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Let’s Talk About Menopause Belly Fat

Let’s Talk About Menopause Belly Fat

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: most women gain belly fat during the menopause transition. #uggggghhhh

But here’s the good news: there is something you can do about it! (hurray!) Read on to learn the truth about menopause belly fat.

Where is menopause belly fat coming from?

We gain weight when our caloric intake is more than our body needs. This is true whether you are 20 years old or 50 years old. Women, however, notice that in peri-menopause and post-menopause (just referred to here as “menopause” to keep it simple, though not technically accurate as described in the podcast) they accumulate fat around their midsection, unlike other times in their life.

Why? It turns out that while they are gaining weight for the same reasons (more calories in than calories out), what has changed are the hormones.

The hormonal changes in menopause now accumulate excess fat in the midsection more so than hips and thighs. This is in part why it feels so different – and can also be deceiving! Before when you put on a few pounds in your hips and thighs, you knew it was time to tighten up the diet and cut down on the snacks in the house. But now in a new place, it doesn’t even feel like your body! The truth is, it’s the same reason why: your consuming more calories than you need.

There is another important distinction, however, about this menopause belly fat. It’s visceral fat, which has different “negative“ health implications. Learn more in the full episode of the Aging & Menopause podcast.

But I haven’t changed my diet?!

“But I haven’t changed my diet – how can calories in be more?”

This is a common reflection by most people. There are many factors that come into play here, some of which are hard to objectively measure. Diet changes over long periods of time is a great example.

The menopause transition takes an average of 7 years. That’s a long period of time. There can be small changes in diet – and lifestyle – that are hard to really notice from a day-to-day perspective, yet do add up to changes in caloric intake.  Another important factor in how the relationship between calories in and calories out changes is based on decreasing muscle mass with age.

Less muscle mass means fewer calories burned (or fewer “calories out”). If we don’t change our diet or exercise, then we will gain weight. And it will go to the midsection.

So, does menopause cause muscle weakness or loss of muscle?

Well, the declining hormones certainly make it more difficult to put on and retain muscle mass, but all is not lost. Women can still be strong, healthy, and even improve their body composition regardless of age. Find out more of the best diet and lifestyle practices for improving muscle weakness or loss and ditching menopause belly fat on the full episode of the podcast.

Does menopause cause muscle weakness or loss of muscle?

The declining hormones certainly make it more difficult to put on and retain muscle mass, particularly relative to pre-menopause capacity. BUT, all is not lost.

Women can still be strong, healthy, and even improve their body composition regardless of age. Find out more of the best diet and lifestyle practices for improving muscle weakness or loss and ditching menopause belly fat on the full episode of the podcast.

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