I got asked this question in the studio last week…
Is the middle aged spread inevitable?
No. Weight gain is common as we age, but certainly not inevitable.
It’s true that the latest research suggests it’s harder for both men and women to lose belly weight as they age – but getting older doesn’t necessarily have to mean settling for middle aged spread.
To be blunt… it’s an excuse in most cases.
Once you understand why middle aged spread is happening , there are plenty of ways to outsmart it.
In fact, in the 13 years I have operated the Healthy Glow PT Studio here in Woodvale, I have seen plenty of clients aged 35+, slow down the effects of aging and made remarkable improvements with their health and wellness.
When new clients first come to see us here at at the Studio or join our Home Workouts program they tell us they want to get rid of their bingo wings Or they have forgotten the last time they could see their feet because of their protruding tummy.
If you can pinch a few centimetres more than you used to or sick of the dreaded “muffin top” and other signs of middle aged spread, then you’re not alone.
How hormones wreak havoc with our waistline
As early as our thirties, a fall in the hormone levels for both sexes begins to slow our metabolism so we burn less energy and store more fat.
Researchers have found this causes the average man and woman to add 1-2lb around their middle every year from the ages of 35 to 55.
But as I always say to my clients, getting older doesn’t have to mean getting fatter and any changes in our bodies as we age are more manageable than we think.
Once you understand why your weight gain is happening, there are plenty of ways to outsmart it.
What this means for women
Hormone levels mean women are more likely to fall foul of middle aged spread, gain weight later in life.
Ladies, you have a delicate balance of progesterone and oestrogen throughout your fertile years.
And higher levels of oestrogen are known to increase fat tissue formation, but for younger women this effect is offset by equally high levels of progesterone.
From the age of 35 onwards, your levels of both hormones decrease, leading up to the menopause.
However, progesterone levels decrease at a faster rate, which causes more fat tissue to form around your tummy.
What this means for men
For us guys, high testosterone levels are responsible for keeping our bodies lean and muscular when we’re younger.
The reason for this is the male hormone binds to the fat in our bodies, carrying it out of the body so less is stored around our waist.
It also helps to build muscle, speed up the metabolism, and maintain insulin sensitivity (which prevents diabetes).
However, as men age, our testosterone levels naturally decrease at a rate of about 1% a year after the age of 30.
This drop encourages middle aged spread and your body to store fat – particularly around the belly, where it not only looks unsightly but can increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
For both sexes
These hormone drops also lead to a reduction in muscle mass for both men and women.
And because muscle tissue is the single largest consumer of glucose in the body, losing it means less is used up – and any excess is converted into body fat and stored around your waist.
Less muscle mass also means your body doesn’t process carbs as efficiently, so eating too many also leads to excessive weight gain.
5 ways to fight the flab
STEP 1: Eat more protein AND FEWER CARBS
Protein is the building block of muscle, and since muscle mass diminishes as you age, you need to up your intake.
How: Ensure you have protein with every meal.
Healthy sources include nuts, seeds, fish, dairy and lean meat.
Avoid refined carbs in the form of white bread and pasta and stick to wholegrain varieties which release glucose more slowly, causing less weight gain.
STEP 2: Make sure you Work those muscles
The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even when you’re not exercising.
So, as you age, it’s important to do what’s called resistance training – exercising with some form of weights – to keep your muscles strong.
How: Performing some form of resistance training two to three times a week will help both men and women.
You need to use weights that are heavy enough to exhaust your muscles with 12 repetitions, yet light enough to complete eight comfortably.
Want to find out the best starting point for you? Contact us to arrange a free chat.
STEP 3: Eliminate stress
Midlife can be a time of high stress – juggling troublesome teenage kids, elderly parents and high-pressure work.
But research has linked high levels of the stress hormone cortisol to an accumulation of fat around your midriff.
How: Eliminating as much stress as possible from your daily routine will help cut the amount of cortisol your body makes.
And try to delegate more to colleagues and family members, so you’re not trying to manage everything yourself.
STEP 4: Use every opportunity to stand up
Being sedentary for too long decreases the activity of an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase, which helps us burn fat around the middle.
Standing, however, burns twice as many calories as sitting.
How: Use opportunities to stand more, whether on public transport or while talking on the phone.
STEP 5: Don’t let lack of sleep affect your appetite
Set a soothing bedtime routine
Our sleep quality often declines in middle age, but when you’re short on sleep your appetite increases, meaning you eat more and gain weight.
How: Set a soothing bedtime routine that includes a warm bath, and turn off all screens and dim the lights an hour before going to bed.
Your fat-fighting diet
With this fat-burning meal plan, there’s no need to count calories – all you have to do is stick to the easy male and female portion sizes below to shed up to a jeans size in two weeks.
Working out your portion size
Your palm represents one protein portion – of meat, fish, eggs, dairy or beans. One portion is also roughly the same thickness and diameter as your palm.
Your closed fist represents one veggie portion.
Your cupped hand represents one carb portion – of potato, rice, pasta, bread, etc.
Portion sizes on this diet:
- 1 palm-sized piece of protein with every meal
- 1 fist of veggies with every meal
- 1 cupped hand of carbs foods with most meals
Portion sizes on this diet:
- 2 palm-sized pieces of protein with every meal
- 2 fists of veggies with every meal
- 2 cupped hands of carbs with most meals
Your meal planner
- Banana milkshake made with semi-skimmed milk (or your choice of plant-based milk or nut milk) and 1 small banana
- Porridge, made with semi-skimmed milk and topped with a handful of mixed berries
- Omelette (made with 2 eggs for men, 1 for women), plus a handful of chopped red bell pepper and mushrooms
- Granary toast with peanut butter (2 slices for men, 1 for women), plus 1 small orange
- Boiled eggs (2 eggs for men, 1 for women) with 2 slices of granary toast, no butter, plus 1 kiwi fruit
- Sardine (or any oily fish) salad with hard-boiled eggs (2 for men, 1 for women), 1 small banana
- Avocado and bacon salad, with 1 grilled rasher of bacon (2 for men), half an avocado, mixed green leaves, lemon juice and black pepper, plus 1 pear
- Sardines in tomato sauce on granary toast (2 slices for men, 1 for women), no butter, 1 apple
- Wholemeal pitta filled with vegetable chilli, 1 small (no added sugar) yoghurt pot
- Sweet jacket potato with 1 small can of tuna, tbsp sweetcorn and salad leaves,
plus 2 plums
- Grilled tuna steak with stir-fried mixed veg and brown rice
- Baked fish in foil with herbs, new potatoes, carrots, broccoli and green beans
- Salmon fillet with tomato and cucumber salad, and couscous
- Chicken breast, sliced and stuffed with 1 tbsp low-fat cheese, wrapped in a slice of Parma ham, served with a green salad
- Baked fish with 1 tbsp flaked almonds, oven-roasted peppers, zuchini, tomatoes and red onion
- 1⁄2 sliced avocado with a handful of cherry tomatoes
- Carrot sticks with 1 tbsp hummus
- Two oatcakes with cream cheese
- Sliced apple with 1 tbsp peanut butter
- Plain yoghurt small pot, with berries
- Handful mixed nuts
And when you are ready, let us help you find time in your busy schedule to focus on your health and wellness.
If you’re ready to focus on you and your health, then let’s have a chat. Call, message or email to book a time suitable to you.
We’re open 5am -11am and 4pm-8pm weekdays and weekend mornings by appointment.
You will find us next to IGA or if you prefer, reach out and email me on email@example.com or call me on 9309 2532 and we get your workouts scheduled asap!!!!!
I promise you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.
And if you are interested in finding out how your family’s fitness stacks up, why not take the quick 6 question quiz we have put together. You can check it out HERE.
(Don’t worry, it’s simple, quick and non-intrusive)
Take a few seconds now to give it a go and let me know how you get on.