Dealing with abdominal fat as you get older requires a combination of strength training, changing your diet, and stress management. Belly fat or abdominal fat is considerably noticeable when you get older, and this is due to a variety of reasons that include decreased exercise and decreased metabolism, a poor diet, hormonal changes, and stress.

When you were younger in your 20s and 30s, your body operated at its optimum with increased hormonal functioning, more energy, and a high metabolism to burn fat stored from calories. To understand what belly fat is, why it’s there and how to get rid of it; we need to understand the fat in your body, in particular subcutaneous fat and visceral fat.

Subcutaneous fat is found under your skin, it is the soft fat that keeps your body warm and fuels your body during an intensive workout (it’s the stored fat your body consumes for energy). Visceral fat is the hard intrabdominal fat that cushions the vital organs in your body. This is the fat that makes your belly protrude. By virtue of being the hard fat that cushions your internal organs, it’s also the fat that brings about illnesses that include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease.

So, what can you do to help combat belly fat, making you feel overall better?

Cardio and Strength Training

Strength training helps offset the natural loss of muscle mass by building it back up. This helps with combating belly fat, reducing the weight around the abdomen area by directly burning the fat stores in that region. Strength training is more effective for men who lose weight faster as they have a higher muscle mass ratio. Abdominal exercises such as crunches don’t work as well as high-intensity interval training. Crunches are great to tighten the muscles around your core and make the abdomen look better, but they don’t produce the same results as strength training does.

Strength training allows you to lose more body fat overall, targeting not just a specific area but the whole body, and the abdomen is a part of that entirety. According to LiveStrong, “visceral fat is easier to lose as it responds to the same diet and exercise that helps with weight loss”.

Change Your Diet

Refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, rice, chips, and sugary drinks combined with trans fats such as cheeseburgers and French fries are two categories that cause significant weight gain. If this is your usual or consistent diet, especially with your body changing as you get older, then weight gain and belly fat are imminent.

As you are older, your body’s metabolic rate decreases which means you are not burning as many calories as you used to, and those surplus calories stored will show up as belly fat. One thing to remember with belly fat is that it is a response to how your body is changing – it’s not what it used to be, with a combination of natural factors and environmental factors, your body responds in a certain way. Switch your diet to lean protein, whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and less refined sugars.