A lot changes after turning 50, and one noticeable change many suffers is flabby abs.
With slower metabolism and less lean muscle mass that comes with aging, it’s easy to pack on a few extra pounds and gain extra inches on your waistline.
If belly fat is like any other body fat like bat wings and thigh fat, it probably doesn’t have to be your biggest health concern as long as it’s not too much.
But unfortunately, you have to pay attention to growing belly fat.
Belly fat comes in two layers. The pinchable fat that sits right below the skin that looks like flabby abs is subcutaneous fat. It’s not necessarily harmful to your health but can be aesthetically unpleasing.
With growing belly fat whether there is sagging skin involved or not, what brings dangers to your health is visceral fat. It’s a deep toxic layer of stomach fat that wraps around the stomach organs like the intestines and liver. It’s hidden beneath the subcutaneous fat.
Too much visceral fat is likely to raise your risk for diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and Alzheimer’s. (1)
According to American Heart Association, even for those with a healthy BMI, having excess belly fat can lead to higher heart risks. (2)
If you find your stomach getting flabbier as you age or growing like a balloon, it’s time to take serious measures to lose it all.
If you don’t know where to start, take these easy steps that’ll help eliminate the dangerous belly fat and flabby abs.
How to Get Flat Abs After 50
1. Get Active
Make it a habit to get active and add in exercise whenever you can. Whether it’s biking for 30 minutes to commute or jogging a mile a day, staying active helps maintain your metabolism and burn calories and fat. (3)
Better yet, add in high-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE), also known as high-intensity interval training.
Emerging research indicates that HIIE may be more effective at reducing abdominal fat than other forms of exercise. (4)
In one 2017 study, 43 obese young female participants completed either 12-week low or high-intensity cardio. (5)
At the end of 12 weeks, the researchers measured the visceral fat area and subcutaneous fat area of the participants in both programs.
Both groups’ participants saw comparable reductions in those two abdominal fat areas. To conclude, the prolonged low-intensity cardio did not have any advantage over the short HIIE cardio. To reduce abdominal fat, high-intensity intermittent training offers efficiency and muscle-building opportunities.
2. Follow a Wholesome Diet
An unhealthy diet is the biggest contributor to your belly fat. When exercise is combined with a healthy diet, it can accelerate your fat loss around your belly.
According to one study, participants who followed an exercise and diet plan lost 6.9% of body weight compared to 6.1% of those who only dieted lost.
When it comes to abdominal fat loss, those who combined exercise and diet lost 16% compared to 12% for those who only followed a diet plan. (6)
New 2021 research observed the effects of different diet plans from a low-calorie diet to the Mediterranean diet. The researchers in the end concluded that there is no single best plan for weight management. However, evidence suggests that calorie intake is the most important factor to lose weight. (7)
Like the Mediterranean diet, they also found that eating more wholesome fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats can help support weight loss.
Aim to fill your plate with fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats.
3. Do Strength Training
As you age and with a sedentary lifestyle, you naturally lose some lean muscle mass. Since muscles are more metabolically active, they burn off more calories than fat.
Develop a well-rounded workout plan that incorporates muscle-building resistance training with cardio.
Building lean muscle mass and strengthening both your bones and muscles help you not only stay active but also boost your metabolism.
It’ll also help you keep away extra pounds and extra inches of waistline.
Harvard Health research reported that twenty minutes of daily weight training results in less age-related belly fat accumulation.
This is compared to men who spent 20 minutes doing cardio activities.
The Harvard researchers concluded that doing both weight training and cardio led to the best results. (8)
4. Get Enough Sleep
When you remove what contributes to your growing belly fat, you can prevent putting on more fat.
One study observed that sleep duration is indeed correlated to an increase in BMI in people younger than 40. (9)
In other research, insufficient sleep paired with free access to food leads to more fat accumulation -especially belly fat. (10)