Wondering how to stop menopause weight gain and lose belly fat?
Research shows that during menopause, women tend to lose muscle and gain fat, especially around the waist. Too much belly fat is dangerous because it increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
(Photo credit: Michigan Municipal League via Flickr).
I was recently interviewed by author and speaker Kathy Buckworth for The Huffington Post for her story: You’re 50, Why Aren’t You Working Out and Getting Fitter? Many of my clients have questions about how to avoid or reverse the dreaded “menopot” or pot belly that often creeps up on them. And it does creep up, with women gaining about a pound a year, for an average of 10-15 pounds of weight gain during menopause.
– Hormonal changes
– Insulin resistance
– Slower metabolism
The loss of muscle that typically happens with aging means you burn fewer calories. This means you might be eating the same amount as you used to, and now all of a sudden you’re gaining weight. Why? Your energy needs have changed as you have less muscle.
– Being less active (see above for importance of muscle mass)
My expert nutrition tips for stopping menopausal weight gain, reducing belly fat and keeping and even building muscle:
– Avoid Dieting At All Costs. Research shows strict diets not only cause you to regain the weight once you go off them, but the weight you gain is going to be mostly abdominal fat.
– Try Mindful Eating. Ask yourself if you’re eating because you’re physically hungry or if it’s because you’re bored, sad, stressed, lonely, etc. For more information on incorporating mindful eating into your life, connect with me to arrange a consult.
(Photo credit: Tracie Nietert via Flickr).
– Fill Up On Veggies. Make them half of every meal and snack. They’re low in calories but high in fibre and volume, keeping you full and helping you control your weight.
– Eat Slow Carbs. Healthy carbs that are low on the glycemic index so you get sustained energy instead of a sugar and insulin spike. Insulin makes you store extra belly fat, so choosing slow carbs that are rich in fibre along with protein and healthy fat helps keep insulin levels lower. Ditch the rice cakes that will raise your insulin levels and set you up for overeating later. Have roasted chickpeas for a steady supply of energy and to crush cravings.
– Power up with Protein: Make sure every meal and snack is rich in protein. Protein is the most filling nutrient. It supports muscle growth and helps you keep the muscle you have. It even increases your metabolism! Try fish, skinless grilled chicken or turkey breast, eggs, Greek yogurt, or a small handful of nuts or seeds.
– Don’t Go Hungry. I always encourage clients to carry a snack in their purses that is high in protein and fibre. Think of this as your “eat in case of emergency” stash. It will prevent you from reaching for the nearest vending machine or convenience store junk food when you’re starving and busy.
(Photo credit: Ruth Bleakley via Flickr).
– Write Before You Bite: keeping a food journal is a proven way to lose weight – even without trying to change anything! No one wants to write down unhealthy habits. Before you know it, you’ll be identifying where you can improve and avoiding overeating to avoid having to write it down.
– Lift Weights to build and maintain muscle to speed up your metabolism (muscle burns calories even when you’re on the couch!)
– See a Dietitian who specializes in weight management and women’s health. A nutrition expert can help you tweak your diet for lasting results.
Loss of muscle as we age isn’t inevitable… all you need is the right diet and exercise plan. Interested in transforming your body by losing fat and gaining muscle? Book an appointment with me! We can meet over Skype, Google Hangouts or Facetime.