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How to Get Rid of Menopause Belly Fat

By Mary Kyle Blogger
 
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How to Get Rid of Menopause Belly Fat 3 5 27
How to Get Rid of Menopause Belly Fat
Photo: Photospin - Auremar

I went through a relatively early menopause. By age 49, I had not only climbed the menopause mountain but was over the top and to the other side. The only problem was that menopause left me sporting a bulging belly, the likes of which I had not seen since I was six months pregnant!

I went on a diet (didn’t work). I jumped rope (didn’t work). I walked (didn’t work). I did a million sit ups (didn’t work). I went in for my annual and the first thing out of her mouth was, “Well, I see you have that menopause belly thing going on. It’s a real @)#(*$#$& to get off!” Needless to say, that sage advice didn’t help me out either in my search for a way to get rid of my newfound companion.

Since my doctor didn’t offer any advice, I’ve spent the last year wearing “fat” clothes in an attempt to hide this new shape. Frankly, I’ve had enough! I’ve decided to fight back and started researching. My search started with the Mayo Clinic. (See, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/belly-fat/wo00128) After all, if the Mayo Clinic doesn’t have a clue, who will?

I learned that women have two types of belly fat – subcutaneous fat (the wonderful unsightly bulge we see around our middle) and visceral fat (fat which is buried deeply underneath our subcutaneous fat and settles around our organs). Viseral fat is the type of fat which causes the real health problems in women – diabetes, high blood pressure, breast and colorectal cancer, to name a few. It’s the visceral fat that we need to attack in order to regain that flat tummy of bygone years.

The good news is that according to the Mayo Clinic, visceral fat will respond well to diet and regular exercise. So, I was dieting. I was exercising. What was I doing wrong?

With respect to diet, the Mayo Clinic recommends the following: reduce portions and caloric intake, avoid saturated fats and replace them with polyunsaturated fats, eat more fruits and vegetables and less white bread and pasta. This should go a long way to reducing your belly fat.

In addition, daily moderate exercise was recommended along with weight training, the amount and type depending on your current activity level.

Add a Comment72 Comments

Maria Jasmine Freeman

Fat cells are entrusted for estrogen synthesis outside the ovaries, post menopause. It is not surprising thus to see most post menopausal women gain some fat!
I agree visceral fat is the most serious, and with other modes of attempting to reduce weight. I emphasize the issue of veggies; eat them before ur meal as their admission to ur stomach will mete messages to ur brain towards satiety befor u have ingested much higher -calorie stuff.
Finally I am not sure I agree about vitamin ingestion- as long as u r eating a balanced diet; studies r contradictory regarding benefit, and at times those could turn out harmful!

February 1, 2016 - 2:31am
Maryann Gromisch RN Guide (reply to Maria Jasmine Freeman)

Hello fellow post menopausal women,

The bottom line is our metabolic rate decreases post menopause. The simple solution is cut back on your caloric intake and increase your level of physical activity.

Regards,
Maryann

February 1, 2016 - 9:45am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Menopause smacked me over the head, I was so busy (and have a new appreciation for how that really can happen) thinking and worrying incessantly about another health thing that had to be dealt with quickly but it was SO insanely expensive, I spent months and months in the beginning of 2015 just looking for the right doc. THEN the migraines that I used to have occasionally at the beginning of my periods started coming every day, and hot flashes.... and suddenly I realized that in spite of putting up with severely painful periods for so long, still clinging to the hope that I would become a Mom and it would be worth it, that was not to be.
So I am wrapping up the 2015 "stuff" and now need to learn about menopause. Still weird to say that word, to say "I am menopausal" when I still in so many ways feel .... well, whatever, no place to go but forward, find out what my body needs, see if this is why i have migraines from hell almost every day and make sure that my recent (boredom plus sadness plus a 77 year old Dad who keeps my house filled with cookies! He is a stinker, he lost 6 inches of height and can eat anything he wants w/o gaining an ounce. And i inherited my love for carby goodness from him too, LOL) 10 pound weight gain doesn't stick around. If only so my clothes will fit :) Kidding, I need to get back to moving this body and eating better. And I really need the clothes I own to fit, as there is really not money for Menopause Pants. :)

January 22, 2016 - 10:28pm
Maria Jasmine Freeman (reply to Anonymous)

I fully understand you, as I have been in your shoes for thirteen years. My ghastly headaches crippled me at the outset, in hot flashes. I was in a hell of the highest degree, with stupor, electrifying pain lunacy, multiple seizures and literal gasping, daily. I abstained from Hormones, especially me being a physician, believing hot flashes are our healers, and there was the Deuce to pay. Indeed after so long, I am markedly healed, but who would dare go my hell.
Your situation is very hard, but milder than some others. Nobody can make your own decision. Whichever you choose, Hormones, antidepressants, or less effective herbal remedies, or no treatment, you are already a heroine!!
I wish you the greatest endurance and least pain.

January 25, 2016 - 3:21am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Since having a total abdominal bi lateral salphingo-oophorectomy, as an emergencey, no time to get used to the idea, no more children for me and only early 40's. Put me into the menopause then i had a PE due to surgery. So now no HRT. I have been fighting the symptons of the menopause, and feel i have to justify my pot belly, as each time i meet people they tend to look at my stomach first. I cannot do stomach crunches as my muscle was cut through in surgery. It feels like an uphill struggle at times. Any suggestions.

May 25, 2015 - 8:08am
Maria Jasmine Freeman (reply to Anonymous)

Oh, why should women be tried sooo much. The best suggestion is not to care a damn to people's judgment about your belly. I was transmogrified in menopause from 36-38 size( European) to almost 50- yes, fifty!! My patients( I am a pediatrician) would be smiling at my "good health" while my heart would be crushed in sadness, at my breathlessness, and pains of menopause. Finally I got calloused, moved on, for already thirteen years, and almost made it! Just deal with what you got, and never give up, as " pain is temporary, quitting is forever".
My prayers for you and every female, especially in menopause!

January 25, 2016 - 3:33am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

First, I hope you are doing OK with the no more children part. I wish to heaven I had known about freezing eggs (I was told that wasn't done, which has also been sort of awful, but forgiving and moving on seems the healthy choice for me. well, until they invent a Time Machine right?) I'm so sorry you have had to go through so much, so many surgeries and all that comes with that. I have pretty constant pain but post-surgery pain scares the heck out of me!
My uterus has been - for reasons that were never explained to me, but probably largely due to my second round of uterine fibroids - "the size of a 6 month pregnancy", since I was in my late 30s and I still try to avoid full-length mirrors. Looking pregnant when I can't be? That sucks, as does your situation.
BUT you don't owe anyone any explanation! anyone who asks or badgers you needs to learn some good manners!
I have always found crunches do nothing for my tummy and just hurt my back and neck. I have Fibromyalgia, have for 23 years and for me, the best all-over exercise (gentle, easy on the joints, etc) is getting in a pool and just moving. I recommend it to everyone who can't do "regular" exercise. I think any time we are moving and burning fat, it has to come from somewhere, right? So it should eventually, with keeping at the gentle exercise, eating as well as possible, change, right?
I hope you have found some help, I realize you posted 7 months ago. But I felt a "kindred spirit" and just wanted to share and hopefully offer some encouragement. I so hope you are doing and feeling better.
amy lynn

January 22, 2016 - 10:43pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Hello beautiful Ladies,
Big hugs to everyone!
Just wanted to give you some hope. My husband is a family doc and I am a psychologist and corporate professional and I am hyper controlling when it comes to my health and my body shape. I am at the beginning of periomenopause and I have already seen the weight redistibution going on. Before we had kids and before periomenopause I had naturally big boobs and my waist was a full 12 inches smaller than my hips. I exercised a lot and ate well to maintain it. Now that isn't working and so I am consulting my husband and also reading the most up to date studies in medical journals. First, I will tell you what doesn't work for visceral fat gain. Then I will tell you what works.

Things that do NOT work:
1) Extreme calorie restriction. Why? Because it tells your body to store more fat.
2) Hormone replacement therapy has not been shown to reduce visceral fat in large studies. But, here is the thing that HRT does: it reduces hot flashes. My husband says a low dose birth control pill is the best method to reduce them. He doesn't like HRT because a recent medical study demonstrated that HRT can cause type 2 diabetes. I am not joking!
3) exercising so much with high impact exercises that your body produces so much cortisol. More cortisol = more visceral fat. Yuk!!!!
4) Overeating. Well, that is self-explanatory.
5) Crawling into the nearest cave with a tub of Ben and Jerry's and crying yourself to sleep.

Visceral fat to a large degree is genetically determined, just as your body shape prior to the big M is largely genetically determined. So, we also have to deal with genetic predisposition. (Thanks Mom and Dad, or maybe not...)

But it doesn't matter. There are things that work and this is based on a study I just read.
1) moderate cardio exercise for 4 days a week until you reach your weight goal.
2) Pair this with clean eating and eating a good deal of protein. Stuff yourself with raw veggies if you get hungry. Avoid bad fats. Don't use severe calorie restriction. Maybe drop calories by only 10% of your total normal caloric intake.
3) Add light strength training, but fatigue your muscles in each set. This has been shown to add more muscle. But, since we are all losing muscle because we are getting older, strength training will help prevent muscle loss.
4) Once you have reached your target weight, you need only do moderate cardio twice a week along with strength training.
5) take a high dose of probiotics each day. The stuff Dr Mercola makes really helps. In some studies, probiotics have been shown to reduce weight and reduce anxiety. Read about the brain/gut connection if you want to know more. But the gyst of it is that we have one brain in our head and another in our stomach. The two influence each other greatly.
6) take lots of calcium and vitamin D.
7) always take a whole food vitamin supplement.
8) add lots of avocados. Paradoxically, they blast body fat and help with cholesterol.
9) take a fish oil supplement that has more DHA omegas 3's.
10) yoga, yoga, yoga. Keeps muscle mass, maintains flexibility, blasts cortisol away so it can't add body fat.
11) after you get to your optimal weight, go see a good surgeon and have him take all that under th skin fat around your abdomen and have him put it back on your butt where it belongs.
12) tummy tucks are also good after you are in menopause and at your optimal weight.
As others said, tummy tucks don't remove visceral fat, but they re tighten your abdominal muscles and they remove all the subcutaneous fat from your lower belly, from your back, and from your flanks. You all look a whole lot better. If you don't like the price, many women go to the Dominican Republic and get TT's, implants, and BB lifts for a fraction of the cost.

Most of all, give yourself grace because you are so much more and you have accomplished so much more in life than your looks. Your appearance is the wrapping, but a good, kind heart is the ultimate gift to others. Forgive and let go of past hurts (while not taking bad people back into your life). Strive for balance. Practice loving others unconditionally because you will feel like walking on air. Realize that you have inherent beauty because you are a child of God!

***as I said before, I am not a doctor and you should always consult a professional before making changes.***
God bless all of you!

January 16, 2016 - 9:05pm
JoJo1980 (reply to Anonymous)

Touche" I like your post :)

January 28, 2016 - 3:12pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

In addition to my comments about out of country cosmetic surgery I also have issues with what you said about hrt causing type 2 diabetes. Can you please ask your husband for a link to the studies he's referring to? I have done a lot of research on the pros and cons of hrt and never once did I read about a correlation between it and diabetes. I also have trouble understanding why low dose bcp is recommended over hrt since both contain the same hormones. Can he clarify that also? Thanks!

January 23, 2016 - 12:34pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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