One could be excused for thinking that the initial thin layer of fat around your middle was sexy. My partner complimented me on my curves and expressed love for my new body with a little meat on its bones. With a busy life, post-50, I’d lost my commitment to a daily gym regimen and my desire for the angularity of a Victoria Secret fashion model body had begun to ebb.
I’d reached the point of being in touch with my inner softness. However, each year has brought an additional creeping five pounds, regardless of exercise and a diet watch. But I have never lost the desire for a flat stomach. Thus my war against menopausal belly fat continues.
But would you believe there is a name for this fat? “The medical term for unhealthy fat in the belly is "visceral fat," which refers to fat surrounding the liver and other organs in your abdomen.” This visceral fat is notice that you are at risk for other health problems.
This definition is vastly different from what I thought about my first five pound gain and is enough to make my head spin. Not only is this fat not like other fats, but it has also proven to be hard to lose. In conversation with my doctor, I noticed him observing my stomach. He said, the more visceral fat I stored, the more there was of a possibility of risk of heart disease and other complications like Type 2 diabetes.
Menopause Belly Fat and the Loss of Estrogen
If your menopause journey is less than pleasant, it seems cruel to share that there is a relationship between visceral fat and the loss of estrogen. When our estrogen level drops, this causes fat to be stored in our abdomen, instead of our hips and thighs. A lack of estrogen may also cause the body to use starches and blood sugar less effectively, which would increase fat storage and make it harder to lose weight.
There are other contributing reasons belly fat could be showing up more for you, such as a sedentary lifestyle, consuming sugar, alcohol, and even the wrong stomach bacteria. The connection between our hormones and menopausal belly fat was a new one for me.
According to Dr. Sara Gottfried, in your belly, you have two types of fat: subcutaneous and visceral. Subcutaneous is more external; the type you can pinch with your fingers. Visceral fat is deeper and more ominous, and you’ll find it stored around and even inside some of your organs, such as the liver, kidneys, intestines, and pancreas. Think of it as a bad biochemical broth that bathes your innocent cells.
An easy and general way to determine whether you have visceral fat is to measure your waistline. If it is above 35 inches, you are considered to have visceral fat and it’s time to makes changes in your lifestyle and diet.
Can You Lose Menopausal Belly Fat?
Some women gain more belly fat during menopause than others. This might be somewhat a function of genetics and when menopause begins.
There are common myths about strategies for losing menopausal belly fat that is the same as losing weight elsewhere. They include no carbs, more protein, cutting sugar, increased physical exercise, more fiber, and keeping track of what you eat. The truth is no one single thing is the answer. You have to work them together while settling into a life of diminished estrogen in order to get the results you desire. These strategies have worked to help me get rid of belly fat. I have come to accept there are no magic pills. So I have been at it consciously by changing my habits and lifestyle.
I now understand that while calories matter, hormones matter more. With my new habits and consciously changing my lifestyle, I know I will continue to make progress.
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