Most of us ladies have heard about the menopot or menopausal belly. When your periods become more sporadic and you notice an expanding waistline, it can be a sign that you are approaching menopause. Not only this but it is often accompanied by mood swings and hot flashes.
The stubborn and seemingly unshakeable weight gain can leave us confused. Instead of looking into crash diets, one should try to approach menopause weight management with healthy and sustainable strategies.
This write-up explores all you need to know about menopause, followed by some of the best ways to combat the weight gain that often comes with it..
Let’s start with the basics first!
What Is A Menopausal Belly?
Menopause means that a woman’s monthly periods have come to an end. The woman doesn’t experience menstrual cycles, which may bring many changes to her body (1). Menopause is marked by going 12 months without having periods.
The term “menopausal belly” refers to the abdominal weight gain that occurs due to the hormone changes associated with the cessation of menstrual cycles. A decline in estrogen levels can lead to fat redistribution from the hips and thighs to the midsection.
The menopausal belly is notorious for being resistant to traditional weight loss efforts, making it a unique and often frustrating aspect of the menopausal journey.
Some additional factors that may contribute to the weight gain during this period include (2)
- Sleep difficulties
- Slowing metabolism
- Lower physical activity
Keep reading to discover how to manage these factors and reduce the menopause belly.
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Does A Menopause Belly Go Away?
It is essential to understand that a menopause belly may or may not appear in some women. Regardless of the weight gain, know that a menopausal belly will probably not go away on its own. Like different weight loss programs, reducing menopause belly fat requires a calorie deficit and exercise.
The menopausal belly may vary from one woman to another. It may not vanish completely, but some steps may help to manage the weight gain. A healthy lifestyle, exercise, stress management, and a balanced diet will eventually enable you to progress in losing belly fat (3).
Not only this, the results for individuals may vary. It will take some time and consistency to witness the positive changes. Embracing a healthy lifestyle instead of solely focusing on the menopausal belly can yield the most sustainable and long-lasting results.
Consulting with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian can provide personalized guidance and support throughout this process.
How Do I Get Rid Of My Menopause Belly?
A menopause belly may be irksome, but it is totally manageable. By incorporating the following tips, you can get rid of menopause belly fat once and for all.
The belly fat you gain during menopause is pretty stubborn. Unless you engage in physical activities and maintain an active lifestyle, it won’t go away. You may need to start working out to combat belly fat effectively.
There aren’t any specific exercises for menopause belly, but the idea is to work out to lose overall weight. According to a study, a weight loss program involving exercise and dietary interventions may be helpful in combatting the abdominal weight gain associated with menopause (4).
If you feel hesitant about hitting the gym, start by doing light cardio, like walking, running, and cycling, to keep your momentum going. The point is to exercise and approach each activity with a positive mindset so you inch closer to your goal of losing belly fat during menopause. It helps if you choose something you enjoy.
Tweak your Diet
Diet is equally important when it comes to fighting menopause belly fat. As we age, our metabolism slows down, making weight loss more of a challenge. If you have reached your 50s, it may be time to make certain dietary changes.
- Reduce Calories: In order to lose weight or stop gaining weight, you need to take in fewer calories than you burn. Many different diets can be effective for different people, but what they all have in common is they help the person eat less to create that calorie deficit. Try practicing portion control and mindful eating techniques. Filling nutrients like fiber and protein can also help you feel satisfied with fewer calories.
- Eat More Protein: With time, our muscles lose their strength. Consuming a protein-rich diet along with strength training contributes to muscle maintenance and may help prevent age-related muscle loss. Also, having more muscle mass burns more calories than fat tissue (6).
- Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet: Try to avoid the temptation to use restrictive or fad diets to lose weight quickly. That type of weight loss tends not to be sustainable. Instead, focus on eating a healthy, balanced diet in appropriate portions. Include plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Using the plate method is one of the easiest ways to make sure your meals are balanced: fill half your plate with fruit and/or non-starchy vegetables, a quarter with lean protein, and a quarter with complex carbohydrates from whole grains, legumes or starchy vegetables.
When talking about diet, there are certain foods to avoid or limit as you work to lose menopause belly fat.
- Ultra Processed Foods: Ultra-processed foods like potato chips and cookies are high in sodium, added sugars, and unhealthy fats, all of which can contribute to weight gain. Instead, opt for fruits like berries or apples to satisfy your sweet tooth or healthy savory snacks like veggies and hummus or yogurt dip.
- Fast Food: Similarly, fast food and restaurant food tend to be high in calories, sodium, and unhealthy fats, which all contribute to weight gain.
- Sugary Beverages: Sugar-sweetened drinks like juices or sodas are filled with added sugar and calories that exacerbate weight gain. Alcohol also contributes calories and tends to encourage you to eat mindlessly.
Manage Your Stress
You may be working out, but if you are not mentally relaxed, you may struggle to reap results. While taking care of your physical health is important, you must not forget your mental health.
Stress stimulates the production of cortisol, which is linked with weight gain and accumulation of fat around the belly (8). Not only that, stress can make us fall victim to stress eating. Hence, it is vital to manage your stress by practicing mindfulness. Dedicate yourself to a few minutes of quiet daily by practicing meditation and/or doing yoga.
When talking about weight management, it is also important to address your sleep patterns. Getting too little sleep can drive hunger and cravings for unhealthy foods.
Ensure the following to get good sleep.
- Eliminate distractions such as mobile phone notifications or TV at bedtime.
- Implement a bedtime routine
- You can also switch on white noise to combat insomnia (10).
What Shrinks Menopause Belly?
One of the best ways to fight menopause weight gain is to follow the Mediterranean Diet, as it is considered a healthy, balanced eating pattern. This is supported by a study that found that individuals who followed the Mediterranean diet maintained their muscle mass and weight (12).
To help you lose menopause belly fast, we have compiled a 7-day menopause belly fat diet plan (13):
- Have two servings of Spinach, Onion, Mushroom, and Bell peppers.
- An Egg White Omelet and 2 apples
- Nutrition: 491 Calories, 64g Carbs, 2g Fat, 58g Protein.
- Have a serving of chicken and avocado salad.
- One serving of carrots with hummus
- Nutrition: 578 Calories, 34g Carbs, 33g Fat, 42g Protein
- Have two servings of zucchini pasta in a lemon cream sauce.
- One serving of fried broccoli
- Nutrition: 632 Calories, 40g Carbs, 49g Fat, 19g Protein
Total Calories: 1701
- Have two egg white and mushroom omelets.
- Have four easy-to-peel hard-boiled eggs.
- Nutrition: 572 Calories, 11g Carbs, 31g Fat, 60g Protein.
- Have a raspberry coconut smoothie
- Nutrition: 531 Calories, 88g Carbs, 22g Fat, 5g Protein
- Have two servings of spinach cheese pasta.
- Have two servings of grilled zucchini spears
- Nutrition: 597 Calories, 38g Carbs, 41g Fat, 26g Protein
Total Calories: 1700
- Have a serving of oatmeal with mango and toasted coconut.
- Have two easy-to-peel hard-boiled eggs
- Nutrition: 517 Calories, 65g Carbs, 22g Fat, 22g Protein.
- Have two servings of fruit and vegetable plate with almonds and cheese
- Nutrition: 541 Calories, 53g Carbs, 29g Fat, 26g Protein
- Have two servings of healthy chicken lettuce wraps
- Nutrition: 647 Calories, 8g Carbs, 36g Fat, 69g Protein
Total Calories: 1705
- Have two servings of high-protein energy balls and one orange
- Nutrition: 460 Calories, 63g Carbs, 20g Fat, 15g Protein.
- Have a serving of tuna-stuffed tomato and one lemon avocado salad serving
- Nutrition: 605 Calories, 34g Carbs, 34g Fat, 50g Protein
- Have a serving of seared salmon with balsamic glaze.
- Have two servings of steamed broccoli
- Nutrition: 644 Calories, 30g Carbs, 35g Fat, 55g Protein
Total Calories: 1709
- Have two servings of Greek yogurt and fruit salad
- Nutrition: 528 Calories, 65g Carbs, 20g Fat, 32g Protein.
- Have two servings of pinto bean salad
- Nutrition: 555 Calories, 71g Carbs, 27g Fat, 16g Protein
- Have two servings of ground turkey, bean, and walnut stir-fry
- Nutrition: 626 Calories, 18g Carbs, 39g Fat, 56g Protein
Total Calories: 1710
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What Are Some of the Risks Associated with Menopause Belly?
The redistribution of fat from subcutaneous areas to visceral deposits around the abdominal organs may increase the risk of several chronic diseases. These include (14):
- Heart disease
- Type II diabetes
- Gallbladder disease
Why is My Menopause Belly so Big?
Menopause brings many changes to our bodies. Some of the reasons why you may have a larger belly are:
When you hit menopause, your estrogen levels decline and cause fat to shift from other body parts to your abdomen. Nearly every woman who goes through menopause experiences this. In fact, fat accounts for 15 to 20% of the total body weight in postmenopausal women as compared to 5 to 8% in premenopausal women (15).
As you age, your metabolism slows down, due to which you burn less energy throughout the day. Also, you are likely to experience a decline in muscle mass, which burns more calories than fat tissue. As a result of these changes, you tend to store more fat, and this is pretty noticeable in postmenopausal women.
When you go through menopause, you may experience many undesirable symptoms like hot flashes, poor sleep, or low mood. This makes it harder to exercise, which may contribute to weight gain.
Also, aging joints and pain make it harder for older adults to maintain an active lifestyle. Due to sitting for prolonged periods, they may accumulate fat and witness a growing abdomen.
With age comes big responsibilities. You may be dealing with hefty factors in your life, due to which you are unable to find time for yourself. Being under stress and not managing your health may lead to weight gain.
Lastly, your diet may not be supporting your health. Having an unhealthy diet comprising sugary beverages, ultra-processed foods, and added sugars can lead to weight gain. It is important to keep tabs on your diet and eat healthy to mitigate belly fat.
Can You Flatten a Menopause Belly?
While there are many natural ways to reduce belly fat, you can shrink your belly fat immediately by considering the following surgical procedures (16):
Liposuction is a pretty popular belly fat reduction treatment. It targets fat in specific areas and removes it. While liposuction is effective, the results may not last for an indefinite time as you may continue to gain weight around your belly after menopause.
It is another effective method of eliminating fat. CoolSculpting is less invasive than liposuction. There are no incisions involved.
A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure. In this process, the surgeon removes excess skin and tightens the underlying muscles. You may need to rest for a few days, depending on the outcome of the surgery. It is important to talk to your physician about potential concerns before undergoing the treatment.
The Bottom Line
Menopause belly is manageable if you take certain steps to adopt a healthy, active lifestyle. Working out regularly, managing your stress, and eating healthy meals help you reduce belly fat. You may also opt for surgical procedures for quick results. However, it is important to consult your physician if you have a medical history or certain health conditions.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How to get rid of the menopause belly?
You can get rid of a menopause belly by maintaining an active lifestyle. Doing exercises like strength training and cardio helps you combat belly fat. Also, your diet plays a crucial role. Consuming a healthy balanced diet is an effective solution for controlling your weight.
What does a menopause belly look like?
A menopausal belly usually feels fleshy and thick. After reaching menopause, you may feel rolls of fat developing in your abdomen.
How to lose belly fat after menopause?
Losing belly fat after menopause may be more challenging than when you were younger but is not impossible. By taking the right approach, you can shed kilos and get that youthful body back. You should try to work out regularly, eat healthy, get enough sleep, and lead an active lifestyle.
What causes menopause belly fat?
Menopause belly fat is usually caused by declining estrogen levels, due to which fat is shifted towards your abdomen. Slowing metabolism with age also causes belly fat as muscle mass declines and the body loses the momentum to burn calories actively. Also, stress and a sedentary lifestyle are some of the culprits.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Menopause Overview (n.d., mayoclinic.org)
- Weight Gain in Women at Midlife (2017, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- 18 Effective Tips to Lose Belly Fat (2023, healthline.com)
- Lifestyle Interventions Targeting Body Weight Changes during the Menopause Transition (2014, hindawi.com)
- Evaluation of diet pattern and weight gain in postmenopausal women (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Effects of Adherence to a Higher Protein Diet on Weight Loss, Markers of Health, and Functional Capacity in Older Women (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Fruit and vegetable intake and body adiposity (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Impact of a stress management program on weight loss, mental health and lifestyle in adults with obesity (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Timing of Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. Effects on Obesity (2011, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Noise as a sleep aid: A systematic review (2017, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Routinely assessing patients’ sleep health is time well spent (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Losing Weight after Menopause with Minimal Aerobic Training and Mediterranean Diet (2017, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Menopause Diet 5 Day Plan To Lose Weight In No Time (2023, betterme.world)
- Menopause management: A manual for primary care practitioners and nurse practitioners (2022, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Menopause and weight (n.d., betterhealth.vic.gov.au)
- Why is it so hard for women over 50 to lose weight? (2018, nch.org)
- Menopause Belly: Reasons for Belly Bulge (2023, healthline.com)