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Does Alcohol Increase Belly Fat when you’re Over 40?

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Whenever you hear that alcohol will increase belly fat, you must consider what else is also associated with drinking; specifically eating poor choices of food. Alcohol definitely increases your appetite and when you’re drinking you almost always grab whatever is near you and overeat. Add to that the fact that when most people drink and then eat it is usually later at night when your metabolism is at it’s slowest. That is when you pack on the lbs.

When your over the age of 40 this scenario only gets worse because now your metabolism has slowed even more due to your age and the weight gain seems to be magnified.

Research has proven that alcohol can alter your body’s perception of hunger and fullness. First of all, drinking stimulates additional eating (binging) and all those additional calories don’t have a snowflakes chance of being burned or utilized by your body; you get fat (or fatter). You usually get fat in the belly not to mention everywhere else.

Another thing; alcohol really screws up your hormone levels for 24-48 after drinking.

Alcohol contains 7.1 calories per gram and these calories always count as part of the energy balance equation… or do they? Due to changes in liver function with chronic excessive alcohol consumption the alcohol metabolizing pathways don’t function as well as a person that consumes very-little to no alcohol at all.

Even if binge drinkers, daily drinkers or heavy drinkers would consume most of their calories from alcohol and they ate very little; they would actually remain in a calorie deficit mode, and they would still not get fat.

The bottom line is…

Alcohol Does Not Increase Belly Fat (by itself, anyway)

Instead…The fat gain comes from all the extra calories that you eat when you are making bad choices when you are drinking.

So, the idea that alcohol just automatically turns into fat or gives you a beer belly is mistaken. It’s a fact that alcohol suppresses fat oxidation (fat burning), but rather, alcohol does add a lot of extra “empty” calories to your diet, screws up your hormone levels for 24-48 hours after drinking and definitely stimulates your appetite, and then you consume even more calories than you would if you were not drinking.

But…If you drink in moderation, and if you’re aware of the calories in the alcohol and don’t go overboard and make the bad food choices, you won’t get fat.

Now, that doesn’t mean “You can drink all you want and still lose fat” the key is moderation!

Now obviously, the very best and most effective way that you will successfully lose weight “especially when your over the age of 40” is to not consume alcohol when your on a weight loss program…but if you’re gonna drink alcohol Here are some practical tips for drinking alcohol “smartly” while still losing weight.

(1) Don’t drink on a weight loss program. Even though you could drink and get away with it; if you’re really serious about losing all that extra weight, it certainly does not help you lose fat and it really does rob your body of all the vital nutrients that are needed to help your body function to it’s full capacity when you are trying to lose fat.

(2) Drink in moderation. If you’re gonna drink, drink in moderation and only occasionally, such as on weekends or when you “go out” for dinner.

(3) Don’t drink on a daily basis. Daily drinking is something that I don’t recommend because this is the point where you will fail at trying to lose weight. If you can’t “not” drink on a daily basis, then your weight loss really isn’t that important to you.

(4) Count the calories that you drink. If you decide to have a bottle or 2 of beer or a couple of glasses of wine. Know the calorie content of those drinks and keep track of those extra calories.

(5) Control your appetite. The best way is to “decide” before you even start to drink; exactly what you are going to have to eat and do not straw from that decision. Don’t get buzzed and start eating a bunch of wings or chips with the excuse later on of “well, that was the only thing around to eat”.

(6) Stay away from fatty foods when drinking. Duh! It’s not Rocket Science to figure that one out, yet almost everyone is guilty of it… (Yes, even me)!

(7) Enjoy it without guilt. If you choose to drink (moderately and sensibly), don’t feel guilty about it. Just don’t make it a daily habit!

Over 40? Want to Burn more Fat? Get more sleep!

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

One of the things that I always stress to my clients when they are having a tough time losing weight is…Get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night.

There is overwhelming evidence that Women who get less than (5) five hours per night on average weigh more than Women who sleep 7-8 hours!

FACT: Studies have found that Women who slept for five hours or less per night were 32% more likely to experience major weight gain (major weight gain is defined as an increase of 33 pounds or more) and worse yet… they were 15% more likely to become obese compared with women who got at least 7-8 hours of restful sleep per night.

The main study that concluded with these startling facts included 68,183 middle-aged women over a 16 year period. This was the Nurses Health Study. On average, Women who were sleeping (5) five hours or less per night weighed 5.4 pounds more at the beginning of the study than those sleeping 7-8 hours and they actually gained an additional 1.6 pounds over the next 10 years.

Not surprisingly, not only did they have a higher % of weight gain than average, they were at an increase in risk of Diabetes and Hypertension.

Why we get less sleep now as opposed to 15-20 years ago

Sleep is essential. It’s the only time when our bodies replenish and recuperate; repairing the mental and physical wear-and-tear we all go through on a daily basis.

Our “always-on” culture has created a sleep-deprived generation. Cell phones, computers, PDAs and 24-hour cable television keep our brains stimulated, not to mention the 40 hour workweek that has somehow managed to become 50-55 hours.

This result is fatigue, poor health and, weight gain. (common sense tells us this is true).

The stages of sleep

It’s important to understand the connection between sleep deprivation and weight gain and in order to fully understand this, it is important to know how much quality sleep we need. Medical experts believe that adults require (7) seven to (8) eight hours of restful sleep a night.

Studies have shown that decreased amounts of REM sleep; “REM” stands for “Rapid Eye Movement.” can lead to an increased calorie intake.

There are (2) two phases of sleep: *Non-REM sleep and *REM sleep.

The Non-REM: Non-REM sleep is divided into four phases:

●Phase 1: In this phase, a person is between wake and sleep. The person can be awakened easily.

●Phase 2: A period of light sleep during which body temperature drops.

●Phase 3 and Phase 4: Phases during which a person experiences an increasingly deeper stage of sleep (delta sleep). During this vital restorative stage, the body is repairing itself, building bone and muscle and releasing certain hormones.

  • REM: REM is a phase where a person dreams. It’s a period of greater brain activity and much less muscle activity.

Sleep Apnea connected to excessive weight gain

Researchers have discovered that sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, may contribute more to obesity than they once thought. Sleep apnea is a disorder in which a sleeping person stops breathing due to his/her airways are obstructed, or blocked.

Even though sleep apnea can affect anyone, it is far more common in overweight men. Other risk factors include being over the age of 40, a large neck and/or having a family history of the disorder. While a lot of people may just simply think sleep apnea is just a snoring problem, if left untreated, it could lead to heart attacks, high blood pressure and possibility of strokes.

*Another very important point: People who suffer from sleep apnea and other sleep disorders rarely get the 7-8 hours of much needed sleep per night and therefore run the risk of packing on extra pounds as well.

Sleep, Hormones and Weight Gain

Leptin is a hormone that suppresses appetite and Grehlin is a hormone that increases appetite. These are very important hormones that help the body control appetite and weight gain and loss. When lack of sleep becomes a common problem, levels of Grehlin increases, causing greater appetite, and levels of Leptin decrease. Regardless of diet and exercise, it’s possible that some obesity is caused, or made worse, by sleep deprivation.

Getting to Sleep to help you Lose Weight

If you are having problems with getting a good nights sleep, you might have a sleeping disorder and this may be a contributing factor causing you to gain weight, and have a lot less energy throughout the day. You should consider seeing a doctor, who can discuss some possible solutions to help restore your normal sleeping pattern.

Ask the doctor about visiting a sleep lab for evaluation. There, you will spend the night hooked up to electrodes where they can accurately monitor your sleep patterns. I have had several of my clients go this route and they have had great success. This process is  may also be covered by your insurance.

Following a regular exercise program will undoubtedly improve your quality of sleep Reducing or eliminating your intake of alcohol, caffeine and tobacco will also help you to get a better nights sleep.

Getting your sleep problems diagnosed and treated is a very important first step in accomplishing your weight loss goals.

*Lack of sleep may be keeping you from achieving weight loss success.

What’s the Skinny on Belly Fat?

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

Is there really a “Secret” to losing Belly Fat for Women (and Men) Over 40.

Most medical experts will tell you that the possible reasons that you have accumulated all that belly fat over the years is because of hormone changes, heredity, or aging. The plain truth of the matter “it’s all of these”, not to mention lack of exercise and poor eating habits. As the years go by; many women will start to notice an increase in belly fat as they get older, especially after the age of 40 – even more so after menopause.

Men have the same problem, just not as pronounced. It’s a fact – women tend to experience a larger fat percentage increase than males do once they hit 40!

As you get older your metabolism starts to slow down at a rate of 5-10% every decade(10 years). Some women will tend to see this slowdown of their metabolism earlier than others. The signs of this slowdown is your body fat increases and your energy levels drop.  After menopause (the time in a woman’s life when she stops having menstrual periods, the average age for the onset of menopause is 51 years), your body fat distribution will tend to shift and you will not only notice more fat in your legs, hip area and arms, you’ll notice a lot more belly fat accumulation.

Men will actually see this pattern start to happen to their body’s also. Although they don’t go through menopause (obviously), they go through “andropause” in which their testosterone drops sharply. They also will notice less energy and more stomach fat accumulation.

What is Visceral fat?    “It’s Belly Fat”

Visceral fat is fat that is inside your peritoneal cavity(inside your rib cage) between internal organs, unlike subcutaneous fat which is found beneath the skin and intramuscular fat which is found in and between the actual muscle tissue.  The “Belly Fat” syndrome (pot belly, spare tire, or beer belly) is simply excess visceral fat.

Belly Fat is not only unattractive, it can be downright dangerous! (Belly Fat) in women can lead to :

*Cancers including breast cancer and colorectal cancer.


*Cardiovascular Disease

*Metabolic Syndrome

  • Atherogenic dyslipidemia (blood fat disorders — high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol — this causes plaque buildups in artery walls)
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Insulin resistance or glucose intolerance
  • Prothrombotic state (high fibrinogen or plasminogen activator inhibitor–1 in the blood)
  • Proinflammatory state (e.g., elevated C-reactive protein in the blood)

Can certain foods help you to lose belly fat?

No, there are no secret magic foods that will cause you to lose your belly fat.  However if you eat the right kinds of foods and eat them at the right times throughout the day, along with the proper exercise program that will increase your metabolism, you will not only eventually lose weight from all areas of your body including that problem belly area, you will find that you will have an excess of energy. You’ll find yourself burning more calories and toning your muscles at the same time.

Before beginning the exercises to lose belly fat you should measure your stomach or waist (or better yet, TAKE PICTURES )

**Some Myths about how to lose belly fat!

Myth #1) If I do hundreds of crunches or situps a day, I will burn my belly fat!

A: NO – this is false. Abdominal exercises will help you to firm your abdominal muscles and flatten your belly, but It wont burn the fat in that area any more than arm exercises will burn fat in your arms. You need to increase your metabolism and control your calories to lose that fat.  When does it make more sense to eat the bulk of your calories throughout the day? During the time that your metabolism is at a higher rate so you can absorb, assimilate and utilize those calories as energy!

Generally about an hour after you wake up in the morning, your Metabolic Rate is at its peak and should remain at or near peak most of the day. As the day progresses, your Metabolic Rate decreases and that is why you should eat lighter meals in the evening. Consuming heavy meals late in the day decreases your energy level and the excess calories are more likely to be stored as Fat.

It doesn’t make much sense to eat the majority of our calories at a time when our metabolism is slowing down, does it?   I know with absolute certainty that once you really understand that there is a direct connection not only to what you eat but when you eat it, you’ll start seeing mind blowing changes and finally shed that excess body fat and you’ll have an  abundance of energy all day along (even into the evening!).

Myth #2)   If I do 45 minutes of Cardio 4x per week, I will burn my belly fat!

A: NO – this is false also. One of the first things that I tell a fitness client when they first hire me is…..don’t place too much importance on cardio (treadmill, bike, elliptical machines, etc.) as the major component on their quest to boost their energy levels and shed all that excess body fat! Cardiovascular exercise is great for Cardiac Muscle (heart muscle) and Vascular System (circulatory system) and definitely plays a role in increasing your metabolism to some extent if done correctly; but don’t expect it to be like waving a magic wand and your Excess Body Fat will just melt off, (Honestly, that’s just wishful thinking).

Just about everything you’ve been told or led to believe about cardio is wrong.

Did You Realize?

a)     One (1) pound of fat = 3,500-calories

b)    One (1) hour of cardio = approximately 750-calories

c)     To burn one (1) pound of body fat, you would need to complete 4.6-hours of cardio exercise.    Most people don’t do that much cardio exercise in two (2) weeks…… and they are doing the wrong type of cardiovascular training;

The answer is not more cardio…it’s less.

Want to know the  Real Secret to losing your belly fat?

Diet and Metabolism Connection

Show me someone that has a moderate calorie diet with moderate protein,  low fats and I’ll show you someone that has a good metabolism, constant energy, lower body fat and a better quality of life! There is definitely a connection…….adversely, show me someone that skips breakfast and most of their calories are consumed later in the day and the bulk of their caloric content is high cholesterol fats and carbohydrates and I’ll show you someone that has very little energy, no vitality and they never seem to be able to lose that excess body fat! Don’t underestimate the importance of this universal law. I don’t make the rules but I certainly understand them! I’m here to tell you that no amount of exercise or cardio will make up for a terrible eating program; especially when you are over 40-years of age.

Make sure you eat protein for breakfast.

If you don’t eat breakfast, you slow down your metabolism and send the body into “hoard mode,” thinking it’s starving because you’re going a long period of time frequently 6 to 8 hours or more, without food. Eat more protein rich foods…protein spikes you’re Metabolism Resulting in More Energy and Burning of Body Fat as an Energy Source. In a perfect world you could or should have small protein meals every 4 to 5 hours. This gives you plenty of energy throughout the day and plays a major role in keeping your blood sugar level constant. Control fats in your diet. Too much excess fats makes you lethargic and sluggish and if your trying to burn stored excess body fat – then don’t replace them. Use your stored body fat as an energy source. Try to stay around 10 to 15% fat intake throughout the day.

Don’t starve yourself – this is a big mistake

Dropping your calorie intake below 1,000 calories a day will signal to your body that you are in starvation mode, and will slow down your metabolism. You also need to understand that there’s a big difference between;

1) a 400 calorie meal that has 200 calories of fat in it (that’s 50% fat) = Bad

2) a 400 calorie meal that has 80 calories of fat in it (that’s 20% fat)  = Good

Eat smaller meals more frequently.

Smaller, more frequent protein rich meal keeps your blood sugar stable and provides a steady source of energy to fuel metabolism.

I can’t stress this enough, you need to drink a minimum of 8 8-ounce glasses of water every day. Water provides extra energy and the process of metabolism needs water to work effectively.

Top 10 reasons why people fail at losing weight

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

Comments from users of the FitOver4o Program!

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

New blog posts coming soon about the best way to lose fat when you’re over 40!