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Toning your tummy into the middle ages

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

They say that with age comes wisdom, but for many of us it also means a thickening waistline. If being middle aged also means that your middle is getting bigger, here are some things you can do keep your waistline in check: 

Skip the sweet stuff

Make a concerted effort to remove sweets and added sugars from your diet.   Americans on average eat a whopping 22 teaspoons of sugar each day. That’s 330 calories that don’t add any nutrition to your diet, just inches to your waist. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 4 teaspoons of added sugar per day for women and 6 teaspoons for men.

Added sugar comes by many different names, like corn syrup, glucose, maltose and sucrose, among others. The largest source of added sugar in the American diet is soda pop. To see how much sugar you consume, consider using an online food log like MyFitnessPal or Lose It.

Increase protein consumption

As people get older, they may require more protein because the body does not digest it as efficiently. Protein can assist with weight loss because your body has to work a little bit harder to digest protein. It is released more slowly into your bloodstream, making you feel satisfied longer between meals.  

Include a little protein in each meal, but don’t overload on it. Your body needs protein, carbohydrates, and fat to be fully nourished and support essential functions. Again, using a food log can help you to determine how many of your calories are coming from these three macro-nutrients. 

Fill up on fiber

It doesn’t seem to make sense that something bulky will ultimately help you to slim down, but that is just what fiber does. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits and include whole grains, nuts, and seed in your diet. The fiber in these carbohydrate-containing foods slows their digestion, keeping you full and satisfied between meals. Fiber also helps add bulk to your stool; allowing your body to eliminate waste more comfortably. If you are not eating much fiber now, increase your consumption slowly along with drinking plenty of water.

Build some muscle

In addition to daily aerobic activity, almost anyone can benefit from strength training 2 or 3 days each week. Muscle tissue is more “metabolically active” than fat tissue, meaning it uses more calories. You can do simple exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, and squats, or work with a trainer using weight machines or free weights. Some local facilities also offer group strength training classes.

Having a larger waistline is not something that you should just accept as a normal part of aging. Research has shown that a waist larger than 42 inches for men, or 35 inches for women, is a risk factor for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

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