You haven’t suddenly gained belly fat. You have developed and maintained actions or habits that have resulted in an increase in your body fat percentage. Another year added to your life results in changes to your body that your daily habits haven’t adapted to.
Effects of Aging on the Body that Result in Fat Gain
There are changes your body undergoes as you get older that you have no control of. You must always control what you can to adapt to these changes and ensure that you lose or maintain belly fat and not gain it:
1. Decrease in Metabolism
Your metabolism is the process in which your body converts all the food and liquid that you consume into energy. As you get older, this process becomes slower, therefore your body takes longer to convert what you consume.
This can result in excess that is not converted being stored as fat. To combat this you must eat less calories than you burn or burn more calories than eat through exercise.
2. Hormonal Changes
Your body naturally secretes Human Growth Hormones (HGH) which assist in muscle tissue repair and other tissue growth. It boosts your metabolism and helps burn fat. As you get older your body secretes less of this hormone hence why you stop growing and your muscles become less developed.
You can get HGH supplementation which should only be used if necessary for your health. Otherwise, let nature do its course and keep it natural with nutritious food and regular exercise.
There are other hormonal changes that occur with old age. The thyroid gland in your neck which secrets thyroid hormones that also affect your metabolism, body temperature, muscle strength and more, becomes less active.
Daily Habits That Make You Gain Belly Fat
There are habits that you used to do before that result in you gaining fat now and your body can’t handle them anymore:
1. Not Getting Enough Sleep
Your body loses fat in your sleep, because it releases Human Growth Hormones which helps with muscle growth too. You also burn more calories as you get into the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) period in your sleep .
If you’re currently living a busy life where you are getting 4-6 hours per day, try get at least 7 hours of sleep. Your body will thank you for the rest and you can possibly get rid of your excess fat.
2. Too Many Liquid Calories
Soft drinks, sodas, alcohol and some fruit juices are liquid calories and can add up the more you drink them as they can result in a calorie surplus that leads to fat gain if not burned.
When you’re younger you tend to be more active and high in energy, but as you get older you’re more become busier and less physically active. You mustn’t drink the same amount of liquid calories if you’re not planning to be active in the next couple of days.
3. Too Much Fast Food
Most fast food is difficult to track and count in your calories, therefore you can find yourself eating in a calorie surplus without even knowing, because the food tastes good.
When you’re younger you metabolism is able convert the food into energy, but as it slows down, the same amount might not all be burned. This is why you should eat in moderate portions and not the same as when you were younger, unless you will burn those calories consumed.
4. Portion Control
This brings me to the most important point. It doesn’t matter what you eat, be it fast food that is low in nutritional or nutrient-dense food, if it is exceeding your metabolic rate and energy requirements (calorie requirements), you will gain fat.
Being able to calculate your calories and macros (carbohydrate, protein and fats) is a valuable tool to use to do your portion control. You can use MyFitnessPal which is an app that helps track them or you can use the formulas below for yourself.
Calculate Basal Metabolic Rate (the amount of energy consumed at rest)
- Women BMR = 655 + (9.6 X weight in kg) + (1.8 x height in cm) – (4.7 x age in years)
- Men BMR = 66 + (13.7 X weight in kg) + (5 x height in cm) – (6.8 x age in years)
Activity Factor (weekly activity)
- Amount of Exercise/Activity
- Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)
- Little or no Exercise/desk job
- TDEE = 1.2 x BMR
- Lightly active
- Light exercise/ sports 1 – 3 days a week
- TDEE = 1.375 x BMR
- Moderately active
- Moderate Exercise/ sports 3 – 5 days a week
- TDEE = 1.55 x BMR
- Very active
- Heavy Exercise/ sports 6 – 7 days a week/ 2x per day
- TDEE = 1.81 x BMR
Both give you a general idea of how many calories and macros you should eat. To be more specifc, identify your body type  and how best to eat for it to get the best results in fat loss.
According to American Council on Exercise (ACE) counting macros looks at the percentage combination or ratios of carbs, proteins and fats in a person’s diet rather than total calorie counts alone. These traditionally are percentages for total calories, falling somewhere within the following United States Department of Agriculture guidelines :
- Carbohydrates: 45 to 65 percent
- Protein: 10 to 35 percent
- Fat: 20 to 35 percent
Daily Habits That Will Help You Lose Belly Fat
Counting calories and macros is a great tool, but much like you have probably gained belly fat over a long period of time, you can change your daily habits to lose it again over time. So, other than improving on the daily habits mentioned above, you can add the following to your life:
1. Stress Less
Stress causes your body to produce cortisol, which is also known as the stress hormone. This hormone can cause you to have an increased appetite and drive more fat to be stored in your stomach.
Exercise, meditation and/or yoga are great activities that you can do to relieve your stress.
2. Drink Water Regularly
Water makes up about 60% of your body and can act as an appetite suppressant. Your body also uses water in breaking down fat (lipolysis) in a process called hydrolysis.
Drink at least 2-3 litres of water daily to increase the chances of losing belly fat and improve your overall well-being.
3. Eat Protein at Every Meal
Protein is a filling source of macronutrients. Most protein are also low in calories, therefore you can manage to keep a calorie deficit to help you lose fat. Protein helps repair, recover and grow your muscles, if you’re also exercising, this will improve fat loss.
Lean meat, nuts, chickpeas, fish and chicken breast are high protein sources that are low in fat, making them great options to add to your meals. The recommend daily allowance (RDA) for adults is 0,8 g of protein per kilogram of body weight .
4. Exercise Regularly
All activity burns calories, but when you exercise, you burn more calories (resistance training and/or cardio). It doesn’t have to be intense all the time.
Consistent activity sessions are more important than one intense session. Exercising regularly can involve stretching, walking and obviously more intense activities. Try exercise at least 3 times a week to start to get yourself moving more.
There is always more that you can add to your daily habits that can lead to your fat loss, but I believe that it is important that you always go with one at a time, until you do without thinking. What are some that you’ve tried or want to try?
- Pantazi, Chloe (2017). Insider.
- University of Houston.
- Bachus, Tiffany (2016). ACE Fitness.
- Murphy, John (2018). MDLinx.