What Is A Menopause Belly And How Do You Fix It?
There are many ways in which menopause is changing a woman’s life. And even if hot flashes, mood changes, and insomnia are, for some women, easily manageable, the weight gain, and especially the characteristic menopause belly, that are happening, are surely not. These things can seriously harm the self-esteem of the menopausal women, causing the mood changes and depression to deepen even further.
But sadly, it is not only your self-esteem that is put at risk with the development of the menopause belly. Your health is put at great risk as well, and you should definitely not think twice about fighting it. In the following article, not only will we explain the origins and the risks of the menopause belly fat, but we will also share some effective weight loss tips that will help you eliminate it within weeks.
A quick review on menopause
Menopause is an unavoidable time period in each woman’s life. It is a period filled with hormonal changes due to which, various life and body changes develop. Usually, menopause is expected to happen after the age of 40. Menopause can occur earlier than that as in the cases where a hysterectomy has been performed, or chemotherapy has been used.
Basically, what happens during menopause is the levels of estrogen and progesterone normally decline as there are no more eggs left to be released. As a result of this, the main symptom of menopause occurs – your period stops. There are other body changes and symptoms involved including night sweats, hot flashes, insomnia, weight gain, depression, mood swings, irritability, vaginal dryness, reduced libido, joint, and muscle pain, etc (1).
Why menopause makes it harder for you to lose weight?
One of the most troubling menopause symptoms of all is probably the weight gain that suddenly occurs as a result of the many hormonal and body changes. You might discover that it has become harder for you to slim down now that you have officially entered the menopause period. There are many factors that contribute to it.
For starters, there is a decline in estrogen levels that have been linked to increased fat storage, the same as the elevated estrogen levels have been linked to the same changes (2). During the period of menopause, symptoms such as insomnia, mood changes, and fatigue can all contribute to a decreased level of physical activity, and with that to an increased risk of unwanted weight gain. In addition, insomnia itself, and poor sleep quality, in general, have been linked to a more probable weight gain as well (3, 4). As a result of the normal aging process, a low of women become insulin resistant which makes weight loss a lot harder than it used to be (5).
What is a menopause belly?
Menopause belly develops as a result of the increased fat storage in the front and sides of the abdomen, which is one of the most common side-effects of menopause itself. The decline in estrogen hormone, the changes in physical activity, diet, and lifestyle in general, are all linked to the development of the characteristic menopause belly fat. But it is not only the fat storage that is enhanced due to these hormonal changes.
The hormonal changes can also cause losing the menopause belly fat to be a lot harder than anticipated. Research has confirmed these findings by comparing the body fat among menopausal and premenopausal women, suggesting that the former have higher levels as compared to premenopausal women (6).
Others may confuse bloating with abdominal fat. Bloating is also a common symptom during menopause. Your abdomen may enlarge throughout the day, depending on what you eat. Remember though, that this bloating is not an actual weight gain or visceral fat. As soon as you stop menstruating, you’ll not feel bloated anymore.
Why is it important to lose your belly fat?
Not only is your belly fat harming your body image and most probably your self-esteem, but it is also posing a huge threat to your health. The increased levels of belly fat have been linked to a higher cardiovascular risk. It has been suggested that belly fat increases the risk of high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, and hypertriglyceridemia (7, 8). In a study published in the European Journal of Cancer, the excess belly fat has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer (9). As you can see, if not for your body image and self-esteem, you have to do whatever you can to lose that excess belly fat for the purposes of preserving your health.
How to get rid of your belly fat and prevent it from coming back ever again?
When it comes to weight loss in general, the most important thing is not to lose that excess weight, but also, to prevent gaining back the lost weight in the future. The way to do so is by using healthy weight loss methods that will teach you how to improve your lifestyle and health and also teach you about creating healthy habits that will prevent weight gain in the years to come. What will follow are some effective weight loss methods that will help even the most dangerous cases of the menopausal belly fat to lose it and prevent it from coming back ever again.
Do not rely too much on a calorie deficit
While we cannot deny the fact that a calorie deficit is required when we are trying to lose weight, it is of essential importance to remember that cutting too many calories from your diet can actually do more harm than good.
If you want to lose body fat safely, never rely solely on your calorie deficit. You might end up taking in fewer calories than what you are supposed to and this may cause a loss of muscle mass and even a further decline in your metabolic rate (10, 11). You may not know, but your muscles burn more calories and make your weight loss more possible. On the other hand, a fast metabolism means burning more calories which will also reflect greatly on your weight loss journey. Make sure that you create a diet plan that will allow you to intake the needed calories to give your body the energy that it needs to go through the day without stepping into dangerous calorie deficits.
Start moving more
Weight loss and exercising go hand in hand. If you want to lose belly fat but stay healthy in the process, you have to be dedicated to working on a regular basis.
If you are new to exercise, you might want to try cardio exercising and HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) for the best weight loss effects. Weight lifting can be quite helpful as well. And of course, you should never ignore the abdominal exercises. Abdominal exercises will target your belly fat, and it will make sure that it is gone within weeks. In addition, exercising will also help your balance, posture, bone health, muscle build-up, and even improve your mood among many other health benefits that it will surely provide (12).
Cortisol, the stress hormone, can go as far as to make it impossible for you to lose your menopause belly. But that is not all. Not only will stress make it harder to lose weight, but it will also cause you to gain weight and worsen your health (13). Stress is known to bring quite a lot of health risks in our lives, starting from the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, insomnia, etc.
Knowing all of this, we hope that you have made the decision to reduce your stress levels as much as possible.
Despite the fact that nowadays it is almost impossible to live without any stress in our lives, it is important to make what we can to minimize the stress as much as possible. Some great techniques that will help you reduce your cortisol levels are meditation, yoga, walking, working out, sleeping in and many others.
Make sure that you get your beauty sleep
Sleep has a certain influence on every aspect of human life. If we do not get enough sleep, we are exposing ourselves to many risks that can put our lives in danger. Increased risk of chronic diseases, and even cancer, weaker immune system, mood changes, and much more are expected to come with low quality sleep. But not getting enough sleep also increases the risk of weight gain (14).
To protect yourself from insomnia and other sleep issues that might bring upon the risk of weight gain, among others, make sure that you create a quality sleep schedule that you can follow each day. The sleep schedule should allow you to sleep around 7 to 8 hours each night, ultimately by going in bed and getting up at the same time each day and night.
Rely on caffeine
Who does not like waking up to a warm cup of caffeine in the morning? Perhaps you are a coffee lover, or perhaps you are a dedicated fan to green tea, both of which are rich sources of caffeine. Apart from the great taste and the needed boost that both coffee and green tea have to offer, they can also help you get rid of excess body fat.
It has been suggested that caffeine is able to boost your metabolic rate, increasing the number of calories that you burn on a daily level by 10-29% (15)! You know what that means, don’t you? We finally have yet another great excuse to start our mornings with a freshly prepared cup of coffee or green tea and have yet another during the day. For the lovers of green tea, we would recommend drinking a cup before and after your workouts as that has been proven to have extra calorie boosting abilities (16)!
Do not avoid proteins
Proteins are perhaps the most important nutrients of them all. There are multiple reasons why we should satisfy our daily needs for proteins, and the potential weight loss effects are one of them!
By including more proteins to your breakfast, you are actively reducing the calorie intake throughout the day. You see, proteins have to ability to keep you fed and satisfied longer than any other nutrients, along with fibers and whole grains, that is. By doing so, they are making sure that you are eating fewer calories and with that, they are ensuring your weight loss, despite the fact that you may believe it otherwise (17, 18).
Choose fats wisely
Not all fats causes abdominal fat. In fact, we need them to add more flavors to our food. You just need to know which types of fats are good to add in your diet.
The healthiest are those derived from vegetable sources like nuts and olives.
Know when to eat
It’s not just what you eat that can contribute to your body weight. The time when you eat also matters. Midnight cravings, especially for sweets and chips, are definitely not healthy. If you are trying to avoid gaining weight, then don’t eat too much too late.
Experts also advise menopausal women to watch their snacking. What they eat from 3 PM onwards daily can add to their abdominal fat as this is the time when most women tend to overeat.
To be able to manage your own body weight, pay attention to your circadian rhythm. Eat during a window of 8-12 hours, and then stop. Experts find this very helpful not only in controlling postmenopausal weight gain, but also for weight maintenance at any age.
As you can see, your belly fat, whether it’s caused by menopause or not, is not that hard to manage, if you are well familiar with the right weight loss methods, that is. In today’s article, we have taken the time to explain how your menopause belly brings you closer to the risk of cardiovascular disease, but also breast cancer. But that is not all that we have shared with you. We also shared the secrets that bring you closer to eliminating your menopause belly and improving your life and health for the better. Now, we can only hope that you have taken this as seriously as we have and began your path to weight loss and life improvement.