If you’re a woman over the age of 40, your body is likely going through many changes. Your metabolism may have slowed down, and your hormones are no longer as balanced as they used to be. You might have noticed that you’ve been gaining weight or struggling with stubborn fat pockets. If you’re a man, your beer gut might be bigger than it was a few years ago, and taking a flight of stairs leaves you breathless.
The truth is, losing weight and getting toned after 40 can feel like one big uphill battle sometimes. Add six-pack abs to your wishlist, and the task becomes too daunting. If you’re ready to get in shape again to have a chiseled midsection, we’re here to help. In this article, you’ll discover how to get six-pack abs after 40.
Why Does Belly Fat Get Stubborn After 40?
After the age of 40, you might find it more challenging to lose fat around the midsection. The process may seem slower than before. Unfortunately, your body is no longer capable of transforming into a lean machine as fast as it used to.
Here are some reasons why:
Hormones Levels Are Changing
As you grow older, your metabolism changes due to hormonal changes in your body. Your testosterone levels drop while estrogen production increases, which makes it difficult for your body to get rid of excess weight stored around the midsection (1).
Losing Muscle Mass
After age 40, it becomes more difficult for your body to retain muscle mass. The good news is that you don’t need an extraordinary amount of lean muscle tissue to get ripped abs. However, having less muscle makes it harder for your body to burn the sugars out of the food you eat and transform them into energy (3).
Metabolism Is Slowing Down
Your metabolic rate is the speed at which your body turns food into energy. As you age, your metabolism becomes slower, and it becomes more challenging to burn fat (3). You may start eating much more than you used to, especially if you’re stressed.
Stress can make it significantly more difficult for your body to lose weight (2). You might notice that even when your diet is perfect and working out hard, stress levels can make it almost impossible to see any results in the mirror.
Of course, there are many factors at play when it comes to losing fat around the midsection after 40, but these four reasons should give you an idea of why belly fat gets stubborn over time. Luckily, getting six-pack abs is still possible even after this age.
Read More: How To Start Getting Fit After 40: It’s Never Too Late To Reap The Benefits Of Physical Fitness
How To Get Abs After 40?
Since you’re already at an advanced age, it’s smart to know that building the body of your dreams will take more time, effort, and dedication than before. You can’t expect results overnight.
Create An Abs After 40 Diet Plan
Eating the right foods at every meal is one way to speed up metabolism and maintain lean muscle mass that’s essential for staying toned after 40 years old. The first thing you need to do is create a customized ab after 40 plan that is based on your needs and personality type. A diet plan will be different from one person to another because not all of us have the same goals or lifestyle. Some people might want to be lean, but they don’t care about having six-pack abs. Others might be more interested in losing weight than getting chiseled abs.
If you fall into the first group and are mainly concerned with losing fat, it may be enough for you to create healthy eating habits based on your appetite and food cravings after 40. You don’t need to skip meals or eat bland low-calorie foods unless that’s what works for your body. On the other hand, if you’d like to get ripped beyond belief, then there are several changes you’ll need to make to transform your midsection, including diet modifications on specific foods that affect hormonal levels in the body.
Here are some of the best foods to include in your abs after 40 diet plan:
- Vitamin C Rich Foods
Vitamin C helps improve collagen production, which is essential for healthy skin. Collagen is also good for the muscles because it strengthens them. If you want to beat belly fat and get six-pack abs, your body will need to produce more collagen (10). Foods rich in Vitamin C include oranges, kiwis, strawberries, grapefruits, and cantaloupes.
- Lean Poultry
Poultry is a great source of protein and is low in calories and saturated fats. You can eat lean poultry three times a week to reduce bloating and flatten your stomach when you’re past 40 years old.
Legumes help lower cholesterol levels in the blood when they’re part of a balanced diet that also includes plenty of soluble fiber. Legumes are very nutritious and full of nutrients that help fight belly fat, including Vitamins B1, B6, and K, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium (9). Lentils, black beans, peas, or garbanzo beans are great choices to include in your abs after a 40 diet plan.
- High Fiber Grains
Foods rich in dietary fiber can help you lose weight because they fill you up for longer periods due to their high volume. Also, foods with high fiber content tend to be low in calories because they contain less than a gram per serving (8). Some good choices include whole wheat pasta, oatmeal cereal, and quinoa salad.
Whole grains are important for protecting your health, boosting metabolism, and reducing back pain. You should eat at least one serving of whole grains every day if you have 40 or more pounds to lose. The amount needed may be much larger depending on your weight loss goals and physical activity levels, but no matter if it’s big or small, whole grains play a crucial role in the quest for toned abs.
Berries are rich in Vitamin C that makes collagen healthy skin possible. Berries also help fight inflammation which is great news if you want to beat diabetes after 40 years old without counting calories (6). Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries are all good choices when it comes to eating berries as part of an effective weight loss plan.
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- Fatty Fish
Eating salmon is a great way to add more protein and omega-3 fatty acids to your diet because they protect the heart from disease. They have been found to help people lose weight, control Type 2 diabetes, and reduce depression symptoms. Fatty fish also contains Vitamins D and B12 that boost metabolism and burn belly fat after 40 years old when combined with a healthy lifestyle (5). Other types of fish that are good for fueling up before ab workouts include tuna, mackerel, sardines, or anchovies.
- Leafy Vegetables
Vegetables high in fiber can help you get leaner abs faster by reducing bloating and water retention. Leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, or kale are very low in calories, especially when eaten raw (4). However, if you cook your greens, then be sure to use only a small amount of olive oil or butter because they’re high in fat and can lead to weight gain.
Create An Abs After 40 Workout Program
After 40, your workout routine will likely need a few tweaks for you to see results.
Here are the top strategies you should follow when creating an ab workout program for yourself:
- Do Compound Lifts
Compound lifts are going to be your best friend at this point in life because you will need a workout that can target more than one region of the body. To get ripped abs, the compound lift is the way to go because it targets individual muscle groups and integrates them into a complete, powerhouse movement.
- Do Better Core Exercises
Core exercises should begin with planks but also include various oblique workouts for maximum results.
- Move More Throughout The Day
Do not forget that a workout is a wonderful thing, but what you do during your day-to-day life is going to affect how quickly and easily you see results. Don’t wait to get to the gym to be active – go for walks, take the stairs, and go from being a car commuter to a walking commuter whenever possible.
- Boost Your Testosterone Levels
It is no secret that testosterone levels naturally drop as you age. To combat this unfortunate occurrence, you must keep your insulin levels in check by staying away from sugars and processed carbohydrates as much as possible (7). Also, make sure to include healthy fats in your diet because these also help boost testosterone production. You may also want to consider taking a supplement like Fenugreek or Tribulus Terrestris to get that extra boost.
- Use High Reps And Low Rest Periods
High reps with a low amount of rest periods between each set are going to allow for maximum calorie burn, increased endurance levels, and overall enhanced cardiovascular conditioning.
- Engage Your Core During And After Workouts
When lifting weights, make sure to engage your core by stabilizing your body while you lift the weight. Every time you sit down, stand up or walk somewhere throughout the day, make sure that your core muscles are engaged.
Also, make sure to get enough rest! We all have different metabolisms, so you need to trust your body when it comes down to it. If you feel tired, take a break or a rest day.
Read More: How To Boost Metabolism After 40: Tips & Tricks To Rev Your Metabolic Rate
Improve Your Sleep Quality And Quantity
Getting enough sleep is one of the most effective strategies that you can implement into your life right now to lose fat around the midsection after the age of 40. Sleeping allows your body to rest and recover, allowing it to use less energy during normal daily functions. The more exhausted you feel throughout your day, the harder it’ll be for you to get leaner over time.
Here are some tips for improving how much and how well you sleep:
- Give yourself about an hour of free time before you hit the sack to let your body wind down.
- Don’t eat late at night, especially foods that are high in sugar and fat.
- Take a warm shower or bath before bed to relax your muscles.
Manage Your Stress Levels
The main culprit when it comes to stubborn belly fat after 40 is stress. If you’re stressed out all day long, then exercising may not even help with losing weight because cortisol levels are much higher than normal levels, which prevents your body from burning any excess fat (2). By managing your stress levels, you can lower cortisol to normal levels and make it easier for your body to finally get six-pack abs after all these years.
Here are some helpful stress management tips:
- Exercise is one of the best ways to manage stress.
- Eat foods that are rich in magnesium, zinc, copper, and essential fatty acids. These nutrients have been shown to reduce cortisol levels.
- Try incorporating regular meditation into your life.
- Practice deep breathing throughout your day.
- Take regular vacations from work or go on a mini-vacation at least once a month to reduce your stress levels.
If none of these tips seem helpful, then it may be time to seek out the help of a therapist or professional counselor. Never ignore any emotional problems related to stress because they can cause serious health issues down the road if not addressed immediately. Losing weight is hard enough as it is, and you don’t want stress levels getting in the way and making everything tenfold times more difficult for you.
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The Bottom Line
Finally, living a healthy lifestyle after 40 isn’t about trying to get six-pack abs for men and women. It’s about making sacrifices to become healthier and fitter overall. People who continue moving towards their goals usually end up getting what they want over time. Remember that nothing worth having comes easy. You’ve plenty to do when it comes to seeing your abs after the age of 40, but you’ll feel great knowing that you’re on your way to achieving them with all the work you put in day by day.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Hormonal regulation of appetite and food intake (1998, tandfonline.com)
- How Too Much Stress Can Cause Weight Gain (and What To Do About It) (2020, orlandohealth.com)
- Muscle tissue changes with aging (2010, nih.gov)
- Nutrients and bioactives in green leafy vegetables and cognitive decline (2018, nih.gov)
- Oily Fish and Omega-3s Across the Life Stages: A Focus on Intakes and Future Directions (2019, nih.gov)
- Recent Research on the Health Benefits of Blueberries and Their Anthocyanins (2020, pubmed.gov)
- Sugar-sweetened beverage intake and serum testosterone levels in adult males 20-39 years old in the United States (2018, nih.gov)
- The Health Benefits of Dietary Fibre (2020, nih.gov)
- The potential health benefits of legumes as a good source of dietary fiber (2010, nih.gov)
- Vitamin C (2021, nih.gov)