BLOG UPDATED 2/19/2021 HERE
Menopause Belly Fat has many characteristics of plain old belly fat. However, due to the hormonal changes that happen during menopause, there are decided differences. You need to know what’s called the pathophysiology of why we all tend to develop menopause belly fat. Indeed, it is a nuisance, but a fixable nuisance.
Don’t run for the liposuction until you read and understand this and if you have questions, just ask me! This is problem about 100% of women experience yet “regular doctors” are not trained in hormones, so they don’t know the answer. But, now you have me! ;-)
Belly fat and Menopause belly fat:
Many people struggle with belly fat, and some give up the battle with the idea that it is all due to genetics and impossible to fight. In reality, there are three main reasons for lingering belly fat. By the way, the whole beer thing is a silly myth.
Here is an aside to tell your “guy” if he is getting a “gut.” As men age, they continue to “aromatize” testosterone to estradiol. Men need some estrogen just like women need some testosterone. However, if it’s not a stress-gut (more on that in a moment), he should get a testosterone, free testosterone and estradiol checked. Livers tend to clear men’s estradiol less efficiently with age so the level might be up. (UP is higher than 15-25 pg/ml.) Now if it’s up for a sustained period, that puts him at higher risk for prostate cancer, so it’s not just about the gut. Have him checked and treated.
Sorry! I HAD to throw that in there since I’m writing this for “us girls”! Now back to things that WILL apply to males and females but focusing then on why we get menopause belly fat.
First belly fat in general which also applies to menopause belly fat:
I feel like a broken record here but remember that eating an inflammatory diet which is the typical American non-whole-foods diet will pack on pounds everywhere and that includes your belly.
Inflammation leads to a bunch of physiologic steps to pack on belly fat.
You didn’t come here for a biochemistry lesson so just trust me on that.
You can get help with weight loss in general and get a free copy of my Weight loss ebook by going to the footer when you are done. The entire diet is IN the book! Free! Get it!
You should limit or eliminate all processed foods, which are typically a major source of bad carbs. They also contain harmful toxins in the form of artificial flavors and colors, preservatives and a long list of other bad, bad ingredients.
There are actually processed food ingredients that can hinder your ability to lose body fat; and therefore belly fat.
I am not coming out and saying that the “BIG weight loss companies do this on purpose” but why don’t YOU read the labels and tell me what you conclude.
Here is what I think.
Limiting all sugars is also needed. You might want to consider limiting grains, as well. Some health experts (including me!) believe that consuming wheat is a big factor in the skyrocketing obesity epidemic, as well as in the rise of chronic illness. Remember MOST U.S. wheat is GMO. When we consume wheat or “whole grains,” our body thinks we are eating pure sugar. As a result, this leads to cravings for more sugar-like foods and adds to belly fat. Oh, you can have grains as you’ll read in the book, but sprouted, sprouted! The body treats unsprouted grains just like sugar.
You can indeed be under so much stress that it gives you belly fat. When this happens, your adrenal glands are secreting too much cortisol and adrenaline. This will eventually result in fatigue, and even adrenal fatigue symptoms, sleep issues and immune system depression.
Besides the behavioral things to reduce stress, you need to cut out caffeine and energy drinks. Energy drinks, in particular, make the entire “situation” just plain worse. If you feel stressed and are having even minor energy or sleep issues you need adrenal fatigue supplements. This is generally herbal mixtures of rhodiola, ashwagandha, astragalus, siberian ginseng and adrenal glandulars. Relaxing lifestyle measures are also needed. If you are “at this stage of the game” you are also secreting more epinephrine so you might be feeling anxious, which feels like being stressed.
Chewable GABA tablets will help with that. You can chew two tabs at a time.
Be sure to put them under your tongue and/or against cheek for absorption.
GABA is the brain chemical which is increased by drugs like Valium, but this is the natural way to do it.
Note oral forms don’t work because they don’t pass the blood-brain barrier, so that is why I’m making sure you know to do it “sub-lingually.”
Learning some relaxation techniques such as relaxation breathing are also helpful.
If you are at the stage where energy is low and cortisol is high, and when asked about energy levels you are below a 5-6 on a 10 point scale, you WILL have sleep issues.
Sleep needs to be “fixed” before the adrenal situation can be fully under control. Of course, I have lots of information for you on this website which is absolutely free. Check out the Info section and get the sleep ebook in the footer if sleep is an issue. If you want instant gratification with a natural sleep aid go to this blog, identify what you need, and then go get it! Here is a five instant sleep tips video I did for you!
Belly fat is not just caused (contrary to popular belief) by menopausal hormonal fluctuations per se. Those hormones, which do affect weight in general, are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Indeed, they do have a role in menopause belly fat, but it’s a bit complex. Therefore, let me try to make it easier to understand.
Hormones all work “in concert” and as the esteemed A4M Faculty member Dr.Pam Smith says “we women are a symphony of hormones”:
Progesterone and Estrogen both oppose the fat storing action cortisol has on the belly. So, low menopausal levels combined with the usual stress experienced by menopausal women = belly fat. Get it? Wasn’t that easy? You’re feeling stress, and your estrogen and progesterone levels are down. Easy, right? Also, recall, if you are pre-menopausal you have low progesterone levels even if you are menstruating so this whole annoying thing can start long before your periods stop.
Cortisol coupled with juggling kids, husbands, parents (caregiving), jobs, and more leaves no WONDER to why menopausal women are stressed, right?
Testosterone diminishes in the menopausal years and has other effects on weight, but not much on belly fat per se so don’t be too concerned about that. I think that’s a pretty common myth. It probably comes from the fact that as testosterone levels decrease so does muscle mass. Further, since less muscle mass means a lower metabolic rate, there is weight gain due to THAT. However, again, not targeted belly fat gain and certainly not a cause of menopause belly fat.
SO-got it? Low progesterone, low estradiol, high insulin (inflammation) and high cortisol are what does “the damage” and is all completely reversible.