Hormonal Belly Woman: How To Fight Stubborn Fat In Your Midsection
There are many different reasons why people have stubborn fat in their midsection, but one common culprit is hormone imbalance. The reason for this is that when your hormones are out of balance, they can cause weight gain or difficulty in losing weight in certain parts of your body. This means that you might be able to fight off belly fat by correcting hormonal imbalances first. But how do you know if you have a hormone imbalance? And what should you do about it? Heres some information on how to tell if youre experiencing hormonal problems and what steps to take after determining that this may be the case.
Hormonal Belly Pooch And Bloat In Women
Weight gain for many women is common with perimenopause and menopause. Women begin to make less progesterone and estrogen around their mid-30s and much more so in menopause.
Women in perimenopause will start to notice theyre gaining weight around their midsection much easier than before . Hormonal fluctuations of estrogen lead to these increases in this unexplained weight gain. Sleep deprivation, loss of muscle mass, and worsening insulin sensitivity also lead to weight gain in the abdominal during this time.
Women in menopause also have a worsening fat-burning metabolism so they wont be burning off as much as fat they used to . This is why lowering your calories too much can be worse for the belly. Itll cause women to lose more muscle plus lower fat-burning metabolism at the same time.
But this doesnt mean all hope is lost if youre suffering from menopausal belly fat. Studies have found postmenopausal women on hormonal replacement therapy ended up having a decrease in belly fat .
Eating a high protein diet, cutting sugars and carbs, lots of fiber, getting plenty of sleep, lowering stress levels, and working out with resistance training are proven ways to decrease the menopausal belly bulge.
From Birth Control
Most women do not experience increases in abdominal fat from taking birth control. Sudden weight gain due to fluid retention is a lot more common after taking birth control.
Keep Portions In Check And Time Your Meals Right
Your metabolism has slowed down by the time you hit menopause with some research suggesting it burns a couple hundred calories fewer a day. You can very quickly avoid 200 calories, but that can also very quickly add up if you dont reduce the number of calories you consume, says Christine Palumbo, RD, a nutrition expert in Chicago.
Its also this time in your life, Palumbo notes, when you may be easing up from the daily duties of preparing meals for your family, and you just want to take a break from the kitchen. She has cooked for 25 years, and is sick of it, and she just wants to go out to eat, says Palumbo. What happens then is that you will inevitably eat twice as many calories as you need at that meal, and its often accompanied by alcohol, which is also associated with abdominal weight gain. Order appetizers as entrees and ask for a to-go container for leftovers when you do indulge in a large main course.
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Youre Losing Your Hair
If your increased abdominal weight gain is coinciding with an accelerated rate of hair loss, your hormones might be to blame. Specifically, thyroid hormones help to regulate your body weight as well as your hair growth so an underactive thyroid could be the culprit of hormonal belly if youre experiencing issues with both simultaneously.
Because the relationship between metabolism, thyroid hormones, and weight is complex, the exact mechanism by which thyroid hormones cause weight changes isnt entirely understood. The most simple explanation is that when your thyroid isnt producing enough hormones, your metabolic rate slows down, reducing the number of calories your body burns on a daily basis, and often contributing to weight gain, particularly around your midsection.
However, it isnt thyroid hormones alone that play a role in how much energy your body uses. Thyroid hormones work synergistically with a number of other hormones, proteins, receptors, and chemical messengers in the body making it a layered process with other downstream effects on inadequate thyroid levels such as fatigue, hair loss, constipation, and low libido.
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How To Keep Estrogen At Optimal Levels
To balance estrogen levels naturally and prevent the weight gain that happens with an estrogen imbalance, youll want to do the following:
- Commit to a regular exercise routine. Many studies, including this 2012 one, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, explain how exercise lowers estrogen levels in obese women.
- Eat your fiber. Fibrous foods help decrease elevated estrogen levels.
- Eat veggies in the cruciferous family. These include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, and bok choy. Anything green and leafy is always a good idea, too!
- Reduce your exposure to endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with our natural hormones. Avoid plastic containers, cans, or water bottles made with BPA. Never microwave plastic.
- Choose organic foods when possible, and choose phthalate-free cosmetics and personal care products.
- Consider bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, which uses plant-based hormones identical to those produced naturally by the human body to keep hormones balanced.
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Shift Your Shape With More Movement
It is important to remember to take a reality check. You didnt get the excess weight overnight and youre not going to lose it all in a minute, advises Carol. She suggests if youre trying to lose belly fat, the best thing to do is start with cardiovascular exercises and activities that you love. If running on a treadmill is not your thing, then find a movement that brings you joy youll be more inclined to do it. Now, take your strength to the next level.
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Without Underlying Conditions: Nutrition Exercise Etc
Dr. Knopman is a fan of weight loss in the healthiest way possible, which involves focusing on nutrition best practices and staying away from fad diets. “Have all of the food groups but in moderation. If that means you have to go sit with a nutritionist and come up with a healthy diet for you, then do that,” she said. Check out foods that benefit your metabolism here .
Exercise is important too, Dr. Knopman said. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults do at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic workouts or 75 to 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week. HIIT, strength training, and cardio are most effective for targeting fat overall.
Stress, the two endocrinologists agreed, doesn’t help because the stress hormone cortisol can also contribute to belly fat. So, you may want to evaluate your lifestyle and see if you need to incorporate practices of self-care and get more sleep . For more on the basics of fat loss like eating in a caloric deficit, and staying active outside of the gym check out this easy-to-follow guide.
Up The Intensity Of Your Workout
Focus on increasing physical activity and building muscle to burn belly fat, recommends Reddy. Mild activity such as walking is poor at burning fat due to its low energy consumption whilst intense cardio training will consume energy and increase metabolic rate after exercise, he says.
When scientists from Canadas Laval University compared a 15-week HIIT programme and a 20-week endurance-training programme, they found the former was far more effective at stoking up the bodys metabolism, which resulted in greater fat loss.
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Your Weight Gain Is Only In Your Abdomen
Menopause puts your body through a whole host of changes, one of them commonly being weight gain. Why? Your production of estrogen, along with other hormones, takes a dip. Outside of menopause, low estrogen levels can be due to excessive exercise, disordered eating patterns, or pituitary gland issues. Decreased estrogen levels can change the fat distribution of your body, causing you to gain more in the belly as opposed to the hips, thighs, and buttocks. Estrogen deficiency can also impair the action of insulin, making it harder to regulate blood sugar and leading to increased hormonal belly fat and abdominal weight gain.
Melt away hormonal belly fat caused by low estrogen and insulin resistance by adopting a low carbohydrate eating plan, recommends Johnston. Between protein, fat and carbohydrates, carbs have the biggest impact on raising blood sugar and insulin levels, she says. Reducing high-carbohydrate foods such as refined sugars, breads, cookies, crackers, and pasta and boosting less insulin-stimulating foods rich in fiber, protein, and healthy fat can have a significant impact on your waistline.
Keep in mind that if your carb consumption dips too low, it can suppress your leptin levels and interfere with leptins ability to regulate your reproductive hormones so its important to keep some whole-food based sources of complex carbohydrates in the diet such as fruit, starchy vegetables, and whole grains.
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Focus On Lean Muscle Mass
As we age, many of us focus on cardiovascular physical activity, such as walking or running. However, its critically important we retain our lean muscle mass, as the more muscle mass we have, the more effective we are at burning calories, as well as burning fat, Carol explains. The most effective and lasting results for improved body composition come from regular strength training and a cardio strategy that includes both steady state-exercise and high-intensity interval training . Put all of this together on a regular basis, and youll set yourself up for long term success and sustained longevity.
The Drop In Estrogen Changes A Womans Shape
The natural drop in estrogen levels after menopause, cause natural pears to store more fat in the belly area and less in the lower body.
Both pears and apples easily gain stomach fat during and after menopause when high stress, inactivity, and poor eating habits are present.
While you cant turn back the hands of time on estrogen production, you can control some of the other hormonal imbalances that cause post-menopausal belly fat by reducing stress, getting adequate sleep, exercising, and most importantly changing the foods you eat.
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Youve Got Sugar On The Brain
Were not talking about wanting a cookie now and then. But if you cant deal without your sugar top-up each day, step back and ask yourself why. Cravings are often an early clue to hormone issues.
You may have leptin resistance. Remember, leptin is the hormone that helps regulate your appetite. It tells your brain when your belly is full. If your body starts ignoring leptins messages, thats called leptin resistance.
Researchers know that leptin resistance leads to weight gain. Talk to your doctor if you dont feel full even after big meals. Leptin resistance could be a problem, and it could be leading to overeating.
It could be an insulin issue. Another hormonal cause of belly fat? Insulin imbalance. Wild sugar cravings, sudden weight gain, and lack of focus could all indicate insulin issues. There are natural ways to lower insulin, but its also a concern you should bring up with your doctor.
Theres no magic fix for hormonal weight gain. Your game plan depends on which hormones are wonky and why. But these five tactics are a good place to start.
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