Whether you try to soften the blow of menopausal weight gain by calling it the “menopause muffin top,” “menopause belly” or “meno-gut,” the fact is that many of us will inevitably put on a few extra pounds during “the change” (I always hated that phrase).
While vanity may motivate us to do something about that weight gain, there is a far more important reason to tackle it – namely, our health. You see, gaining fat around our bellies (also called visceral fat) – which is usually where the fat goes with menopause weight gain – is considered the most dangerous kind. This is because it may increase the risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and liver disease. So, it’s important to do what we can to minimize this gain.
One of the best things we can do is be proactive and not wait for menopause to get as healthy as we can. Remember, menopause is a transition that can take years. So, the healthier you are before menopause, the better. You also want to avoid those things that can put you into menopause at a younger age. Being overweight and a smoker are two things that can make you experience menopause earlier. They, of course, also increase the risk of developing other diseases.
Second, incorporate weight and cardio training to combat muscle loss and boost your metabolism. You don’t need to be throwing tons of iron around at the gym – any kind of resistance training is good. And as for cardio, you can easily get this by walking, biking or playing pickleball several times a week.
Also make sure you are eating a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet that is primarily plant-based and avoids processed and sugary food and drinks, and that limits alcohol. You may also want to try intermittent fasting (for example, 16 hours of fasting with an eight-hour eating window) but be sure to check with your doctor first if you decide to try this. And, of course, stay hydrated.
Finally, you may want to get a nutrient test to ensure your body has adequate amounts of essential vitamins, minerals, protein and other nutrients. Deficiencies in critical nutrients may hinder weight loss despite your good efforts. If you have any deficiencies, you can work with your healthcare provider on tweaking your diet and maybe even taking good quality supplements.
Joy Stephenson-Laws is the founder of Proactive Health Labs, a national nonprofit health information company that provides education and tools needed to achieve optimal health. Her most recent book is Minerals - The Forgotten Nutrient: Your Secret Weapon for Getting and Staying Healthy, available through Amazon, iTunes and bookstores.