Stubborn belly fat is a major problem for many women over 50. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to get rid of it through diets or exercise routines; this fat is hard to fight. It is due to the fact that as we go through perimenopause and into menopause estrogen levels drop, so body fat is redistributed from the hips, thighs and buttocks to the abdomen. However, excess pounds aren’t inevitable. To minimize menopause weight gain, we need to step up our activity level and enjoy a healthy diet.
Why do we gain belly fat during menopause?
Although there’s no magic formula for preventing — or reversing — menopause weight gain, it’s imperative to look after ourselves. Trying to lose some of our belly fat is important, not only for personal appearance and vanity but also for our health with research showing the significance of belly fat and its role in the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol as well as other inflammatory conditions.
Menopause sends excess fat to the wrong spots, regardless of your body type or how active you are -says endocrinologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Dr Ekta Kapoor-. That’s a direct effect of the female hormone estrogen. Premenopause, women tend to carry weight lower in the body — our legs and thighs. That changes after menopause. The lack of estrogen in the body redirects the fat to the belly.
The weight gain is also related to a poor lifestyle, lack of sleep, stress and genetic factors. Also, muscle mass typically diminishes with age, while fat increases that means it can make it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight.
Fat attack: a basic action plan
When it comes to losing weight and getting healthy, there is never a shortage of diet and fitness crazes claiming to hold the secret to easy, sustainable weight loss. It takes time to get rid of that ‘muffin top’ but that’s the only way to get results.
Increase your aerobic activities
If you want to improve your figure, try to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting down and combine aerobic activities like walking and swimming with strength-training exercise. Remember, the more lean muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn at rest. The magic formula for blasting body fat is combining cardio, weight lifting, and core work. The trick with the cardio is to do intervals — alternating high- and low-intensity bursts within one workout — and work up to burning 400 calories per workout, four to five times a week. Weight train twice a week, either at home or at the gym and do yoga or Pilates to trim that core.
Choose the right food
According to the British Nutrition Foundation, post-menopausal women should avoid saturated fats and replacing them with things like olive or sunflower oils and spreads. Also, they should remove foods such as alcohol, caffeine, sugar, red meat, cow’s milk and milk byproducts (such as cheese or yoghurts) from their diet, while simultaneously eating more fruits and vegetables, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products from sheep and goats. A diet rich in fruit, vegetables and starchy fibres, such as brown rice and wholemeal bread, is always preferable. Last but not least, it’s important to cut out processed foods and specially packaged foods. Researchers have found that the transfats found in margarine, packaged cookies and crackers increase fat in your midsection, and can actually redistribute fat from other parts of the body to the belly.
Menopause can be an especially stressful time for some women, and learning ways to effectively manage unpleasant situations that can quickly ruin your day becomes increasingly important. Learn and practice relaxation techniques; try meditation, yoga, tai-chi, or start a new hobby.
Get enough sleep
A good night sleep can help boost low testosterone levels and have a positive impact on cortisol, leptin and insulin levels. Research showed that women who slept less than five hours a night had a 30 per cent higher risk of gaining 30 pounds over a 16-year period, compared to those who got a full seven hours. Many women benefit from good sleep hygiene, including unwinding before bed, turning off electronics, and taking a sleep supplement to fall and stay asleep.
Never forget, the key to keeping weight off is to maintain healthful habits in the long term. If you have concerns about your weight or symptoms of hormonal fluctuations, you should speak with a doctor about appropriate treatment.