Your weight is largely determined by how you balance the calories you eat with the energy you burn. However, age, genetics and hormones also play a role.
Muscle mass gradually diminishes with age, and fat accounts for a greater percentage of your weight. Less muscle mass also decreases the rate at which your body uses calories, which can make it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight or lose excess pounds.
In addition, many women notice an increase in belly fat as they get older — even if they aren’t gaining weight. This is likely due to a decreasing level of estrogen, which appears to influence where fat is distributed in the body. The tendency to gain or carry weight around the waist — have an “apple” rather than a “pear” shape — can have a genetic component as well.
The increased belly fat can do more than make it hard to zip up your jeans. Research indicates that belly fat also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain cancers — even premature death.
The good news? Eating a healthy diet and regular exercise can help. Here are a few tips to help you take control of your health and the bulge:
EAT A HEALTHY DIET TO LOSE BELLY FAT
- Eat lots of plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables.
- Limit your intake of processed foods, white bread, pasta & crackers. Opt for whole grains when you have complex carbohydrates. And if you’re trying to lose weight, ingest complex carbohydrates only on days that you exercise.
- Limit saturated fat found in meat and high-fat dairy products, such as cheese and butter. Avoid trans fats and use olive or coconut oil instead of vegetable oil.
- Choose lean sources of protein and low-fat dairy products.
- Choose moderate amounts of healthy fats — found in fish, nuts and avocado. Take your Omega-3 vitamins or flaxseed every day.
- Limit your intake of sugar.
- Avoid crash diets. Starvation will only cause your metabolism to slow down, causing you to gain more weight later on.
- Limit your intake of caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. These can exacerbate water retention.
- Keep portion sizes in check. Even when you’re making healthy choices, calories add up. At home, slim down your portion sizes. In restaurants, share meals — or eat half your meal and take the rest home for another day.
EXERCISE TO LOSE BELLY FAT
Include physical activity in your daily routine. For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, for at least 150 minutes a week or vigorous aerobic activity, such as jogging, for at least 75 minutes a week. In addition, strength training exercises are recommended at least twice a week. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more.
Yoga is beneficial in many ways, and especially as we grow older it can help us feel and look younger. There are several exercises that will help specifically for reducing menopause belly fat. They are the cat stretch, bridge pose, salutation to the sun, triangle pose, and twist.
University of Alabama researchers found that middle aged women doing total-body strength training for 25 weeks lost a significant amount of belly fat.
High amounts of high intensity aerobics
In another study, a high amount of high intensity (jogging 20 miles per week) exercise was found to be effective in reducing belly fat by 7%, while moderate amounts of exercise (walking or jogging 12 miles per week) kept belly fat from increasing, and no exercise led to a 9% increase in belly fat.
Combine aerobics with strength training
A combination of aerobic exercise and strength training has been found to be most effective for reducing menopause belly fat. In this study the participants did aerobic exercise 3 days a week and strength training 3 days a week, with one day off per week.
It may be a challenge, but focus on being healthy and active, rather than trying to fit into your old clothes.