waterfallI was reading this really interesting article in Prevention Magazine about a trainer to the stars that had discovered the key to lose belly fat in middle age may be to exercise less.  I know what you’re thinking… yeah, right.

The trainer, Michelle Lovitt, tried it on one of her clients and when it was successful, started using it with all of her clients over 40.

The theory behind why it works is that when people diet and exercise intensely, they may cause metabolic stress and raise cortisol levels.  Cortisol is a stress hormone that causes you to store more belly fat.  Add to this the fact that after 40 our cortisol levels naturally climb.  This means when you train too hard too often and don’t take enough time to rest and recover, your cortisol levels may rise, which cause you to store belly fat.

The solution

You need to find the balance between working out too intensely and too often and not working out enough.  When working out keep your heart rate between 60% and 85% of your maximum heart rate.  The point at which you can’t speak easily is about 85% of your maximum heart rate, so try not to exceed this point.

Lovitt also suggests taking 2 days off per week from exercise instead of 1.

This article really made sense to me because there have been times when I workout like crazy every day without success.  Then when I suddenly don’t have time to exercise for a few days and can only fit in strength training, I notice a difference in my belly.  This could explain why I lost 2 pounds in 2 weeks when I did less exercise than normal.

It’s also important to increase strength training after the age of 40.  As we get older we lose muscle and need to rebuild our muscle.  Strength training can be done by lifting weights or using your body weight to build muscle, such as, doing squats, lunges, and the plank for abs.  Building muscle helps you lose weight faster and also helps improve balance, which is important as we get older.

The goal is to do 30-60 minutes of exercise five days a week.  Just remember you don’t have to work out until you drop.  Pay attention to how your body feels.  Don’t overdo it.  Make sure you drink plenty of water so you don’t get dehydrated.  You can even break up your workout throughout the day.  You don’t have to do 30-60 minutes all at once.  Three 15 minutes work outs is just as good as 1 45 minute workout.

Lieberman, Bari. “Her Mission: Your Middle.” Prevention Magazine July 2014: 64-69. Print.