Hormonal changes as we age can lead to us accumulating extra weight around our belly, especially during menopause. That's why here are some tips to help you stay fit and healthy.
Weight gain may seem inevitable once you've entered middle age and menopause, but the truth is, it doesn't have to be.
Natural hormonal changes mean that you may start to notice menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings, but this doesn't mean you just idly accept that the number on your scale will also increase.
Here's what's happening to your body if elasticated waist pants have become your clothing staple: weight distribution changes as you hit menopause, and extra pounds begin to accumulate around your midsection.
Reduce belly fat caused by menopause
Before, during and after menopause, your estrogen levels start to drop and your metabolism slows down, making it harder for you to lose weight, especially around your belly.
However, belly fat is not only a nuisance, it is also unhealthy. Studies show that it increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, some types of cancer, and perhaps even premature death.
We show you 10 ways you can successfully win the battle against belly fat.
1. Exercise more often and intensely to counter midlife weight gain
Start with a combination of moderate and vigorous exercise to burn off all that extra weight that accumulates in menopause. Your routine should include aerobic exercise, such as swimming, walking, cycling, and running, as well as resistance or strength training.
What you are looking for is using high intensity interval training (HIIT). This means that you will have to intersperse high intensity exercises with some lower intensity activities during your workout.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity each week.
In addition to having two or more days a week of muscle-strengthening activities that target all major muscle groups, such as the legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms.
If you adopt the HIIT approach, the CDC recommends that you aim for an equivalent combination of moderate and high intensity exercise each week, along with those same two days of strength training.
2. It is better to stand than sit, as much as you can
The formula is simple: the longer your body is in motion, the more calories you burn. And what is a way to achieve that that does not require much effort? Try to be on your feet for as long as possible during the day. Not only will this increase your calorie burn, it can also help prevent other health problems.
A study published that prolonged sitting is linked to higher levels of belly fat, as well as accumulated fat around organs such as the liver, increasing the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
To be able to stand up more often, stand up and walk when you're talking on the phone, or park further away from where you're going so you have to walk a bit more.
If you are a compulsive observer, place a pedal exerciser on the floor in front of your sofa, so you can perform the necessary movement while you catch up on your favorite shows. And if your work keeps you sitting in front of a computer all day, try getting a desk to stand on.
3. Keep your portions under control and schedule your meals correctly
Your metabolism has slowed down by the time you hit menopause, and some research suggests that it burns a couple hundred fewer calories a day. You can very easily avoid 200 calories, but just as you avoid them, they can add up quickly if you do not reduce the amount of calories you consume.
Also, this may be that time in your life when you want to get away from the daily chores of preparing meals for your family, and just want to take a break from the kitchen. So you will probably resort to going out to restaurants and ordering food a home.
What happens then is that you will inevitably eat twice the calories you need in those meals, which will often be accompanied by alcohol, which is also associated with abdominal weight gain.
What you can do is order appetizers as main dishes and ask the waiter to put the leftovers to take away on the occasions when you order a large plate.
Reducing what you eat at the restaurant and managing the food you take out is an easy way to control your portions, but the timing and frequency of your meals can also make a big difference.
There is a lot of research into meal timing, and more and more discoveries suggest that we were wrong when we were talking about eating five or six small meals a day.
Research indicates that the best way to maintain a healthy weight is to eat three meals a day. Start the day with a hearty breakfast containing lean protein and stick with a light dinner. Also, eating your main meal at noon can be beneficial for your weight.
4. Choose wisely and eat foods with healthy fats
Fat has a lot of flavor and it generally makes our food taste better. If you want to lose weight, the good news is that you don't need to eliminate it entirely from your diet. You just need to learn to be more selective. For example, choosing walnuts over a Big Mac.
The healthiest fats are those derived from plant sources such as olives and nuts, but keep in mind that healthy fats, such as those found in avocados, have the same amount of calories as the fat found in an ice cream.
28 grams of walnuts contain 170 calories, so you have to be very careful. The same goes for extra virgin olive oil. That is why you must be extremely cautious when using it and measure the amounts of fats and oils you consume.
Fortunately, trans fats, once the most notorious type of unhealthy fat, are no longer a reason to worry.
The FDA determined that partially hydrogenated oils (PHO), the main source of artificial trans fats in the food industry, are no longer recognized as safe, manufacturers can no longer add PHOs to foods.
5. Timed meals and snacks to counter mindless eating
When you're on a midlife diet, it's not just what you eat that matters, but also when you eat. Binges on midnight ice cream and potato chips, for example, are generally not the best idea.
But the overall message here is very clear: Don't eat too much and don't eat too late. Eating late at night will basically destroy all your efforts to maintain a healthy weight.
Another way to keep calories in check is to avoid snacking on sweets all day or being tempted t