A man’s guide to fighting belly fat

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Almost all of us gain weight as we age and our metabolism slows down – but staying in shape is possible if you follow expert-approved guidelines. (Getty Images)

Words by Gavin Newsham.

This week you may have seen the recent photo of former Prime Minister David Cameron wearing a plaid jacket and baseball cap, looking like a cross between a ticket dealer and a football hooligan recently retired.

But it wasn’t just his clothing choices that got everyone talking: the fact that he put on a few pounds sparked the conversation.

You have to feel for it, but the truth is that size enlargement will affect most men, and it’s made worse by the fact that the battle to beat it is long, arduous, and often frustrating.

Read more: The NHS 12 week weight loss plan explained

The problem for men is that as they age, their levels of testosterone – the hormone that makes a man a man – as well as their human growth hormone, drop dramatically, which, in turn, makes it harder to burn calories and build muscle. This deterioration in muscle mass (and men can lose up to 500g of muscle mass each year when they reach the age of 50) means that new layers of fat develop, usually around the chest (under the shape of “moobs”) and around the stomach. (the dreaded “middle-aged spread”).

But you don’t have to accept the inevitable.

Fight belly fat by making a few key changes to your diet, training and lifestyle – you’ll soon notice the difference.

Watch: Tess Holiday answers a woman’s weight loss question

Give up crash diets

As Matthew Hirst, personal trainer at Powfitness and owner of the BLAST fitness studio, explains, you have to be dedicated to your diet and fitness regimen if you want to get the results you want. “Be consistent with your exercise and diet each week and you’ll see progressive results week after week,” he says. “But to lose weight and belly fat, you need to create a calorie deficit, which is to burn more calories each week than you consume.”

ban alcohol

It’s annoying but it’s true – alcohol really makes you want beer. When you drink, your body converts alcohol into acetate, which in turn turns carbohydrates and protein into fat. And, we all know, drinking alcohol also leads to poor food decisions, whether in the form of late-night snacks or high-fat takeout. Quitting drinking can really do wonders, not only for your mental well-being and the quality of your sleep, but especially for your waistline. Watch Michelin star chef Tom Kerridge. He hit the booze on the head and lost an astonishing 12 stone.

Read more: ‘Lucky’ genes may help protect obese people from certain diseases, study finds

Find your exercise

If you have a positive emotional attachment to exercise, you are more likely to achieve your goal. So try your hand at a range of activities, keeping the ones you like and dropping the ones you can’t stand. Any exercise will have a beneficial effect on that belly fat. “The types of exercises you do should be enjoyable,” says Matthew Hirst. “HiiT, intervals, cardio, power training, dance – there are many types of exercise, but the one you love the most is the one you’ll keep doing.

hit the weights

Burning belly fat while running is all well and good, but you can make it even more effective if you put weights into the mix. A Harvard University study of 10,500 men over the age of 12 found that those who added 20 minutes of strength training to their regular cardio workouts were less likely to gain age-related fat around their stomach than those who chose to use only the treadmill. .

Lifting weights is a great way to control your belly fat.  (Getty Pictures)

Lifting weights is a great way to control your belly fat. (Getty Pictures)

Do everyday things

Supplement any formal exercise you do with what Matthew Hirst calls ‘NEAT’, or ‘Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis’. Essentially, thermogenesis is the heat your body produces when you’re active, and that doesn’t mean you have to bust your guts out on the treadmill to create it. In fact, anything that makes you active will be beneficial.

“It’s good to be ‘NEAT’,” advises Hirst. “It’s the activity you do in your day that isn’t exercise or sleep. So walking with the dog, gardening, walking to work – all of these activities help burn calories.

Read more: Dad who lost 10 stone in six months thinks this is what helped him beat COVID

you really are what you eat

There are many foods that you need to avoid if you want to prevent belly fat accumulation. Sugars used in prepared or processed foods, for example, will inevitably lead to weight gain around the stomach if eaten too often.

Take a regular can of Coca-Cola. This contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar, or about 70% of your recommended daily intake. Baked goods, such as pies, pastries, breads and bagels will also be a problem, so try opting for whole-grain varieties with more fiber instead. And, of course, it goes without saying that fast food, from burgers to fried chicken, from chips to fries, should also be eaten in moderation.

Increasing your protein intake is another way to stay healthy.  (Getty Pictures)

Increasing your protein intake is another way to stay healthy. (Getty Pictures)

What should you eat? Well, generally speaking, you should be looking to increase protein and fiber and reduce the amount of carbs you ingest. That’s why experts recommend the so-called “Mediterranean Diet” with its range of fruits and vegetables, lean meat and fish, legumes and whole grains, ideal for anyone struggling with bulges. The fact that it also lowers your risk of everything from cardiovascular disease to diabetes to stroke makes it an even more appealing proposition.

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