If you’re a woman in the late 30’s to 50’s and are concerned about menopause belly fat, then you want to read this.
As you get older, you might notice that it becomes harder to lose weight and fat seems to prefer gravitating toward your waistline, also known as the dreaded “Menopausal Muffin Top,” “Menopausal Potbelly,” or “Menopause Belly Fat.”
In fact, research has found that 90% of women gain extra weight between ages 35 to 55.
Most women gain 10 to 15 pounds starting in perimenopause (the time “around” menopause), and then a pound a year after that.
Thank you, hormones!
Although women often experience menopause belly fat, men can also experience an increase in belly fat with age, due to declining levels of testosterone.
Not only does a little extra fluff around the middle cause body image issues, but menopause belly fat can have a negative impact on your health.
Before I tell you what to do about weight gain and menopause belly fat, I want to give you an understanding of the basic science surrounding it all.
What Is Peri-menopause?
Peri-menopause is also called “pre-menopause,” and is the stage before menopause, which can last for around 10 years until full menopause takes effect. Some women begin this phase starting as early as their late 30’s, which is the result of a normal change in hormone fluctuations as we age.
What Is Menopause?
You are considered to be in menopause when it has been at least 12 months since you had a menstrual period. This can happen in your 40’s but the average age is 51 in the United States. This menopausal stage takes, on average, 1-3 years.
What Happens To Your Hormones?
Hormones act as messengers in your body, travelling through your blood stream to tell all of your body systems what to do.
The most important hormone involved in menopause is estrogen, which controls your menstrual cycle and fertility. Estrogen is mainly produced by your ovaries but is also produced by fat cells and the adrenal gland.
Fluctuating levels of estrogen are the main cause of all those nasty menopausal symptoms.
However, other key player hormones in menopause include progesterone and testosterone (yes, it’s not just for men!). Progesterone and testosterone are both also produced by your ovaries and adrenal glands.
Peri-menopause and Menopause Can Cause:
- Slowed metabolism
- “Menopause belly fat”
- Sleep difficulties
- Anxiety and/or feelings of sadness
- Vaginal dryness/painful sex
- Heart palpitations
- Thinning hair and dry skin
- Loss of breast fullness
- Hot flashes and mood swings
What Makes Symptoms Worse??
If you aren’t supporting your hormones with proper nutrition and lifestyle habits such as stress management, menopausal symptoms can become worse.
Because all of our systems (digestive, endocrine, etc.) are connected. What we eat affects how we feel. How we feel affects how we eat.
What Causes Menopausal Weight Gain?
Although weight gain can be caused by a number of things, the most common cause of menopausal weight gain is the breakdown in communication between hormones and fat cells.
Our hormones are responsible for sending signals to our fat cells to store fat. During menopause, our hormones get out of whack, and that communication breaks down, causing changes in metabolism (slows down), digestion, appetite (carbs, carbs, carbs!) and heat regulation (hello, hot flashes!).
Because of this, women going through menopause have food cravings that lead to more calories taken in than needed.
Remember, our metabolism slows down so we don’t need to take in as many calories than we did in our 20’s, but our appetite doesn’t know that yet. In addition, fat cells decide they want to start storing more fat and don’t want to let it go.
So, Why Is Everything Gravitating Towards My Midsection??
Belly Fat Hormones: Insulin and Cortisol.
Key players in fat storage, particularly in the belly area during menopause, are insulin and cortisol. There are many ways that these hormones can interact to cause your body to store more fat.
Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that controls your blood sugar levels and is influenced by the food you eat. It is responsible for telling your cells that they can use the sugar (glucose) in your blood stream for energy. When you eat foods that are high in sugar, or processed foods such as white flour, your blood sugar levels rise and insulin levels rise too, to tell your cells to use up that sugar.
However, if levels remain high, a vicious cycle can begin between insulin and cortisol.
When insulin levels increase, cortisol is also increased. Cortisol (the “stress hormone”) is also known to cause the body to store more fat, especially in the belly area.
Insulin and cortisol function in a bi-directional loop, so that insulin increases cortisol, and cortisol increases insulin. It’s pretty hard to get out of that cycle!
In addition, insulin resistance can occur if your blood sugar and insulin levels remain high for a long time (you keep eating too much sugar or carbs). Your cells have a difficult time taking in the glucose to use it as fuel, so it begins to build up in your bloodstream.
Since your cells are having such a hard time using that energy, they starve and send out stress signals.This is where cortisol comes in to play again. Cortisol is a hormone that responds to stress, which causes fat storage.
Also, any extra sugar that isn’t used and is floating around in your blood is sent to the liver to be store as glycogen for use at a later time, and if there is too much, it is stored as fat.
As fat was once stored in the hips, thighs, and buttocks as a reserve for breastfeeding, it’s no longer needed for that purpose as we hit menopause. Fat moves to the abdominal area instead and becomes visceral (deep belly) fat, which can cause inflammation in the body and can increase risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
As a general rule, if your waist is greater than 35 inches around, you have too much “toxic” belly fat.
What Can I Do to Prevent or Lose Menopausal Belly Fat?
Exercise Your Whole Body, Not Just Your Belly
There is no such thing as an exercise that “targets” belly fat. Doing sit-ups and crunches alone will not give you a slim waist.
To lose belly fat, you need to exercise your whole body. By doing this, you will lower your body fat percentage. The lower your body fat percentage becomes, the smaller your belly will become.
The magic formula for reducing belly fat is a combination of cardio, core, and weight-lifting exercises. Cardio workouts burn the most calories, while core exercises strengthen your abdominal muscles, giving your belly a tighter appearance. Weight-lifting exercises build more muscle that will burn more calories, while toning your body.
I don’t want to be sales-y, but I do have an 8-week exercise program that includes this magic formula. It comes with a 60-day guarantee, so if you don’t like it, you’ll get every penny back. It’s pretty cheap anyway.
Build More Muscle
Muscle mass declines with age. Muscle cells use up a lot of energy. Therefore, the more muscle mass you have, the more calories your body needs. If you don’t take enough calories in to keep up with demand, your body will use fat as a source of energy and you will lose weight.
Cut carbs. Carbs draw water into your body, causing bloating and fat storage, which loves to occur where you want it the least: your belly area.
Eat whole ingredients and avoid processed foods. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and other great sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Don’t cut out the fat. Eating fat does not make you fat. In fact, eating fat can help you lose fat.
My husband is an amazing French chef, who has helped me eat properly and I lost A LOT of weight since I met him. He helped me create meal plans and healthy cookbooks with delicious recipes that help with weight loss and use whole, nutritious ingredients.
Watch Your Blood Sugar.
Get your blood sugar levels tested regularly, especially if you are overweight.
If you are over 45 years old, your health care provider should test your blood sugar levels every 3 years.
At any age, if you have risk factors for high blood sugar and diabetes, your health care provider may check your blood sugar more often.
High risk factors include being overweight, having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or poly-cystic ovary disease, having a close relative with diabetes, or being a member of a high-risk ethnic group.
Detox Your Liver
Do you remember when I said earlier that too much sugar in your bloodstream is sent to the liver to be stored as glycogen, which can then be turned to fat? That’s why detoxing your liver is important!
There are plenty of detox products out there. And I have tried a lot of them. Supergreens drinks are pretty popular and honestly, I think that in this day and age of junk food and toxins, everyone should drink them.
Every morning, I drink MetaboGreens 45X.
I have tried other supergreens drinks but NONE taste as good as this one. In fact, I can’t even stomach the other ones on the market. This one tastes sweet, although there’s no sugar. It doesn’t taste “green” at all.
If you don’t love yourself, regardless of how you feel about your body, you’re not going to have the strength to lose weight or get rid of belly fat.
No matter what your body looks like now, you need to think about how you got there. Life is a war-zone.
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 it’s 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 (the belly fat hormone) levels over 6 times lower. PLUS, it rolled back up to 17 years of degenerative cellular aging, and improved skin and sleep (the things that start declining with age!).
Get Social Support
It’s 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.
A little support goes a long way.
Plus, it’s nice to hear from other women who are going through the same things.
Get Some Sleep
Yes, that doesn’t sound easy when menopause can cause sleep difficulties. There are some natural ways that you can help you, though.
Drinking chamomile tea right before bed can work wonders.
A supplement called Melatonin can also really help a lot. Just make sure you get one that is time-released, so that you not only can fall asleep, but also stay asleep. There’s no groggy feeling in the morning.
- Menopause symptoms can occur as early as the late 30’s, so so keep an eye out.
- What you eat can affect how you feel.
- Menopause belly fat is a result of fluctuating hormones, diet, stress, and lack of sleep.
- Exercise your whole body, not just your belly.
- Clean out the toxins in your body.
- Support your hormones, get some sleep, and reach out to a friend and get a supplement that helps.
- Sugar and other simple carbs are culprits for menopause belly fat.
- Grab our free kitchen checklist before your next trip to the grocery store by clicking here (insert link to our email-opt-in)
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