We often associate weight gain with menopause, but the truth is, there could be many reasons we gain weight. While menopause could play a small role in weight gain due to hormonal changes, especially around our midsection, it is far from being the only guilty party. What factors are known contributors to that belly bulge? Let’s find out.
As we age, we tend to lose muscle mass and gain body fat. In addition, our metabolism goes down and we are less easily able to burn calories as we get into the realm of middle-age.
Chances are, if Aunt Ethel or Uncle Fred held excess weight in their belly, you may indeed be predisposed to excess weight in your abdomen too.
Lifestyle (Diet and Exercise)
It bears repeating that a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits are important factors in increased weight gain. No time is this more evident than during our 40s and 50s, often smack dab in the middle of our menopausal years.
So, what to do?
While you may never really be sure of the exact cause or causes of your weight gain, there are some concrete and proactive steps you can take to get the upper hand and reverse this unwanted circumstance.
First and foremost, get a good night’s sleep. Although many people believe that the older they get, the less sleep they need, eight hours is actually the optimal number for which to aim. People who don’t get an adequate number of hours sleep tend to snack more during the day. Not a great plan if you’re trying to shed those pesky pounds.
Next priority should be to curb unhealthy eating and drinking. When you’re tempted to snack, opt for a complex carbohydrate and a protein. Some good choices are whole-wheat crackers and hummus, apple slices and almond butter, or a hard-boiled egg and a piece of fruit. Oh and, reducing your red meat consumption is recommended too. Opt for leaner options such as chicken or fish.
In terms of better drinking choices, cutting out sugary drinks should be high on your list as should cutting down on alcohol consumption. Increasing your intake of water, sparkling water and herbal teas is a great way to ensure you’re getting enough fluids.
Whenever possible, try to avoid eating between 6 pm and 9 am. Short fasting periods can be incredibly beneficial to attaining a healthier body weight.
Finally, a lack of exercise can truly be detrimental to your health and contribute to that ballooning belly as well. Going for a brisk, 30-minute walk, 3 or 4 times a week, can help to burn fat and of course, keep your cardiovascular health running optimally too.
So yes, the hormonal fluctuations that occur during menopause are a part of the mid-life bulge but only a very small part. The good news is, you can reverse the unwanted weight gain that comes in our 40s and 60s by implementing the simple and very doable changes above. Give them a try and you may be surprised at how quickly you’ll be saying “bye-bye” to that belly fat.