Worried about gaining weight around your middle? Here’s how to avoid the “middle aged spread” as you turn forty.
A lot of women struggle with extra pounds creeping around their middle section as they get older. This is so common, it’s often given the name “middle aged spread.”
Many women are trying all the things which worked in their 20s and 30s, but stepping on the scales at the end of the week and seeing zero movement. No matter what they try, they just can’t seem to shift the extra pounds around their middle area. It’s like their bodies are fighting against them and stopping them losing weight.
For many of these ladies, this starts to have a big impact on their confidence and self esteem – making it difficult for them to enjoy life to the fullest.
But despite all of that, we have helped these women to remove the barriers that are blocking them from seeing results. We’ve helped them quickly and easily get the scales moving, lose the excess weight from around the middle, and regain their confidence!
In today’s blog, we’re going to reveal why women over 40 struggle with excess weight around the middle area. We also share our top strategies which have helped over 6,000 women to beat the “middle aged spread”, drop 1-2 dress sizes, and fit back into all their favourite clothes.
You can also listen to more on this topic on our podcast.
Changes in female sex hormones
Balancing hormones is optimal for women over forty. You’ll experience a reduction in oestrogen and progesterone in the run up to menopause, and testosterone stays the same – becoming relatively higher.
There are also changes in where the body deposits fat. Due to the higher oestrogen, more body fat is stored in the lower body, hips, and thighs (which is due to the body preparing for pregnancy). Your higher testosterone means more body fat is stored around the middle too.
However, this only happens if you gain fat.
The solution? Get everything right with your nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle and you can still be slim and lean all over. We cover this in more detail in the next step.
Tip: HRT can also help as it can replenish levels of oestrogen and progesterone.
The body’s sensitivity to stress increases
A lot of the women are juggling highly stressful jobs and family responsibilities. When the body is subject to stress, regardless of the source, cortisol is released.
The body becomes more sensitive to stress with age. And if stress levels are too high for too long, this can lead to chronically elevated stress levels and trigger what we call the weight gain triangle, which includes:
- Leptin resistance
- Insulin resistance
- Thyroid deregulation
All of these things can contribute to middle age spread. Leptin resistance increases cravings, especially for highly processed food, which means people are more likely to overeat. Insulin is the storage hormone, making it more likely you’ll store fat around the middle. And thyroid deregulating slows down your metabolism, meaning you have to eat less to avoid gaining weight.
Now, it’s probably impossible to remove all sources of stress from your life. But the key is to avoid over-stressing the body in other ways.
Avoid high intensity exercise like HIIT, gym classes, spinning or running. Focus on low-impact, low-moderate intensity exercise – like LIST training. This builds muscle which reverses a lot of the other side-effects of ageing.
The body interprets starvation as a source of stress. Avoid low calorie dieting, like shakes or cutting out whole food groups.
You need to eat the right amount for you – not too little, not too much, just the right amount! Our clients are often surprised by how much they can eat and lose weight. Focus on the right food choices as highly processed foods can be harder for the body to deal with.
Alcohol tends to encourage fat storage around the middle.
“In general, alcohol intake is associated with bigger waists, because when you drink alcohol, the liver burns alcohol instead of fat,” says Michael Jensen, MD, an endocrine expert and obesity researcher with the Mayo Clinic.
It’s also very calorie-dense. Every large glass of wine is the same calories as a chocolate bar, meaning that if your hormones have shifted, you’re more likely to store that fat around the middle.
Disrupted sleep leads to disrupted hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin, which increases appetite and means you don’t feel full even after eating.
Alcohol severely reduces sleep quality, causing constant mini wake ups through the night. This means key sleep phases are missed, so cravings are much worse the next day.
Caffeine can seem like it’s helping with low energy, but it could actually be contributing to middle age spread in two ways. It can disrupt sleep if you have it in the afternoon, and it also increases cortisol levels, which adds to the stress that can then trigger the weight gain triangle.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you – like we have thousands of women over 40 – you can find out more here.