What is menopause belly?
Weight distribution changes if you’re perimenopausal, going through menopause, or postmenopausal and the additional pounds tend to accumulate right around your waistline, which we call the “menopause belly” or the “middle age spread.”
Risks of menopausal belly fat
Menopause weight gain can have serious implications for your health. Excess weight, especially around your midsection, increases your risk of:
- Breathing problems
- Heart and blood vessel disease
- Type 2 diabetes
Excess weight gain also increases your risk of various types of cancer, including colon, breast, and endometrial cancers.
What causes menopause belly?
There is a multitude of reasons for menopausal belly weight gain, including hormonal imbalances, a slowing metabolism, changes in sleep, and reduced activity levels.
One of the many reasons for menopausal middle of the body weight gain centers around hormones. Your estrogen levels drop, androgen levels increase, progesterone levels decrease, and cortisol levels are elevated. All of these changes lead to weight gain particularly for many women right around the midsection.
Your gender and genetics play a role in your metabolism rate too. Men typically have a faster metabolism because they have more muscle mass, heavier bones, and less body fat whereas women have less muscle mass and a higher body fat percentage.
Poor Sleeping Habits
These high levels of cortisol or stress hormones can impact both our sleep and our appetites by affecting the balance of leptin and ghrelin (known as the hunger hormone), promoting carbohydrate and sugar cravings.
Reduced Activity Levels
As you age, you naturally lose muscle mass over time, resulting in burning off calories at a lower rate.
You also may get less physical activity than you used to. Not getting enough exercise can lead to not only weight gain but cardiovascular disease.
How to Lose Menopausal Belly Fat
Although age alone contributes to lower glucose tolerance, the decrease in glucose tolerance may be partly prevented through changes in lifestyle. It may be possible to delay the aging or degradation process of various physiological functions by engaging in healthier dietary habits, stopping smoking, and increasing your physical activity.
Add more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to your diet, especially those that are less processed and contain more fiber. In general, a plant-based diet is healthier than other options. Legumes, soy, nuts, fish, and low-fat dairy options are healthy choices. Try to reduce your carbohydrate intake as well.
Our exercise needs change as we age, and exercise is personal for every individual, but the CDC recommends that all adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise like swimming, running, or biking every week, and two or more days a week of muscle-strengthening activities, or strength/resistance training.
It is helpful to walk or take the stairs more often and stand more than you sit. Try parking farther away, try intermittent fasting (with your physician’s approval), avoid eating past 7 p.m., and avoid mindless snacking. When it comes to sleep, it can help to avoid any screen an hour before bedtime, keep your bedroom cool to avoid hot flashes or night sweats, and aim for a minimum of seven – but hopefully eight – hours of sleep a night.
Here is where we can help at Cosmetic Skin & Laser Center. We offer nonsurgical solutions for reducing belly fat caused by menopause or at any time through life. We offer Smartlipo (laser liposuction) and BodyTite, which we often use together to create a cosmetically elegant shape. With just a weekend of downtime, we can reduce fat and tighten skin not only on the abdomen, but also on the thighs, flanks or love handles, arms, knees, and neck or under the chin. Smartlipo gives up to 60% fat reduction with one single treatment.
We also offer noninvasive and no-downtime CoolSculpting, which uses cryolipolysis technology to freeze fat cells (without harming healthy cells). These fat cells are then naturally eliminated from the body over the course of a couple of months. A “lunchtime treatment,” you can treat in just 35 minutes at our Traverse City or Petoskey office. Coolsculpting gives about a 20% reduction of fat with even greater fat reduction after multiple treatments.
Along with lifestyle improvements, these cosmetic treatments can slim down the inches and increase your confidence, make you feel better and more comfortable in clothing or on the beach, improve your sex life, and kickstart your weight loss journey – and your journey to living a happier, more fulfilled life in every respect.
To combat menopausal belly fat:
- Adjust your diet to include more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Reduce your carbohydrate intake.
- Intersperse aerobic exercise with strength training.
- Work on getting seven to eight hours of well-rested sleep every night.
- Walk more, stand more, and take the steps more often.
- Reduce belly fat with cosmetic procedures such as Smartlipo / RFAL or Coolsculpting.