Several factors play a role in weight gain before and during menopause, according to Franziska Spritzier, RD. It can be due to hormone fluctuations, both elevated and low levels of estrogen can lead to increased fat storage. Loss of muscle mass may occur due to age, hormonal changes, and decreased physical activity. Also, inadequate sleep and increased insulin resistance.
According to a 2013 study by Endocrine Reviews, a woman’s fat storage shifts from the hips and thighs to the abdomen during menopause. This can increase the risk of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. That is why it is important to try and lose belly fat during this stage of life, even though it can be challenging, here are eight tips that can help.
Increase Your Physical Activity
Regular exercise is one of the most effective ways for weight loss and overall physical health. It is a great way to build muscle and prevent age-related muscle loss. According to Debora Sullivan, Ph.D., research shows that aerobic exercise can decrease body fat after menopause. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that people should aim for at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity every week and that people should do muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days each week. If you are not already active, you can slowly increase your activity level by going on walks or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
Eat a Low-Carb Diet
The carbohydrates you eat digest glucose, which raises insulin, according to Anne Mullens, BSc. To reduce your insulin levels and reverse insulin resistance, you can cut out sugar and high-carb foods from your diet. High-carb foods include rice, potatoes, bread, pasta, and baked goods because they rapidly convert to sugar. Mullens suggests a low-carb diet because it might even increase your metabolism – potentially increasing fat burning – by between 200 and 500 calories per day. An easy step into starting a low-carb diet is by cutting out sugary drinks and added sugar.
Eat Enough Protein
According to Mullens, getting enough protein at every meal will maintain lean muscle mass and helps counteract the muscle loss of aging and the increase of sarcopenic obesity. Having a source of protein in every meal will keep you full and satisfied and increases your metabolic rate. Great sources of protein are eggs, chicken breasts, oats, broccoli, and all types of fish.
Practice Mindful Eating
Being mindful of what you eat can help change your eating behavior and may prevent any more weight gain. According to Sullivan, mindful eating can help a person become aware of internal, rather than external, cues to eat. It can be a helpful approach to binge eating and eating-related to emotional states. Spritzier also suggests mindful eating because it may help reduce stress and improve your relationship with food, so you end up eating less.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Getting enough good quality sleep is important for maintaining a healthy weight and overall good health. Low-quality sleep can lead to weight gain. According to Spritzier, people who sleep too little have higher levels of the “hunger hormone” ghrelin, lower levels of the “fullness hormone” leptin, and are more likely to be overweight. Menopause can cause women to have trouble sleeping due to hot flashes, night sweats, stress, and other physical effects of estrogen deficiency. It is important for you to try and get enough sleep to help reduce menopause-related weight gain.
Manage Your Stress
Stress relief is important during the menopausal transition, according to Spritzier. In a 1996 study of Obesity Research, it suggests that stress leads to elevated cortisol levels, which are associated with increased abdominal fat. A great way to reduce stress and relieve symptoms in women going through menopause is yoga.
Get Help from Your Family and Friends
“Having the support of your family and friends is an integral part of weight loss,” says Sullivan. A way to keep yourself on your exercise journey is having a workout buddy that will motivate you to do it. Another way to keep yourself motivated is by tracking your progress on social media, it can be a way to help with accountability. It will also record how much progress you have done to lose weight and gain a healthy lifestyle.
Keep Up with Your Lifestyle Changes
One of the most important tips in losing weight gained due to menopause is maintaining healthy habits so that they can have a long-term effect on your body. According to Sullivan, including cooking routines and getting regular exercise are more likely to result in long-term effects. Seeing results can take some time, but the best part about keeping a healthy lifestyle is that it will make you feel good inside and out.