As we age, we growl a little older, a little wiser and naturally, a little bigger and wider. Middle-age spread or beer belly are just some of the terms often used to describe the accumulation of fat around the waist down, especially for people in middle age cohort.
Many women find that when they reach middle age they start to gain small amounts of weight over time. Men also figured they are in no need of the belts they once used to keep their jeans up.
Almost everybody thinks its just normal—just the physical manifestation of the saying “a moment on your lips, forever on your hips!”
Nobody every really thinks it can be threatening, and in turn take this condition for granted and less seriously. But, as more studies about it are being concluded, there is a growing evidence that the build-up of fat around the waistline and the tummy area is often associated with the onset of middle age could be more dangerous than you ever imagined.
A new study in England conducted by their International Chair on Cardiometabolic Risk (ICCR) and the country’s National Obesity Forum has revealed Britons are adding to their health problems by ignoring their expanding waists.
One study facilitated by Harvard University researchers found that women tend to gain an average of 20 pounds in 16 years as they reach middle age.
Additional weight and a bigger waistline doesn’t happen overnight. It creeps up gradually as you become less active compared to when you were in your prime years: your 20s and 30s. Suddenly, a pound per year gain adds up to 10 or more as you reach your 40s, 50s, 60s or beyond.
Despite the fact that some body fats in different areas of the body are generally harmless, a certain kind of fat can cause problems and health conditions that may take you by surprise on your latter years.
Visceral fats sit near most of the major organs, dramatically increases the risk of a host of major health problems including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, some cancers and Alzheimer’s. Even a little more few inches on the waistline can be a sign of fat increase in the arteries, which can cause the blocking of it, eventually leading to cardiac arrest.
“This type of fat is not necessarily associated with being overweight,” explains nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville, author of Fat Around The Middle. “As we age our metabolism slows down so we are more prone to middle-age spread. It’s increasingly common due to poor diet and lifestyle, lack of exercise and stress.
“It’s associated with the 40-50 age range but we’re now seeing much younger people putting on this type of active fat which causes only harm.” This is also because men and women on this age range don’t really put that much effort to stay physically active. Hence, they lose muscle mass as they age. This condition is called “Sarcopenic Obesity,” meaning middle aged people are overweight or obese and are suffering/ have suffered a progressive loss of muscle mass. In turn, the body naturally burns fewer calories and your body composition will shift to less muscle and more fat.
Science says that the only way to avoid and combat the dreaded middle-age spread is to get physical, looking after your meals and eliminating as much stress as possible. All you need to do to stay lean and fit well into your older years is eat healthy and get moving.
RETHINK YOUR DIET
This is entirely different from your idea of dieting years back when all you wanted was to achieve a beach ready body and flaunt it to everyone. To combat middle-age spread you’ll need to focus on certain types of food.
Tummy fat may be one of the most stubborn fat and one of the kinds that is most difficult to get rid of. But, experts say this is because we make the mistake of targeting overall weight.
Stay away from processed foods, especially cakes and biscuits which are also packed with sugar, are a primary cause of the pot belly. Fizzy and carbonated drinks such as soda are sugar in liquid form too. Hence, avoid drinking them as much as possible.
Bluntly speaking: sugar is the enemy. If you want to avoid looking like a pregnant woman with a big belly on your 40s-60s, avoid white bread, white rice and apparently healthy yogurts which are high in sugar.
Swap them with high-fibre alternatives such as wholemeal brown bread and brown rice which release energy more slowly so it’s less likely to go straight to the midriff.
Dairy products, unless you’re consuming large amounts, are not items of concern when you’re trying to shed the extra inches around your waist.
Alcohol is also one of the biggest factors. It’s not called beer belly for no reason. This alcoholic drink is usually high in carbohydrates. A better alternative is dry white wine or spirits.
CUT DOWN ON STRESS
One of the reasons that fat accumulates around the midriff is due to the stress hormone cortisol. It is naturally released when your brain gives the red flag, thinking you are in danger or when it is under stress. Unfortunately, the brain doesn’t distinguish between real threat and the daily stresses of modern life. It is just hard wired to detect moments when the body is not in a comfortable state: it is in danger.
Adrenaline is released, as well as a sudden spike in sugar allowing you to react swiftly to dangerous situations. The bad thing is, the creation of fat and glucose which has nowhere to go if it’s not used up and tends to be stored around the tummy.
By eliminating as much stress as possible from your daily routine you’ll reduce the levels of cortisol released, less sugar and fat will be produced and a bigger tummy will not be your problem.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT EXERCISES
If you’re determined to lose belly fat, it’s just as important to make sure you’re doing the most effective types of exercise. Although some people think and believe that the best way to shed the extra pounds off is by cardio, studies and experts say that the best way is doing cardio and strength training at the same time.
Aerobic exercise first burns a different type of fat called intramuscular fat. Strength or resistance training on the other hand builds up muscle is especially good for burning fat because even when you are resting you are still expending energy.