories. So it’s best to build a habit of not snacking throughout the day. But if you are going to snack, choose better quality snacks that won’t make you fat.
Try to lower alcohol consumption if you’re drinking too much. Alcohol is processed in your liver and inhibits the burning of fat. Light drinking is acceptable when you’re metabolically
flexible and eating a healthy diet the rest of the time.
Restricting your feeding window is a highly effective method for boosting metabolism. Weight gain can quickly come from overeating and snacking too much. But intermittent fasting will limit your eating time, preventing snacking.
Fasting can help to optimize your fat-burning hormones and even help to preserve lean muscle mass. The problem with severely restricting your calories is your body thinking it’s in a famine. It’ll slow down your metabolism to conserve energy, thus slowing weight loss.
But alternating between fasting and feeding windows can keep your body burning fat stores for energy. So you’ll have a feeding window that will increase your leptin hormone levels, promoting fat burning. Exercising when fasting can also boost your fat-burning since it’ll pull your fat stores for fuel.
Fasting also promotes other fat-burning hormones. Studies have found intermittent fasting can raise testosterone and growth hormone, both of which promote fat burning. Fasting also significantly improves fasting glucose and insulin sensitivity, both of which play a vital role in weight loss.
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Best Exercises for Middle Age Spread
With age, you lose muscle mass, so it’s going to be vital to rebuild it. Muscle mass contributes to your metabolism slowing since muscle itself promotes fat burning. The more muscle you have then the more calories you’ll be burning in a rested state.
Strength training with resistance exercises should be a big part of your workout routine. It would be best if you did full-body movements such as squats and deadlifts often. Push-ups, pull-ups, rows, incline presses, planks, etc. are excellent strength training exercises.
Then the rest of your workout routine should consist of aerobic exercise. 20-30 minutes a day, and it’s best to do it after strength training. Resistance exercise will burn up your glycogen stores, and aerobic exercise will burn your fat stores.
If physically possible, it’s good to add in 1-2 HIIT workouts per week. This higher-intensity exercise causes a metabolic disturbance in your body known as the Afterburn Effect. This promotes burning fat for many hours after you’ve finished your workout, even rested.
The Last Word
Lastly, keeping your stress levels lower and getting better sleep play a significant role. Chronic stress releases cortisol, which, when too much, will increase belly fat. I know de-stressing your life is easier said than done but can make or break your results.
Sleep quality can have an even bigger impact on reversing the middle-age weight gain. For example, sleep deprivation can worsen insulin resistance, reduce self-control, decrease energy and cause you to crave sugar and high-fat junk foods like pizza.
Many of us in our middle-age years aren’t able to lose weight as easily as before. It was much simpler when you could just cut back and the weight would come off, but it doesn’t work like that anymore.
You need to take a more comprehensive, well-rounded approach if you want to get results in your 30s, 40s, and 50s. Just because the weight and belly fat crept up on you doesn’t mean it’s hopeless to get rid of. So you just have to stop doing what caused you to get here in the first place and then do what you need to do to get rid of it.
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and he’s a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) by American Council on Exercise. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college levels. He has over 15 years of experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is also the author of The Flat Belly Formula. He strives to bring inspiration and results for people to live healthier lives through smart diet and exercise.