Menopause Belly Fat: Does Menopause Really Cause Weight Gain
This simple answer is yes. In a study that followed a number of women through all stages of menopause, it was found that almost all women gained fat and lost muscle mass. There are several reasons for this:
- Hormonal changes during menopause drive hunger, resulting in higher caloric intake.
- These hormonal changes also change where fat is stored. More commonly found around the hips in pre-menopausal women, menopause shifts fat storage to the stomach, leading to more noticeable abdominal fat or meno-pot.
- Menopause is linked to a slower metabolism, which increases weight gain.
- The menopause can result in higher levels of insulin in your blood, which causes your body to store more energy from your food intake than normal.
Other contributing factors to menopause belly fat include lower levels of physical activity amongst postmenopausal women, factors like retirement that lower the day-to-day need for burning energy or conversely high-level career progression that increases stress levels and results in weight-gain associated with said stress.
The long and short of it is that menopause belly fat is real. Whether caused as a direct result of physiological changes or lifestyle factors, its a problem many women experience.
Mayo Clinic Study Finds Explanation For Postmenopausal Belly Fat
Weight was never a concern for Stephanie Brondani, 52, of Minnetonka. Until last year, when she hit menopause.
Suddenly, she noticed her midsection thickening. I think everybody feels , Im eating the same way I always have been and yet Im getting this roll. What is that about? she said.
Scientists have long known that lower estrogen levels after menopause can cause fat storage to shift from the hips and thighs to the abdomen. Now, a groundbreaking study, co-authored by the Mayo Clinic, has determined why: Proteins, revved up by the estrogen drop, cause fat cells to store more fat.
The study also revealed a double whammy: These cellular changes also slow down fat-burning by the body.
Even though the research doesnt provide weight-loss solutions, it may bring a sense of relief to millions of middle-aged women who have been fighting an often losing battle against the dreaded post-meno belly.
It doesnt mean youre absolutely doomed, said Dr. Michael Jensen, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic and one of the studys authors, but it does mean its going to be harder, probably to lose weight.
That comes as welcome news to Brondani, who has tried a new exercise program, wears a pedometer and has cut back on sugar and junk food.
Cassandra Clay-Chapman started putting on pounds soon after she entered menopause a few years ago. Before she knew it, she was 10 pounds heavier.
Fat Freezing Is The Perfect Treatment For Perimenopause And Menopausal Women
Fat freezing has is becoming more and more popular as a permanent treatment for menopausal women, either once they have entered true menopause or through the tough years of peri-menopause. Both of the these times create hormone fluctuations and hence women tend to put on weight and hold excess weight through the stomach/ tummy area. Even with healthy diets and exercise programs, fat on the tummy is impossible to move. There is no specific exercise or food to spot reduce fat, therefore having fat freezing is a great non-invasive and permanent option to reduce this stomach fat.
One of the many benefits of fat freezing is that the procedure is non-invasive. This means that there is no blood, sharp needles, anaesthetic or oozing wounds after the procedure.
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Foods To Avoid During Menopause
Reaching for less-than-healthy foods as you move through menopause can worsen bothersome symptoms, such as hot flashes and insomnia. Knowing what to avoid could make this natural transition much more manageable.
Following a healthy, well-balanced diet is a good idea in general, but its especially true for women who are nearing or have just passed through menopause, says Amy Jamieson-Petonic, RD, a nutritionist and exercise physiologist in Cleveland.
Good nutrition can make a big change in how you feel with regard to menopause symptoms like mood swings, hot flashes, and exhaustion, as well as bloating and possible weight gain, Jamieson-Petonic says. Women of menopausal age should make sure to eat plenty of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean protein for optimal health, she says.
That advice is backed up by a survey of 400 post-menopausal women documented in an article published in April 2019 in journal Menopause, which found that women who ate a diet rich in fruits and vegetables were less likely to report having experienced menopausal symptoms than women whose diets contained more fatty foods and sweets. Decreasing your consumption of these and certain other foods may be able to ease a lot of the discomfort linked to this natural transition and help you stay healthy in the years to come.
No Matter What Your Body Looks Like Now You Need To Think About How You Got There Life Is A War
With stress from trying to balance career and family, going through pregnancy and childbirth, unfortunate events such as loss of a loved one, or dealing with other very difficult issues, we are only human and can only do so much and can only handle things the best we can. Stress can cause bad eating habits as a way of dealing with it, leading to weight gain. Remember that you have been through a lot, so thank yourself for pulling through.
Now its time to care for yourself and put you FIRST. You deserve it.
Get Hormonal Support
There are natural, healthy, supplements out there that can support your hormone levels, which may help you prevent or get rid of that stubborn menopausal muffin top.
I personally love and recommend BioTrust Ageless Body. Research found that the super nutrients in their formula reduce cortisol levels over 6 times lower. PLUS, it rolled back up to 17 years of degenerative cellular aging, and improved skin and sleep .
Get Social Support
Its not easy to eat healthy and exercise when no one else is doing it around you. Call up a friend or convince your partner to join you.
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What Causes The Menopause Belly
One of the worst symptom of menopause is the menopause belly. You may not even be gaining weight, but you notice that your pants dont fit the same way they used to. You are probably wondering what causes that redistribution of body fat and if there is anything you can do about it.
Not only does the menopause belly make you feel old, but it also can be a health risk. If your waist circumference is too high, then you are more at risk for several chronic diseases.
Weight Gain And Metabolism
You may have unknowingly become a bit more sedentary as youve aged into your 40s and 50s as well, making weight gain all the more common. Your metabolism slows down as you lose muscle, and aches and pains or a busy schedule may keep you from exercising as frequently.
All of these factors can contribute to an increase of abdominal fat during your menopausal years.
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Move More Once You Hit Midlife Say Experts
Weight gain may feel like its inevitable once youve entered your fourth decade, but the truth is, it doesnt have to be. Natural hormonal changes mean you may start to notice symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings, but you dont need to idly accept that the number on the bathroom scale will steadily creep up, too.
Heres whats going on with your body if elastic-waist pants are now your go-to fashion staple: Weight distribution changes as you hit menopause, with the added pounds accumulating right around your belly. I named the extra fat that collects around your middle the menopot, says Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, author of Body for Life for Women.
What we did when we were 30 and what we do when were 60 is very different, says Kathryn A. Boling, MD, a family medicine physician at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. We have to adjust our exercise some as we get older. If youve lost some gusto, create incentives for yourself to stay moving. I have an Apple Watch, and I like to see that circle closed, she says. Peeke says you dont have to go to a gym, but you do need to do enough strength training to keep your muscles strong and your metabolism revved. Try activities that have you lifting, pushing, and pulling, she says.
Adjust Your Coping Strategies And Address Your Stress Levels To Help Reduce Weight Gain
If your fat is making you feel stressed or vice versa for that matter dont disregard that link. There is a stress-fat connection, Peeke says. If you walk around completely stressed all the time, your cortisol levels will increase, and that will make it easy for you to deposit fat deep inside the belly.
Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, stimulates the liver to increase production and release of blood sugar and helps the body convert fats, proteins, and carbohydrates into usable energy. As part of the bodys fight or flight response, cortisol is released during stressful times to give your body a natural energy boost, but when cortisol levels are constantly high because of chronic stress, these same effects may result in insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
To reduce stress and belly fat, employ quick and simple techniques to help calm you down.
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Pamper Yourself For A Good Nights Sleep
\When youre going through menopause, getting a good nights sleep can sound like an impossible dream! There you aretired but wired, tossing and turning with hot flashes and insomnia. Maybe youre waking up at 3 am, like I used to, and cant get back to sleep, causing you to be irritable and short-tempered the next day.
But getting a good nights sleep is critical for weight loss, healthy aging, and elevated moods.
To help ensure peaceful dreams, try this tip Before you slip into your sheets, treat yourself like a newborn baby. Take a warm bath, lather on your favorite creme or lotion, and play relaxing music. Make it a ritualjust like brushing your teeth!
For an even more calm and restorative nights sleep, doctors sometimes recommend adding supplements to your routine. Dr. Sara Gottfried recommends either 300-600 mg of valerian root extract before bed or 0.5-3.0 mg of melatonin. If taking melatonin, be sure to check the dosage carefully.
What Is Bloating
We all know what body fat is, but what is bloating? Bloating is uncomfortable swelling and pressure in your mid-section. It can be the cause of temporary weight gain, and water or gas retention.
Changing estrogen levels is the culprit for both belly fat and bloating. Estrogen is needed for correct levels of water and bile in the intestinal tract, and when it decreases you get more water in your system, and more gas in your intestines.
Isnt this the last thing we need as menopausal women? Seriously. Ive noticed that things move much slower down there since Ive jumped into the menopausal fray. My hands seem to swell more often, just enough to have difficulty removing my rings from my fingers.
Reducing my salt intake has helped with the hand swelling , as well as daily exercise and probiotics.
The short story on both belly fat and belly bloating is this: The remedies to combat these are the same. Add more exercise and more water to your daily life.
Id love to send you my free printable Menopause Foods: What to Eat and Avoid! Just shoot me your email at the end of this post.
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When To Get Help
A large waistline puts you at risk for metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms that can lead to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and other health problems. If you have any of these related symptoms or are taking medication for any of them, you should see a doctor.
- Abdominal obesity
- High triglyceride level
- Low HDL cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Fasting glucose
Increased belly fat is also a primary risk factor for insulin resistancea precursor to diabetes, and a warning flag for heart disease, stroke, fatty liver, and vascular disease.
Other warning signs that should prompt a call to your doctor:
- A rapidly expanding waistline
- Losing weight, but your midsection keeps growing
- Belly bloat accompanied by severe pain, spotting between periods, postmenopausal bleeding, blood in your stools, or fever.
Burn Stomach And Waist Fat With Cardio
Burning stomach fat also requires doing cardiovascular exercise. Increasing your activity level with exercise means you’ll burn more calories each day, which will help you lose more weight. Prepare for a significant time investment — you need at least 250 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise for significant weight loss, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.
That doesn’t mean you need to spend endless hours on the elliptical or treadmill — a simple brisk walk around your neighborhood counts as moderate-intensity exercise. Other low-impact cardiovascular exercise, such as water walking or water aerobics, can also help you burn calories if you don’t want to stress your joints with higher impact workouts like running.
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A Drop In Estrogen Levels
Changes in levels estrogen contribute to weight gain.
Estrogen is one of the primary sex hormones in females. It plays a role in:
- physical sex characteristics
- regulating cholesterol levels
During menopause, estrogen levels dip substantially.
Low estrogen during menopause does not directly cause weight gain, but it may lead to increases in total body fat and abdominal fat. Doctors associate excess weight during middle age with heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Hormone replacement therapy may reduce the tendency to gain abdominal fat.
Strength Training In Menopause
As your estrogen levels lower in perimenopause and menopause, your muscle mass is also going to decline. This loss of muscle mass is known as sarcopenia and its common in menopausal women . With the loss of muscle, your body fat will get higher which will make it more likely youll get stubborn belly fat .
Starting a weight training routine is going to be of the utmost importance if your goal is to get rid of your menopot belly. Even if youre dieting you still wont be able to fully get rid of your belly as long as your muscle mass keeps declining. Aerobic exercise is also important lifting weights with major muscle groups is what youll need for muscle gains and fat loss.
Eating a higher amount of protein is going to be key to building more lean muscle. If you have trouble meeting your daily protein requirements try drinking a daily low-carb protein shake.
Getting serious about lifting weights is the best thing you can do to combat the redistribution of fat to your belly. And as your hormones change with menopause its going to only become more and more important. This doesnt mean you have to start a hardcore bodybuilding workout routine but you need to get on a weight training plan fast. Some of my favorite strength training exercises include push-ups, squats, pull-ups, lunges, shoulder presses and step-ups.
Diet for Menopausal Belly
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Hormonal Changes And Weight Gain
As you approach menopause, the levels of estrogen in your body drop rapidly. At the same time, levels of a hormone called androgen increase . This can cause a hormonal imbalance, which in and of itself can cause weight gain.
People who have a hormonal imbalance may also experience a new level of hunger. You may also notice that youre hungry for different types of foods. Just like your periods might make you crave salty, sweet, and carb-rich foods due to hormonal shifts, menopause can do the same.
The average weight gain for women during and after menopause is around .
Its Better To Stand Than Sit If And When You Can
The formula is simple: The more time that your bodys in motion, the more calories your body will burn. One low-effort way to do that? Stay as vertical as possible throughout the day, Peeke says. Not only will that increase calorie burn, it can also help prevent other health problems. A study published in January 2018 in the journal Obesity found that prolonged sitting is connected to higher levels of abdominal fat, as well as fat thats accumulated around organs such as the liver, which increases risk for diabetes and heart disease.
Staying vertical isnt exactly the same as breaking out a full-on sweat . To stay upright more often, stand and pace when youre on the phone, or park further from the front door of the places youre going, so youll have to walk more. If youre a binge watcher, place a pedal exerciser on the floor in front of your couch, so you can fit in some needed movement while still catching up on all your favorite shows.
To stay upright more often, stand and pace when youre on the phone, or park farther from the places youre going so youll have to walk a little more. If youre a binge-watcher, place a pedal exerciser on the floor in front of your couch, so you can fit in some needed movement while still catching up on your favorite shows.
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