What is menopause belly?
Menopause belly is common in people with vaginas who are in their menopause, but you can get rid of it through mindful practices.
It is normal for people to experience increased belly fat during menopause. The increased belly fat is sometimes referred to as "menopause belly." Menopause belly is defined as weight gain around the midsection during menopause. It is caused by factors like hormonal changes, bloating.
Although menopause belly is common, there are remedies. To manage or get rid of a menopausal belly, you have to make some lifestyle modifications.
This article will look at menopause belly, its possible causes, and how to eliminate it.
What is menopause belly?
Menopause belly is the accumulation of fat in the midsection (abdomen) during menopause. Menopause causes many body changes, including an increase in belly fat around the midsection.
Menopause belly is mainly caused by hormonal changes in the body during menopause. It is not permanent; you can eliminate the fats with mindful practices.
Menopause and belly fat
Menopause marks the end of the reproductive years for those assigned female at birth. It usually happens in the late forties and, sometimes, the early 50s. Menopause comes in three stages:
Perimenopause, also known as menopause transition, starts about 8–10 years before menopause. It usually starts between the ages of 40 and 45. The ovaries produce fewer estrogen hormones during this period.
At the late stage of perimenopause, you might start having some symptoms of menopause. But you can still get pregnant because, at this stage, your menstrual cycle may still be on.
Menopause is when your menstrual cycle ceases, and your ovary stops producing eggs. One major effect of this is that you will no longer be able to give birth. Menopause symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, sleep problems, chills, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and the absence of periods.
Post-menopause is the period following menopause and a continuation of the rest of your life.
For some people, menopause causes different changes in their bodies, including increased belly fat. Belly fat is fat accumulated in the abdominal area. They are of two types: subcutaneous and visceral fat.
Subcutaneous fat is the type you can grasp or feel with your hands. It does not pose any health challenges. But it indicates that you have so many calories causing you to have excess weight.
Visceral fat is the type that surrounds the internal abdominal organs. You cannot grasp this type of fat with your hand. Visceral fat is harmful because it has been linked to health problems like cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes.
For both men and women, belly fat is often caused by excess calorie intake. Some people with vaginas also experience increased belly size after a hysterectomy due to factors like internal organ swelling. However, for people in their menopause phase, other things like hormones are the primary causes of menopause belly fat. There are different factors that can cause this increased belly fat during menopause.
What causes menopause belly fat?
Causes of menopause belly fat include:
During menopause, you may experience occasional bloating. Bloating does not mean weight gain, but it could make your stomach look bigger. It is similar to the bloating that is experienced during menstruation.
Hormonal imbalance is one of the major causes of weight gain and belly fat during menopause. It is an imbalance in two hormones, estrogen, and androgen.
Estrogen is a hormone that plays an important role in the reproductive development of women. Androgen helps with growth and development in men and women. It is produced more in people assigned male at birth and is referred to as the "male hormone." People assigned females at birth produce androgens, but in small quantities.
During menopause, estrogen levels decrease while androgen levels increase, causing a major imbalance of hormones. When you have this hormonal imbalance, you may constantly feel hungry, and eating excessively will increase your weight and belly fat.
Lack of exercise
Menopause occurs in midlife when your physical strength has drastically reduced. Many people in this stage don't exercise because they aren't as strong as they used to be. Lack of exercise will often lead to weight gain and an increase in belly fat.
How to lose menopause belly
Menopause belly is not permanent. You can get rid of them with some mindful practices. Here are some ways you can get rid of menopause belly fat:
Engage in regular exercises
Engaging in exercise is one of the commonest and fastest ways to lose weight and burn belly fat. As you grow older and approach midlife, strength diminishes, affecting the type of exercise you can engage in. However, you can still find a suitable exercise that will work efficiently. You can engage in aerobic exercises, strength training, and high-intensity interval training.
You can burn or reduce belly fat by modifying your diet. Ensure that your diet is high in fiber. This is because fiber is high in antioxidants. During menopause, your body goes through oxidative stress. The antioxidants in the fiber will help reduce oxidative stress. Fiber-rich foods also help you stay fuller, reducing the number of trips you make to the kitchen. Foods high in fiber include berries, nuts, kale, brown cereal, whole grains, etc.
Add more protein to your diet because proteins help you feel full and will stop you from eating excessively.
Avoid eating foods high in fat, sugar, and refined carbohydrates, as this can cause extra weight gain and further increase your belly fat.
Eat only what your body needs
Excessive eating is one of the fastest ways to increase belly fat. When you overeat, your body stores the extra calories as fat. You must keep your portion in check and maintain a healthy eating pattern.
Avoid any form of stress
Most people in their menopause stage often stress about how they don't like their bodies. Being stressed over such things will prevent you from engaging in activities that can help you lose weight. Also, stress contributes to poor eating habits that can increase your weight and belly fat.
Avoid eating or snacking late at night
The timing of your meals matters a lot. Even when you eat healthy and are younger, eating late at night can make you gain extra belly fat. Menopause alone increases the risk of increased belly fat. You don't want to further increase the risk by practicing unhealthy eating habits.
How to prevent menopause belly
It is possible to avoid menopause belly. To prevent menopause belly, you must modify some of your activities, especially when approaching menopause. Here are some things you can do to avoid menopause belly:
Always engage in exercise
Exercise and working out on a regular basis will lower your chances of developing menopause belly. Also, you should engage in resistance (strength) training when you can. This active lifestyle will help you stay healthy and reduce some of the symptoms that come with declining estrogen levels.
Form healthy eating habits
As explained earlier, your eating habits are crucial to weight management and reducing belly fat. Limit your intake of refined, sugary foods, including drinks like soda. Eat smaller food portion sizes. Avoid eating late-night meals and snacks.
Also, avoid eating high-inflammatory foods like fried foods and processed meats. Studies have shown that abdominal fat is directly linked to inflammation, especially in people with metabolic conditions like type 2 diabetes.
Stick with eating what your body needs and do away with calorie-dense foods with little to no nutrients. Replace soda and other sugary beverages with water, as adequate hydration is good for overall health.
Avoid alcohol and smoking
Alcohol and smoking weaken your immune system, and it gets worse as you grow older. Quitting early will help prevent some health conditions that come from alcohol and smoking, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and liver problems. This will keep you healthy and active. When you smoke, even in midlife, you will have a weakened immune system that won't allow you to exercise. When that happens, you are more likely to increase in weight.
Always be in communication with your doctor
When you are getting to menopausal age, always communicate with your doctor. At that point, you will need to communicate about your body changes, and your doctor will help walk you through how best to manage your health.
Maintain a healthy weight prior to menopause
People who are overweight before menopause are more likely to gain weight and develop the menopause belly. Keeping your weight healthy with less fat will save you from having excessive belly fat during or after menopause.
It is natural for body shape to change during and before menopause, and for some people, menopause belly is almost inevitable when they get to that stage of life. But making changes to your lifestyle, like working out, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and avoiding stress, can help you lose belly fat or keep it from coming back.
Read about what you can do to reduce menopause symptoms.