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Ways for women over age 40 to fight fat

June 6, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Our bodies change as we get older and with each passing year it gets harder to lose weight.

As personal trainer Valerie Waters puts it: "I take good care of myself, I eat right, I exercise all the time, but after 40, things shift a little bit and you find fat in different places."

That fact hits many women in the gut, literally.

"Our body shape changes - hate it. We probably struggle more with our body weight earlier and now we struggle with body shape changes, moving from hips to thighs to abdomen region," said Liz Applegate, director of sports nutrition at University of California, Davis.

Applegate says those over 40 now have to contend with where it's going: right to the belly.

"Women's body shape changes for a variety of reasons based on what they are eating or exercising," Applegate said. "As we get older and estrogen levels begin to decline, the fat cell levels actually say, 'well let's just get more activated in the abdomen region' and your tummy usually grows."

But you can fight back. Applegate's Embrace Your Range program shows you the foods and the moves to help you prevent that paunch.

"Top on the list was women needed more protein," Applegate said.

The standard protein requirement for women is about 50 to 60 grams. Applegate says you should include it in every meal.

The second component is always choosing whole grains. Studies show whole grains like oats, quinoa, brown rice and others translate to a smaller waist size.

"The third component, which was a big switch for a lot of women, was eating three cups of vegetables (and) three pieces of fruit," Applegate said. "By the time you're done with that, you actually are fuller."

Produce it also is higher in water, nutrient and fiber content.

"Then the last part was getting dairy, in particular probiotics, to try to get foods that have live bacteria culture, like yogurt or Kefir, and that may also aid with weight loss and reduce some abdominal waist size," Applegate said.

When it comes to what not to do, think about alcohol. The rule here is one, not several glasses of wine a day.

There's no surprise there is a fitness component as well.

"Hands down, strength training and yoga," Waters said. "You need the strength training to keep your muscles fit and strong so you can live your life as fully as possible. And you need the yoga or Pilates, something like that, for flexibility because if you can't move well you're going to feel a lot older."

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