A Closer Look at Menopause Belly

Dr. Christopher McGowan
September 20, 2021

As we age, we generally become more accustomed to our bodies. As a result, it can be surprising when suddenly things start to change. For women approaching menopause, the changing hormone levels that accompany the end of your regular menstrual cycle can bring about a host of changes. One of these can be the unwelcome addition of abdominal fat known as the menopause belly. 

Does Menopause Cause Tummy Bulge?

Menopause causes many changes in women’s bodies, and the addition of a little extra weight around the midsection is just one of these. As levels of estrogen and progesterone fall during perimenopause, the time leading up to the end of your period, your body begins changing. These hormonal changes are what cause hot flashes, sleep problems, mood swings, and weight gain commonly associated with menopause. 

Though it is named after menopause, the abdominal weight gain women experience as they age is only partially due to changes in hormones that accompany your ovaries shutting down. A lack of physical activity, stress, and poor diet can all contribute to the formation of visceral fat around the midsection. Poor sleep is also related to weight gain, and trouble sleeping is certainly on the list of common menopausal symptoms.

How Can I Lose My Menopause Belly?

Eating well, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and exercising regularly will help you ward off unwanted body fat as you age. Many people turn to cardiovascular workouts like running, but pairing cardio with strength training can help you build and maintain muscle mass that accelerates your body’s metabolism and helps you burn fat faster. 

High intensity interval training, or HIIT workouts, have become more popular in recent years as research shows these workouts can be good for your cardiovascular health as well as helping you build muscle. Before you start any form of workout, it is vital that you talk to your doctor or healthcare provider to ensure you are not placing yourself at an increased risk of heart attack.

Menopause Belly and Bloating

One thing to consider is that what looks like weight gain may actually be bloating. Similar to the bloating you may experience during your period, during menopause and perimenopause bloating can become a regular phenomenon. This bloating can arise from fluid retention, or can be a result of excess gas in your digestive tract. 

It is sometimes difficult to tell at first which is which, as the levels of hormones in your body are changing in new and different ways. The number on the scale may not be a great indication either, as your body may change the location of stored fat reserves from the thighs and butt to the midsection. 

A Healthy Lifestyle During Menopause

Menopausal weight gain is not an inescapable sentence. The fact that many people become less active as they age is a significant contributing factor to gaining weight after age 50. This can be compounded for many women by feelings of tiredness or exhaustion that can accompany menopause. 

It is important to stay active as you age, even if this doesn’t mean intense workouts. Going for long walks, or engaging in moderate intensity cycling or swimming a few times a week can have profound effects on your overall health. This can help you maintain muscle mass that is essential as you age. It is harder for your body to maintain lean muscle mass later in life, and regular exercise will help you stay strong into your later years.

Eating right is important for all of us, but perimenopausal and menopausal women may find that they have to be even more attentive to their overall wellness. As your metabolic rate drops, keeping a sharp eye on your diet is going to be essential if you want to avoid a few extra pounds or lose belly fat. For many women this may mean avoiding carbs and processed foods, as well as increasing the share of vegetables and nutrient-dense foods on your plate. 

Regular exercise and a healthy diet can also help alleviate some of the other symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and night sweats. For some women, lowering their consumption of alcohol can also help reduce the intensity of hot flashes, which can help you sleep better. 

Surgery to Get Rid of Menopause Belly Fat

Given how much harder it is to lose weight as we age, it can feel like there is no way to get rid of belly fat after 50. This can lead women to start thinking about surgical or medical alternatives to exercise and diet for weight loss. While there are cosmetic procedures and surgeries that can help remove unwanted fat, it is important to remember that no medical procedure will succeed unless you maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. Cosmetic weight loss procedures of all kinds, from fat melting injections and cool sculpting to liposuction do all remove fat cells from the body, but if you continue to eat poorly and are not active after your procedure, unwanted weight gain can return. 

It is important to remember that there is more to a woman's health than the measurement of her waistline. While measurements like the body mass index (or BMI) do provide some indication of your exposure to some health risks, the weight shifts brought about by the menopausal transition are different from the added body fat brought about by prolonged weight gain or obesity throughout life.

At True You, we know that keeping weight off for the long-term, rather than just dropping a few pounds with a fad diet, takes work, planning, and commitment. It also takes getting the right people on your team to ensure you are successful in keeping unwanted body fat at bay. 

Though it can be tempting to think of a procedure like cool sculpting or liposuction as a silver bullet for weight loss, the reality is you will not get the long-term results you are looking for without maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This is even more true for more involved procedures like endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty and especially so for bariatric surgery. Any procedure that changes the volume or routing of your digestive system will demand significant changes in your diet and lifestyle for the rest of your life. 

This is why we work hard to ensure we find the right fit or service for everyone we work with at True You Weight Loss. Not everyone who considers a weight loss procedure is a good candidate, and there may be other, less invasive procedures or services that can help you achieve your goal of lasting freedom from the burden of excess body fat. 

If you are feeling like diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle is still not getting you to the results you are looking for in dropping excess pounds, request a consultation with True You today.

Dr. Christopher McGowan
Dr. Christopher McGowan
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