Episode 33- Why Can’t I Lose the Belly Even Though I Exercise
0:01:00 – Metabolism slows down as we get older
0:02:00 – Check your balance of macronutrients and your sleep
0:03:53 – Low testosterone levels
0:05:21 – Why the GI of your carbohydrates matters
0:06:18 – The effect of dehydration
0:07:08 – How many calories should you eat?
Welcome to the Fitter Healthier Dad podcast where you can learn how to improve your diet, lose fat and get fitter in a sustainable and fun way, without spending hours in the gym. Here is your host, Darren Kirby.
Darren: Welcome back to the podcast, guys. This is the #1 podcast for dads in their 40s who want to lose weight and improve their health. This is Episode 33 of the Fitter Healthier Dad podcast.
In today’s show, we’re going to be doing a Q&A episode and the question today is coming from a guy called Daniel Price who emailed me directly. Dan’s question is: Why is it that I’m exercising and eating the same diet as I did when I was in my 30s but I’m getting a belly. I’m nearly 40 and I want to shift it.
This is a great question. It’s a very, very common question and it brings up a whole host of very detailed answers. But to kind of keep it short and sweet and actionable, really, there’s a number of things that we can consider at a high level. The first thing is our metabolism. As we get older, our metabolism slows down and generally that’s also matched by our exercise and our general movement. We tend to slow down because we’ve got more sedentary lifestyles, we’ve got more sedentary jobs, we maybe don’t exercise as much.
But Dan’s actually said that he still exercises so he wants to get rid of the belly. That’s the common area with which us guys contain (should I say) belly fat and, like I said, our metabolism is slowing down. And when I work with people one to one, the most common thing that I find when we start tracking diets is that their balance of macronutrients is out. And so what do I mean by that?
You have the three main macronutrients, which is proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. And when they do a diary for a week, I generally find that over 50% of their calories are from carbohydrates. Generally, these are fast-burning, fast-metabolising carbohydrates and the problem with that is that our body can’t deal with all of the carbs that we’re giving it. And therefore, what it can take and store as glycogen in the muscles, the rest of it, it just stores as fat. And like I said, for us males, it gets stored around the middle.
The other area is sleep: sleep is massive. It’s quite funny when we’re talking about losing weight, our natural instinct is that we want to get active and move but actually, if you’re getting a good night’s sleep, there’s a couple of things. One is that if you’re less sleep deprived, you’re less inclined to go for the wrong types of foods. And you’ll do this unconsciously because your body’s naturally craving some energy, so you’ll reach for the sugary snacks, you’ll reach for the caffeine and all of that just goes to compound the fact that we’ll just store fats around the middle from the sugar and the snacks. And then from the caffeine, it raises our cortisol levels which is a stress hormone in the body and that will cause us to retain fat.
The other area, which is very important is testosterone. Once we get over 30, the amount of testosterone our body produces reduces, on average by about 1% a year. And if you have low amounts of testosterone, then scientific studies have shown that men that have low testosterone have a higher percentage of body fat than those that have got a high amount of testosterone. One of the reasons that you might have low testosterone is that you’re not getting enough sleep. So that’s another area to consider.
We’ve talked about your metabolism slowing down, we’ve talked about sleep, we’ve talked about macronutrients and making sure that you have the right balance. Coming back to this, what I always do when I work with people one to one is I will automatically switch their macro nutrient intake. So I will increase the amount of protein that they will have because protein will keep us fuller for longer, it enables lean muscle growth as well, it will increase fats which we’ve all been brought up to say that fat is bad for us. Fats are bad in general, but if you have the right kind of fats–like we do need a little bit of saturated fat, we do need some Omega-3 fats and you get that from fish, and our bodies will use that as fuel as well.
And then I dial back their carbohydrates to around about 25% of their total daily calorific intake. And then when you’re having carbohydrates, make sure that you’re having lower GI carbohydrates. Why is that? It’s because it’s a slower and more sustained release of energy into our system and it means that we will have more energy and it will also mean that we won’t get so hungry so quick.
And then the final thing I want to talk about is hydration. This is so simple but way, way overlooked. If you are dehydrated, you would naturally feel like you are hungry and you’ll reach for food. Whereas if you have just a glass of water then wait 5–10 minutes, you will naturally find that you probably won’t feel hungry like you did 10 minutes ago. And also our bodies need to be hydrated for lots of different reasons; one of them is concentration.
So in Dan’s case, if he just looked at those areas, I’m pretty sure he would find, even though he’s exercising, that if he got his macronutrients dialled in, made sure he was sleeping, so his testosterone levels are up, made sure he had the right balance of macronutrients, made sure he was hydrated… And although I said that was the final thing, one more thing I want to add is just to make sure that you are not over-eating in terms of calories. I know I always say that calories are just a high level measure: they are, but if you’re eating 3000 or 4000 calories a day, you’re just going to naturally gain weight and, naturally, you’re not going to be able to get rid of your belly.
So make sure… I know an average male needs about to 2500 calories a day and that’s if you’ve got an average kind of lifestyle in terms of you’re moving, you’re walking and things like that. And if you’ve got a very sedentary lifestyle, you’ve got a very desk bound job and you’re there for eight hours and you’re not exercising so much, just dial your calories back a bit by about 19%. That’s a very specific percentage, but it’s around about that number which will enable you to start to drop a little bit of weight and also some fat.
So I hope that helped, guys. Thank you very much, Dan, for your question and I’ll look forward to catching up with you all again soon.
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