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Beating Belly Fat

It is natural to get a little belly fat at menopause, but here are 8 handy tips on how to keep it under control.


This is one of the biggest issues women face at menopause, no matter how slim they may have been, the changing hormones mean your body is switching production of oestrogen from the ovaries.

Unfortunately it is depositing that on your hips, abdomen and thighs, but these 8 tips on how to reduce it may help.

1. Fibre and fat

Leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, and beans are all good for keeping away the fat that stays deep in your belly. That’s called visceral fat, and it’s the most dangerous kind because it can wrap around major organs, including your liver, pancreas, and kidneys.

There are no “super foods” that burn off visceral fat. And you can’t tone it away with specific moves like crunches. Instead, look for ways to upgrade your eating habits and add activity every day. Think about your average week. Where might you be able to make some changes?

While anyone can have too much visceral fat, it’s more likely if you’ve got a lot of weight to lose. As you start to take those pounds off, it will help your whole body, including belly fat that’s hidden out of your sight.

2. Fat facts

It’s all about what kind as giving up fat altogether is definitely not recommended. You need it for many of your body and brain functions but limit the “saturated” kind that’s in animal foods, coconut and palm oils, and full-fat dairy. Don’t switch to ‘low fat’ without checking what else is in there to compensate as there may be increased additives that are equally as bad for you.

Keep the portions of those foods smaller than you might normally do, for instance. And check nutrition labels to see how many calories and how much fat is in a serving. Look for fats that are better for you, too, like those from plant foods or fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel that are rich in omega-3s.

Many women increase their exercise routine to try and ‘burn off’ the fat but that doesn’t mean you have to spend hours on it.

Research shows that a few quick bursts of high-intensity exercise — such as a 30-second sprint or intense pullup set — may be more effective, and easier to fit into your schedule. You can add bursts of higher intensity to any workout. Just speed up or work harder for a brief time, then drop back to a more mellow pace, and repeat.

3. Sleep: the Goldilocks formula

When it comes to weight gain, sleep is a bit like porridge: Too little, which is less than 5 hours, may mean more belly fat. But too much, more than 8 hours, can do that, too.

“Just right” is personal and individual but average seems to be around 6-8 hours. If you don’t sleep that much now, or if you tend to toss and turn, try to go to bed a little earlier, relax before bedtime, keep your bedroom cool, and try not to text and email right before you turn in.

4 Quick fixes

Sorry, but there really aren’t any. It may be tempting to just get it all removed, but cosmetic surgery isn’t the solution here. Liposuction doesn’t reach inside the abdominal wall. So it can’t get rid of visceral belly fat.

Likewise, crash diets aren’t the solution, either as you are too likely to go off them. The slower, steadier option of lifestyle changes that you can commit to for a long time is really the best bet.

5. Stress

Are you stressed out? That can make you eat more fat and sugar, and unleash the “stress hormone” cortisol, which can boost belly fat.

Stress also can make you sleep less, exercise less, and drink more alcohol, which can add belly fat, too. It’s a great reason to take up meditation, work out, listen to music you love, or find other healthy ways to unwind and relax.

6. Liquid issues

What’s your favourite? Is it a latte, a regular soft drink, a mug of beer, or a glass of wine? Whoever you think, they all have calories that can soon add up, that latte for instance is at least 140 calories a time.

Go for no/low calorie sparkling water, green or herbal teas, or just switch to a smaller glass of wine or beer.

If you drink alcohol, remember that it just might make you throw your willpower out the window when you order your meal, too and so increase the calories again.

7. Don’t smoke

People often think that smoking helps them lose weight as it can reduce appetite, but actually it makes you more likely to store fat in your belly, rather than your hips and thighs.

The other negative are that is linked to diabetes, cancer, heart disease and lung disease. If you do want to quit, there is plenty of help available to take full advantage to improve your weight and your health.

8. Watch your waist

Keep an eye on your waist measurement and for women that means less than 35 inches or, preferably, less.

That’s because you may lower your chance of having a heart attack, a stroke, or possibly certain types of cancer.