9 Ways To Beat Menopausal Belly Fat

Fitness: Weight Loss

By: // September 27, 2017


Whether you’re in perimenopause (the two to ten years leading up to menopause) or you’re in the throes of menopause itself, you may notice it’s harder to lose weight than it once was—particularly around your middle. Most women gain some stubborn belly fat (affectionately called the “menopot”) in their 40s and 50s, and it can be extremely frustrating to try and work it off. Here’s the deal: in order to lose belly fat in menopause, you have to take other factors into consideration aside from your daily exercise. Are you eating the right foods? Are you doing things to keep your hormones in balance? Let’s explore nine natural things you can do to banish menopausal belly fat for real.

Why Women Gain Belly Fat In Menopause

During menopause, your hormones get thrown out of whack. Your estrogen levels plummet, and body fat that used to settle around the hips, thighs, or butt tends to now settle around your middle. Your progesterone also decreases, which contributes to elevated cortisol levels in the body. Elevated cortisol can cause you to hold onto stubborn belly fat. (Yikes!) You may have unknowingly become a bit more sedentary as you’ve aged, too; your metabolism slows down as you lose muscle and perhaps aches and pains or a busy schedule have kept you from getting as much exercise as you used to. All of these factors can contribute to an increase of belly fat during your menopausal years.

Why It’s Important To Lose Belly Fat

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Belly fat isn’t just annoying, it’s also unhealthy. Fat that appears around your stomach is often visceral fat, which is fat that surrounds your organs within your abdominal wall. This type of fat puts you at an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems. According to Dr. Axe, having excess visceral fat “increases the production of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines, which leads to inflammation; at the same time, it interferes with hormones that regulate appetite, weight, mood, and brain function.” You want to minimize your belly fat not just to look and feel your best but to stay healthy for years to come.

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9 Ways To Beat Menopausal Belly Fat

Enough with the doom and gloom—let’s learn what you can do to get rid of belly fat in menopause.

1. Start Your Day With ACV or Lemon Water

Kick-start your body’s natural detoxification process first thing in the morning by drinking a glass of warm water with lemon or apple cider vinegar in it. The acetic acid in vinegar helps your body burn fat and rids your body of toxins. It also gives you a little energy boost to start your day. The benefits of apple cider vinegar or lemon in your water are endless! Just add a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar, or slice a lemon and squeeze it into your water.

2. Add Strength Training To Your Workouts 

According to the CDC, you need 150 minutes of cardio each week to stay healthy, but if you don’t add strength training onto that, your metabolism won’t work as effectively as it could. The more muscle you have on your body, the faster your metabolism works. And after the age 30, you start to lose muscle mass if you’re not actively replacing it. So do your part to keep your body strong and your metabolism revved: strength train at least three times per week! You can use your own bodyweight with moves like push-ups, lunges, and squats or use dumbbells, kettlebells, or resistance bands—it doesn’t matter how you do it, just get ‘er done!

Related: Beginner’s Guide To Strength Training

3. Cut Back On The Sweet Stuff

Glass of soda with sugar in it

Excess sugar is not your friend when it comes to belly fat. Eating too much refined sugar is not only unhealthy, but can cause you to cling onto stubborn belly fat. Start by eliminating any sugary beverages or sodas—then focus on reserving your intake of sugary foods like cakes, cookies, or ice cream for special occasions. Natural sugar like the kind found in fruit is fine because it’s accompanied by fiber—and when you eat fiber with natural sugar, your body can process it more slowly. It’s those spikes and crashes from artificial sugar that are harder on your body—they cause an insulin rise, and too much insulin can cause excess blood sugar to be stored as belly fat.

4. Eat Smaller Meals More Often

Another way to manage your blood sugar and thus, your belly fat? By eating smaller meals, more often. When you eat until you can barely move, you’re putting too much stress on your body. You’re spiking your insulin and blood sugar. Conversely, when you then go 6 hours before eating your next giant meal, your blood sugar crashes. This is hard on your metabolism and can make losing that excess belly fat even harder. Help your metabolism out by eating smaller meals more frequently instead of two or three giant meals per day.

5. Strengthen Your Core

It’s impossible to spot-reduce body fat—you need to lose it all over first through cardio, strength, and clean eating. But once you start to shed body fat, you can target your belly by using ab-strengthening moves like these:

6. Minimize Stress

Since you already know that too much cortisol (the stress hormone) can cause you to cling onto belly fat, work on minimizing stress as much as possible. Practice deep breathing and meditation at least 15 minutes each day. Journal. Take long walks in nature. Do yoga. Whatever brings you a sense of calm, spend more time doing it. It’s not just good for your mind, but your body (and belly fat!) too.

7.Keep Emotional Eating In Check

Woman standing in front of fridge

It’s tempting to want to deal with changing hormones through emotional eating. Fluctuating emotions make that late-night nosedive into the icecream even more appealing than normal. Trying to shed extra weight in menopause doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of everything, but you should monitor when you get the urge to binge on junk food and try to regulate your emotions in healthier ways—distract yourself, practice self-care, and become aware of whether or not your body is actually hungry.

8.Get 7-8 Hours Of Sleep Per Night

Ok, similarly to the “minimize stress” advice, this one is something you probably already know: you should be getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night. But did you know that getting less than that can throw two of your body’s hunger hormones out of whack—leptin and ghrelin—which can cause you to hold onto more fat and crave sugary, salty foods more frequently? Prioritize sleep, like stress management, for your mental well-being as well as your weight!

 

9. Circuits and Intervals!

High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT is a great way to burn more calories in less time—as are circuit workouts! Interval workouts require you to do short bursts of all-out effort followed by brief periods of rest, while circuits are one exercise after the next without rest until the whole circuit is over. Both of these methods are different than steady-state cardio workouts like walking or jogging because they get your heart rate up and help your body burn fat better.

Psst! Want me to lead you in HIIT and circuit-style workouts from the comfort of your own home? Check out our HIIT workouts and circuit workouts on Get Healthy U TV!

If losing stubborn belly fat proves impossible and you’re also overweight, you may want to talk to your doctor. You can have your hormone levels checked—many women also have thyroid issues that can make weight loss harder than it needs to be. A talk with your doctor can’t hurt if belly fat or weight issues in menopause are affecting your health or well-being!

READ THIS NEXT: The Hidden Ingredient Making Your Menopause Symptoms Worse


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21 Comments


on October 30, 2018 at 12:41 PM Reply

I quit smoking exactly at 51 (menopause) , this combination ,a recipe for disaster resulted in 20 kilos weight gained in 2 months. For six months i tried to diet and exercise the regular way , but the results were zero and when I realized the scale was moving up I decided to really take extreme measures , I started walking more till i reached 2 hours of brisk walking most days of the week,I hired a personal trainer and started doing crossfit and heavy weight lifting also most days of the week. I completely quit sugar and all refined carbs , I eat boiled eggs ,tuna,sardines, vegetable soup,salad and few fruits and the result till now is the loss of 12 kg in 4 months plus toned muscles are starting to show . What I also noticed is that as we age or even as we gain weight our bodies start to retain water if we are not active enough which is why it is very important to make sure to sweat during our walk and exercise .


on October 25, 2018 at 8:48 PM Reply

I used to be slim in my high school days, but since college I have been gaining weight, so much so, that I now look bad and everyone around is commenting on my weight. I did try some weight loss programs but honestly could not stick to any for too long, none of them showed results anyway, and my problem is not solved a bit. Please, please can anyone suggest me a good way to lose weight? Thanks in advance.


    on October 30, 2018 at 1:28 PM Reply

    Hi Amy - without fully knowing your situation and what your eating/movement habits are, it's difficult to give you an exact answer. However, if there is one that can be said for everyone, it's that weight loss comes down to healthy eating and exercise. You might want to check out these articles for more info! https://gethealthyu.com/exercises-for-weight-loss/ https://gethealthyu.com/25-sneaky-weight-loss-hacks-really-work/ https://gethealthyu.com/11-solutions-common-weight-loss-challenges/ https://gethealthyu.com/healthy-and-portable-snacks-for-weight-loss/ https://gethealthyu.com/elliptical-workouts-weight-loss/


on October 9, 2018 at 3:59 PM Reply

Belly fat does seem to be stubborn but I am finding a daily yoga practice and the elimination of processed foods and refined sugar is helping. Slowly but surely I'm getting stronger and leaner. I love Yoga with Adriene, which you can find on YouTube. Maybe others would like it too. Good luck everyone!


on September 24, 2018 at 8:27 AM Reply

i found alcohol and caffeine increased the hot flashes. so i switched to decaf and only drink on sunday during football season. for each glass of beer i drink a full glass of water. the rest of the year i drink wine. The gut - i took up spinning 4 days a week, 40 minutes a class at high intensity. When i started i could only spin for 10 minutes but stuck with it. helped with the gut and made me feel emotionally better. then i hurt my knee. So i switched to swimming. I took a swimming class to fix my technique. I started with 4 laps and improved steadily to 20 laps and intend to get to 40 laps. Weight lifting - started at age 57 and i love it. i may not have the body of a 23 year old but i can almost lift a 23 year old (lol). for those of you who are suffering my story is that you have to figure out what works for you and STICK WITH IT!!!! This is a time for you. A time to get healthier and stronger for the next chapter of your life. Don't give up. Don't use quick fixes. Get a goal and stick with it. if need be join a gym and get a personal trainer. cardio (spinning, zumba, running, walking) alone WILL NOT WORK. Your body will get used to it and plateau. Add strength training. You will fall off the wagon, i spent this summer hanging out and the gut slowly came back. It is now September and i am back on the program. Good Luck.


on August 6, 2018 at 3:53 PM Reply

Menopause sucks. Not sure there's a woman out there can say different. I am 51 years old and been going thru this for about 2 yrs now. On hormone replacement (Mimvey) and have gained a solid 20 lbs of which all is around my stomach and hips. I even stopped taking them but within days the night hot flashes came back which is awful because you can't sleep!!! So I went back on them. Started even taking 2 teasp of vinegar in the am before my workout. Yes I do agree with the comment above that it comes from genes but you just never think it'll happen to you especially when all your life (since my early 20's) I've been watching what I eat, wake up at 5am and exercise from high impact to core to weights to jumping rope to swinging ropes. I do cheat sometimes but for the most part I'm good about what i eat and nothing seem to work. I cannot believe how much my body has changed and not in a good way. Really sucks!


on August 5, 2018 at 9:43 PM Reply

Kim, my GP told me that and my OBGYN was very helpful in getting me onto HRT and encouraging me that something CAN be done. Don't buy it if someone tells you that. Keep looking for a doctor who gets it.


on July 19, 2018 at 8:50 PM Reply

Hi can anyone tell me if taking a low dose of HRT definitely adds weight? I too, am finding extra belly fat and it is so annoying as i run and go to gym and 90% of time i am careful with what i eat. I am thinking of dropping the HRT. I take it for hot flushes but i would rather live with that then have a fat belly.


on July 8, 2018 at 2:39 PM Reply

I am 66....never weighed more than 110. A lot of stress last couple years and now retired which is s huge adjustment . My stomach gets so huge that I have trouble breathing and I work out , hike, Walk and eat great. What do you feel about fat burners and how they may interact with other meds I take??????


    on July 16, 2018 at 10:10 AM Reply

    Hi Donna - it's best to speak with your doctor about any and all medications and they're interactions!


on July 4, 2018 at 9:40 AM Reply

Try intermittent fasting to reduce insulin sensitivity- go low carb modified Atkins or ketogenic diet. Carbs and insulin regulate fat storage. Good sleep and low stress are important but what and when you eat matters more as you age. I lost 20 pounds in 3 months following this approach. Eat a healthy meal each night to my hearts content. Make daily hunger your friend - keep up the exercise and correct hormone imbalance- don’t believe that getting fat is a consequence of aging. It’s a hormonal imbalance not simple calories that matter. Read Jason Fung MD - obesity code. He is on the right track and it worked for me at age 59.


on June 28, 2018 at 10:43 AM Reply

I am post-menopausal about 6 years now, and the torso fat is depressing as hell, but I found that if I eat very few carbs and no sugar, I do start to lose it and my stomach gets flatter, and I feel less bloated also. It's true that if you really burn calories (exercise every day) and eat less, you can lose that fat. Grazing, eat a meatball here and there, a piece of cheese, and keep on moving. When I went on hormone replacement with the estrogen patch and a progesterone pill, I gained 10 pounds in one month! So I just stopped taking it two months in, but It may not have been the correct amounts. Also, I find when I am happy, and not even focusing on weight, that's when it starts to drop off. Anyway, just thought I'd say it's not a hopeless case.



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