With all this speak about New Yr, New You…is your stomach mocking your 2023 decision?
On the verge of turning (yikes) 66, I’ve observed my physique altering over the previous few years. Whereas I used to realize weight in my thighs and derrière, I now appear to have a stomach that simply gained’t budge. After I attempt on a number of the sheath clothes I wore again within the day, it appears to be like like I’m anticipating. So, what’s the deal? Have I gained a “menopause stomach“? And may something be achieved about it? I made a decision to ask my pleasant (and sincere) gynecologist (with the assistance of a lot of your nice questions) Dr. Becky Brightman what offers, since my denims now not do!
Katie: OK, Dr. B, what the hell is happening? I do know my estrogen ain’t what it was once. Is that why my midsection appears to be rising by the minute? Based on a lot of my mates, I’m not alone! Is menopause stomach an actual factor?
Dr. B: Sure. Metabolism does change with every decade of life. And we all know that estrogen does facilitate metabolism. So, the decline in estrogen throughout menopause most likely performs a task in weight acquire. Additionally, fats does redistribute itself as we age, and the actual fact merely is that many ladies acquire weight within the midsection.
A variety of readers wish to know if there’s something we will do to stop or do away with menopause stomach. Wake-Up Name reader Elise writes:
“I had a flat abdomen all my life. My problem areas had been at all times hips and thighs. (I really feel you, Elise!) However now I’ve acquired a protruding abdomen, too. I’m a dimension 6, 5’4, and 122 kilos. I train by means of gymnasium lessons, pickleball, and biking. I do abdomen workout routines recurrently. I’ve examine dietary supplements together with bone broth, magnesium, and all the pieces else underneath the solar. However that looks as if a gross sales pitch to me. What can I do about this stomach fats?“
They’re all myths: Don’t purchase the broth or the magnesium — except you clearly want the magnesium for another component of your well being. An important issues are consuming healthfully and ensuring you sleep. Sleep deprivation and insomnia affect the metabolic charge, enhance the danger of heart problems, and enhance weight acquire.
What about intermittent fasting? I’ve heard quite a bit about this eating regimen the place you solely eat throughout, say, an eight-hour window, and never earlier than or after. May that assist with later-in-life weight acquire?
It could actually. It’s not for everyone. However many ladies do discover it useful for sustaining weight or truly shedding slightly weight.
What about train? What forms of train can scale back menopause weight acquire, if any?
I’d counsel workout routines that assist construct muscle — and I’m not speaking about going into weightlifting competitions, however constructing lean muscle mass by understanding with mild weights. Muscle mass facilitates metabolism. I additionally counsel engaged on core power with workout routines like planks — and I don’t suppose I began to do any of that stuff earlier than I turned 50, however it actually makes a giant distinction. A powerful core can maintain all the pieces in like a corset and decrease the feeling or accumulation of stomach fats. The opposite factor I feel you and I’ve talked about is posture. After we work on posture and alignment, we’re much less prone to stoop over. And poor posture can create stomach protuberance. We now have to embrace our age — we’re all altering, however we have to be the very best selves we might be.
Right here’s one other query from a reader named Cheryl:
Since ending menopause, I’ve been fighting my weight and my breasts have elevated three sizes from 36C to 38DD. I bear in mind this occurring to my aunt as nicely. Nevertheless, on the time I had no concept that post-menopause was accountable. Is that this regular?
This isn’t uncommon in any respect. About 50 p.c of girls do discover breast development after menopause, and girls do have a larger share of physique fats. Physique fats does flip a number of the male hormones that girls proceed to make after menopause into estrogen. So estrogen most likely does play a task in breast enlargement, however there’s quite a bit that we simply don’t know. Once more, consuming extra healthfully and constructing and sustaining muscle will assist with metabolism and decrease fats. And after we acquire weight, it tends to enter the midsection after which into the breasts.
OK, Wake-Up Callers, clearly I’ve been on a mission to determine this out. I feel my telephone should know as a result of all I get are adverts for decreasing stomach fats — however to date, I haven’t clicked or purchased any of the so-called “miracle cures.”
Along with Dr. B, Mark Hyman, MD, is certainly one of my go-to’s for well being and diet data, so I turned to him to search out out why fats builds up on this specific a part of the physique, particularly as we age. Right here’s his take in your spare tire…and mine.
Katie: Mark, what the hell is going on to my stomach? (Are you able to inform what number of instances I’ve requested myself this query, expensive readers?)
Mark Hyman: Not all physique fats is created equal. The place the fats is in your physique makes a giant distinction relating to your total well being. The fats inside your stomach known as “VAT” or visceral adipose tissue, and this sort of fats might be harmful. While you start to placed on weight, particularly this stomach fats, your biology shifts out of steadiness, and might veer into an unstable and unhealthy territory, which in flip usually results in extra weight acquire. The first contributor to the event of VAT is a Normal American Eating regimen (SAD), which consists of too many empty energy and extra consumption of processed meals. However typically, the next carb, decrease fats eating regimen can result in extra stomach fats. Lack of sleep also can result in stomach fats. Intestine imbalances and hormonal imbalances are large contributors as nicely.
Can stress result in decrease stomach weight acquire?
Extended unremitting stress can be an enormous issue. Moreover, if you lose muscle mass, your stomach VAT will increase making your ldl cholesterol, blood strain, and triglycerides go up. You’re extra drained however your sleep is stressed, and you could possibly get depressed. The immune system will get turned up and the inflammatory response will increase, as does the oxidative stress. Your thyroid will get sluggish and your detoxing system will get overloaded. And not using a manner of counteracting the consequences of continual stress, we’re all on a slippery downward slope to unhealthy weight acquire.
Not solely does your physique decelerate your metabolism and inform you to eat extra, however the fats that you just acquire from being burdened truly communicates destructive messages to your physique: While you really feel stress, your mind triggers a sequence of chemical responses that slows down your metabolism and begins to retailer energy. A very good portion of that is VAT.
One of many predominant hormonal messengers that your fats creates is cortisol, which is your main stress hormone. It’s accountable for setting off your entire physiological chain of occasions related to stress. This consists of slowing down your metabolism. This entire course of in a short time turns right into a vicious cycle the place stress and weight acquire feed one another continuously. You get stressed, your physique releases cortisol that inhibits your responsiveness to leptin and slows down your metabolism. As a consequence, you acquire VAT. Then this VAT begins sending out extra cortisol into your bloodstream beginning the entire course of over once more.
Are there sure meals I must be avoiding to restrict decrease stomach weight acquire?
One of the best eating regimen for decreasing stomach fats is one that’s low in refined carbs and starchy meals and excessive in vegetation, clear protein, and wholesome fats. Basically, the Pegan Eating regimen! You wish to fill your plate with 75 p.c greens (by quantity), add in a palm-sized portion (or 4-6 oz) of protein, and high all of it off with some wholesome fat like olive oil, nuts and seeds, and avocado. You particularly want extra protein as you age to assist construct muscle and forestall issues like sarcopenia. I discover that most individuals undereat protein — you want about 30 grams per meal to construct muscle. While you lose muscle, you age sooner. Make this stuff a precedence! Keep away from tremendous starchy meals, processed meals, and refined sugar.
So there you’ve got it, mates. There isn’t any miracle remedy for decreasing stomach fats. Consuming nicely, transferring our our bodies, and decreasing stress all appear to be the ticket to preserving it in examine. However I additionally suppose radical acceptance isn’t a foul thought. I don’t find out about you, however I’m grateful to have reached an age that’s allowed me to build up slightly further baggage round my waistline. Whereas I’m going to keep watch over these kilos creeping up, I’m additionally going to spend money on a couple of extra outsized blouses and sweaters and proceed to take pleasure in my life!