“Text highlighting that while age brings wisdom, confidence, and meaningful relationships, these benefits can be overshadowed by menopause symptoms like night sweats, mood swings, and weight gain. Image shows a woman sitting with a thoughtful expression, resting her arm on her knee.”

So many good things come with age, like wisdom, confidence, and deeper, more meaningful relationships. But for women of a particular age, these good things are often overshadowed by night sweats, mood swings, and weight gain. 

Yes, we’re talking about menopause. Because, frankly, more people should! After all, it is an inevitable part of life for half our population, and our silence only promotes the idea of “suffering through it,” when the truth is, there are so many solutions out there that can help you overcome some of the most frustrating symptoms, including weight gain around the belly! Here, we’ll be sharing what causes weight gain during menopause, particularly around the stomach, and what steps you can take to start feeling like yourself again. 

Exploring the Connection Between Menopause & Belly Fat

“Text explaining that menopause belly fat can be caused by declining estrogen, increased stress, and changes in sleep patterns, leading to abdominal fat accumulation and increased cortisol production. Image shows a person pinching their belly fat while holding a measuring tape.”

As for why some women see an increase in belly fat during menopause, it’s kind of a triple whammy. There’s the fluctuation in hormones, but also how this fluctuation can affect your sleep and your overall mood. Let’s break each one down, starting with hormonal changes. 

During menopause, your estrogen levels are declining. And hormones like estrogen don’t just influence your reproductive system. According to the Mayo Clinic, it can also influence where fat is located in the body, and a lower level of estrogen has been linked with more fat accumulation in the abdominal area, which can explain why your jeans are feeling tighter despite no other changes in diet or exercise. 

But as you probably know, the hormonal imbalances of menopause can be felt in other ways, too, like increased stress and mood swings. This increased stress can trigger cortisol production, which can affect the GI system and contribute to weight gain1

Lastly, menopause can also lead to changes in sleep patterns due to hot flashes and night sweats, and menopausal or not, sleep deprivation has been linked to a decrease in quality of life and an increased risk of obesity. 

If you do feel like the symptoms of menopause, like mood swings and night sweats, may be contributing to your weight gain, talk to your doctor about hormone replacement therapy or HRT. HRT can help reduce these symptoms and make weight management easier throughout menopause. 

Understanding the Cause of Belly Fat

“Text explaining that belly fat and weight gain can increase due to menopause and aging, influenced by genetics, lifestyle choices, and metabolic slowdown. Illustration includes a blue bathroom scale.”

Not only can your belly fat increase due to menopause, but weight gain is more likely as you age generally. This is due to a few factors, including genetics, lifestyle choices, and metabolic slowdown. 

Let’s start with metabolic slowdown. As you age, particularly during and after menopause, your metabolic rate decreases. This is because, typically, what happens as you age is that you lose muscle and gain fat. With less muscle mass, you burn fewer calories, which makes it more likely that you will gain weight if lifestyle and dietary habits are not adjusted. 

We also understand it can be hard to adjust your lifestyle, as people tend to naturally become less active as they age (that’s the lifestyle piece we were referring to earlier), which is why we offer some attainable suggestions later in the article. 

For now, though, we do want to mention that genetics can play a role a person’s weight gain later in life, but these can be offset through some of the lifestyle changes we will dive into later. 

The Health Dangers of Menopause Belly Fat

“Text explaining that belly fat, also known as visceral fat, is linked to higher risks of stroke and heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in postmenopausal women. Illustration includes a detailed image of a heart.”

Before we dive into these lifestyle changes, we want to take a second to talk about why they are so important. Yes, weight gain can impact your confidence, which is a good enough reason to keep belly fat under control. But belly fat in particular can be especially dangerous to your health. 

Belly fat, also known as visceral fat, is linked with higher risks of stroke and heart disease. And given that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in postmenopausal women, those risks cannot be ignored. 

Belly fat also increases the risk of developing insulin resistance, which causes Type 2 diabetes, as well as the risk of cancers, including breast and colorectal cancer. 

We know you have big plans for this phase in your life, and good health is the key to accomplishing them!

The Right Foods to Eat and Avoid for a Menopause Belly

“Text advising to eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes to manage menopause belly fat. It recommends balancing complex carbohydrates with proteins and healthy fats, and considering foods high in probiotics. Illustration includes various fruits and vegetables.”

Healthy eating during menopause looks a lot like healthy eating at any point in your life, but there are some types of foods to be especially mindful of if you are trying to avoid or combat “menopause belly”. 

The first is to reduce your intake of high-calorie, high-sugar foods. Again, this is good advice at any point in your life, but especially during menopause,  foods high in refined sugars and fats can contribute to belly fat due to the decrease in your overall metobolic rate. 

As for what to eat, focus on eating lots fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Don’t attempt diets that cut out carbs entirely, but rather look to balance complex carbohydrates with proteins and healthy fats, like those from avocados

Along with general macronutrients like carbs, protein, and fat,  menopausal women should also consider foods high in probiotics. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that keep your gut and vaginal microbiomes operating as they should2, and the health of these microbiomes can be jeopardized by changes in estrogen levels. 

Dietary sources of probiotics include classics like yogurt, as well as:

These probiotic-rich foods can also be supported through prebiotic-rich foods like: 

  • Chicory Root
  • Leeks
  • Asparagus
  • Jerusalem Artichoke 
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Barley 
  • Oats
  • Legumes
  • Soybeans
  • Whole Grains3

All of these contain fibers that probiotics like to eat, making it more likely that the probiotics will actually populate the microbiomes affected by changing hormones in menopause. 

“Text advising to reduce intake of high-calorie, high-sugar foods to avoid menopause belly fat, as these foods can contribute to belly fat due to a decrease in metabolic rate. Illustration includes a soda can, a donut, and a pastry.”

Exercise – Your Secret Weapon Against Menopause Belly Fat

“Text discussing combating menopause belly fat with exercise, including aerobic exercises for cardiovascular health, resistance training for muscle mass and metabolic rate, and yoga or Pilates for flexibility and stress reduction. Illustrations include a heart, a dumbbell, and a person meditating.”

Of course, healthy eating is only one piece of the puzzle here when it comes to solving belly fat issues. The other important piece is exercise. There are several types of exercise women should consider during menopause when it comes to combatting belly fat and overall weight gain, with the first being aerobic exercises. 

Aerobic exercises are those that get your heart pumping and work your cardiovascular system. This is important for preventing cardiovascular disease (which, as you might remember, is the #1 cause of death in postmenopausal women). If you are thinking, “But I don’t want to go for a run,” the good news is that you don’t have to. Aerobic exercise can involve running, but it can also include walking, cycling, rowing,  and swimming. These exercises can also help burn more calories to compensate for a slowing metabolism. 

Resistance training, also known as strength training, is another important kind of exercise, especially as you age. These kinds of exercises increase your muscle-mass, which increases your metabolic rate and can aid fat loss in the abdominal area. TRX and weight lifting are both good examples of resistance training. 

Lastly, exercises like yoga and Pilates are essential as you age for maintaining flexibility and balance, but they can also help you reduce stress that may be contributing to weight gain. 

If you are newer to exercise, talk to your doctor before starting a new routine to make sure you are doing it safely and preventing injury. 

Track Activities and Meal Times

“Text suggesting tracking activities and meals using apps to stay motivated and honest about calorie intake. Illustration includes a plate with a fork and knife arranged in an ‘X’ shape.”

When you do implement these changes to your diet and exercise routine, it can be helpful to track your activities and your meals through one of the many tracking apps that are available. While it may seem tedious to think about tracking all this information, many people report that it actually helps motivate them to move more and keeps them honest when it comes to their calorie intake. 

Along with tracking your meals, it can help to create a structured meal schedule. Eating meals at regular times every day can help to regulate your metabolism and also prevent unnecessary snacking, both of which are crucial for menopausal women looking to reduce belly fat. 

The Positive Effect of Stress Management on Menopause Belly Fat

“Text explaining that stress can affect brain, mood, sleep, immune system, and GI tract, contributing to weight gain. Stress management techniques like Tai Chi, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness are suggested. Illustrations include a stressed person holding their head and a calm person meditating.”

We briefly mentioned how yoga and Pilates can help reduce stress during menopause, but we want to dive into some other stress management techniques. Because let’s face it, menopause and all its symptoms can be stressful, nevermind stressors that may be coming from work and family life, too. 

And while some level of  stress may be unavoidable, chronic or high levels of stress can have serious health implications. Not only can stress affect your brain, your mood, and your sleep, but it can also affect your immune system, making you more prone to all kinds of infections, as well as your GI tract, contributing to weight gain. 

Common (and scientfically proven!) stress management techniques include things like:

  • Tai Chi
  • Yoga
  • Meditation & mindfulness
  • Therapy4

But everyone is different. Some people find a lot of comfort from hobbies like painting or even just going for daily walks. If you feel like stress is impacting your life, even a little bit, play around with some different stress management techniques to find the one or ones that work best for you. 

Supplemental Solutions to Menopause Belly Fat

“Text advising to talk to your doctor about natural solutions for menopause symptoms, such as herbal teas that support metabolism and reduce bloating. Image includes a cup of tea with a lemon slice.”

If you are struggling with belly fat or other uncomfortable menopause symptoms, talk to your doctor about natural solutions that can help. For example, certain hebal teas have been shown to both support metabolism and reduce bloating, which can decrease belly fat. 

But there are also supplements you can take  that can help to balance your hormone levels, which not only can help reduce weight gain, but other uncomfortable symptoms of menopause. Happy V’s Menopause Relief is one of these supplements. In fact, it is doctor-formulated to increase estrogen metabolism, thanks to clinically proven ingredients like DIM, Black Cohash, and patented Spruce Norway. With your hormones back in balance, side effects of low estrogen like weight gain, hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings can start to diminish, too, leaving you feeling like your confident, powerful self again. 

When to Consult Your Doctor For Menopause Belly Fat

“Text advising to consult your doctor if diet, exercise, and daily probiotics aren’t reducing belly fat, or if experiencing unexplained weight gain. Illustration includes a female doctor holding a clipboard and smiling.”

If you feel like you have been tracking your diet and exercise and taking daily probiotics to reduce your belly fat and still aren’t seeing results, or if you ever have unexplained weight gain,  reach out to your doctor for their advice. They may have other suggestions or resources you can turn to. 

Also, if you ever feel like your menopause symptoms are interfering with your daily life, please reach out to your doctor. There is a myth that women need to “suffer through it” when it comes to menopause, but this really isn’t true. Your healthcare provider will be able to work with you to reduce your symptoms and get you feeling a lot more comfortable. And frankly, you deserve nothing less.