If it seems harder to keep your belly flat over the age of 40, that’s because it is. As we get older, multiple factors conspire to make it more difficult to maintain what we took for granted in our 20’s and what we started to have to work hard for in our 30’s. As long as your overall well-being is the primary goal, rocking a pair of jeans in your 40’s the way that you did in your 30’s (or even better) is an achievable goal.
We’ve put together the best diet & exercise tips that can help you achieve or maintain a strong, lean core and a flat stomach. In your 40’s these tips move out of the ‘should do’ column and need to become part of your ‘must do’ day to day. As you read this list of tips and strategies, think about where and how you can make adjustments to your daily routine. These tips are so powerful, that if you make an honest effort to roll them out in your life, and maintain an 80% level of consistency, you could transform your body, your health and the overall quality of your life with just the information and resources we outline in this one post.
Eat less added sugars. Sugar causes your insulin levels to spike, which can lead to increased fat storage around the waistline, stomach and love-handle regions. Pay attention to food labels and make it a daily priority to eat as little added sugar as possible.
Stop being fake. Any food or drink product with the words ‘diet, low-carb, sugar free’ most likely will contain artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners can cause severe stomach bloating and gas. Studies have also suggested that artificial sweeteners can trick our brains into not recognizing satiety cues and overeating in a similar way that sugar does. If you are a diet-coke addict like me, try switching to a naturally flavoured, sweetener free, sparkling water beverage like ‘bubly’ - it’s helping me reduce my artificial sweetener intake and kick Diet Coke.
Start Strength Training. If you are in your 40’s and are serious about maintaining your physique, or getting into the best shape of your life (including smashing how you looked in your 30’s), strength training is now a must. Building lean muscle mass will help to boost your metabolic rate which slows down as we age, which is why we have fused HIIT training (the best workout for fat-loss) with Strength Training (the best workout for building lean muscle tone) together as the recipe for all of our BodyRock workouts. Combining Hiit and Strength training into one workout experience has the power to turn back the clock on your body, your strength, and agility. Many of the women in our community have reported that they are in significantly better shape in their 40’s and 50’s than they were in their 20’s. With the right diet plan and workout program, it is very possible to make the decade of your 40’s the starting point in discovering just how possible your body transformation and health goals are. Looking for a place to start? Want to learn workout by workout to strength train? Try our intro to strength workout series on BodyRockPlus with our 40 year old trainer and coach Jessie (get a full year of unlimited access for just $69 with code: NY22).
Leave the ‘cardio-partyo’. The elliptical or spin bike is not going to give you the flat stomach results that you are looking for. Declining estrogen levels lead to shrinking muscle mass which leads to a metabolism that can’t rev up enough to make it out of the passing lane. The most efficient way to counter these effects is to follow workout programs that bake in strength training and hiit. If you haven’t exercised in a long time, you can start with our Beginner Bootcamp series on BodyRockPlus.com - it will introduce you to the right types of exercises as it gets you up and moving again.
Just say ‘No’ to processed carbs. After 40, you can’t shrug off the impact of processed carbs and expect to make any headway on your fat loss goals. You just can’t eat a lot of the foods that you got away with eating in your early 30’s - that’s just fact. Pizza, pasta, white bread, baked treats, cereal, chips, crackers etc - the party is over if you want a flat stomach. You have to be prepared to say no to these things, and avoid situations where you are unprepared for these types of foods to be the only options on the menu. No one expects you to be perfect, but you do have to be honest and accountable with yourself. Aim for getting it right 80% of the time, and when you do decide to indulge, do so in moderation.
Start with protein. A breakfast that is protein focused (think hard boiled eggs, a protein shake, veggie omelet, or Greek yogurt), will prevent insulin activity and blood sugar spikes (your fat storage hormone). Protein will help to keep you feeling full longer, and support your lean muscle mass development and new strength training workouts (get on those) which will also help to keep your metabolism firing at an optimal level.
Pop some D3. Feeling more hungry than you did in your 30’s? The ongoing hormonal changes that are going on in your body in your 40’s can mess around with your appetite hormones. Taking a D3 vitamin supplement and getting more lean protein sources into your diet can help you keep your appetite on a leash.
Hold the salt. We know by now that salt causes bloating and water retention, and is in almost everything that tastes good. Ready made meals, and food products that come in cans are typically loaded with salt. Aim for less than 1500 mg of salt per day.
Get more healthy fats on your plate. Many healthy fats like omega-3’s have fat loss superpowers. Eggs, fatty fish, avocados and walnuts are all great healthy fat options that a good meal plan will help you to incorporate into your daily meals.
Get a solid 8 hours of sleep every night. I’m sure that you have already noticed that when you are in your 40’s, your body does not rebound as easily from a lack of sleep as it did when you were in your 30’s. Not getting enough sleep just one night, increased the likelihood that a woman in her 40’s will skip her workout the next day by over 60%. You will also experience an increased desire for processed carbs (see above) and fats (not the healthy kind), and being exhausted, you will have less focus to make decisions that support your goals. In your 40’s, sleep should become a basic element of self care, like hygiene. Get a solid 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night so that you have the capacity to support your goals.
Move it. In your 40’s, you want to get your heart rate up every day to keep your metabolism going and excess fat burning. Thankfully this does not mean that you have to workout everyday for an hour - far from it. Our hiit/strength workouts are between 20-40 minutes long, and our quickhiit workout series delivers a heart pounding sweat session that clocks in at just 12 minutes. We have workout options on BodyRockPlus.com that will transform your body, and by combining hiit with strength training, we deliver a better than gym quality workout specifically for fat loss in just minutes not hours.
Cover half of it with vegetables. The rule to live by in your 40’s comes directly from our BodyRock Meal Plan and that is: cover half of your plate with greens or mixed baked or steamed vegetables. This will keep room open for a lean protein source, healthy fats, while keeping heavier starches and calorie dense foods away. Covering half your plate with veggies is easy (get a frozen veggie medley at the grocery store) to start, and will cut the calories in your meal portions down dramatically. Fill up on veg.
Check your stress. The stress hormone cortisol is responsible for fat storage around the stomach. If you are dealing with a lot of stress in your life, chances are you are carrying some extra padding around the lovehandles. A lack of proper sleep can also contribute to stress (see sleep above). Fortunately, one of the best prescriptions to deal with acute stress is exercise. If you feel stressed out about not having exercised in a while and you are looking for an achievable starting point, consider our 30 day Beginner Bootcamp workout series on BodyRockPlus.com. To date, over a quarter million people have taken the Bootcamp, and it’s helped many of those people back into a regular fitness regime. If you have been managing your stress with food, alcohol or drugs, it’s time to try something that will bring you closer to what you want for yourself in this life. Let us help you check your stress.
Follow a plan. When it comes to diet and exercise, don’t try and go it alone. You have a full enough life, without having to figure out how to program a workout with the right exercises to target fat loss and build lean muscle. The same goes with your diet - you need a common sense plan that will help you lose weight, with grocery lists that make sense for you and your family and recipes that are easy to prepare. If your diet plan and workout plan can come together to handle the details and make showing up for yourself easy, then you will be empowered and have the tools that you need to succeed. That’s what we do here at BodyRock - support you to reach your fitness and weight loss goals. We can help.
This is fantastic! Just when I wanted to give up and accept this was my fate with aging…So excited about my new journey. Thank you!
Great article – thanks!