It’s time to get dressed for work. You have to fight with buttons. You are cursing the zipper. This did not happen a year ago! All you can think is, “What has happened to my body?”.
Menopause. The change. Reverse puberty. Whatever you call it, it’s not fun.
You may notice weight gain, especially around your abdomen during perimenopause (the two to ten years before menopause) or the middle of menopause. It’s aggravating, it’s annoying, but you do not need to spend the rest of your years fighting the menopausal battle of the bulge.
Keep reading because, in this article, you will learn:
- What causes menopause belly fat
- How to get rid of menopause belly fat
- And much more
Table of Contents
- Is it Normal to Gain Belly Fat During Menopause?
- What Causes Menopause Belly Fat?
- How Do You Get Rid of Menopause Belly Fat?
- 12 Tips on How To Get Rid of Menopause Belly
- Chiavaye: Supporting Women Through the Many Changes Caused by Menopause
Is It Normal To Gain Belly Fat During Menopause?
Gaining belly fat during menopause is normal, but it’s not healthy.
The weight gain associated with menopause can seriously impact your health. Having excess weight, especially around your midsection, increases your risk of:
- Breathing problems
- Blood vessel disease; and
- Type 2 diabetes
As a result of excess weight, you are also at risk for various types of cancer, including:
- Colon; and
- Endometrial cancers
What Causes Menopause Belly Fat?
There are a few different reasons belly fat occurs during menopause. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the most common ones.
#1: Hormones and Body Fat
It’s no secret that your hormones are out of whack during menopause.
As your estrogen levels drop, you tend to gain body fat around your midsection instead of your:
- Thighs; or
As you enter menopause, your progesterone levels decrease, which contributes to elevated cortisol levels. An elevated cortisol level can lead to menopause belly.
#2: Weight Gain and Metabolism
Most people aren’t as active as they once were. If you have become less active as you've aged, weight gain is more likely. Additionally, when weight gain occurs, you’re facing muscle loss, and the loss of muscle slows down your metabolism.
In addition, the aches and pains or a busy schedule may prevent you from exercising as much as you once did.
Because of these factors, abdominal fat can increase during menopause.
#3: Subcutaneous and Visceral Fat
Having belly fat isn’t just annoying; it can also affect your health.
There are two types of belly fat:
- The fat you can pinch, which is called subcutaneous fat.
- The fat that appears around your stomach during menopause is often visceral fat.
Visceral fat surrounds your organs within your abdominal wall and puts you at increased risk of:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Breast and colorectal cancer
- Alzheimer’s disease; and
- Other health problems
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How Do You Get Rid of Menopause Belly Fat?
While menopause and belly fat can be a fact of life, it is essential to take steps to combat them. Even though it won't be easy, you can do it!
Following are a dozen tips to help you fight the battle of the dreaded menopausal bulge.
12 Tips on How To Get Rid of Menopause Belly Fat
#1: Increase the Frequency and Intensity of Your Exercise
Along with increasing your exercise amount, you should also increase the intensity. To burn off menopausal weight gain, mix moderate exercise with vigorous exercise.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), adults should engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week and two or more days a week of muscle-strengthening activities.
The muscle-strengthening activities should work all of the major muscles groups, such as the:
- Shoulders; and
It is essential to note that how intense an exercise is for one's body will vary from person to person. Someone who hasn't exercised for years may need minimal exercise to become intense.
#2: Try a Variety of Exercises and Activities To Keep You Moving
Changing your workout routine can keep you from getting stuck in an exercise rut.
Aerobic exercises such as …
- Bicycling; and
… are wonderful, but mix it up from time to time!
Consider taking a Zumba or barre class. Try CrossFit one weekend and see what your buddies are talking about. Don't be afraid to give PiYo a try. With so many exercises to choose from, you’ll never feel bored with your exercise routine.
#3: Get an Accountability Partner To Help You Stay on Track
Feeling unmotivated? Set up a workout date with a friend who needs to exercise just as much as you do. Exercising with a friend has been shown to promote both physical and emotional well-being.
Try a group fitness class at your local gym if you don't have a buddy to join you on your weight loss journey.
Compared with exercising regularly on your own or not exercising at all, participating in regular group fitness classes can reduce stress and improve:
- Mental; and
- Emotional well-being
#4: Watch Your Carbohydrate Intake
Some nutrition experts believe that a diet heavy in unrefined carbs like pasta and bread is associated with excess belly fat.
This is because our bodies convert carbohydrates into sugar. Some foods burn faster, such as candy bars, while the sugar content of oatmeal is slower; however, it all becomes sugar.
Research has shown that a low carbohydrate diet may decrease the risk of postmenopausal weight gain.
#5: Increase Your Healthy Fat Intake
Fat enhances flavor and improves food taste. Additionally, it can be a healthy component of our diet. There’s no need to eliminate it from your diet; you just need to learn to be pickier. Think more almonds and fewer Almond Joys.
Healthy fats come from vegetable sources like olives and nuts, but keep in mind that avocados, for example, have the same number of calories as ice cream sundaes. Which do you think is more beneficial for your health?
When it comes to the fats you add to your diet; you can choose wisely now or pay for it later.
#6: Eat at the Right Times
When it comes to a mid-life diet, it's not just what you eat but also when you eat.
For example, late-night ice cream and popcorn binges are generally bad ideas and would be so even in the daytime.
Are you in menopause? It’s an even worse idea!
Research has shown that with a slower metabolism, it becomes much more difficult to burn calories; this is even more true with night snacking.
#7: Practice Portion Control
No matter how healthy your choices are, calories still add up.
At home, reduce your portion sizes. Why not use a smaller dish? You can still make a full plate, but the calories will be reduced.
Eating out at restaurants is usually a surefire way to add calories. At restaurants, we tend to consume twice the amount of calories we usually would. Meals are often combined with alcohol, which is also associated with belly fat.
Share half of your meal with your family or friends to reduce calories when eating out. If you don’t want to share, plan to take the other half home and eat later.
#8: Cut the Sugar
Sugar is not your friend, especially if you want to lose menopause belly fat. Sugar is not only unhealthy, but it can also cause stubborn belly fat to stick around.
Pro tip: To cut the sugar from your diet, start by avoiding sugary beverages and sodas, then limit your intake of sugary foods like cakes, cookies, and ice cream for special occasions.
Artificial sugar spikes and crashes are harder on your body. They cause an insulin rise, and too much insulin can lead to excess blood sugar being stored as belly fat.
When you eat fiber with natural sugar, your body can process it more slowly-which is why natural sugar like that found in fruit is not a problem.
Keep eating fruit and stay away from all processed, added sugars.
#9: Kickstart Your Day With Lemon or Apple Cider Vinegar
Start your body's natural detoxification process in the morning by drinking a glass of water with lemon or apple cider vinegar.
The acetic acid in vinegar and lemon burns fat and removes toxins from the body. In addition, it gives you a little energy boost in the morning.
#10: Try Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting refers to a cycle of eating and fasting. You are not told what foods to eat but when to eat them.
Several intermittent fasting methods divide the day or week into eating and fasting periods.
Many people decide their schedule by paying attention to their circadian rhythm. Studies have shown that eating for 8 to 12 hours a day and not eating for the rest of the day can help with weight loss.
There are two main reasons why intermittent fasting works for weight loss:
- It naturally decreases calorie consumption; and
- It improves insulin sensitivity
#11: Get on a Healthy Sleep Schedule
Maintaining a healthy weight requires sufficient high-quality sleep.
During menopause, many women have trouble sleeping due to:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Stress; and
- Other physical symptoms
There may be difficulty falling asleep, or you may wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to get back to sleep.
A lack of sleep is associated with increased levels of ghrelin, a hormone that causes us to feel hungry, and a lower level of leptin, which causes us to feel full.
To get quality sleep, it’s essential to get on a healthy sleep schedule.
Here are a few tips:
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule.
- Make sure you get seven to eight hours of sleep every night.
- No electronics before bed.
- Make your bedroom dark and quiet.
- Do not consume caffeine in the afternoon or evening.
#12: Manage Your Stress Levels
The link between stress and fat is unfortunately well established.
When you are constantly stressed, your cortisol levels will increase, making it easy for you to store fat in your belly.
Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, stimulates the liver to produce and release blood sugar and converts …
- Proteins; and
… into energy
Cortisol is released during stressful times to provide your body with energy, but when cortisol levels are constantly high as a result of chronic stress, these same effects may cause insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Reduce stress by using quick and simple techniques such as:
- Spend some time outside
- Try a meditation app; and
- Decrease alcohol use
Chiavaye: Supporting Women Through the Many Changes Caused by Menopause
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The content in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.