Middle age woman doing yoga

How to Get Rid of “Meno Belly”

As if hot flashes, loss of sex drive, and chin hairs aren’t enough for women to deal with as they age, Mother Nature in her infinite wisdom decided to add insult to injury with a bonus of a few extra pounds on top of it all. Whether you call it the “menopause middle,” or the “midlife midsection,” the good news is that you don’t have to call this weight gain unavoidable. In fact, there are some things you can do to not only minimize, but also help to reverse a menopause tummy. First, however, you need to understand the causes and concerns.
 
The hard truth is that weight gain and aging often go hand-in-hand. Research from The International Menopause Society proved that slight weight gain every year is just a side effect of growing older. Slower metabolism and a decrease in muscle mass as we age means that we burn fewer calories. Couple that with the loss of estrogen that occurs during menopause, which causes the body to store fat around the abdominal area, and you begin to understand why your skinny jeans seem to have suddenly shrunk.
 
Other than the inconvenience of buying new clothes, is this really a big deal? Well, it can be. In fact, visceral fat (which is the name for the fat stored in the abdominal area) can wreak havoc on your health. Studies have linked it to things like heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, and other serious issues.
 
Before you resign yourself to a life of elastic waist clothing, there are a few things you can do to control or reverse menopause belly fat, and minimize your risk of serious illness. Here are five tips to help you stay healthy and avoid meno belly.

  1. Move Your Body: You’ve got to move it, move it! Daily exercise is your best weapon in the battle against menopause belly, but more than that, it is also beneficial to your cardiovascular health, bone density, flexibility, and balance. Try walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, or tennis to get your heart rate up. And if you are not already strength training, there’s no better time to begin. Remember, muscle burns more calories than fat. Need more reasons? Endorphins are also a natural mood elevator!   
  2. Pay Attention to Nutrition: Gone are the days where you can eat an entire pizza and not pay the price. Slower metabolism means every bite counts, so pay attention to what you are putting into your body if you’re trying to avoid meno belly. Consider eating real foods whenever possible, avoiding sugar and processed foods as much as you can. An array of fruits, vegetables, smart carbs (like sweet potatoes) and protein should make up the bulk of your diet, along with some healthy fats like nut butters or avocados. The Mediterranean Diet is highly recommend for women going through menopause and is also helpful in combatting menopause belly fat.
  3. Don’t Wine About It: “But I already eat healthy and exercise,” you say. Well, what are you drinking? Wine, margaritas, and other alcoholic beverages can be high in sugar and calories, which contribute to meno belly—not to mention they can affect your quality of sleep. Think of them as “treats” and indulge sparingly.
  4. Snooze to Lose: It can be tough to get a good night’s sleep as we get older (hello night sweats), but lack of sleep can be a culprit when it comes to meno belly because it affects the hormones that regulate your appetite. And, studies show that when you are tired, you are less likely to make good food choices. Aim for eight hours of sleep per night and set the stage by unplugging at least an hour before bed, taking a warm bath, or sipping some chamomile tea. Create a ritual that helps your body get into a relaxed state so that you can make those zzz’s count.   
  5. Stress Less: In our hectic world, stress is unavoidable. But how we process it can have an impact on our weight. Stress causes our cortisol levels to rise, which in turn stimulates the appetite—hence the phrase “stress eating.” The next time you find yourself reaching for a snack to deal with stress, try taking a short walk, or doing some deep breathing exercises to calm your system.

Like most things in life, managing our weight becomes more challenging as we age, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t doable. Understanding the changes and adjusting our habits accordingly can help keep menopause belly fat down, and our spirits up.

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12 comments

Dittto what Cathy wrote. I was hoping there was a product that helps the meno belly

Diane Mongiardo

So good to know about menopause and the menobelly.

Jadah Fabri

After being heavy most of my adult life I finally did something about it in my forties. With hard work I lost 37lbs and was happy with myself. However, in the last 10 years I have slowly gained 10lbs that went straight to my belly. I’m doing all the things you’ve suggested with the getting good sleep being the one I’m having difficulty with due to that I’m a night owl and don’t like to go to bed early. So I’m going to really buckle down and make myself get more sleep. Thank you for your advice.

Cathy

Thanks for the blog on menopause & belly fat! Spot on for me. I was always skinny until I hit menopause & the pounds stacked up around my middle. The main thing I need to do is get moving!! Dust off the treadmill and stop eating sweets!

Debo

Reduce stress. Ha! Well, before menopause my stress level was manageable. Since my (unexpected abdominal) complete hysterectomy and the severe, surgical menopause that followed I’ve had to worry daily about my mobility and being able to move my body without pain, hot flashes every 45 minutes and the realization that I won’t be able to wear the majority of my wardrobe, joint pain where I never had it before, vaginal atrophy that has torn my vagina and compromised my sex life, digestive issues, constipation and weight gain. My previously pain free and active and healthy life has been destroyed and as much as I try to lead a stress free and active lifestyle despite all these things, it’s really impossible to go through the day without stressing about what thing you’re going to have to prevent, plan for or deal with. We do a disservice to all women by glossing over how bad menopause actually is. We need everyone to understand what we have to deal with so science might look into a way to keep us from suffering these issues.

Jill

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