If you’re a man over 40, learning how to get a flat stomach and even abs, is the best thing you can do for your health as you age.
Having belly fat on you doesn’t just look unattractive, the more worrying part is the health problems it can cause.
Fat on your stomach doesn’t just relate to the external extra padding underneath the skin (subcutaneous fat) but also the deadlier visceral fat, which lies deep inside your abdomen, surrounding your internal organs.
Regardless of how much extra weight you’re carrying, the research is clear that having a large amount of belly fat increases your risk of:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
- Colorectal cancer
- Sleep apnea
- Premature death from any cause
- High blood pressure
Your weight is largely determined by how many calories you eat and how you balance those calories (calories in vs calories out).
If you eat too much and exercise too little, then you’re likely to pack on excess pounds and belly fat.
Usually this fat gain doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a gradual process whereby a few pounds of fat each month suddenly add up to a few stone over the course of the year.
Aging does play a part too, as we get older we lose muscle naturally and that muscle loss results in a down regulated metabolism making fat storage even easier.
The good news is it’s never too late to get in shape, lose that belly fat and look your healthiest.
Don’t put this off a day longer and start with my following recommendations:
Get your calories right
To lose fat and get a flat stomach you need to eat less calories than what your body burns per day, nothing new here right?
So why is it that a lot of men over 40 struggles with this so much?
The answer is because most “diets” restrict calories too much, go too low in carbs and fats and make it practically impossible to sustain their eating plan.
A diet plan that goes too low on calories or restricts one of the major macronutrients such as carbs won’t be sustainable over the long term.
Not only that but carbohydrates and fats are essential for hormone production and cutting them out is a big mistake, especially for men over 40 who are already suffering with a diminishing hormonal system, especially testosterone.
The key is to create a slight calorie deficit that makes your daily calories as enjoyable and filling as possible.
One of the easiest and best ways of doing this is to scrap eating 5-6 small meals per day and eat 2-3 bigger meals instead.
By “undereating” in the morning and then “overeating” later in the day, you’ll effectively create a buffer of calories that keep you feeling full whilst making fat loss almost effortless and sustainable.
The benefits of eating fewer but bigger meals are huge, you’ll use more of the sympathetic nervous system, triggering testosterone production and digestion is greatly improved.
The research is clear, it’s not the number of meals you eat per day that determines fat loss, but the total amount of calories consumed over the entire day that really matters.
A properly structured fat loss nutrition plan includes a healthy balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat whilst ensuring adequate calories that keep you feeling full.
Fat loss is not about feeling starved and neglected.
Lifting weights especially as you get older is one of the most important keys to getting a flat stomach. A lot of men over 40 will think getting a flat stomach is about doing cardio and direct stomach exercises, when this is the most in-effective way to lose stomach fat.
When you lose fat, you lose it all over, off your face, off your back, legs and chest. Getting a flat stomach is all about training the entire body as a unit.
The reason strength training is so effective for fat loss is because the more muscle you build and maintain, the more fat you’ll burn at rest and the better you’ll look.
I mentioned we naturally lose muscle as we get older, well this process can be reversed by strength training.
By focusing on exercises called compound movements, you can train two to three key muscles in one movement, building lean muscle and boosting testosterone.
For example, the barbell incline bench press trains not only the chest muscles, but the muscles of the shoulders and triceps in one movement.
Not only are compound movements the best exercises for men over 40, but they’re joint friendly meaning you won’t get injured and can keep training well into your sixties and beyond.
And done correctly you’ll add just the right amount of muscle without the bulk.
Perform moderate cardio
If moderate cardio is helpful, why not do more to speed up fat loss?
The reason is because “cardio” i.e. cycling, cross trainer or “classes” leaves your testosterone levels supressed for hours post exercise.
Not only that, but if you’re doing excessive amounts of cardio it’s going to make you feel extremely hungry – not good if you’re trying to maintain a calorie deficit.
Low impact cardio is beneficial though, the key is to only include a few sessions per week to help speed up fat loss, once your nutrition and strength training are in place.
A more effective way of doing cardio and something I prescribe in my Abs Over Course, is cardio with a barbell.
This type of cardio compliments your strength training workouts by performing compound movements back to back with lighter weights, circuit style.
They’re joint friendly exercises that have more conditioning and health benefits than traditional steady state cardio and because they’re so effective, only one or maximum two sessions are needed per week, providing you’ve already got your strength training in place.
Determine how much fat to lose
A waist circumference of over 40 inches indicates an unhealthy concentration of belly fat.
It’s also important you know your scale weight and body fat percentage using body fat callipers, so you can paint an accurate picture of where you are and where you need to get to.
To get a flat stomach a body fat percentage of 12-14% is a good starting goal to aim for.
If you want to see your abs and still maintain peak health, getting under 10% body fat will be required.
Fat loss is a relatively slow process, the fastest way to permanent fat loss is to lose 1-1½ lbs of fat per week, every week until your reach your goal.
This might seem slow, but over time adds up very quickly, it’s also very realistic and sustainable.
By strength training, any weight loss will come from fat and you’ll end up with a body that looks lean and defined with broad shoulders and a narrow waist.
Cut down on alcohol
Drinking excess alcohol will cause you to gain fat known as a beer belly. However, any alcohol can cause fat gain because it contains 6 calories per gram.
This doesn’t mean avoid alcohol altogether, it means drink in moderation for the best fat loss results.
Crunches and other stomach exercises
Honestly performing crunches and sit-ups won’t do much for losing fat on your stomach, they’ll only strengthen the abdominal muscles under the layer of fat.
You can include some crunches and reverse crunches in your routine, but this is not where your focus needs to be.
Performing compound movements such as the barbell squat will make your abdominal muscles contract harder than performing the crunch.
But it’s the total package of factors i.e. an effective strength training program, a smart nutrition plan and effective cardio plan that will ultimately give you a flat stomach.
I hope you’ve found this article helpful and if you want help with getting a flat stomach I’ve created a complete program that will walk you through every step you need to know.
My Abs Over 40 program, will show you how to calculate your own calories for fat loss, how to split those calories into the correct macronutrients and how to break those macronutrients into your daily meal schedule.
Abs Over 40 also walks you through and demonstrates each exercise so there’s no guess work to losing fat and getting a lean body.
Simply learn and execute what I teach.
To your success in fitness and health!