If it's getting really difficult for you to see your toes and prefer elastic waistbands on your trousers always, you need to check your waist circumference. It might be that time of your life when you feel that everything you eat is coming to rest on your tummy. Gone are the days when your problem areas were the hips and thighs. The waist has now come to rule!
This belly fat or menopot makes it appearance around the age of 40 or the perimenopausal years. Remember, you are not alone. Most other women in your age group suffer the same phenomenon. In a society where women are under constant pressure to look good and slim, it can be really upsetting to be unable to zip up your regular jeans or see a dreadful muffin top on it.
Your waist circumference is a good measure of your risk for diseases like high blood pressure, cardiac ailments and diabetes. So don't let the menopot get you into a tizzy, sparking off crash diets, worrying over the waistline and sudden bouts of exercise. Instead, take stock of yourself. Understand menopot belly fat and why it happens. Then look at holistic ways to eat healthy, exercise healthy and maintain healthy body weight.
Understand menopot belly fat
Till the age of 40, most women agonize over their hips and thighs. Indulging in calorie-rich food led your hips to swell outward. Come perimenopause or the years leading to menopause and there is a paradigm shift in the fat distribution. Estrogen levels are a powerful influence on the female fat distribution. Estrogen is instrumental in creating the female hourglass shape. With falling estrogen levels around perimenopause, abdominal fat starts making its appearance. This problem is especially found in the area below the belly button leading to a flabby pouch and muffin top.
Intra-abdominal fat or visceral fat is dangerous as it lays pressure on all the abdominal organs. It is also associated with high insulin levels. Visceral fat is linked to release of inflammatory molecules. This consequently increases the risk for heart disease, liver disease and diabetes. It promotes insulin resistance and might increase your breast cancer risk.
Factors leading to menopot belly fat
Terrible trio of hormones: You are nearly 40 and your body is producing lesser estrogen. It then tends to search for new sources of estrogen. Fat cells are the next easiest thing. Soon the body is converting more calories into fat to make up for diminished estrogen levels. Progesterone also lowers around this time. While this hormone doesn't actively cause weight gain, it precipitates water retention and bloating. Testosterone in women helps in muscle building. Now with lowered levels of testosterone, you are seeing loss of muscle mass and consequently lower metabolism.
Lowered estrogen reduces resting metabolic rate. Your resting metabolic rate is the rate at which your body burns calories when you are sitting or resting. This accounts for nearly 65% of total energy used by a person during the day. So now with depleting estrogen levels, you burn lesser calories at rest than what you did the last decade. It makes you become less active physically and also eat more - A double whammy when it comes to the menopot belly.
Diminished thyroid levels reduce body metabolic rate. Some menopausal women might suffer underactive thyroid. They then notice very low basal metabolic rate. It becomes difficult to budge the scales, even with exercise. Your body gets sluggish - the heart beats slower, the bowels are slower, the skin is drier. Get your thyroid functioning checked every few years.
Lowered muscle mass is yet another factor that contributes to the middle aged spread. Lesser muscle lowers the body metabolic rate. Consequently your body burns lesser calories. Building muscle with strength training is a crucial step towards fighting the menopot belly fat. The other sad truth is that your aerobic capacity declines. This means that you use lesser energy for same exercise than before.
Stressed out: The other culprit for this middle-aged belly fat is stress. Be it work- life balance, empty nest syndrome or rigors of modern-day life, women especially find themselves stressed over many an issue. Little wonder that levels of cortisol, the stress hormone are on the rise. Cortisol has its effect on your girth. Find out what works for you to reduce stress. There is no one size that fits all. Try yoga, calming exercises, meditation or deep breathing.
Menopot and Waist Hip Ratio
The Waist-Hip ratio is one of the indicators of good health and fertility. Measure your waist at the smallest and the hip at the widest. For women, a good waist-hip ratio is less than 0.8.
It is often said that an expanding waistline is the price of getting older. A waistline greater than 35 inches in women or 40 inches in men is an indicator of high risk factor. It may seem a daunting task to keep the weight in check and beat the belly fat. But the good news is that visceral belly fat responds well to the right food and exercise. You can shed the excess pounds and lower total body fat.
Beat the menopot belly fat
Face it. You are surely not as active as you were probably a decade back. You don't probably feel as motivated to work out like before. It is so easy to become complacent and let go. Your genes also play no small role here - but what the hell, you can still outbeat them. You don't have to be fat because you come from a family of overweight persons. Overcome that bloated feeling and let your clothes hang better on you. Take your weight in your hands.