What to eat at midlife: How to get rid of belly fat (menopudge or menopot)

February 13, 2013 at 3:38 pm in Healthy Living by VN Editors

If your body has started to betray you as you inch ever-closer to midlife, you aren’t alone. Many women are forced to face menopudge, belly fat that appears as yet another delightful side effect of menopause. Learn different ways to get rid of belly fat, and lose your menopot.

Where’d My Waist Go?

If your pants and skirts feel a little tighter, it may be solely due to increased belly fat. It’s very common for the waist to thicken with age as well. It’s because of increased hormones, says VN featured commenter Jane Trail.

“The easiest way to start reducing your waistline is to get the hormone cortisol under control,” she advised. According to Jane, it’s “easy and fun” to do it.

“Increase sleep,” she suggests. She also advises “self-care” every week. Exercise, meditate, get a manicure – do something that makes you feel good and relieves stress. This alone can reduce your cortisol levels, and the amount of fat being stored around your waist.

“There are many biological changes that can actually make you gain weight; estrogen imbalances, changes in thyroid function, changes in insulin, and even lifestyle changes. All of these factors will cause an increase in body fat,” says VN member 360Menopause.

Attack Belly Fat with Exercise

“That nasty meno-pot is no only unattractive, it can be dangerous,” warns VN member CoachBecky. “Abdominal fat (especially fat deposited deep in our abdomen) can increase our risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.”

So how can this excess fat be banished? “Change your cardio workout,” says CoachBecky. She suggests heavy cardio workouts with rest periods, along with weight training. Increased muscle mass means increased fat-burning powers. Healthy exercise is good for the heart and it’s good for menopausal women because of the natural stress-relieving properties. Exercising can actually reduce the severity of hot flashes, so it’s good for you on multiple fronts. Cardio exercise, which forces you to release a lot of heat, is one of the best ways to beat hot flashes.

Try Smarter Dieting

VN expert Holly Thacker, M.D. finds that many women are confused when it comes to menopausal weight loss “and no wonder. There are lots of misconceptions out there about ‘foods that heal,’” she says. “We hear mixed messages,” Dr. Thacker explains. “Everywhere you turn, self-proclaimed specialists sound off on what we vibrant women should be eating eat and why.”

When it comes to weight gain during menopause, “the facts are simple,” she says. “Our metabolism slows as we get older.” She says that many women gain 10 to 15 pounds at midlife. “The only way to combat weight gain is to reduce caloric intake and boost exercise.” Dr. Thacker’s words echo those of many experts, who all parrot a similar weight loss rule. But, she says, it takes “more work” for menopausal women to keep the weight off.

Her diet plan? Lean protein, calcium-rich foods, varied vegetables and whole grains. “Avoid fad diets,” she advises. Get “lots of fruits and vegetables, with bread and other cereals, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds… Any health diet that reduces calories, and any exercise regimen… will help to reduce this dreaded abdominal weight gain.”

“Increase your soy intake,” suggests VN member Elaine Ambrose. Add more fish to your diet. “Studies show that middle-aged people who consumed omega-3 fats on a regular basis scored higher on memory tests.” It’s also a low-fat protein that’s good for you.

Eliminate Belly Fat

“Eliminate refined carbs,” says VN blog circle user Lisa Mallett. “[They] are largely responsible for belly bloat and water retention that makes you look and feel fat.” Avoid flour, a refined carb, in favor of proteins and plenty of fruits and veggies.

You should also avoid alcohol, says Lisa. “Your liver can’t do its job of burning fat when it’s busy metabolizing alcohol.” In fact, try to cut as much sugar from your diet as possible. Alcohol becomes sugar in your system, and sugar just leads to fat. “A slower but steady weight loss means a higher chance of keeping it off permanently,” she advises.

VN member empowerchicks offered some tips for cutting sugar out of your diet. “I’d get rid of the sodas first,” she wrote. “Try using stevia powder” as a sugar substitute, she adds.

What to Eat Instead

Spice up those low-fat foods with some tricks from VN blog circle user Sexy Over Sixty. “Eat veggies, fruit and beans which contain soluble fiber. This type of fiber keeps you feeling full,” she says. This will diminish the bloated look of your belly. “Add lemon juice to your veggies…[and] replace salt with tasty herbs to spice your veggies up.”

Try foods that burn belly fat. Nuts, olive oil and seeds contain monounsaturated fats, which are healthier for you than the dreaded trans fats. Avocados, whole grains and green tea can all be natural fat-burners.

Alter your diet and your exercise routine for your altered hormonal balance, and you will burn that excess belly fat. Menopudge is a problem many vibrant women must face, but with a good battle plan you can beat it.

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