Along with hot flashes and mood swings, another not-so-fun symptom that comes as you transition to menopause is the “menopause belly,” or weight gain around your midsection. Luckily, you can get rid of the dreaded menopause belly with the right combination of diet and exercise.
What Is A Menopause Belly?
As the name suggests, many women develop the menopause belly right around menopause. At this time, your body goes through some pretty major changes, and a bigger midsection might be one of them.
This can be attributed to several factors including slower metabolisms and hormonal changes. Decreased metabolism and a natural decline in physical activity can both make it more likely for us to gain weight.
And as we reach perimenopause, we see a decrease in estrogen, the hormone responsible for a ton of important body functions including fat accumulation. As your estrogen levels decrease, your fat distribution can change, leading to weight gain that settles right around your waist.
So in short: your falling estrogen levels can redistribute body fat and leave you with more around your midsection, even if your other habits haven’t changed.
How Do You Get Rid Of A Menopause Belly?
Don’t worry – your changing hormones might be part of the cause, but there’s definitely hope for decreasing an expanding waistline.
To lose your perimenopause belly fat, tackle it head-on by managing both your eating and exercise.
When it comes to nutrition, remember: your metabolism slows down during menopause. You’ll want to fill up on light but nutrient-dense food like fruits and vegetables while minimizing heavier things like starches and fats.
Exercise is also crucial, and not just for reducing belly fat. Regular exercise increases your calorie burn, improves heart health, and can even decrease hot flashes. Our bone health is also important here: we start to lose bone density during menopause, but regular weight training can prevent this and reduce injury risk.
What Are The Best Exercises For Getting Rid Of A Menopause Belly?
When it comes to exercise, it’s important to note that you can’t “spot-reduce,” or choose where you lose fat. Rather, you can do cardio-centric exercises that burn overall body fat, then toning exercises to tighten up the abdominal muscles underneath.
The best menopause belly exercises for getting rid of your hormonal belly fat include:
- HIIT Workouts: These circuit-training cardiovascular workouts have enjoyed an increase in popularity recently for good reason. The name of the game is to get your heart racing and muscles firing with high-intensity cardio workouts cycled with short pauses in between – which is fantastic news for fat burn.
There are a ton of workouts you can include in a HIIT circuit including jumping rope, burpees, and even low-impact movements like high knees and side lunges if you’re just starting off.
- Jogging/Running: If slower and steadier is more your speed, try starting a regular running routine to burn those calories. If you aren’t used to jogging for longer periods yet, try alternating walking and running until you feel comfortable sustaining a faster pace.
- Core Training: You’ll also want to make sure that you’re building strength in your abdominal muscles with strength-training exercises like crunches, Russian twists, and planks.
Strength training on its own isn’t going to help you lose belly fat, so to amp up the burn you can cycle these workouts without resting to keep burning calories. As an added bonus, muscle uses more energy than fat, so by building a strong core you’ll actually be amping up your metabolism!
In the end, the best workout plan is a consistent one, so the most important thing is to find exercises that you love and can do daily. You’ll make way more progress moving more every day, not “punishing” yourself with workouts you just want to quit, so find ways to exercise that you actually enjoy!
The Bottom Line
Menopausal weight gain can be frustrating, but there are plenty of things you can do to stay in control. Keep moving, keep a conscious eye on your eating habits, and incorporate higher-intensity exercise to burn fat and combat those pesky hormonal changes!