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Menopause belly fat develops due to many factors, including some that are biological. You can lose it through the right combination of exercise and diet.
This belly fat comes from several factors, including hormonal changes, stress, diet and exercise. For more information on why women get more belly fat in menopause, see Weight gain and menopause.
Belly fat in menopause becomes a health risk when your waist measures over 35” (some experts say over 33”).
Menopause belly fat is a warning sign to change your dietary and exercise habits now. The consequences of not doing this are insulin resistance, heart disease, Syndrome X or Metabolic Syndrome, and Type 2 diabetes.
Insulin Resistance, Syndrome X and Diabetes
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. It helps the sugar in your blood get into your cells. The cells use sugar for energy or store it for future use.
Insulin resistance is defined as the point at which the normal amount of insulin no longer gets the sugar into the cells (the cells have become resistant to insulin). This creates higher amounts of sugar in your blood. The pancreas then releases more insulin, which results in higher levels of insulin in your blood. When the higher levels of insulin still don't get the sugar into your cells, you get higher and higher levels of blood sugar, which eventually becomes Type 2 diabetes. A good first step is to reduce insulin resistance.
A recent study has found that your risk of developing Syndrome X increases during your pre menopause and menopause years (Reuters Health).
Syndrome X or Metabolic Syndrome is a group of health problems that includes insulin resistance. With Syndrome X you may feel tired and fuzzy-minded. You will also age faster than normal.
Syndrome X is insulin resistance combined with one or more of the following: high blood fats (high cholesterol or high triglycerides), high blood pressure, glucose intolerance and/or overweight.
Exercise to Lose Belly Fat
Yoga is beneficial in many ways, and especially as we grow older it can help us feel and look younger. There are several exercises that will help specifically for reducing menopause belly fat. They are the abdominal lifts, bridge pose, ear-to-knee pose, salutation to the sun, triangle pose, and twist.
University of Alabama researchers found that middle aged women doing total-body strength training for 25 weeks lost a significant amount of belly fat.
High amounts of high intensity aerobics
In another study, a high amount of high intensity (jogging 20 miles per week) exercise was found to be effective in reducing belly fat by 7%, while moderate amounts of exercise (walking or jogging 12 miles per week) kept belly fat from increasing, and no exercise led to a 9% increase in belly fat.
Combine aerobics with strength training
A combination of aerobic exercise and strength training has been found to be most effective for reducing menopause belly fat. In this study the participants did aerobic exercise 3 days a week and strength training 3 days a week, with one day off per week.
Diet for reducing menopause belly fat
The dietary recommendations made throughout this site will also help reduce menopause belly fat.
Eat good fats, avoid bad fats (trans fats, vegetable oils except olive).
Eat more vegetables, less refined carbohydrates – pasta, bread, crackers. You may be fine with complex carbs, but you may not. See Dr. Joseph Mercola's book, Total Health Cookbook and Program, a diet based on grain-free recipes. I have found recently that I feel best (and have an easier time losing weight) when I avoid grains altogether, even brown rice.
For more on a healthy diet, see the Menopause Diets page.
You may also want to check out Dr. Elson Haas' book, The False Fat Diet, which talks in depth about food sensitivities and how they contribute to weight gain. He also outlines several versions of elimination diets to determine which foods you may have a problem with.
Also see menopause weight loss supplement
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