The stomach. Not only does its size determine how clothes look both on and off, but it’s also the simplest indicator of the body’s health.
Your waistline is linked to your risk of a host of cancers and lifestyle diseases like type-2 diabetes. However, when confronted by constantly tempting vices and distractions, marshalling its growth can be difficult.
And these distractions are not only ever-present, but also ever-changing. As we grow older, the stumbling blocks evolve. But so do the solutions. Solutions that are simpler to achieve than you may initially imagine.
Here, armed with an arsenal of information from the UK’s top trainers, we explain exactly how to fight the battle against the bulge through the decades and win.
In Your 20s
Problem: Social Life
A hectic lifestyle makes home cooking a time-consuming luxury most just can’t afford – especially with restaurants, takeaways and snacks providing a delicious and swift alternative.
Eating out regularly makes it difficult to track what’s going into your body, and you can easily slip into calorie surplus, which adds weight.
“Meal prepping at home for the week allows you to track exactly what you’re consuming and also tailor a diet to your needs,” explains personal trainer Leo Savage of Third Space gyms.
Batch cooking on Sundays and storing set meals in Tupperware will not only save money, it’s also a way to match meals to your day – high carbs for post-workout energy, high protein before bed for overnight recovery.
Need we say anymore?
“Drinking too much not only makes you feel groggy, but it slows down the fat burning process,” explains PT Mathew Carter of Unit gym.
A night of drinking often leads to a day of eating junk food. “After every drink have a glass of water – hydration is key to getting over that hangover and make healthier food choices the following day easier,” he advises. “And pick low-calorie options like gin and slimline tonic if looking to balance fun with a weight loss plan.” Save the calories for food.
In Your 30s
Problem: Sleep Deprivation
Sleep is a luxury. Newborn children and impending work deadlines make the full eight hours almost impossible.
“Focus on quality, not quantity,” advises Nike master trainer Faisal Abdalla, known on Instagram as PMA Fitness. “Avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugar before bed to try and ensure a deep and uninterrupted night when you hit the sack.”
Abdalla also advises putting your phone down at least an hour before bed and plugging it in to charge away from the bed as well, so there’s no temptation to scroll through emails in the middle of the night.
The blue light emitted from device screens halts the production of melatonin, the hormone that tells the body it’s time for bed. Work with your body clock, not against it.
Climbing the career ladder and office pressures raise the amount of stress hormones swimming around the body to sabotage any hope of a healthy physique.
“The stress hormone cortisol influences muscle mass, fat storage and body composition as a whole,” says celebrity trainer David Kingsbury.
Cortisol spikes when your boss is piling on the pressure. Keeping stress levels in check will, therefore, help your keep the body’s metabolism firing and the pounds falling off.
Eating well and sleeping soundly helps in the long run, but for an immediate fix try a short breathing exercise. Sit with back up straight, hands on belly and chest, and inhale and exhale over five seconds for five minutes.
In Your 40s
Problem: Home Life
Juggling life’s duties of kids, work and some semblance of a social life leaves little to no time for a proper workout programme.
“There is always a spare 20-30 minutes in the day to fit in a quick workout,” says Savage. “This could be before bed or just after waking up.”
If that means doing a home bodyweight workout rather than using up two hours to trek to the gym and do weights, then so be it. But make that time sacred. Again, work in intervals and choose exercises like burpees that use multiple muscle groups for a greater calorie-burning bang for your buck. And be smart, too.
“Add extra activities in your day-to-day life,” concludes Savage. “Think about taking the stairs instead of the lift, or reaching a certain amount of steps per day.” It’s a cliché, but every little helps.
Problem: Father Time
After 40, Father Time starts to slow you down. Muscle mass shrinks and the body’s metabolism slows, making exercise and diet a battle against biology.
“Try doing some weighted HIIT (high-intensity interval training) at the gym, with circuits-based weight stations,” advises Abdalla. “The combination of HIIT and strength training will boost a slowing metabolism and help maintain muscle mass.”
Also, make sure you continue to get your protein in post-workout to help the body from the inside. “Don’t forget as well, the beauty of HIIT is that it raises metabolism, so you continue to burn calories after you train,” Abdalla continues.