Being over 40 and a martial artist who trains throughout the week, I can attest that it is challenging to lose belly fat as we age. Thus, these are my best tips!
I think you’ll agree with me when I tell you that as you get older, it gets harder and harder to keep those extra pounds off and get or keep a flat belly after 40.
I know I have experienced this now that I’m well past 40.
I eat healthily, exercise regularly, and still struggle to be the weight I’d like to be. So I decided to dig in and figure out exactly what I need to do to slim down and tone my belly. Here are the best tips I discovered for those over 40 looking to lose a few pounds:
To get a flatter, leaner, belly as we get older, do less cardio & more high-intensity weight lifting, track goals weekly, reduce the quantity of food you eat & avoid low-fat foods, sodas & artificial sweeteners and drink at least 1/2 gallon of water daily.
But there are a LOT more tips to get into to help shrink your belly fat.
So in this post, we’re diving deep into exactly what aspects of diet, nutrition, and exercise will work best to help us achieve a flat belly after 40.
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Does metabolism slow at 40?
In our twenties, we can seemingly eat and drink whatever we want and many of us stay rail thin. But once 30 rolls around those same exercises and dietary habits just don’t seem to work as well anymore.
Metabolism is simply the rate at which your body burns calories, and it’s a common scapegoat for older people who can’t quite seem to shed the pounds.
In truth, while it does slow down a little bit, it only drops about 5% per decade after 40 according to WebMD. Your metabolic resting rate is how many calories your body burns when not engaged in physical activity.
For many 40-year-olds, that might be 1,200 calories a day. But as you hit 50, it drops to 1,140. So what that tells us is that metabolism isn’t really the culprit in trying to get a flat belly after 40.
So a better strategy would be to simply cut 100 calories a day once you hit 40 and then an additional 100 calories a day for each decade to come. That’s if you simply wanted to maintain your current weight without making any other changes to your diet or exercise routine.
What do 100 calories a day look like? Any of the following:
- 1 Tablespoon of peanut butter
- 1/3 of an avocado
- 2 cookies
- 4 tablespoons of hummus
- 12 potato chips
As you can see, you could cut 100 calories a day pretty easily just eliminating any of those things.
How can I boost my metabolism after 40?
If you’ve acknowledged that metabolism only drops 5% a decade once you hit 40 but you still want to improve it to works towards that flat belly, here are some of the best tips.
- Do a detox or cleanse at least once a year – Once we hit 40, it’s not uncommon for our colon and digestive system to be coated with years of buildup. This robs our organs and digestive system of the efficiency it had when we were younger. Eat more fiber and probiotics and cut back on refined sugars and refined carbs. There are also detox teas you can try or do a multi-day master cleanse.
- Drink more water – I drink a gallon a day, on average, but even if you only drank half that, I bet it’s probably more than you were drinking. Even 48 oz a day (a gallon is 128 oz), can raise your resting metabolism enough to burn an additional 50 calories/day.
- Take a probiotic – Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in the lining of your gut and help keep our digestive track clear and running smoothly. While you can find probiotics in kombucha and yogurt, taking a high-quality supplement can help even more.
- Have hot water and lemon to start your day – We already covered how water can boost your resting metabolism and lemon also increase metabolism, so just a small glass of hot water with fresh lemon juice every morning, when you wake up, can supercharge your metabolism.
- Do some physical movement every day – You don’t have to hit the gym daily or rep out 100 pushups, but movement is life. Stop moving & start dying. So do some type of movement every day, especially if your job is largely at a desk. Take a morning stroll, do some yoga poses, but do something to keep your body loose, limber, and energized.
- Drink rooibos tea – Rooibos tea with mint is high in antioxidants and flavonoids and mint acts as a natural digestion aid, so together, they are a great (and easy) way to boost your metabolism.
Why is it hard to lose weight after 40?
As I mentioned above, metabolism does drop about 5% a decade once you hit 40.
But that isn’t the only thing that changes as we age which affects our ability to stay in shape or lose weight. Hormonal changes are happening too with drops in estrogen and pre-menopause changes for women and drops in testosterone for men.
Insulin sensitivity changes also impact the “body(‘s ability) to control the amount of sugar in your blood”, according to Caroline Cederquist, MD. She goes on to say “This can make your blood sugar levels more prone to spiking and crashing, which can increase your urge to snack—especially on high-carb, sugary junk”.
Remember too that our organs and digestive system are aging just like the lines we see on our face.
Our digestive system has to work a whole lot harder to digest a bagel than it does a green salad, so while you don’t want to completely deprive yourself of the foods you love you do want to put more thought into what you eat and how much of it you eat.
Here are some of the best tips to help you hit your weight loss goals:
- Cut back on junk food and processed carbs (potato chips, fries, etc)
- Don’t skip meals (it can cause your metabolism to jump around a lot)
- Just eat slightly smaller portions of the foods you love
- Don’t go for fad diets or promises of huge weight loss – losing 1 to 2 lbs a week is the right goal
- To ramp up your weight loss, cut back about 400 calories a day on your food
But for now, let’s dive into the . . .
27 Amazing Flat Belly After 40 Tips You Probably Don’t Know!
As we get older, we begin to shed muscle mass. This causes our metabolism to slow down, according to a recent study by the National Institutes of Health.
As a result of losing muscle mass and a slowing metabolism, it can become much harder to lose stubborn belly fat.
Luckily, according to that study, “Exercise training and proper nutrition can have dramatic effects on muscle mass and strength (and the associated metabolic alterations). An optimal intervention program may include an exercise-training schedule that incorporates both resistance and aerobic exercise with adequate intake of total calories and protein.”
1. Throw in more veggies!
Almost any meal could stand to have a few more veggies in it.
Grabbing a sub for lunch? Skip that fat-laden meatball sub and grab a turkey with all the veggies. For dinner, it’s quick, easy & cheap to keep various bags of mixed veggies in the freezer and toss in a bit into the skillet or crock pot.
2. Cut back on sugar
Many of us try and be mindful of sugar. Maybe we even eliminate sodas and save sweet treats for special occasions.
But sugar is present in LOTS of things. There can be a ton of it in Chinese food sauces for instance. Most bottled and canned beverages contain a lot of sugar too. Processed foods at the store can also contain crazy amounts of sugars; even in things you wouldn’t expect.
While you likely can’t eliminate all sugar, knowing that you’re likely consuming a lot of it without even knowing, try not adding sugar to things like coffee or tea.
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3. Find healthy ways to move every day
Movement is life. Many of us, myself included, work behind a desk every day.
It’s also true that many of us spend more time couch surfing and being on screened devices than past generations. All that sedentary behavior can take its toll on our bodies, our flexibility, our muscles and yes, make it hard to get a flat belly after 40.
Don’t want to do a vigorous workout? No problem! Take a 20-minute daily walk, do yoga 3 times a week, but do something.
Movement is the key to health and longevity.
If you’re curious about the health benefits of running, check out my friend Paul’s Running for Beginners Guide.
4. Stop counting calories
Seriously. You’ll drive yourself crazy.
Plus who has time for that and how accurate will it be at restaurants anyway? Enjoy life. Enjoy food. Just eat healthy food and a sensible amount.
If you have kids, get them set up for success in the future with my Healthy Eating Habits For Children. Starting early and preventing those bad habits is far better than trying to fix the problem later!
5. Find effective ways to manage stress
Stress is a killer. There are plenty of studies on how stress can cause us to age premature or increase the risk of heart disease or high blood pressure. But under stress, the body produces high levels of the hormone cortisol.
Cortisol controls how much fat gets stored and where it gets stored.
A recent study by University College London showed that when under stress, over time, the increased levels of cortisol can cause people to be significantly overweight.
My solution for managing stress & sleeping better?
Interestingly enough, adding magnesium to my morning routine actually has helped my overall anxiety a considerable amount.
I personally use Natural Calm Magnesium powder and just add a tablespoon to a large glass of water each morning after I get up. It’s organic, GMO-free, vegan and gluten-free. They claim, and in my 6 months of using it, I agree that it:
- Supports a healthy immune system and keeps bones strong
- Supports regular blood sugar levels, blood pressure and producing energy
- Helps fight stress and anxiety
That’s all I have to say on that, but if you give it a try, I’d love to hear how it works for you!
6. Get enough sleep
The National Sleep Foundation, in conjunction with the American Academy of Pediatrics recently updated it’s sleep recommendations by age. Here are their recommendations for adults.
A recent study by the National Institutes of Health found that “if you’re sleep deprived, your hedonic drive for certain foods gets stronger, and your ability to resist them may be impaired. So you are more likely to eat it. Do that again and again, and you pack on the pounds.”
7. Don’t completely eliminate treats
Do you know what happens when we completely deprive ourselves?
After a while we get frustrated. When we don’t feel that instant gratification of a flat belly after 40 that doesn’t often happen quickly when we eliminate all the things we love, we fall back to our old ways.
We binge. Then we feel guilty. We resolve to try again. We fail again and our self-esteem plummets while our weight skyrockets.
So don’t eat ice cream or cookies every day, but do indulge every once in a while. Give yourself a treat, especially as a reward for hitting a certain goal.
When we don’t feel deprived we stay motivated.
8. Focus less on a diet and more on a lifestyle
Don’t worry about the latest diet book that hit the #1 spot on the NY Times. Next year someone else will come out with one that tells us why the last one got it all wrong.
Eat better, move more, reduce stress, sleep longer.
It really isn’t much more complicated than that.
9. Don’t add salt at the table
We can’t easily control how much salt is in prepackaged foods or foods at restaurants.
However, many of us, without even thinking about it, just add salt at the dinner table. I want you to stop doing this. For one, it’s just a habit. For another, when people salt food before tasting it, they aren’t even adding it because it needs it.
Make no mistake, our bodies need sodium to survive, but too much can cause edema. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Edema is swelling caused by excess fluid trapped in your body’s tissues.” Too much sodium can easily lead to an electrolyte imbalance, which can cause both hypertension and edema.
So cut back where you can, but never just add salt to meals at the table.
— Flat Belly Today (@TaoFrank) September 10, 2018
10. Take a daily omega 3 supplement
According to Healthline, “Fish oil may be most effective at reducing hunger and appetite in healthy people following a weight loss diet.” But they also claim that “Fish oil may increase the speed of your metabolism.”
And they end by saying “Fish oil may help increase the number of calories and amount of fat burned during exercise”.
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11. Cut back on milk
No matter what the ads say, according to most experts, milk does NOT do a body good.
Think of it this way. Is there anywhere else in the animal kingdom where 1 species drinks the breast-milk of another species?
No is the answer you’re looking for.
Now, I’m not a vegan and I’m not uber-militant. I like cheese and ice cream too. But if you want a flat belly after 40, you aren’t likely to get it by drinking milk on a regular basis.
But don’t take my word for it. A recent study by Harvard looked at the relationship between dairy intake and risk of cardiovascular diseases. They found that “These results suggest that dairy fat is not an optimal type of fat in our diets.”
They went on to say that “a healthy diet pattern tends to be plant-based and low in saturated fat,”
12. Do less cardio
I know, that doesn’t sound right!
After all, if you’re trying to lose weight or find the perfect anti-dad bod workout plan, surely cardio has to be a big part of that, right?
Our bodies do burn fat as fuel while engaging in lower-intensity workouts (such as cardio).
But, that’s not necessarily what will get us the most weight loss. What counts most is our overall calorie burn.
“The higher the intensity of your workout, the more total calories you will burn,” according to Marta Montenegro, She is a Doctorate in Clinical Nutrition candidate at UNINI MX with a Masters in Science and Physiology with a specialization in cardiac rehabilitation.
“Studies show (doing higher intensity training) you’ll shrink your belly fat faster.”
13. Engage in more resistance or weight training
“Strength training builds lean muscle mass, which both increases your metabolism and decreases fat,” says trainer to the stars Elizabeth Hendrix Burwell, owner of High Performance Gym.
A recent study by the American Council on Exercise found that kettlebell exercises can burn up to 20 calories a minute. That’s like running 6 miles a minute!
Don’t wanna (or cannot afford to) spend hours in the gym? Good news! You don’t have to. Progress can be made in a relatively short period of time – with proper effort, of course. great study by @BradSchoenfeld highlighted in NY Times.https://t.co/5d5IqBzhSM
— Kevin Tipton (@stirproftip) September 13, 2018
14. Have a clear goal in mind and track your progress
If you set out on a cross-country road trip without a map or GPS on your phone how would you know where to go?
In fact, would you even set out on a road trip without a destination in mind?
So if you want to be healthier, live longer AND have a flat belly after 40, have a clear, measurable goal.
That goal could be to lose 1 lb per week. It could be to go from a pant waist size of 36 down to a 34 in 6 months.
Whatever your goal, make it realistic and achievable. Then measure your progress each week.
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15. Be patient with yourself and this journey
You know we can control in this world?
Not much other than our own actions & reactions.
But even when it comes to weight-loss, we can’t always control where friends or family members want to eat and we also can’t control genetics or the boss stressing us out.
So be patient with yourself and this journey. You WILL get where you want to be. But expect the unexpected. Go with the flow and don’t fight against every unexpected obstacle.
Not only will you be happier, but you’ll be much more likely to achieve your goals.
Speaking of goals, whether it’s New Year’s or not, my expert tips on Keeping New Year’s Resolutions can help you and your goals all year long!
16. Don’t buy low-fat foods
I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but avoid packaged foods labeled low-fat.
While it’s true they are typically lower fat versions of the foods you love, they are often substituting sugars and carbs for the lack of fat.
Thus while you may be consuming a lower quantity of fat, these empty starches are converting to added pounds on your body.
So eat full-fat foods; just a sensible amount and the right foods.
17. Take a vitamin D supplement
Medical News Today recently released a finding that “individuals with higher levels of belly fat and larger waistlines are more likely to have lower vitamin D levels”.
Luckily it’s not hard to get a little extra vitamin D. The sun you’ll get on walks is a great way to soak in natural vitamin D.
But vitamin D supplements are a great way to beef up your vitamin D as well.
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18. Be kind to yourself
When we’re constantly beating ourselves up over not meeting some predetermined expectation, we’re setting ourselves up for failure.
So be kind to yourself. Remember that you are human and like all humans, you will make mistakes.
When we expect the occasional setback and don’t freak out over it, we tend to get over it much more quickly and get back to the business of going for that flat belly after 40.
19. Don’t drink soda, at least not daily
Sodas are either LOADED with sugar. A 16oz can of Coke contains 190 calories and a whopping 52 grams of sugar (104% of your recommended daily allowance). When you consider that many people drink more than 1 a day (or grab the notorious 44oz. Big Gulp), it’s not hard to see that we have a sugar problem in our country.
Treat yourself every now and then if you must, but avoid drinking soda daily if you want to have any hope of a flat belly after 40.
20. Eliminate artificial sweeteners
Love soda and think you can just switch to Diet Coke to shed pounds?
Diet Coke (and most other diet sodas and beverages) contain Nutrasweet (aspartame). In a recent study by the Yale Journal of Biology & Medicine, they found that “artificial sweeteners, precisely because they are sweet, encourage sugar craving and sugar dependence.”
They also found that “drinkers of artificially sweetened beverages consistently had higher BMI (body mass index)”.
And that is to say nothing of the studies purporting that aspartame may cause cancer.
Want to be healthy and have a flat belly after 40? Drop artificial sweeteners altogether.
7 Reasons Not to Use Artificial Sweetners #sugar #artificial sweetner
Artificial sweeteners aren’t likely to keep you slim, but that’s not their only broken promise. Other studies have suggested that they may be bad for you in a number of ways. https://t.co/4zda2G8lCO pic.twitter.com/Ap92EfDBgK
— A Healthy Body (@AHealthyBod) September 11, 2018
21. Cut way back on processed carbs
Processed carbs include french fries, potato chips and a whole lot more. White bread, white rice, and regular pasta also make the list.
These often lack nutritional value and are high in sodium making them some of the most challenging foods to eat when you’re striving for a flat belly after 40.
So cut back on carbs where it makes sense, but also switch to whole grain bread and pasta as an easy swap. With the right toppings or sauce, you aren’t even likely to notice.
Check out all the 11 foods that Pack on the Pounds you should avoid or cut back on.
22. Eat foods containing Vitamin C
Want to fight stress and eat at the same time? These vitamin C rich foods help combat cortisol and “reduced indices of stress” according to a recent study by the National Institutes of Health:
23. Remember that ultimately it comes down to calories consumed & calories burned
We try and make diet and weight loss so complicated (especially in the US).
But really, while genetics and age do play roles, it mostly comes down to 2 things:
Calories consumed and calories burned.
Want a flat belly after 40? Either eat less or exercise more (or both).
24. Don’t jump from fad diet to fad diet
Fad diets come and go. Just ask Dr. Atkins or whoever created the South Beach Diet.
To really have a flat belly after 40 and beyond, we need to focus on simply living a healthier life. That means no more fad diets or counting calories.
Focus on eating less, eating healthy and more movement and lowering stress.
Don’t get me wrong. I have friends and family members who have lost weight on the Keto diet and countless others that came before.
But research from UCLA suggests that up to 2/3 of dieters don’t stick with these diets and when they fall off the plan, they often gain back MORE weight than they started with.
UCLA even went so far as to say “dieting is actually a consistent predictor of future weight gain.”
25. Drink peppermint tea after dinner
What? It may surprise you, but peppermint tea has amazing gastrointestinal properties.
A recent study by the National Institutes of Health found that peppermint “stimulated bile secretion, decreased total cholesterol level, and increased total bile acid level.” A healthy flow of bile is how your body digests fats.
In addition, another study by the National Institutes of Health found that “peppermint has significant antimicrobial and antiviral activities, strong antioxidant and anti-tumor actions.” So there are other health benefits too!
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26. Reduce your screen time
We all love our computers, tablets, and smartphones. I’m sure you’re reading this on one.
But compared to our grandparents, we are much more sedentary today than at any time in the past. Many of us sit at the office, then we sit to and from in the car only to come home and sit some more and veg out in front of our phone or TV.
Then we’re off to bed. Rinse and repeat.
The Mayo Clinic states that “sitting for long periods of time (can lead to) obesity . . . increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels.”
They also shockingly found that “those who sat for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of death similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking.”
So engage in movement, often, especially to get that flat belly after 40.
27. Have a set routine for exercising each week
A set schedule for exercise is a great thing.
We are creatures of habit, so having a set routine is the best way to get with an exercise regime and stick with it.
While you can join a gym, according to USA Today, “the average gym membership costs just under $60 per month, and 67% of memberships go unused. ”
So do something that is easy to work into your schedule, not expensive and ideally something you won’t look for excuses to talk yourself out of doing it.
Yoga, martial arts or just a daily set of 20 pushups, squats, leg raises, and sit-ups.
Did we cover all the flat belly after 40 tips you were looking for?
In this post, we took a hard look at belly fat, aging and some of the medical reasons behind why it can be harder to lose stubborn belly fat as we age.
Specifically, we looked at 27 amazing tips to help us get a flat belly after 40.
Tips that aren’t costly, time-consuming or unrealistic for our busy schedules. Now in my mid-50’s a flat belly is one of my struggles too, despite my 25 years of health expertise working for Whole Foods Market and my current fitness role of running a large martial arts school.
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