Explore 19 effective strategies to tackle menopause belly fat and reclaim your confidence with my easy-to-follow tips for a healthier you!
Menopause can be a challenging time for many women. It comes with a range of symptoms that can affect quality of life, including one of the most common – menopause belly fat.
Whether you’re in perimenopause (the 2-10 years leading up to menopause) or you’re in the throes of menopause itself, you may notice an increased weight gain, particularly around your middle.
You may have heard terms like meno-pot belly, menopause apron belly, or menopause hanging pouch referring to this common but frustrating issue.
Many women gain a “menopause belly” in their 40s and 50s, and many of us know from experience it can be frustrating to try and work it off.
But, don’t feel powerless in menopause!
This stubborn fat can be frustrating and difficult to manage, but there are effective strategies to combat it and improve overall health and wellness. In this article, we’ll explore 19 ways to get rid of menopause belly fat and achieve a healthier, more balanced body.
From exercise and nutrition to lifestyle changes and self-care, I will cover a range of approaches to help you take control of your health and confidently navigate the symptoms of menopause as it relates to belly fat.
Table of contents
- Understanding Menopause and its Effects on Belly Fat
- 19 Ways to Get Rid of Menopausal Belly Fat
- 1. Start Your Day With ACV or Lemon Water
- 2. Add Strength Training To Your Workouts
- 3. Cut Back On Sweets
- 4. Eat Smaller Meals More Often
- 5. Strengthen Your Core
- 6. Minimize Stress
- 7. Keep Eating Habits in Check
- 8. Get More Sleep Every Night
- 9. Do HIIT Exercises
- 10. Stand More Often
- 11. Increase Your Protein Intake
- 12. Find an Exercise Group or Friend
- 13. Decrease Alcohol Intake
- 14. Skip Crash Diets
- 15. Use an Activity Tracker
- 16. Support Your Body with Supplements
- 17. Stay Hydrated
- 18. Focus on Fiber-Rich Foods
- 19. Talk to Your Doctor
- Embracing a Positive Body Image
- Additional Menopause Resources
Understanding Menopause and its Effects on Belly Fat
As women age, they go through menopause, which causes changes in their bodies. Menopause occurs when the ovaries stop producing eggs, and the levels of female sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone decrease.
The hormonal changes that occur during menopause can have a significant impact on a woman’s body composition.
Understanding the relationship between menopause, belly fat, and estrogen levels can help women take steps to manage their weight, support their overall health, and avoid future health risks.
Let’s start by exploring some of the relationships happening within our bodies.
Hormones and Body Fat
As you begin to transition into menopause, your ovaries no longer produce high levels of estrogen and progesterone. Changes in these hormone levels can cause uncomfortable symptoms.
Common menopause symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats and other unpleasant events.
But the one issue women ask me about all the time is the onset of weight gain around the abdomen known as menopause belly fat.
Contributors to weight gain and extra belly fat at menopause include declining estrogen levels, age-related loss of muscle tissue and lifestyle factors such as poor diet and lack of exercise. This type of weight gain is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
When estrogen levels plummet, the body fat that used to settle around the hips, thighs, or butt may start to settle around your middle instead.
Your progesterone decreases during menopause too, and this contributes to elevated cortisol levels in the body. And, surprise, elevated cortisol can cause menopause belly weight gain as well.
Changes in estrogen and progesterone levels during menopause can both lead to weight gain. And unfortunately, this belly fat is notoriously difficult to lose.
Weren’t the hot flashes, mood swings and night sweats enough!?
Weight Gain In The Midsection During Menopause
So yes, decreasing estrogen levels can affect your fat mass in the midsection area.
But beyond the hormones, another factor most women don’t consider is that as we hit our 40’s 50’s and 60’s, we tend to have unknowingly become a bit more sedentary, making weight gain all the more common.
It varies based on your lifestyle and job but the majority of us are not chasing little kids anymore, not moving as much, and spending more time sitting. Then to make matters worse, you may have stopped strength training.
You will start to lose about a a half pound to a pound of muscle mass each year after the age of 35 if you are not actively replacing it. As you lose muscle, your metabolism slows down, aches and pains set it, and the belly fat appears.
Slower metabolism means those cravings and carbs are going to have a much longer lasting impact than they used to.
This shift in body composition can be challenging to manage. The key to aging is to strength train. Building and maintaining muscle mass becomes increasingly important during our later years and post menopause.
Muscles help to boost metabolism and burn calories, aiding in weight management. (A pound of muscle burns more calories at rest than a pound of body fat.)
Additionally, strength training can help to counteract the effects of age-related muscle loss.
Subcutaneous vs. Visceral Fat in Menopause
Belly fat isn’t just annoying, it’s complicated and can lead to a whole host of health problems.
One of the many changes that occurs with menopause, is a tendency for subcutaneous fat (fat that is stored just beneath the skin) to convert to visceral fat.
Visceral fat is stored deep within the abdominal cavity and surrounds important organs like the stomach, liver and intestines, increasing the risk of fat-related illnesses like cardiovascular disease, diabetes (due to insulin resistance) and certain types of cancer in menopausal women.
Now that you have a better understanding of the relationship between menopause , estrogen and belly fat, let’s explore women’s health strategies to manage menopausal belly fat and support overall health.
19 Ways to Get Rid of Menopausal Belly Fat
Are you one of the millions of women over the age of 40 who are struggling to lose weight, especially around your middle? If so, you’re not alone.
While there’s no magic bullet for weight loss, there are several great strategies to help you lose abdominal fat and keep it off for good.
Here are 19 ways to help you get rid of menopause belly fat:
1. Start Your Day With ACV or Lemon Water
One easy way to kick-start your body’s natural detoxification process first thing in the morning is to drink a glass of water with lemon or apple cider vinegar.
The acetic acid in the vinegar has been proven to support the stomach by aiding digestion and helps to feed healthy bacteria in the gut. By helping out your gut, you can rid your body of toxins, a first step in feeling better.
Just add a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar, or slice a lemon and squeeze it into your water. The extra hydration will also help you feel full first thing in the morning.
2. Add Strength Training To Your Workouts
Many women get the cardio part right, but they forget to add strength training into their routine.
As explained above, as we age, our muscles start to deteriorate if we are not doing any sort of muscle work.
Adding resistance training to your routine will help your metabolism work as effectively as possible. The more muscle you have on your body, the faster your metabolism works, making weight loss easier.
But many women are not motivated to partake.
If you think you are too late to build strength, think again! This is by far the most important tip of them all.
To improve your quality of life, body composition, mental health and confidence as you age, start strength training. The exercises in this video below are great for menopause belly and overall strength.
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Strength training can help with with weight gain issues by:
- Building lean muscle mass
- Decreasing body fat
- Speeding up metabolism
- Improving mobility
I recommend strength training at least three times a week to keep your body strong and your metabolism revved.
I recommend a full bodyweight workout several times a week. Also check out some of my favorite home gym equipment to amp up your routine with gear like dumbbells, kettlebells and resistance training bands.
You can learn more about the importance of strength training for women and my favorite moves in our Strength Training for Women Over 50 Guide.
3. Cut Back On Sweets
Added sugars can be found in many processed foods, drinks, and snacks. These empty calories can contribute to weight gain and increase the risk of chronic diseases.
To put it simply, excess added sugar is not your friend – especially if you want to get rid of menopause 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 not an issue because it’s accompanied by fiber—and when you eat fiber with natural sugar, your body can process it more slowly. Not to mention the other beneficial nutrients found in real fruit.
However, it’s those spikes and crashes from artificial and added 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.
If you struggle turning down sugar, you aren’t alone. I wrote a whole guide on how to quit sugar because so many people have trouble with the same issue!
4. Eat Smaller Meals More Often
Another way to manage your blood sugar and belly fat is to eat smaller meals more frequently.
When you overeat it can spike your insulin and blood sugar, putting stress on your body. Conversely, when you wait too long between meals your blood sugar can crash. 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 large meals per day. This will keep you satiated and reduce the temptation to overeat at the next meal.
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 with ab-strengthening moves.
A few of my favorite core workouts include:
- The Best Core Exercises for Seniors
- 8 Medicine Ball Exercises for Your Core
- Top Yoga Poses to Strengthen Core Muscles
A few of my favorite picks for individual exercises include:
Try adding this 10 minute ab workout video to your exercise routine!
This workout is done in a timed interval format:
- 45 seconds per exercise, followed by 15 seconds rest
- Repeat all six ab exercises x 2 sets for a 10-minute ab-workout. Take each exercise at your own pace and try to get as many reps in as possible in the 45-second working interval.
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6. Minimize Stress
The emotional toll of menopause can cause increased stress hormone levels, which can ultimately impact weight gain. Finding ways to manage stress can help reduce cortisol levels in the body, leading to less belly fat.
A few of the most popular strategies for reducing stress include:
- Yoga: Try these 10 yoga poses you should do every day.
- Meditation: Don’t be intimidated by this mindful practice, use this beginner’s meditation guide to get started.
- Breathing Exercises: Did you know breathing exercises can actually calm anxiety?
- Journaling: Writing out your thoughts can help you find your motivation and get rid of nagging feelings.
- Walking: Learn about the benefits of walking for weight loss or purchase a treadmill walking pad to add more physical activity to your work day. ( I walk at 1 mph while I work and get an extra 2 miles in a day.)
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 Eating Habits in Check
It’s tempting to want to deal with changing hormones through bad eating habits. Fluctuating emotions make that late-night nosedive into the ice cream 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.
Pay special attention to sneaky habits, like:
- Emotional eating
- Mindless snacking
- Late night binging
All of these unhealthy eating habits can lead to eating when you’re not actually hungry, of course, weight gain.
Try and connect to your body and become aware of whether your body is actually hungry or not. If it’s not, distract yourself, or practice self care in a different way other than eating.
That all being said, if snacking is your kryptonite, at least eat something healthy! Healthy fats will keep you feeling full longer than processed foods that claim to have fewer calories.
Try these “healthier” alternatives instead of your usual junky snacks:
8. Get More Sleep Every Night
Poor sleep quality during menopause is often an issue, and getting adequate and restful sleep is essential for overall well-being and effective weight management.
Similar to the “minimize stress” advice, this one is something you probably already know: you should be getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
Getting too little sleep can throw two of your body’s hunger hormones out of whack. Both leptin and ghrelin can cause you to hold onto more fat and crave sugary, salty foods more frequently.
Here are a few ways to help yourself get enough sleep:
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule
- Use sleep aids like eye masks or ear plugs
- Create a sleep-friendly environment
- Try taking a magnesium or melatonin supplement
- Reduce screen time before bed
Prioritize sleep for your mental well-being, as well as your weight. Sleep is so important we actually created an entire guide with science-backed tips for getting better sleep.
9. Do HIIT Exercises
Exercise is essential for long-term weight loss success. Not only does it burn calories, but it also helps build muscle, which can help boost your metabolism and prevent obesity.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a great form of exercise that involves work to rest bursts of movement. It’s a way to burn more calories in less time. Don’t be afraid of HIIT workouts. High intensity means to push yourself but it can still be a low impact workout.
No matter what form of cardio you choose, I recommend aiming for 150 minutes of moderate heart pumping exercise a week.
10. Stand More Often
Finding ways to stand throughout the day, in addition to regular exercise, can help combat menopause belly fat. Small changes to your daily routine can help contribute to an overall more active lifestyle.
Taking frequent walking breaks, standing during phone calls, or doing chores around the house are all great examples.
Instead I work while walking slowly (1 mph) on my walking pad. I’m kind of obsessed!
This allows me to keep my body slowly moving for long periods of time where I would otherwise be sitting still. You’d be surprised what an impact even low levels of aerobic exercise can provide.
Maintaining a routine with consistent movement, no matter how small, will help combat your menopause belly.
11. Increase Your Protein Intake
Protein is essential for building and maintaining muscle mass, which becomes increasingly important during menopause. As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass, which can slow down metabolism and contribute to weight gain.
By increasing your protein intake, you can help preserve and build lean muscle mass.
Good sources of protein include:
- Lean meats (chicken, turkey, fish)
- Legumes (beans, lentils)
- Nuts and seeds
- Dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese)
You can also supplement your natural diet with protein powders for additional nutritional support.
12. Find an Exercise Group or Friend
One of the hardest parts about exercise is often the consistency. I recommend finding an exercise friend or fitness group that you can use to hold yourself accountable.
Whether it’s a neighbor, a best friend across the country (hooray for virtual workout buddies!), or a fitness class that makes you smile, find a situation that you get excited about.
Having someone to hold you accountable and something to look forward to will increase your consistency. That means better weight loss results, faster!
You can also try a few of my other top tips for staying consistent with exercise.
13. Decrease Alcohol Intake
While a glass of wine or beer occasionally is fine, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to weight gain. Alcohol offers no nutrients, and it’s typically loaded with sugar and calories.
Not exactly what you’re looking for when you’re working on that waistline!
While alcoholic beverages can often feel fun and comfortable in social settings, you can have just as much fun with a healthy mocktail or a dressed up sparkling water.
Cutting back on your alcohol intake can have a big impact on menopause belly fat. If you drink alcohol, I recommend doing so in moderation.
These are my favorite mocktails for a healthy, hangover-free experience.
14. Skip Crash Diets
Crash diets or fad diets may help you lose weight in the short term, but they’re not sustainable. They may actually lead to weight gain in the long term.
As a personal trainer, the only diet I will ever suggest is this: a healthy lifestyle. In my opinion, that’s the only way to lose weight AND keep it off. Your health isn’t a “diet” that you can turn on or off.
Gimmicks, fads, or quick fixes are dead-end roads (some are just longer than others). If you are tired of the weight loss roller coaster and you want to lose weight for good, here’s the real secret: make consistent healthy daily choices.
If you want to lose weight, focus on making small, sustainable changes to your diet and lifestyle.
Here are my favorite tips for losing weight that don’t include dieting.
15. Use an Activity Tracker
Just like having a fitness buddy can keep you on track, an activity tracker can help you hold yourself accountable. Did your walk even count if you didn’t log your steps with your watch?!
And the proof is in the data. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, studies show that consistently using a fitness tracker can increase your daily steps by over a mile.
That can include traditional pedometers, smartwatches, or other wearable devices.
If you’re having trouble finding motivation or sticking to a your exercise goals, you might want to try an activity tracker for extra support. You might be surprised how competitive you can get, once you know someone (or something!) is watching.
You can check out fitness trackers and other gadgets in my guide to the best home gym equipment.
16. Support Your Body with Supplements
Common menopause symptoms like weight gain and an increase in belly fat can lead individuals to seek out supplements or natural remedies for help.
There are many supplements that are beneficial for the a woman’s health during menopause. Even simple nutrients like vitamin D and calcium have been shown to aid in general health and midlife weight loss.
Check out my guide to help you understand the best supplements to combat menopausal weight gain.
While some of these remedies may provide relief, it’s important to choose safe and reliable products when incorporating them into your routine.
Supplements and natural remedies are not regulated by the FDA and may interact with other medications or have potential side effects. It’s recommended that you speak with a healthcare professional before incorporating any new supplements or remedies into your routine.
17. Stay Hydrated
Drinking enough water is essential for weight loss and good health. Hydrating with plenty of water can also help keep you feeling full and prevent overeating.
I recommend drinking approximately 64 ounces of water per day, and consider adding fresh fruit or herbs to your water for extra flavor.
These are my favorite tips for drinking more water every day.
18. Focus on Fiber-Rich Foods
Fiber is important for regulating digestion, promoting satiety, and keeping blood sugar levels stable. All of these benefits can help you keep belly fat at bay.
Aim to include plenty of fiber-rich foods in your diet, such as:
- Whole grains (oats, brown rice, quinoa)
- Fruits (berries, apples, pears)
- Veggies (leafy greens, broccoli, carrots)
- Legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas)
- Nuts and seeds
Interested in seeing more ideas? Try these 25 natural sources of fiber that help with weight loss.
19. Talk to Your Doctor
If you’re struggling to lose weight on your own, don’t be afraid to seek out help.
I recommend having your hormone levels checked if you’re overweight and losing menopause belly proves difficult. Hormone Replacement Therapy can be very helpful for some women and must be looked at on an individual basis.
I am a believer in HRT and bio-identical hormones. Some women also have thyroid issues that can make weight loss harder than it needs to be.
I suggest finding a functional medical practitioner in your area to help you navigate some of these issues.
Embracing a Positive Body Image
Menopause can bring changes in body composition and weight gain, particularly in the midsection. This can also lead to changes in our mental health.
While you’re working on physical efforts to improve your menopause belly fat, remember to work on your inside too. Body image and self-esteem are important too!
Practice self care and focus on what your body CAN do, rather than what it looks like.
Some ways to embrace a positive body image during menopause include:
- Wearing comfortable clothing that makes you feel good
- Participating in physical activities that make you feel confident and strong
- Practicing positive affirmations and self-talk
Menopause belly fat can be a challenging symptom to manage, but it’s certainly not impossible.
With the right combination of strength training, cardiovascular exercise, a healthy diet, and self-care, you can effectively combat weight gain and maintain a positive body image throughout the menopausal transition.
So don’t let pesky menopause belly fat get you down – take control of your health today and start feeling your best!
Additional Menopause Resources
- Best Supplements to Fight Menopause Weight Gain
- Best Foods to Manage Menopause Symptoms
- How to Handle the 10 Most Common Menopause Symptoms
- Is It Perimenopause?
- How to Embrace a Positive Menopause Mindset
- The Ingredient Making Your Menopause Symptoms Worse
Menopause belly fat is primarily caused by hormonal changes, specifically a decrease in estrogen levels. This hormonal shift can lead to an increase in body fat, particularly in the abdominal area.
Yes, exercise, particularly strength training and cardiovascular exercise, can help reduce menopause belly fat. These types of exercises can increase muscle mass, boost metabolism, and burn calories, aiding in weight loss and fat reduction.
While there are no specific foods that specifically target menopause belly fat, a healthy and balanced diet can support weight loss and overall well-being. Eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, can help maintain a healthy weight during menopause as well as controlling calories.
The time it takes to see results in reducing menopause belly fat can vary for each individual. It depends on factors such as genetics, overall health, exercise routine, and diet. Consistency is key, and it is important to follow a balanced approach that includes exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle changes for sustained results.
Yes, stress management techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation exercises can help reduce menopause belly fat. Chronic stress can contribute to weight gain, so implementing stress-reducing practices can support overall well-being and aid in weight management.