Do you have belly fat?
Have you noticed that it is getting harder and harder to shift as the years click over?
I know I was certainly experiencing this until recently. This made me wonder, WHY?? Does it make you wonder WHY?
Research shows that as our age increases, the weight and our Body Mass Index (or BMI) also gradually increases (1, 2)! This increase peaks when we are between 50 and 59 years of age.
Now, I’m not sure about you, but for me that age band is beginning to approach rapidly, so it’s been time to understand why and to do something about it. I’ve spent the last 10 years watching the waistband expand, while still eating similar foods and exercising a similar amount as I did when I lost weight before.
This pattern of the increasing waistline with similar behaviour patterns was frustrating me, so ultimately I failed the determination and perserverance test, and I began the slippery slide down to less exercise and poorer food and alcohol choices – all this mainly due to the frustration I was feeling with the change of the belly fat and ultimately, my weight and waistline!
What research tells us is that as the waistline grows, the lean body mass, or muscle mass, decreases – this can result in tiredness and this in turn leads to lack of motivation, determination and perserverance with what we are doing – so the CIRCLE CONTINUES!!!!
This loss of lean body mass results in a redistribution of where the fat in our body lies, and it seems to accummulate on the belly – giving the typical belly fat look that we see often in ageing populations! And of course, in me – however, since reducing my belly fat, a lot of my friends are beginning to notice that this is where I’ve reduced the weight considerably, and they are wondering how I’m doing it!
There has been a diet change.
The diet now has more good quality protein in it, and this is because the consumption of protein helps to fuel fat loss and stimulates the growth of muscle – this is always a good thing!
What tends to happen as we age, for various reasons, is that the consumption of protein tends to decrease, thus resulting in the increasing belly fat that we notice as we age. A study was undertaken that shows that older adults eat less than the recommended daily intake (RDI) of protein (3) and further studies have proposed that older adults need to double their protein intakes, especially if they want to lose weight (4).
There has been an exercise change
I’m now going to the gym 3 – 4 times a week, with walking supplementing this routine (I love being in nature and will always love walking amongst it too!)
Another aspect that contributes to the ever increasing waist line, and belly fat increase, is the reduction in energy expenditure. Our body needs to spend energy to function, just to perform all the daily activities it normally does to survive, it also spends energy to digest food, and finally it spends energy to exercise. These are further areas where there is a reduction as we age. The energy to function can reduce by 2 – 3% for every decade we’re over 20 (5), the energy to digest food is reduced in older people and as we age we typically find other activities to undertake that are not as physical (I know my activities had changed to reading rather than gyming!!), or we become less agile and mobile. The reduction in energy expenditure can result in less muscle mass, and ultimately more belly fat.
Hormonal changes can also occur as we age, and these can result in a reduced ability to make muscle as well and to recognise sensations of fullness, leading to increased calorie intake (along with poor food choices!).
There has been a supplements change
One area of concern that can occur when a change of routine occurs that results in weight loss, is the area of loss of minerals and resulting bone density loss. To support my body through these changes I have increased my supplements to include Vitamin D, calcium and omega-3s, ultimately looking to minimise my mineral loss and to assist in building muscle mass (omega-3s will help preserve muscle mass). I have included other supplements and herbs to assist my body in it’s functioning abilities also. Sometimes the body can go slow when the exercise is non-existent and the food choices are poor. The herbs, vitamins and minerals I’m using support the body in functioning at the best it can for me.
There has been a motivational change
Motivation plays a big role in any change of life, whether it’s weight loss, muscle building, change of career, new adventures or any change you can think of. My change of motivation has been much easier this journey than ever before, and I’m beginning to understand it’s about having a body that is functioning well due to well balanced nutrition. This appears to be changing how I think. Motivation and positiveness ultimately plays a role in any change you make, and my gratitude diary, my meditation, the support group I’m establishing, my vision boards and my energy levels are all playing a role in changing the motivation and thoughts that are surrounding my change.
- Mokdad et al. The continuing epidemics of obesity and diabetes in the United States. JAMA, 2001;286:1195-200.
- Hedley et al. Prevalence of overweight and obesity among US children, adolescents, and adults, 1999-2002. JAMA, 2004;291:2847-50.
- Roubenoff et al. Sarcopenia: Current concepts. J Geronotol A Biol Sci Med Sci, 2000:55A:M716-M724.
- Pasiakos et al. Effects of high-protein diets on fat-free mass and muscule protein synthesis following weight loss: a randomized controlled trial. FASAB J, 2013;9:3837-47.
- Tzanknoff et al. Effect of muscle mass decrease on age-related BMR changes. J Appl Physiol, 1977;43:1001-6.