If you’ve entered this stage in your life, you’ve probably wondered why maintaining your weight doesn’t seem all that simple any more.
But don’t get discouraged! There are reasons for this!!!
Hormones are partly to blame
Prior to menopause, women have protection from their hormones when it comes to belly fat, but after menopause you don’t. During the menopausal transition, estrogen and progesterone, hormones that have a major impact on keeping women lean, healthy and fit, fluctuate dramatically before finally dropping to lower levels. For many women, this causes weight gain and a shift in fat storage to the middle of the body. Thus, the menopause belly.
Stress levels can be high during menopause. With higher stress comes elevated levels of the hormone, cortisol. With higher cortisol levels the body tends to maintain a higher level of belly fat. Additionally, if you don’t deal with stress well it can lead to poorer eating habits, which compounds the problem and leads to more belly fat. Try to keep stress levels in check with daily physical activity or meditation.
Eating too much sugar has been shown to increase belly fat. Too much sugar increases insulin levels which can cause any excess calories to be stored as fat. Sugar also increases inflammation which can lead to excess belly fat. Sugar can be found in many things we wouldn’t normally think, so keep an eye on your use of sauces, ketchup, breads.
Bloating can be caused by a multitude of things. Eating meals that are high in salt or simple carbohydrates can cause you to retain water and feel bloated. Food sensitivities to dairy, gluten or some vegetables can make you feel bloated. It helps to track what you are eating as this makes it easier to determine what foods are causing you to bloat.
Lack of sleep
Night sweats, anxiety and the ever present menopausal mood swings can all contribute to sleepless nights during menopause. Unfortunately lack of sleep is also associated with more belly fat. The fat cells in your body do not respond properly to insulin when we don’t get enough sleep. We also tend to eat more when we don’t get enough sleep. It is a vicious cycle. Try melatonin, sleeping in a cooler room, watch how late in the day you drink your coffee.
Lower activity levels
As we reach menopause, our activity levels are likely to go down. We are busy at work. We are caring for our loved ones. We are just not as active. Lower activity means you are burning fewer calories and not maintaining muscle so body fat levels are likely to change. That’s why it is important to get out there and do something!!!! Join a walking group. Take dance lessons. Walk the dog. Start taking the stairs at work. Anything to get you up and moving more.