Top 10 Tips to Burn Menopausal Belly Fat
Weight gain as we hit menopause seems to be an inevitable part of life. This is due to a number of reasons:
- Hormones. It’s our bodies way of adapting to our new hormone changes.
- As we age we become more insulin resistant due to poor food choices through the years. Insulin controls our blood sugar levels and is driven by the foods that we eat. A diet high in breads, pastas, high-sugar coffee drinks, packaged foods and sugar exposes us to higher blood glucose levels, thereby creating an insulin sensitivity and resistance that will cause our bodies to convert the majority of the calories that we eat as fat.
- We start lose lean muscle tissue, which in turn slows down our metabolism. This lose starts in our early 30’s and starts to pick up steam in our late 40’s, early 50’s. Instead of using more calories to keep our lean muscle tissue warm, our bodies use less because it takes less energy to keep fat warm.
- Lack of sleep. When we don’t get a good night’s rest our two hormones leptin and gherlin become out-of-balance. Leptin, the hormone involved in regulating our appetite and telling our brain when we are full, becomes elevated with lack of sleep and gherlin, the hormone responsible for telling our brain when to eat, becomes elevated. When we don’t get enough sleep, we end up with too little leptin in our body, which makes our brain think that we don’t have enough energy for our needs. So our brain tells us that we’re hungry, even though we don’t actually need food at that time. It also takes steps to store the calories we eat as fat, so we’ll have enough energy the next time we need it.
- Stress. With the increased demands in our lives, accompanied by years of yo-yo dieting, binge eating and even undiagnosed food sensitivities, our bodies are under constant stress. If we allow our stress to manifest on a daily basis, over time our adrenal glands (located on the top of each kidney and responsible for releasing a variety of hormones) will reach fatigue and our once efficient adrenals (helping us to us deal with positively to stress responses) will become out-of-balance and will begin storing calories, instead of burning them.
How does stress pack the pounds around the waistline
If your adrenal’s are out-of-balance a common symptom is extra fat around the waistline.
You see, in normal circumstances when we are under stress the brain will signal to the adrenal glands to produce and release cortisol.
It is cortisol’s job to mobilize our glucose, amino acids and fat to prevent our blood sugar levels from going too low. It is making sure that the control centre, our brain, will always have energy/food to keep it going.
After years (or sometimes only months for some women) of long term stress, the cortisol and insulin levels will remain high in the blood and the extra glucose gets stored as fat – and mostly in the abdomen and thighs.
In addition, the fat being stored in the abdomen is the body’s way of protecting the internal organs. Since the body is under constant stress it will work to protect the internal organs, as well as the brain.
How to lose the menopause belly fat
1/ Control your stress.
- Try meditation, yoga or any mindfulness based activity. Be present and in the moment.
- Try my favourite meditation app, Headspace
- Deep belly breathing. Deep breathing can stimulate the vagus nerve, which can calm an overactive central nervous system.
Lie on your back with a book resting on your belly. Inhale deeply and feel the book rise under your belly. Exhale fully and feel the book lower toward the spine.
Repeat for 5-10 minutes daily to improve your vagus nerve function.
2/ Strength train.
- Build your lean muscle mass with a properly designed strength training workout.
- Aim for 3 times a week workouts, total body workouts.
3/ Eat regular meals and snacks everyday.
- No more starving yourself, or yo-yo dieting. These will only damage your metabolism further.
- You need to keep your blood sugar levels stable to prevent the cortisol from being released.
- Eat foods lower in the glycemic index. All foods are listed, or indexed, according to their effect on your blood sugars.
- Unlimited foods at a 55 or less rating (most veggies)
- Limited foods at 56-69 rating (beets, yams, most fruits)
- Eliminate foods indexed 70 or higher (donuts, energy bars, bread, potatoes)
4/ Eat more protein.
- A higher protein diet (meats, beans, legumes) will help support your lean muscle tissue.
- Protein also helps us feel fuller, quicker and for longer
- Aim for a 20-30 grams of protein with each meal and 10-15 for your snacks
5/ Move more throughout the day.
- Make a point of moving as much as you. This has a huge effect on your metabolism. Walk, do exercises while watching TV, be active as often as you can.
- All this extra movement through the day is called NEAT, non-exercise activity theremogenesis. It is the energy the body uses that is not planned exercise, sleeping or eating. In active people it can account for as much as 50% of your daily calorie burn.
6/ Avoid sugar.
- Nothing has a greater impact on your insulin levels than sugar.
- Be wary of artificial sweeteners too. These have been shown to increase our tolerance for the taste of sweet. Meaning in the future it will take a higher dose to satisfy our sweet tooth.
7/ Avoid low calorie, low fat foods.
- Quite often the food labels are manipulated in a such a way that it makes the food look like it’s low calorie. Read the serving sizes carefully.
- Studies have also shown that we tend to eat 50-100% more of a food product when labelled low calorie
- Low fat foods can have a detrimental affect on our brain. The brain is mainly made of fat and cholesterol, and a diet that skimps on healthy saturated fats robs the brain of the raw materials it needs to function optimally. Eat foods such as grass-fed beef, organic dairy products (butter, cream, milk), and coconut oil.
8/ Eat at the right time of day.
- Cortisol has a natural rhythm, which is highest in the morning, and decreases gradually as the day progresses, and is lowest at night so restful sleep can occur.
- Eating tends to increase cortisol, so eating the largest meal earlier in the day is the best option for weight loss and maintenance.
- In addition, our body’s ability to process carbohydrates decreases as the day goes on. We metabolize carbohydrates in the morning better and more efficiently compared to later at night in bed and the more efficiently our body can use the food we eat, the easier it is to lose weight.
9/ Get in 300 minutes.
Aim for 300 minutes of exercise, strength and cardio, a week.
10/ Drink water.
- The body has no idea whether it is hungry, or thirsty. However, it only has one signal, and that’s the hunger signal. We could actually be dehydrated and masking itself as hunger. Aim for your half your body weight in fluid ounces in water or herbal tea everyday.
- Keep a 1L re-fillable bottle by you at all times.
- Start your day with a big glass of water.
- Increased water is also important if you are increasing your protein for the first time. The water will help flush the kidneys.
- Water also increases your energy and decreases fatigue.