According to research, the number one reason for increased belly fat is decreased physical activity, but for perimenopausal women, there are other factors at play. These include hormonal changes, stress, dysfunctional sleep patterns, and certain medications. So, before you knock yourself for falling off the health and fitness bandwagon for a week, consider if a hormonal element might be at play.
What has been linked to menopause belly?
If you’re perimenopausal and noticing your body shape changing, it’s more likely due to the shift in hormones, among other things happening in your body. Check-in with yourself on what else could be contributing before cutting out necessary calories or hopping into an intense workout.
- Hormone changes. As estrogen begins to decrease, testosterone becomes more available in the body, which can cause a redistribution of body fat to the abdominal region. So, it’s not necessarily that you’re adding fat, as much as it’s moving to different places. One of estrogen’s actions is to deposit fat onto your hips and when it declines, that signal weakens and fat shifts to your abdomen. Estrogen also affects hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is an appetite suppressant and ghrelin signals hunger. Less estrogen causes a decrease in leptin and disrupted sleep patterns increase ghrelin.
- Lack of adequate sleep. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you are likely to feel tired and lethargic which can lead to skipping that workout and reaching for comfort foods that won’t help you feel more awake anyway. Sleep affects ghrelin and leptin, which we just talked about, and ghrelin can make you crave junk food. Less sleep = more ghrelin, so make sure you get your Zz’s!
- Stress. Okay, we all know that stress is horrible for us, and we should try and decrease our amounts, but just how does stress manifest in the body? Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone and belly fat contains receptors for cortisol. The adrenal glands release cortisol when we’re stressed, and this stimulates belly fat receptors resulting in more belly fat. So, you could argue that stress can make you fat.
- Chronic inflammation. Inflammation is your body’s protective response to what it believes are foreign invaders that could wreak havoc. Acute inflammation is often necessary in injuries or when you’re sick as a form of protection, but when it’s chronic, it’s a problem. Chronic inflammation inhibits some enzymes that normally break down fats in the belly. Taking care of gut imbalances and inflammatory conditions could help reduce the appearance of a bloated belly and it could improve your digestion too! Grab yourself a bottle of Pre+Probiotic for Women and get your gut health on track today.
- Insulin resistance. If insulin receptors become less sensitive to insulin, you can have higher levels of blood sugar, lower energy, and an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular problems. Chronic stress and abdominal fat can encourage insulin resistance to form a vicious cycle.
Diet and lifestyle changes you can make
There are a lot of simple shifts you can make to get rid of menopause belly. Most are linked to diet but before you let out that groan, know that it isn’t as restrictive as you may think.
- Cut back on sugar. Notice we didn’t say “cut out sugar.” Just, keep an eye on how much you take in daily and try to be more choosy with your sweet treats. Fruits have natural sugar and are a great substitute. Need a helping hand to fight those cravings? Add The Daily Hormone Balance to your routine. It not only helps lessen cravings, but also clears skin, stabilizes mood, and increases energy. Win, win, win, win!
- Eat foods that fight inflammation. As you transition to menopause, increasing oxidative damage throughout the body can trigger chronic inflammation. Focus on getting antioxidant-rich foods in your diet to help combat this. Berries, broccoli, spinach, carrots, potatoes, artichokes, cabbage, asparagus, etc.
- Eat enough fiber. Hormonal balance means your body is making hormones in the proper ratios but also metabolizing and excreting them effectively. If you struggle with estrogen dominance and want to promote a healthy metabolism, eat more fiber. Things like dark leafy greens, brown rice, oats, seeds, root vegetables, raspberries, guavas, persimmons, etc.
- Get your protein in. Protein contains amino acids which are the building blocks of hormones, including estrogen, insulin, and thyroid hormones. It also helps stabilize insulin levels which help with better energy throughout the day. For healthy hormone balance aim for 20-25g at every meal and 10-15g in a snack.
- Eat to fight symptoms. Certain foods can trigger or combat menopause symptoms like mood swings and hot flashes. Fewer symptoms mean better sleep and sleep is critical in weight loss. Iron and calcium can help relieve mood swings and hot flashes. Meat, fish, eggs, beans, lentils, etc. are good sources.
- Get yourself Menopause Essentials. Our menopause supplement has been clinically shown to reduce hot flashes, mood swings, and night sweats. It can also improve hair thickness and increase energy levels within eight weeks. Dreading menopause is a thing of the past with Menopause Essentials.
- Create a stress-relieving exercise plan. Choosing movement that doesn’t cause excessive cortisol production is key here. Remember, your belly fat has cortisol receptors. You have so many options, but here are just a few to get you started: walking, hiking, yoga, pilates, barre, swimming/water aerobics, strength training, dance classes, etc.