Getting abs after 40 and losing fat can be hard, so if you are reading this article, a congratulations is in order. That’s because you are clearly taking steps to look after your health, boost your confidence, and get more energy into your life.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is getting abs after 40 can be a serious challenge. We’re not saying that losing weight or putting on lean muscle is impossible. But, the goals you set will have incremental rewards built into them. By that we mean you will see your progress. And the goals that are set will help you work harder in the gym or out on the road. Getting abs after 40 and losing fat is different. Abs aren’t only made by lifting weights or doing endless kilometers of running. They are made mostly in the kitchen.
We’re going to break down some of the specific parts of your life that the action of getting abs will affect, and how you can beat the common reasons that most guys fail to hit their abs after 40 and fat loss goals.
Abs are Made in the Kitchen
To clarify, we aren’t suggesting that you start doing crunches and plank exercises on your kitchen table. But planning and preparing food at the kitchen bench will be where the battle to find your abs will be won or lost. Forward planning and preparation will mean that when the hunger pangs hit, your choices are not going to be to go hungry or to grab a sugar-laden muffin or bag of chips. And for weekends or evenings, it pays to have tasty, inviting food in the fridge and pantry so that diving for the ice cream at the back of the freezer doesn’t become even more tempting.
Of course, it would be easy to lose weight by eating less food in total or skipping meals. But that is not the optimal way to build your abs or to actually be healthy in the long-term. Nutrient density is a term that more dietitians and health professionals are adopting. It refers to having meals that are not large in volume, but still pack a high nutritional punch. In practical terms, that means increasing the nutritional value of a banana smoothie by adding a handful of antioxidant-laden blueberries and some fibre and protein-rich almonds.
For lunches and dinners, that might mean supplementing your lean meat or fish with a free-radical fighting spice rub of cayenne pepper, paprika, and sea salt, while including an extra cup of leafy salad greens with an apple cider vinegar and high-quality olive oil dressing. Add-ons like these give your body the nutrients it needs to function well, which means you can work out harder while still fuelling your body, which helps build the basis for your other health goals (like getting abs and losing fat).
The simplest change you can make in your journey to build your abs after 40 and lose fat is to start really paying attention to portion sizes. This works because human brains have a slight flaw when it comes to food and hunger. We are designed to continue eating well after we have consumed enough calories to satisfy our nutritional needs. That happens because there is an approximately 20-minute delay between when we are “full” and when our brain recognizes this fact. It is an evolutionary leftover from when food was scarce and our ancestors had to pack in more food than was necessary in case their next meal was a long time away. A good rule of thumb is only to eat until you feel 80% full. That allows your brain to catch up with how full your stomach actually is. It also helps to eat more slowly, which is better accomplished if you are eating with other people as conversation naturally slows down the rate that we eat.
Just like lifting heavier weights at the gym or adding repetitions to your HIIT workout
, you can train your body to get used to smaller portion sizes. Some people find it useful to use a smaller plate or bowl, so the natural reflex to fill up the plate or bowl is limited. Others find that a hard “no second servings” rule helps. Measuring your food with a measuring cup, especially calorie-dense foods like rice and pasta, is also very useful for controlling portion size, rather than just relying on estimation.
Think About Intermittent Fasting
We’ve written in a lot of detail previously about intermittent fasting
(include hyperlink), but if you are thinking specifically about getting your abs back after 40, then it’s worth considering. Intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone, especially those guys who have jobs that are physically demanding – it’s not much good having to move building supplies or do manual work without adequate fuel in your body.
But for those who can manage it without compromising on work, intermittent fasting is a strong option to help find your abs. That’s because it provides a boost to your fat burning ability, as well as helping you reach a calorie deficit naturally. The most popular way to fast effectively is to begin your fast after dinner one night, sleep through the night, then wake and get through to about lunch time without consuming any calories. You can, of course, have water to stay hydrated, and have some black coffee as needed. That process adds up to about 16 hours fasting, with your food being consumed in the remaining eight-hour window, otherwise known as a 16:8 fast.
It’s become evident in the past few years that to achieve long-term health benefits, limiting our sugar intake is not just desirable, it’s pretty much crucial. But some sugar in our life through the carbohydrates in the occasional bowl of pasta or piece of garlic bread is probably going to be hard to eradicate completely.
But if you are committed to losing fat, then it could be a huge benefit to incorporate a total sugar ban as part of your healthy diet plan. When we say sugar in this context, we mean all obvious sugar (the kind in soft drinks and pastries), all hidden sugar (the kind in sauces and dressings) as well as simple sugars in carbohydrates (the kind in white bread or pasta). While this is hard to stick to, doing it for a shorter term window like six to eight weeks might be the hidden piece of the puzzle when it comes to getting the results you want and kick-starting your fat loss.
Abs, Fat Loss, and the Bar
When we’re talking about abs being made in the kitchen and losing fat, there is another room that many guys who are looking at getting abs over 40 ignore. And that “room” is the pub, club, lounge room or backyard BBQ where alcohol is consumed. Drinks of any kind can be incredibly calorie- and energy-dense, and alcohol is no exception.
First of all, the easy wins. It goes without saying that any sugar-laden soft drink is off limits if you are serious about getting your abs to emerge from your stomach area. This is also true where you are partial to an alcoholic drink that uses soft drinks as mixers. It’s surprising how quickly you can consume a meal worth of calories just by having several glasses of rum or bourbon mixed with a cola drink.
There are no shortage of very calorie light options if you are craving the “fizz” or refreshment that comes from the carbonation. Sparkling water and kombucha
are two strong options. If you really want a particular soft drink, opt for the “no sugar” version that contains minimal calories, but be aware that these are sweetened with chemical sweeteners.
Now to another common culprit of the extra flab around the stomach: the much-loved beer. Five beers will cause someone who is eating around 2000 calories of food a day to exceed their calorie target by almost 40%. This is not a good recipe for finding your abs or losing fat.
The bad news continues because it is likely that alcohol also impairs the ability of the body to burn fat. That’s because your liver gets preoccupied with digesting and processing the effects of the alcohol you drink and ignores any other food you eat while you are drinking. That means it stops processing other calories effectively, which makes it far more likely that they will be stored as fat.
But birthdays and special occasions rarely pass without a round of drinks being consumed. In these instances, a glass of wine is a good choice as the beneficial polyphenols in a good glass of red are similar to those found in green tea. A glass of spirits over ice or mixed with sparkling water or soda water is also a low-calorie option with the added benefit that you look sophisticated while you’re ordering and drinking it.