Belly fat can creep up over the years, but it doesn’t have to, experts say. “There are a number of roadblocks that people in their 50s face when trying to lose weight,” says NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist and personal trainer Brian Durbin. “But once you know what they are—and how to get around them—it’s easy to be successful at dropping pounds.” Here are five proven ways to lose belly fat after 50. Read on — and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss it Sure signs you’ve already had COVID.
By the time you’re 50, you’ve already lost 10% muscle mass, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. That’s why strength training is so important. “Muscle is more metabolically active – it burns more calories than fat,” says William Yancy Jr., MD, director of the Duke Lifestyle and Weight Management Center in Durham, North Carolina. “So a higher muscle-to-fat ratio means you’re burning more energy — just while you’re sitting. To build that muscle, you have to exercise, and that burns calories, too.”
Hormonal changes after 50 can lead to more belly fat — which is why it’s important to be proactive about diet and exercise. “The decrease in estrogen in women can lead to a change from fat deposits around the hips to more around the abdomen. This can lead to insulin resistance, which promotes weight gain and makes weight loss more difficult.” says Dr. Yancy. For men, “lowered testosterone leads to muscle loss, which slows down the metabolism…Reduce intake of refined sugars and starches, eat more protein and whole foods, and exercise regularly.”
“At age 50, you need 200 fewer calories per day than you did when you were 20, assuming you’re equally active,” says OB/GYN Stacy Weiss, MD. “After age 60, you need 400-500 fewer calories. If you’re moderately active, until age 50, about 2,000 calories a day is good. After 50, you should cut back to 1,800 calories.”
Numerous studies show that sleep is important for weight loss, and specifically for losing belly fat. “Sleep is extremely important with regard to our weight,” says Dr. Weiss. “Studies show that people who are sleep-deprived consume more calories and are more overweight. Lack of sleep causes hormonal disruption and leads to food cravings. We all need to go to bed earlier.”
Research shows that eating more protein can aid weight loss, experts say. “Aging muscles become less receptive to protein, but you can counteract these age-related changes by boosting your daily protein production and making sure each meal contains 20-30g of high-quality protein (protein that contains all the essential amino acids the body doesn’t need) not self-produce). These essential amino acids do things like repair body tissue and break down food,” says dietitian and exercise physiologist Caitlin Reid. “For example, you will find 30g of protein in 110g of cooked red meat. This amount of protein provides enough essential amino acids to help you maintain and increase muscle protein over time. Non-meat eaters can get protein through foods such as dairy, eggs, nuts , wheat, lentils, sunflower and sesame seeds, tofu, soy protein, spinach, turnip greens, broccoli, snow peas, kidney beans and watercress.”
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-supported information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan