Most of my friends and I have reached this stage of our lives. And while we may laugh about foggy brains and hot flashes, we are a little less amused by the weight gain, especially on our tummies. This change in body fat storage is so common that it is referred to as “menopause belly”. It is more than just an inconvenience, as we struggle to zip up our pants. It is a health issue as it involves intra-abdominal fat, which is linked to metabolic disturbances and increased risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
While hormonal shifts may play a role, they are not solely responsible for weight gain during menopause. We do have some control over how much belly fat, and fat in general, we gain as we age. In our 50’s, our bodies aren’t as metabolically active as they were in our 40s. We tend to lose muscle mass, which decreases the rate at which the body burns calories. For many there is also a slow decline in activity level without any modification in diet. All of this can lead to weight gain.
The bottom line is we need to increase our exercise level and more closely monitor our diet to maintain our premenopausal body fat level.
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Avoid processed foods and excess sugar.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Aim for 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week.
- Include weight-bearing exercises.
By simply adding a little more exercise and watching my portions, I have been able to lose close to 20 pounds. I have so much more energy! I believe that my best years are ahead of me, and I plan to be ready to enjoy every one of them.