Where did I suddenly get this belly? Many women notice an increase in belly fat at or after the arrival of menopause, even if they aren’t actually gaining weight. This is due to decreasing levels of oestrogen which influence the distribution of fat in the body.
Apart from having lots of lovely pairs of jeans which just feel too uncomfortable to wear, the real problem of belly fat is that it’s not just limited to the extra layer of padding located just below the skin (subcutaneous fat). It also includes visceral fat — which lies deep inside your abdomen, surrounding your internal organs and that comes with increased health risks, such as diabetes 2, cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer.
So getting rid of that spare tyre (and visceral fat) gets you not only back into your favourite jeans, but can actually have all sorts of health benefits.
What’s the best way to lose menopausal belly fat?
Your body fat is largely the result of the balance between the calories you eat, and the energy which you burn. The bottom-line: if you eat too much and exercise too little, the excess will head for your belly. Your strategy should be:
- Eat a healthy well balanced diet. That includes fruit, vegetables and whole grains, some saturated fat as found in butter; lean white and red meat, fish and nuts. Limit your carbs, especially the unhealthy ones, as in white rice, mashed potatos, chips and fries. Do not add sugar to anything. Avoid fried food and junk food.
- Limit your portion size. Use a smaller plate. Eat slowly and stop eating when you are full. You don’t have to finish everything on your plate!
- Get moving! Start with 30 minutes of brisk walking 5 times a day. For even more fun, use a step counter, such as Fitbit or one of the cellphone apps (Map my Walk) to keep track of your progress. Take the stairs instead of the lift. Here’s more good news too-30 mins of sex burns 150 calories, which is the equivalent of jogging for 15 minutes. Find what works best for you!
By Dr Leigh Holloway