Losing weight and trimming your midsection can seem like one big uphill battle. Don’t feel too intimidated at the start of your journey, though, because with just the right healthy eating habits on deck, you’ll know exactly how to melt away those extra pounds in your belly. We chatted with Devin Alexander, New York Times Bestselling Author, Albertsons/Safeway feature Chef, weight loss expert, and host and personality featured on “The Biggest Loser,” who shares some of the most effective belly fat loss tips for women over 40. Get ready for game changers in the kitchen and your overall lifestyle!
According to the Mayo Clinic, after going through menopause, women can accumulate an increased amount of belly fat. Research links excess abdominal fat to many major health concerns. The good news is, you can do something about it. Keep reading for top-recommended best belly fat loss tips for women over 40. And next up, don’t miss 5 Best Foods To Eat Every Day To Burn Belly Fat, Dietitian Says.
Rev up your protein intake.
Just how effective is protein when it comes to fat loss? Lisa Young, Ph.D., RDN, author of “Finally Full, Finally Slim,” nutritionist in private practice, and a member of the Eat This, Not That! Medical Expert Board, breaks down the benefits.
Young explains, “Protein helps to build lean muscle which [in turn] helps speed up the metabolism. Protein also helps keep you feeling full which helps regulate how many calories you eat.” In addition, protein kicks up the number of calories you torch during the digestion process, boosting the amount of energy in calories you use daily. “Foods that are rich in protein may help increase [the] metabolism for a few hours, as they require the body to use more energy for digestion,” Young adds.
Eliminate the alcohol.
You may not be stunned to learn that drinking spirits and beer is associated with higher levels of belly fat, according to research published in Obesity Science & Practice. Alexander’s recommendation? “Ditch the alcohol (or at the least the white wine and other high-sugar drinks).”
“Alcoholic drinks are high in calories and make you hungrier and thirstier while lowering inhibitions, making them a double-edged sword when it comes to losing belly fat. The body recognizes alcohol as a toxin and shuts down fat burning to metabolize it as a priority,” The Nutrition Twins, Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT, CLT, and Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT, CLT tell us.
They add, “Sugary alcoholic drinks are even more problematic, as they tend to pack in even more calories and the brain doesn’t compensate for calories that you drink, so you still eat just as much afterward. More bad news for your belly: all alcohol favors weight gain around the middle.”
You don’t have to totally give up the fun when it comes to beverage selection, though! The Nutrition Twins recommend enjoying seltzer with lemon or lime so you can still savor refreshing flavors without the added calories. And if you feel like treating yourself to an alcoholic beverage, make a wine spritzer by adding some seltzer to your glass of vino “to thin out the calories.”
Get your fill of H2O.
Ah, good old H2O works wonders for your overall health and wellness—and that includes keeping the belly fat at bay. According to Hub At Work, Johns Hopkins University, drinking sufficient water can aid in your weight loss efforts.
Alexander recommends staying on top of your hydration, as it will help “detoxify your system.” Young adds, “Increased hydration can help with weight loss efforts. It can help prevent you from feeling hungry. Men should drink around 12 cups per day, while women should drink around nine cups per day. This includes high water content foods like fruits and vegetables, too. Water can be helpful for weight loss. It is calorie-free while helping to burn calories. It’s also very effective when you replace sugary drinks with water.”
Choose meals that don’t contain starchy carbs.
Another useful belly fat loss tip? Alexander says, “Find meals you love that don’t rely on starchy carbs.”
The Nutrition Twins explain that starchy carbs are filled to the brim with calories, “So when you cut them out, you cut out a significant source of calories, so it helps you to lose weight everywhere, including the belly. Also, starchy carbs are typically dough-y processed and refined carbs, and the fiber has been stripped out, so there is nothing to slow down their digestion, so they cause an energy spike followed by a crash; when the crash hits your brain looks for the fastest source of energy it can find—sugar. By cutting out these nutrient-stripped starchy carbs, you also slash sugar cravings that lead to overeating.”
Consider swapping out the bread the next time you make a Philly chicken cheesesteak, and opt for cheesesteak lettuce wraps instead! Alexander also recommends preparing riceless sushi rolls.
Find desserts you love that don’t pack in the sugar.
When it comes to treating yourself, Alexander suggests establishing some go-to desserts you love that don’t contain a ton of carbs or sugar. “One of my favorites is a chocolate pudding made from Albertsons/Safeway’s Open Nature Plain Greek Yogurt, Special Dark Cocoa Powder, Stevia, and a pinch of sea salt,” she says.
The Nutrition Twins recommend treating yourself to a square of dark chocolate when the sugar craving hits so you’re not depriving yourself, but you’re also not overdoing it with portion size. In addition, they suggest, “Fruit is always a great option, and frozen fruit tends to feel more dessert-like for many. Frozen cherries, frozen grapes, as well as slightly overripe bananas cut into coin-like shapes work well. And this no-sugar-added copy-cat apple pie, these 15-calorie frozen banana chocolate bites, and these healthy, 89-calorie five-minute chocolate chip cookies are all great to satisfy sweet cravings to keep you on track as you lose belly fat.”
If you like fruit, consider adding frozen, fresh, or cooked fruits to your blender to whip up a tasty berry smoothie. (Plus, research shows that eating blueberries could be helpful when it comes to belly fat loss!)
According to The Nutrition Twins, “Berries are a sweet, low-calorie, no sugar added treat that are packed with antioxidants to fight inflammation that makes belly fat loss harder. They also can assist with weight loss, because they contain the phytochemical C3G that has been shown to increase production of adiponectin, which may enhance fat metabolism, as well as leptin, which suppresses appetite.”
Read food labels carefully.
Reading food labels and being mindful of your portion sizes can really change the game as far as healthy eating is concerned. Doing so can help you “eliminate hidden sugars and starches, which are extremely common,” according to Alexander.
Young also stresses the importance of portion control, explaining, “All foods can fit in moderation. Watching your portions is key. Enjoy larger portions of fruits and veggies and smaller portions of ultra-processed foods like soda, cookies, and refined carbs.”
The Nutrition Twins agree that portion size can play a major role in weight gain. They add, “No food within itself causes weight gain, it’s the portion that contributes, so it’s always a good idea to keep calories in mind for the portion. For example, if you’re aiming to eat less than 1,800 calories a day, and the calories in a dessert option are 450 calories, nearly a quarter of your daily allotment, you’ll likely want to rethink that choice.”