Get Rid of Belly Fat After 30: What to Eat and Do

There’s a myth floating around that once you hit 30, your metabolism just tanks. For women, this doesn’t create any hope of weight loss or for the stubborn belly fat camped around your midsection. The truth is that in order to lose belly fat, we have to look at your hormones, habits, as well as the foods you eat.

This blog will teach you what hormones are influencing your belly fat and how to balance them. We’ll also discuss the lifestyle factors that influence weight loss–like stress, sleep deprivation, and lack of exercise.

For women, hormones change as we age, and these fluctuations often impact our mood, metabolism, energy, and how we hold on to abdominal fat.

You’re probably only thinking about menopause as the main cause of hormonal changes than influence weight loss or gain, but there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface–and it often begins much prior to menopause! To begin with, here are 4 reasons why you’re noticing more belly fat:

  • Less lean muscle mass: Beginning at about 35, you lose as much as 5% of your lean muscle every 10 years (1). Your muscles help burn calories and keep your metabolism running, so the less muscle you have, the more it can slow your metabolism.  
  • Changes in metabolism + appetite: Blood sugar dysregulation as a result of dieting, inflammatory foods, or processed foods impedes weight loss and disrupts the hormone leptin. This results in an appetite that’s out of control (2).
  • Hormones shift: Changes in estrogen, progesterone, and metabolic hormones like insulin change the way your body stores fat as you age. This often slows weight loss across the board.

Watch now: Why Can’t I Lose Weight No Matter What I Do?

Despite everything we know about metabolism and hormone health, many women still struggle to connect with their body, and how to listen to their own feedback about what it needs.

Losing weight (or maintaining a healthy weight) is all about knowing how to fuel a healthy metabolism, sleep, eat, and exercise for your needs.

What’s your weight loss type? Take the quiz!

The newest research now shows that metabolic rates stay mostly constant until we reach about 60 years old, and even then, metabolism only decreases by a fraction of a percent in the years thereafter (3). 

So really, the most important thing is to understand how diet, lifestyle choices, and strength training influence body composition and your ability to lose belly fat at any age.

How to Lose Belly Fat in Your 30s

Your 30s can be a super busy time. But it’s also when bad habits come home to roost and you start seeing the effects of staying up late, eating too much sugar, and not moving your body.

Your 30s are when you really want to prioritize getting into a regular habit of exercise and movement. Find activities that you enjoy, but that also increase lean muscle mass and keep you strong. Ditch ultra-processed and refined grains for plenty of protein, veggies, and healthy fats. Your 30s are all about really solidifying healthy habits you’ll lean on for years to come. 

Read more: 5 Days to Sugar Detox

How to Lose Belly Fat in Your 40s

Whether your 30s were spent chasing little ones or building your career (or both!) your 40s are a pivotal point in your overall health journey. Prioritize stress relief and make sure you’re building in time to recharge. You might swap your morning coffee for green tea as your adrenals need a little extra support. This goes a long way for hormone balance that will set the tone for how easily (or not) you transition into perimenopause and then menopause.

Plenty of sleep is important for keeping cravings and stress hormones low, as well as energy levels steady. It’s important to stick with exercise that helps you build muscle in your 40s as this staves off insulin resistance and promotes calorie burning even when you’re not moving. Eat well, keep your body moving, and practice healthy habits. (Getting your family on board helps a ton, too!)

Related: Hormonal Aging + Adrenal Fatigue

How to Lose Belly Fat in Your 50s

Many of my patients who have never had complaints about trouble losing body fat suddenly find themselves really struggling in their 50s.

At this point, I’ve found that lifestyles usually slow down a bit–and we’re settled into a routine–but it’s time to re-evaluate how things are working for you. Has your energy waned a little? Leaving you less motivated for your workouts? Are you eating less protein and maybe snacking a bit more?

As your body gradually downshifts as your approach menopause, it’s important to reconnect with yourself and your body’s needs. You might be slightly more efficient at storing fat, but making sure you get plenty of protein and keep building muscle will keep your metabolism burning calories in an optimal way.

Read more: What to Expect During Perimenopause

Is it harder to lose weight after 30?

It’s a myth that your metabolism suddenly slows when you hit 30–but there are some important hormonal changes that make you more likely to store body fat and have trouble with weight loss. There’s no miracle cure for weight loss, in the same way that belly fat doesn’t happen overnight. 

I also recommend testing important metabolic markers about once a year, including: thyroid hormones, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, fasting insulin, and others. You’ll want to work with a qualified integrative or holistic doctor to keep an eye on these levels. 

How to Lose Belly Fat As You Get Older

Despite how much more difficult it seems to lose weight as you age, there are many things you can do to achieve this goal. Remember that consistency is key here, as is appreciating your body for all that it does for you. Try these changes to burn more body fat.

Integrative medicine weight loss personalized for women.

To skip the guesswork, learn more about my step-by-step plan to help you reset your gut and lose weight the holistic medicine way.

Eat whole foods

The majority of your diet should be nutrient-dense vegetables like greens, quality proteins such as pastured poultry and eggs, and healthy fats from nuts, seeds, ghee, coconut, and avocado.

The majority of Americans today are eating up to 60% of their calorie intake from ultra-processed foods (4). These foods increase insulin resistance, which makes it more likely you’ll store belly fat.

Get your gut right: How to Choose the Best Probiotic for Weight Loss, Hormone Balance

Get plenty of protein

Protein is key as you get into your 30s, 40s, and 50s! Start your day with 20 to 25 grams of protein for breakfast, and then aim for about that at every meal the rest of the day.

Protein helps maintain more muscle mass, and lean muscle burns calories and improves insulin sensitivity even when you’re at rest. This is key for weight loss. Protein is also essential for healthy muscle tissue (5).

An international group of physicians and nutrition experts in 2013 recommended that adults consume 1-1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily (6). To put it in perspective, that’s 69 to 81 grams per day for a 150-pound woman. 

Try these: 4 High-Protein Recipes to Boost Metabolism.

Limit your snacking

Getting a balance of high quality carbohydrates (like fiber-rich greens), protein, and healthy fats is key to reducing boredom eating and snacking on empty calories. Increase fiber intake with whole grains, make sure you’re getting enough proteins, and then add in some healthy fats.

If your appetite is satisfied, you’re less likely to snack often, and this gives hormones that control appetite–like leptin–the opportunity to normalize and burn more belly fat!(7)

Related: Getting Started with Intermittent Fasting

Drink water to increase resting energy expenditure

Aim to drink about half your body weight in ounces per day (e.g. a 160 lb. woman needs approximately 80 ounces). You may need more if you’re working out, or spend time outside.

Proper hydration increases what’s called your resting energy expenditure (REE) (8). This helps your metabolism burn more calories at rest. Plus, drinking enough water helps your gut to better digest and absorb nutrients from food–which can help reduce bloating that makes your belly feel bigger than it is.

Exercise the right way

As you age, maintaining healthy lean muscle is key to turning on your body’s ability to burn fat. Women of all ages should incorporate strength training at least 1-3 times per week, as it’s the best way to keep your body looking and feeling it’s best.

If you’re doing tons of cardio and still can’t burn belly fat, it’s time to switch up your routine and add some weight training! Rest assured, it won’t make you look bulky, but it WILL help you burn more calories.

Read more: Stop Overexercising! Find the best workouts for your type.

Get enough sleep

Sleep! It’s the one thing that can help you kick bloating, inflammation, and belly fat for good! Aim for 6-8 hours of consistent, quality rest per night and watch how your weight loss goals fall into place.

Most people fall drastically short of the sleep their body needs, and I see the evidence of this in practice with weight gain, mood changes, and hormonal imbalances. If you need tips on building a better sleep routine–check out this link.

Sleep is Rule #5 for Weight Loss: Watch more here.

Stress less

Reducing stress hormones and creating time to center your energy goes a long way toward boosting metabolic health and losing belly fat. When stress hormones are high, you’ll crave carbs and sugar, and have more trouble sleeping, which just perpetuates the cycles of excess belly fat and weight gain.

Take brief, micro-moments of mindfulness if your days are very busy, and lean into daily rituals like 10 minutes of meditation, a warm cup of tea before your household wakes up, or 5 minutes of gratitude journaling. So much of achieving weight loss goals isn’t about eating fewer calories, but about caring for things like mental health and your overall well being.

Stay consistent

Put a healthy routine in place to help you lose weight, and trust the process! Lifestyle changes are effective when practiced consistently–not just when it’s convenient. This is when I like to have accountability partners, or some kind of reward to look forward to in the short term–like a new pair of shoes, a night out with friends, or a new pair of workout leggings.

For a done-for-you plan to reduce belly fat and reset your gut, learn more about my 30-day course.

Losing Belly Fat After 30

Have you been getting frustrated with the challenge of losing belly fat? As we age, our hormones change and this can have an impact on metabolism and how we store body fat. By making changes to your routine, and learning to track the feedback your body gives you, you can burn belly fat at any age! 

I’ve created a 30-day course for women who want to lose weight and finally get rid of belly bloat without excessive dieting or exercise. Learn more about holistic weight loss from an integrative MD.

Resources

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3940510/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5879088/
  3. https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abe5017
  4. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/10/211014102038.htm
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34098214/
  6. https://www.jamda.com/article/S1525-8610(13)00326-5/fulltext
  7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S026156142030577X
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21750519