For women going through menopause, you’d think it’s all rainbows and butterflies, right? After all, “Yay to no periods!” and the hot flashes eventually stop. But there’s one not-so-fun side effect that often comes along with menopause: weight gain, particularly around the belly.
As women age, our metabolism slows down and we start to lose muscle mass. Combine that with a decrease in estrogen (which helps to keep us lean), and it’s no wonder we start packing on the pounds.
We’re also at that age where our lifestyles often become more sedentary— we’re less active overall and may even have desk jobs. Plus, let’s not forget the stress of everyday life that can lead to unhealthy eating habits. (We know you’ve been there.)
So, what’s a gal to do? Here are 7 science-backed ways to help get rid of belly fat in menopause:
1. Get Enough Sleep
Ladies! This one is crucial. Getting enough shut-eye is not only important for your overall health, but it also plays a role in weight loss — including belly fat.
Studies have shown that women who sleep less than the recommended 7-8 hours per night are more likely to be overweight or obese. This is because when you’re sleep-deprived, your body produces more of the stress hormone cortisol.
Cortisol not only leads to increased appetite, but it also causes your body to store more fat— particularly around your abdomen. So the next time you think about staying up for your favorite show, remember that your waistline is at stake.
2. Manage Stress Levels
We know, we know. This one is easier said than done. But managing stress is key to weight loss during menopause for two reasons.
First, as we just mentioned, high levels of cortisol can lead to increased belly fat storage. Second, when we’re stressed, we’re more likely to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like emotional eating. And more than just the weight, being stressed can also lead to a host of other health risks.
Not only are you going to have belly fat, but you’re also going to suffer mentally and physically. So it’s important to find ways to relieve stress in your life.
So how can you manage stress? There are a number of different techniques you can try, such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises. Find what works best for you and make it a priority in your daily routine. Lifestyle factors like this can truly do wonders for that extra weight not just for that thick waistline, but as well as disease control and maintaining a healthy body.
Besides, you have a lot going on as it is. Reducing stress should be at the top of your to-do list!
3. Cut Back on Alcohol
Do you love going out for cocktails and margaritas with your girlfriends? We hate to be party poopers, but what if we told you that alcohol could be partially to blame for your increased belly fat?
It’s true! Alcohol is full of empty calories that can add up quickly, especially if you’re not careful. And when it comes to losing belly fat during menopause, every calorie counts.
It’s easy to skip over that fact because, “Alcohol is just water with a punch, right?” Unfortunately, no. Alcohol also contains lots of sugar, which can lead to too much insulin and further belly fat storage.
So if you want to enjoy a glass of wine or cocktail every now and then, that’s fine! Just be mindful of your alcohol intake and make sure you’re not overdoing it to avoid gaining weight.
4. Watch the Carbs
It hurts us to even write this, but refined carbs are another big no-no when it comes to belly fat during menopause. That includes anything made with white flour. Think of bread, pastries, pasta, and rice.
When you’re going through menopause, it is especially important to keep an eye on your carb intake because your body’s sensitivity to insulin decreases. That means that when you eat carbs, they’re more likely to be stored as fat— and we all know where that fat goes.
We’re not saying you need to cut carbs out of your diet entirely (we could never!). Just take note of the types of carbs you’re eating and try to focus on complex carbs like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. The best part is that you don’t have to settle for boring, bland food to lose belly fat. There are tons of delicious recipes out there that use healthy carbs as the main ingredient!
5. Pack On the Protein & Fiber
If you want to lose weight during menopause, you need to have a healthy diet by eating lots of protein and fiber. Why? Lean protein and fiber help keep you feeling full after eating, which can prevent overeating and help consume fewer calories.
Protein and fiber also helps stop sugar cravings, which is important for menopausal women because our bodies are quicker to process sugar into fat which leads to weight gain.
When you eat protein and fiber at every meal, you’re also less likely to reach for unhealthy snacks later on. So make sure to include protein-rich foods like eggs, chicken, fish, tofu, legumes, and dairy in your diet. And don’t forget the fiber! Fiber-rich foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and nuts.
This will not also help your cravings, but it will do wonders for your bowel movements. And for perimenopausal women, regular bowel movements are a must! Oops, was that TMI?
6. Avoid Processed Foods
“I’m a busy woman. I don’t have time to cook healthy meals from scratch every day!” We hear you cry. And we get it. But if you want to lose weight during menopause, you need to avoid processed foods as much as possible.
We can’t blame you if you’re turned off by the idea of cooking meals from scratch every day. Being a woman at this stage is a full-time job. But the truth is, most processed foods are loaded with unhealthy ingredients that can lead to weight gain. Junk food and sugary beverages are not your friends!
We know most processed foods are delicious. But they’re also loaded with calories, unhealthy fats, and added sugar. And what have we been saying this whole time? Repeat after us. Menopause. calories. matter.
So do yourself a favor and cut back on processed foods. That means anything that comes in a box, can, or package. Instead, focus on number 5 of this list. Go for plant-based foods and eat smaller meals. If you lack inspiration, why not give HelloFresh a try. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
7. Get Moving (Even Harder!)
This may even be harder for some of us, but we have to have daily exercise if we want to lose weight during menopause. That means getting up and going for a walk, taking a dance class, or playing tennis with your friends.
Really, any form of physical activity is better than none at all. But if you want to see results, you need to make sure you’re getting enough cardio and strength training.
Cardio exercises like walking and running, cycling, and swimming help burn calories and improve heart health. They also help reduce stress levels, which can be helpful during menopause when our hormones are all over the place.
Strength-training exercises are important because they help build muscle. And the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you’ll burn at rest. So make sure to add some weight training and core strengthening exercises to your routine!
If you’re already working out anyway, you can up the ante to combat the weight-gain side effects of menopause by doing more HIIT workouts that target the whole body and adding some weights to your exercise routine for more vigorous exercise. But if not, starting slow is better than not starting at all. Just get moving to crunch that excess belly fat!
Life Begins At 40!
We know you’ve heard of the common misconceptions about menopause. “It’s the end of your life!” “You’re going to get fat and wrinkled!” But we’re here to tell you that menopause is not the end. It’s just the beginning of a new chapter in your life.
The smile lines, grey hairs, and extra curves are just a sign that you’re a woman who has lived a full life. And we think that’s pretty amazing. Never mind the people who tell you that gone are the glory days of your youth. (Maybe they’re just jealous that you look this good!)
You know what they say, right? Life begins at 40! So embrace the changes that come with menopause and use them as an opportunity to improve your health.
Normally, many women gain belly fat, belly bulge, abdominal fat, excess weight, excess fat, or whatever you want to call it, during menopause. But these tips will help you target belly fat during menopause and keep it off for good.
Sure, there are cosmetic procedures nowadays like getting a tummy tuck and liposuction for a bigger belly, but the average middle-aged woman doesn’t have the money for that. Not to mention, the increased risk of complications that come with these procedures is not worth it. So keep in mind that there are simple ways to lose belly fat without surgery.