Have you found it harder to lose weight around your middle after menopause? Here are 16 proven strategies to get rid of menopause belly fat.
We’ve worked with a lot of women in their 40s and 50s who’ve experienced weight gain after hitting menopause… especially around their middle. Despite living similar lifestyles, and staying the same weight… this stubborn extra belly fat is a common side effect of the change.
If you find yourself in this situation, you’re not alone. The International Menopause Society reported that menopause does distribute fat differently.
We’ve seen this change with a lot of our clients. They’re often caught up in an endless cycle of trying to lose this belly fat. Whether it’s through trying programmes that previously worked for them, or eating an incredibly small amount of food to shift the weight… nothing seems to work for them.
On the whole, this is always a frustrating process. Our clients often tell us that they felt trapped, stressed and anxious due to this hormonal change. A process which is inevitable for most women over 40. Many find that worrying that they’ll never shift this extra belly fat is constantly on their mind.
Harvard Medical School reported that incidents of depression double throughout menopause. From dreading beach holidays to avoiding clothes shopping… the repercussions of this shift extend further than the physical change
So what’s the solution for menopause belly fat?
While it’s true that menopause makes it more difficult to lose extra fat… there are some steps you can take to see some changes.
As we mentioned in our recent podcast episode… we’ve helped thousands of our clients shift this stubborn fat by following these tips. Here are our tried-and-tested methods to get the scales moving. These will help you to drop a couple of dress sizes around menopause!
Your hormones and genetics play a key role in where body fat is stored on your body.
During menopause, there’s a huge hormonal shift affecting your body. This significantly alters your oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels… and this can affect where your body stores fat.
Essentially, this means you’re likely to see excess weight gathering around your midsection.
We’re not medical experts… but recent advice suggests that HRT (hormone replacement therapy) comes with huge benefits. The NHS reports that, by increasing levels of hormones which menopause decreases… symptoms can dramatically decrease.
From easing hot flushes to reducing mood swings, HRT helps to restore normal levels of oestrogen and progesterone. As an added benefit, this can have a positive impact on your fat stores.
If you’re interested in HRT, we recommend discussing this with your GP. Chat through the options available to you to find out what will work best.
Exercising in the wrong way can have a huge impact on your fat stores – especially around the belly.
It might sound counterproductive, but you actually want to avoid high-impact exercise as a woman over 40… despite what mainstream diet plans suggest.
It’s important to keep your stress hormone low, as high cortisol levels can prevent fat loss… especially from the belly during menopause.
High impact exercise spikes this stress hormone, which can really hinder your progress. It’s also much more likely to lead to an injury, especially if someone’s carrying excess weight!
Instead, we always recommend low-impact strength training to our clients. This form of exercise keeps both stress levels and injury risk low… so you can exercise more consistently.
Reduce your alcohol intake
Alcohol fundamentally changes the way your body works… causing menopause belly fat to stick around.
When you grab an extra glass of wine in the evening or have another gin on a Zoom call with your friends… you’re having a much bigger impact on your weight than you might realise. (Even if you’re accounting for the extra calories)!
Alcohol causes the liver to switch to burning alcohol instead of fat. It also blocks the hormones needed to function normally. So, when the body is focused on processing alcohol… it’s not able to break down foods containing carbohydrates and fats.
On top of this, it suppresses testosterone production. This is usually what helps to keep your metabolism high – and this can last up to a day after drinking!
Essentially, this can play a huge role in menopause weight gain and where fat is stored on the body. You can definitely enjoy alcohol in moderation – but opting for one less glass can be hugely beneficial.
Swap to alcohol-free alternatives
Just because you’re consuming less alcohol, this doesn’t mean you have to miss out completely.
There’s an abundance of alcohol-free alternatives available these days. These treats are often much lower in calories and don’t come with a regrettable hangover… (all while still tasting incredible)!
Some of our favourites include:
- Eisberg Sparkling Wine
- Lucky Saint Unfiltered Lager
- Becks Blue
- Seedlip – a non-alcoholic gin alternative
These substitutes mean you’re more likely to lose weight. Plus, you’re less likely to mindlessly eat after a late night drinking.
Keep less alcohol and unhealthy food in the house
It’s a simple truth that all food and drink in your house will eventually get eaten… and the only thing stopping you from diving into that treats cupboard is your own discipline and willpower.
Willpower is limited; you only have a certain amount of it. For busy women over 40, your lifestyle might deplete your willpower incredibly quickly. Whether it’s a stressful job, busy social schedule or necessary family commitments… this can all take a toll on your self-control.
Once your willpower is gone, it’s so much easier to reach for some chocolate or a huge bag of crisps! So, no matter your intentions, willpower is not reliable.
We always recommend setting yourself up for success. As well as the people surrounding you, your environment can have a huge factor on your results.
Keeping treats, alcohol and guilty pleasures out of your home means you’re not depleting willpower. So, you’re more likely to succeed.
The clients on our Fit Over 40 programme do this using a process called the Cupboard Cleanse. They either get rid of the unhealthy foods in their house, or move things around to make them harder to access. For example, placing alcohol in a box in the garage means you’ll have to go to a lot more effort for a glass of wine!
Improve sleep to reduce cravings and stress
Next time you stay up late to finish a Netflix series, or to catch up on work… consider the impact it’s having on menopause belly fat.
Lack of sleep can have a bigger impact on your fat stores than you might realise. A short night’s sleep can actually disrupt your hormones. Specifically, leptin and ghrelin.
So, what does this mean for your weight?
Ghrelin is the hormone responsible for regulating appetite. Leptin regulates our feeling of fullness – the cue to stop eating.
After a poor night’s sleep, ghrelin levels increase and leptin levels decrease. This causes us to feel more hungry and less full – hence the munchies we experience after a late night!
Essentially, lack of sleep directly affects your cravings. This is a regular cause of mindless overeating which can wreak havoc on menopause belly fat.
Drink less caffeine
Caffeine is excellent for waking us up… but is it impacting your fat stores?
Caffeine works by blocking adenosine receptors in your brain. These receptors contribute to the feeling of tiredness… so an extra cuppa actually temporarily reduces how tired you feel. This is often the main reasons we reach for coffee in the morning!
However, caffeine has a half-life of six hours. This means its effects are half as strong six hours after consumption… and they haven’t dissipated entirely. So, when you pour a 4pm cup, this can impact your sleep more than you might realise.
On top of this, caffeine spikes your body’s internal stress levels. When the stress hormone cortisol, is elevated, your body is much less likely to burn fat. (And more likely to store it in your mid-section!)
So, opting for decaf every now in then is a really easy fix.
Regularly practice a simple mindset routine
Your mindset will impact your weight in more ways than you might realise.
Taking time to work on your mindset every day can have a huge impact on your mental and physical health. We recommend that our clients take a few minutes each day to take part in a couple of written mindset exercises.
Paying attention to mindset helps to change the way we think. It reduces anxiety and helps to process stressful events that are going on in their lives. This means they’re less stressed, which lowers cortisol… resulting in easier fat loss from around the middle.
An added benefit of mindfulness is having more mental space and energy. So, you can make the right choices with their eating and exercise!
Meditation is an amazing mental exercise if you want to improve your ability to deal with stress.
As mentioned above, reducing stress levels can make or break your progress. It helps with avoiding stress eating, and keeps the stress hormone cortisol down… which means you won’t store so much weight on your mid-section.
If you find the idea of meditating intimidating, you’re not alone! Luckily, there are plenty of useful apps out there which will guide you through the process. We recommend the following:
Take some ‘me time’ each week
When you’re always on the go… dealing with a busy career and taking care of everything around the house… it can be easy to fall into a position where you’re not taking any time for yourself.
This can cause a few issues when it comes to menopause belly fat. Namely, it can cause you to feel stressed and overwhelmed most of the time. This easily leads to poor choices with food and exercise – as well as out of control cortisol levels.
In our experience, taking some ‘me time’ can be hugely beneficial. We recommend that all our clients take time for themselves every single week. This is to de-stress and do something they enjoy.
This can be as simple as having a relaxing bath or reading a thrilling book. The key is taking some time out purely for you – and for no-one else. After all, what’s the point in working so hard if you never get to enjoy it!
Track your food and eat the right amount for you
Do you really know how much you’re eating? And how much should you be eating?
To lose belly fat, including during menopause, the most important thing to consider is energy balance. This means consuming the right number of calories for your body.
As you get older… and your hormones change during menopause… which can have an effect on your metabolism. As a result, women often find they can’t get away with eating as much without gaining weight… especially around the middle.
To get rid of menopause belly fat, you need to pay close attention to the foods you’re eating. Most importantly, it’s vital to make sure you’re eating the right amount of food for your body at this time… not too much, but also not too little!
How much you should consume will depend completely on your body and situation. Your ‘magic number’ will be unique. This is based on your age, weight, height, body fat percentage, hormonal situation and dieting history.
This is why there’s no magic calorie number for everyone. Plenty of mainstream diet approaches call 1,200 calories ‘ideal’ for everyone… but in our experience this isn’t usually the case
We calculate this number for the clients inside our Fit Over 40 programme individually… so they’re able to see the results they deserve. You can find our free guide here for more information on getting started with eating the right amount for you.
Learn to avoid overeating (especially at the weekend)
Overeating is the main reason people gain weight.
It might sound simple, but eating and drinking too much will be detrimental to your fat stores. Typically, indulging at the weekends is the biggest culprit!
The reason for overeating varies wildly from person to person. It can be due to anything, from social pressure, lack of sleep, high stress, out of control cravings, and many more.
With our clients, we try to identify the root cause of their overeating. From there, we then work through it together… so they can keep their food intake under control going forwards.
Finding the reason why you overeat is crucial to overcoming it.
Cut down your sugar intake
It’s super hard to cut down on sugar. Yet, tackling this offender can greatly improve your menopause belly fat.
The more sugar you eat, the more sugar you want! Not only can you get a taste for sweet treats, but sugar can create a blood sugar rollercoaster. It’s processed very quickly by the body, causing blood sugar levels to spike. When this level then drops, cravings will go through the roof.
In our experience, the most effective way to reduce sugar intake is to cut it out entirely for a short space of time. This will eliminate cravings… forcing you to focus on healthy foods which satiate your body.
We’ve helped thousands of women use this trick to tackle their cravings. Our Fit Over 40 programme uses a process called the Diet Makeover. This is designed to reset our clients’ food choices. By asking these women to cut out sugar and other processed foods for two weeks… cravings are drastically reduced!
Join others on the same mission
A strong community can be hugely beneficial for weight loss as a woman over 40.
Trying to lose weight over 40 can be difficult, and it’s even more difficult when you’re doing it alone! Being part of a group of like-minded women means you share your struggles with people who understand. You’re able to work through it together… rather than feeling like you’re the only one battling through menopause alone.
Joining others will help to shift your identity. You’ll go from ‘just trying to do yet another diet’ to being part of a fit and healthy community.
You’re able to benefit from a positive culture which breeds success.
President Kennedy once said “a rising tide lifts all boats” – and this is true of being part of a community. A community that’s succeeding will lift you up with it, so you can succeed too!
Get a coach who understands menopause to keep you accountable
It’s easy to fail alone.
After a stressful week at work, dealing with a chaotic family life and having endless chores to consider… it’s very easy to give in at the end of a busy week. A bottle of wine, bar of chocolate or bag of crisps are even more tempting when you’re swamped!
Having someone there to keep you accountable can be a game-changer. We recommend having someone who asks you for weekly updates. Find someone who chats you through problems. This massively in increases your chances of success.
Just like you show up to work each day and work hard – because you have a boss checking up on you… you need that same level of accountability when attempting to get rid of menopause belly fat.
Here at Trinity, we’ve helped thousands of women over 40 to succeed. We regularly help our clients drop 1-2 dress sizes and lose 15-25lbs in just 12 weeks by following proven methods to reduce menopause belly fat. We’re here to help keep you accountable, and finally see the results you want!
If you’re at all interested in finding out how we help our clients reach their goals… we have plenty of free resources available which might be able to help you! You can find out more here.
Looking to lose weight in lockdown? Check out our blog here!