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Menopausal Belly Fat: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention Tips

Updated: Oct 19, 2022


Menopausal Belly Fat: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention Tips



Up to 80% of women will experience some form of belly fat during menopause. For many, this can be a frustrating and even embarrassing time. But there are ways to fight back against menopausal belly fat.


Hormonal changes during menopause are one of the main culprits behind weight gain and increased belly fat. But other factors can contribute, including lifestyle choices and medical conditions.


Fortunately, there are things you can do to help get rid of menopausal belly fat. Making healthy lifestyle changes is an excellent place to start. Surgery and medication may also be options in some cases. This article talks about menopausal belly fat causes and how you can treat and prevent those causes in your daily life.



What is menopausal belly fat, and why does it occur?



During menopause, many women experience changes in their bodies, including an accumulation of belly fat. This so-called "menopausal belly fat" can be a frustrating side effect of the hormonal changes that occur during this time.



There are several reasons why menopausal women are more likely to accumulate belly fat. Here are three reasons why menopausal belly fat occurs:



First, as women age, they tend to lose muscle mass and gain fat, making the stomach area look larger. This shift in body composition makes it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight.



Second, hormonal changes during menopause can cause insulin resistance, which leads to an increase in abdominal fat and weight gain.



Third, as women age, they tend to lose some of the elasticity in their skin, contributing to the appearance of a larger stomach.



Finally, menopausal women often experience changes in their metabolism that make it harder to burn off calories.



For all these reasons, menopausal belly fat can be a difficult problem to solve. But with a healthy diet and regular exercise, it is possible to minimize the amount of belly fat gained during this time.




Causes of menopausal belly fat



As mentioned above, there are several reasons why menopausal women are more likely to accumulate belly fat. Here are three of the leading causes:



Hormonal changes



One of the main culprits behind weight gain and increased belly fat during menopause is hormonal changes. As women age, their bodies produce less estrogen and progesterone hormones. This can lead to insulin resistance, which causes the body to store more fat in the abdominal area.



According to the study, women going through menopause are also more likely to have a higher body mass index (BMI) and a larger waist circumference. In the United States, the average age of menopause is 51 years old.



Lifestyle choices



Another cause of menopausal belly fat is lifestyle choices. If you live a sedentary lifestyle and don’t exercise regularly, you’re more likely to gain weight and store fat, especially in your stomach. Eating a diet high in calories and unhealthy foods can also contribute to weight gain and increased belly fat.



In the United States, the average woman consumes about 2,000 calories per day. But during menopause, many women need only 1,600 calories per day to maintain their weight. If you’re not careful, you could easily consume too many calories and gain weight.



Medical conditions



In some cases, medical conditions can contribute to weight gain and increased belly fat during menopause. For example, conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can cause hormonal imbalances that lead to weight gain. Thyroid problems and sleep apnea are linked to weight gain and increased belly fat.



A research study showed that up to 38 percent of menopausal women are affected by at least one medical condition that can lead to weight gain. Another study found that medical conditions were the leading cause of weight gain in nearly 50 percent of menopausal women.



In the United States, the most common medical conditions that can lead to weight gain during menopause are depression, anxiety, and arthritis.




Treatment options for menopausal belly fat



There are several treatment options available for menopausal belly fat. Some of the most common include:



Diet and exercise



Making changes to your diet and exercising regularly is one of the most effective ways to lose weight and reduce belly fat. A healthy diet should include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.



A healthy diet for weight loss should also be low in calories. And, if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s essential to avoid Crash diets or fad diets that can lead to yo-yo dieting. Exercise is also an essential part of any weight loss plan. A combination of cardio and strength training is the best way to burn calories and tone your body.



A study showed that diet and exercise were the most effective treatment for menopausal belly fat. In the United States, the recommended amount of exercise is 150 minutes per week.



Here is an example of a diet plan for a week if you want to treat menopausal belly fat:


Monday


Breakfast: Oatmeal with berries

Lunch: Soup and salad

Dinner: Grilled chicken and vegetables

Snacks: Greek yogurt with fruit or a handful of nuts



Tuesday


Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and whole-grain toast

Lunch: Tuna salad sandwich on whole-wheat bread

Dinner: Salmon with roasted vegetables

Snacks: carrots and celery with hummus or an apple with peanut butter



Wednesday


Breakfast: Smoothie made with yogurt, fruit, and milk

Lunch: Turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread

Dinner: Chicken stir-fry

Snacks: Popcorn or a piece of fruit



Thursday


Breakfast: Omelet with vegetables

Lunch: Grilled cheese sandwich on whole-wheat bread

Dinner: Beef tacos

Snacks: Celery and peanut butter or an orange



Friday


Breakfast: Pancakes made with whole-wheat flour

Lunch: Veggie wrap

Dinner: Pizza with vegetables

Snacks: Banana with almond butter or a hard-boiled egg



Saturday


Breakfast: Oatmeal with raisins and nuts

Lunch: Leftovers from dinner

Dinner: Hamburger with sweet potato fries

Snacks: Grapes or whole-wheat crackers with cheese



Sunday


Breakfast: Waffles with fruit

Lunch: BLT sandwich on whole-wheat bread

Dinner: Roast chicken with potatoes and vegetables

Snacks: Strawberries with whipped cream or a slice of cake



Weight-loss surgery



In some cases, weight-loss surgery may be an option for menopausal women struggling to lose weight. There are several types of weight-loss surgeries, and each has its risks and benefits. It’s important to talk to your doctor about whether or not weight-loss surgery is right for you.



Here is a list of weight loss surgery for the treatment of menopausal belly fat:



Gastric bypass surgery


This type of surgery reduces the size of your stomach, so you feel full sooner. It also changes the way your body absorbs food.



Gastric sleeve surgery


This type of surgery removes part of your stomach. Like gastric bypass surgery, it also reduces the amount of food you can eat and changes the way your body absorbs food.



Biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch


This type of surgery is a more complex version of gastric bypass surgery. It’s usually only an option for people who are severely obese.



As with any surgery, there are risks associated with weight-loss surgery. These risks include infection, bleeding, and blood clots. Weight-loss surgery is also not a cure for obesity, and you will need to make lifestyle changes after the surgery to maintain your weight loss.



Medications



There are no medications specifically approved for the treatment of menopausal belly fat. However, some medications may help with weight loss. These include:



Orlistat (Xenical)


This medication inhibits the absorption of fat. It’s available as a prescription and over-the-counter medication.



Phentermine


This medication is a stimulant that suppresses your appetite. It’s available as a prescription only.



Liraglutide (Saxenda)


This medication helps you feel full and decreases the amount of food you eat. It’s available as a prescription only.



All of these medications come with side effects and risks. Be sure to talk to your doctor about whether or not a medication is right for you.


Lifestyle changes



Making lifestyle changes is the most effective way to lose weight and keep it off. These changes include eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and reducing stress.


Diet


Eating a healthy diet is one of the most important things you can do to lose weight and keep it off. There are no specific foods that will help you lose weight, but some foods are better than others.


Good choices include:


Fruits and vegetables


Whole grains


Lean proteins


Healthy fats



Bad choices include:


Processed foods


Sugary drinks


Trans fats



It’s also important to eat fewer calories than you burn. You can do this by tracking your calorie intake and making sure you’re eating less than you burn each day.


Exercise


Exercise is another vital part of losing weight and keeping it off. It helps you burn calories and builds muscle mass, which helps burn more calories. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.


Some good exercises for weight loss include:


Walking


Jogging


Biking


Swimming


Weight-bearing exercises


High-intensity interval training (HIIT)


Yoga


Pilates


Stress reduction



Managing stress is also crucial for weight loss. When you’re stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol can increase your appetite and make you crave high-calorie foods. It can also lead to weight gain.


Some good ways to reduce stress include:

Yoga


Meditation


Exercise


Spending time in nature


Getting enough sleep


Talking to a therapist


If you’re struggling to lose weight, talk to your doctor. They can help you create a plan that’s right for you.


Prevention tips for menopausal belly fat


There are some things you can do to prevent menopausal belly fat. These include:


Eating a healthy diet


Getting regular exercise


Reducing stress


Limiting alcohol intake


Not smoking


Managing your weight



If you’re overweight or obese, losing weight can help prevent menopausal belly fat. Even a small amount of weight loss can make a difference. A research study showed that women who lost 5% of their body weight had a significant decrease in belly fat.




What vitamins help with weight loss during menopause?


There are a few vitamins that are especially important for weight loss during menopause.



Vitamin D


Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, important for bone health. It also helps with muscle function and fat metabolism. A lack of vitamin D can lead to weight gain and obesity.


Vitamin B12


Vitamin B12 is essential for energy levels and metabolism. A lack of vitamin B12 can lead to fatigue, making it difficult to exercise and lose weight.


Vitamin C


Vitamin C is important for immunity and collagen production. It also helps with fat metabolism. A lack of vitamin C can lead to weight gain.


Supplementing these vitamins can help you lose weight during menopause. Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any supplements, as they can interact with medications you may be taking.



Helpful supplements for preventing menopausal belly fat



Here is a list of 21 supplements for preventing menopausal belly fat:


1. Omega-3 fatty acids:


These healthy fats can help reduce inflammation and promote weight loss.


2. Vitamin D:


This vitamin is essential for bone health, but it may also help lose weight.


3. Calcium:


Calcium is another nutrient that's important for bone health. It may also help with weight loss by reducing the fat your body absorbs.


4. Probiotics:


These "good" bacteria can help improve gut health and promote weight loss.


5. Fiber:


Fiber is important for good digestion and can help you feel fuller longer, making it easier to stick to a healthy diet.


6. Green tea:


Green tea is rich in antioxidants and has boosted metabolism and promoted weight loss.


7. Coconut oil:


This healthy fat can help improve your cholesterol levels and promote weight loss.


8. Glucomannan:


This type of fiber can help you feel fuller longer and may promote weight loss.


9. Apple cider vinegar:


This popular weight loss supplement can help improve digestion and promote weight loss.


10. Psyllium husk:


This type of fiber can help you feel fuller longer and may promote regularity.


11. Chia seeds:


These tiny seeds are high in fiber and protein, making them a satisfying and nutritious addition to your diet.


12. Cumin:


This spice can help boost metabolism and promote weight loss.


13. Cinnamon:


This spice has been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels and promote weight loss.


14. Garlic:


Garlic is a healthy addition to any diet and has been shown to promote weight loss.


15. Cayenne pepper:


This spice can help boost metabolism and promote weight loss.


16. Fenugreek:


This spice can help regulate blood sugar levels and promote weight loss.


17. Ginger:


This popular spice can help improve digestion and promote weight loss.


18. Turmeric:


This spice is a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce inflammation and promote weight loss.


19. Saffron:


This spice has been shown to help reduce appetite and promote weight loss.


20. Beans:


Beans are a good source of fiber and protein, making them a satisfying and nutritious addition to your diet.


21. Lentils:


Like beans, lentils are a good source of fiber and protein. They can also help promote weight loss by keeping you feeling full and satisfied.


When it comes to weight loss, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. However, these supplements may help some women lose weight and prevent menopausal belly fat. Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements, as they can interact with medications you may be taking.



Weight loss pills to prevent menopausal belly fat


There are many weight loss pills on the market. Here is a list of the most effective weight loss pills for menopausal belly fat:


1. Orlistat:


Orlistat is a medication that helps you lose weight by preventing your body from absorbing fat.


2. Sibutramine:


Sibutramine is an appetite suppressant that can help you lose weight by reducing hunger and cravings.


3. Phentermine:


Phentermine is a stimulant that can help you lose weight by suppressing your appetite and boosting energy.


4. Liraglutide:


Liraglutide is a medication that helps you lose weight by preventing your body from absorbing fat and promoting satiety.


5. Fluoxetine:


Fluoxetine is an antidepressant that can help you lose weight by suppressing your appetite.


6. Bupropion:


Bupropion is an antidepressant that can help you lose weight by reducing your appetite and increasing your energy.


7. Naltrexone:


Naltrexone is a medication that can help you lose weight by reducing your appetite.


8. Topiramate:


Topiramate is a medication that can help you lose weight by suppressing your appetite and promoting satiety.


9. Metformin:


Metformin is a medication that can help you lose weight by reducing your insulin levels and promoting satiety.


10. Zonegran:


Zonegran is a medication that can help you lose weight by reducing your appetite.


When it comes to weight loss, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. However, these pills may help some women lose weight and prevent menopausal belly fat.



Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any pills, as they can interact with medications you may be taking. In addition to supplements and weight loss pills, making diet and lifestyle changes can also help prevent menopausal belly fat.



When to see a doctor about menopausal belly fat


If you’re concerned about your weight or menopausal belly fat, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. They can help you develop a weight loss plan that’s right for you.



Your doctor may also recommend tests to rule out other conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), that can cause similar symptoms.



Talk to your doctor about treatment options if you’re experiencing menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, or vaginal dryness. Hormone therapy can help relieve these symptoms and help prevent menopausal belly fat.



Risks of leaving menopausal belly fat untreated



Menopause is a time of significant change for women, both physically and emotionally. One of the most visible changes is the accumulation of fat around the abdomen, leading to a range of health problems.



Unfortunately, many women are unaware of the risks associated with untreated menopausal belly fat. Studies have shown that carrying excess weight around the waistline can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.



In addition, menopausal belly fat is often accompanied by a decrease in muscle mass, leading to osteoporosis and a loss of mobility. With so much at stake, women need to be proactive about treating their menopausal belly fat.



Working with a doctor or nutritionist to develop a healthy diet and exercise plan is a great place to start. Taking steps to reduce stress and get enough sleep can also make a big difference. By taking care of their bodies during this transition, women can minimize the risks associated with menopausal belly fat.



Here is a list of risks of leaving menopausal belly fat untreated:



1. Increased risk of heart disease:


Carrying excess weight, especially around your midsection, can increase your risk of developing heart disease.


2. Increased risk of type 2 diabetes:


Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.


3. Increased risk of certain cancers:


Carrying excess weight increases your risk of developing certain types of cancer, such as breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer.


4. Increased risk of joint problems:


Carrying excess weight can strain your joints, leading to pain and stiffness.


5. Increased risk of sleep apnea:


Carrying excess weight can increase your risk of developing sleep apnea, a condition that causes you to stop breathing during sleep.


6. Increased risk of gastrointestinal problems:


Excess weight can lead to gastrointestinal problems, such as acid reflux and constipation.


7. Increased risk of mental health problems:


Carrying excess weight can increase your risk of developing mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety.


8. Decreased quality of life:


Carrying excess weight can decrease your overall quality of life, making it difficult to enjoy activities you used to love.


Treating menopausal belly fat is essential for your overall health. If left untreated, it can lead to a number of serious health problems. Talk to your doctor about the best way to lose weight and reduce your risk of developing menopausal belly fat.



Conclusion


Menopausal belly fat can be a real problem for many women. It can lead to many health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. It can also decrease your quality of life.



That’s why it’s so important to take steps to prevent menopausal belly fat or, if you already have it, to treat it. The best ways to treat and prevent menopausal belly fat are eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and reducing stress.



If you’re struggling to lose weight or keep it off, talk to your doctor about treatment options.

Hormone therapy can help relieve symptoms of menopause and may also help prevent menopausal belly fat. Taking care of your body during this transition is crucial for your overall health.



Building a healthy lifestyle can help you avoid many of the health problems associated with menopausal belly fat. So don’t wait—start making changes today!



FAQ


1. What is menopausal belly fat?


Menopausal belly fat is the excess weight that often accumulates around a woman's waistline during menopause. It can lead to several health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.


2. How can I prevent menopausal belly fat?


The best ways to prevent menopausal belly fat are eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and reducing stress. If you’re struggling to lose weight or keep it off, talk to your doctor about treatment options.


3. How can I treat menopausal belly fat?


The best ways to treat menopausal belly fat are eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and reducing stress. If you’re struggling to lose weight or keep it off, talk to your doctor about treatment options. Hormone therapy can help relieve symptoms of menopause and may also help prevent menopausal belly fat. Taking care of your body during this time of transition is crucial for your overall health.



4. What are the risks of menopausal belly fat?


Carrying excess weight around your waistline can lead to a number of severe health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. It can also decrease your quality of life. That’s why it’s so important to take steps to prevent menopausal belly fat or, if you already have it, to treat it.


5. How can I improve my quality of life after menopause?


Building a healthy lifestyle after menopause is crucial for your overall health. The best ways to improve your quality of life after menopause are eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and reducing stress. If you’re struggling to lose weight or keep it off, talk to your doctor about treatment options. Hormone therapy can help relieve symptoms of menopause and may also help prevent menopausal belly fat. Taking care of your body during this time of transition is crucial for your overall health.



6. Does menopausal belly fat go away?


For some women, menopausal belly fat may go away after menopause. However, the weight may stay the same for other women or increase. That’s why it’s so important to take steps to prevent menopausal belly fat or, if you already have it, to treat it. The best ways to treat and prevent menopausal belly fat are eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and reducing stress. If you’re struggling to lose weight or keep it off, talk to your doctor about treatment options. Hormone therapy can help relieve symptoms of menopause and may also help prevent menopausal belly fat.



7. What are the long-term effects of menopausal belly fat?


Excess weight around your waistline can lead to several severe health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. It can also decrease your quality of life. That’s why it’s so important to take steps to prevent menopausal belly fat or, if you already have it, to treat it. The best ways to treat and prevent menopausal belly fat are eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and reducing stress. If you’re struggling to lose weight or keep it off, talk to your doctor about treatment options. Hormone therapy can help relieve symptoms of menopause and may also help prevent menopausal belly fat. Taking care of your body during this time of transition is crucial for your overall health.


8. How many calories should a menopausal woman eat to lose weight?


There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the number of calories you need to lose weight will depend on your individual needs and goals. However, a general guideline is that menopausal women should aim to eat 1,200-1,500 calories per day if they’re trying to lose weight. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly are crucial to losing weight and keeping it off. If you’re struggling to lose weight, talk to your doctor about treatment options. Hormone therapy can help relieve symptoms of menopause and may also help prevent menopausal belly fat.

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