How to Get Rid of Menopause Belly

Menopause brings many bodily changes, one of which is weight gain, particularly in the midsection. Menopause weight gain is normal, but this doesn't mean you have to resign yourself to live with it.

This article explains the causes and risks of menopause belly as well as safe ways to get rid of it.

A person with brown skin squeezes their exposed belly

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What Causes Menopause Belly?

Menopause weight gain centered in the midsection is common. That’s because, during this stage of life, age-related, hormonal, and lifestyle factors all contribute to weight gain. These factors include:

Risks of Menopause Weight Gain

Although weight gain during and after menopause is normal, health risks associated with abdominal obesity include:

How Do You Get Rid of Menopause Belly?

Menopause weight gain can trigger negative body image feelings. You can take control of these feelings and improve your self-image by getting more exercise, eating a well-balanced diet, and managing stress.

Exercise

Exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy body, including a healthy weight. During menopause, it can help you lose belly fat.

Researchers evaluated three studies on exercise as a weight-loss method in menopausal people. Participants who exercised and had dietary interventions were more likely than control group members to have lost weight, reduced their waist measurements, and decreased their body mass index (BMI) at 54 months. 

People often ask their healthcare provider about the "best" exercise to undertake. In fact, the best exercise is the one you enjoy doing. You're more likely to approach it with a positive attitude and stick with it. If you're still stumped, try cardiovascular exercises like walking, biking, endurance sports, and dancing to burn calories. Then add resistance activities, like weights, to build and preserve muscle mass.

Use an Activity Tracker

An activity tracker or step counter can be an excellent way to monitor your activity level throughout the day. By watching your activity, you can get an objective look at how active (or sedentary) you are. Then you can set informed goals for moving more. 

Diet

As you age, you may find that you can’t consume as many calories as you used to without gaining weight. This means you’ll need to reduce your caloric intake, increase the calories you burn, or both to maintain or lose weight. Often, increasing the amount of plant-based foods you eat can help, such as eating more fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains while decreasing your meat intake.

One study evaluated the effects of the Mediterranean diet on weight loss in people experiencing menopause. This diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and olive oil. The study found that a Mediterranean diet caused people to lose fat while maintaining muscle mass.

Calorie-Burning Slows Down

After menopause, people tend to burn at least 200 fewer calories per day.

Managing Stress 

Stress appears to directly correlate to weight gain, specifically weight stored in the belly. Researchers have found that cortisol, a hormone released with stress, leads to the accumulation of fat in the abdomen. Therefore, reducing stress can reduce this effect.

Stress often affects eating habits, as well. For example, when you feel stressed about your schedule, you may resort to eating more processed, prepared foods to save time. You may also turn more frequently to eating for comfort.

To manage stress, consider any obligations you could let go of to reduce your mental load. And try incorporating mindfulness practices like yoga or meditation into your routine.

Cosmetic Procedures 

Along with lifestyle changes, some people use medical interventions that target belly fat. These may include:

Heed the Risks

As with any surgery, cosmetic procedures to remove belly fat carry risks. These include risks associated with anesthesia, the surgery itself, and infection. Carefully consider all the pros and cons of cosmetic procedures.

Can You Prevent Menopause Belly?

Since belly fat is a common menopause symptom, it may not be entirely possible to prevent. This said, not everyone gains weight in the abdomen during menopause.

However, the same tips for losing menopause belly apply to preventing it, too. Eating a nutritious diet, reducing caloric intake, increasing physical activity, and reducing stress can help you maintain a healthy weight as you go through menopause. 

Summary

A common menopause symptom is weight gain in the midsection. Low estrogen, reduced activity, and fewer calories burned as you age cause this added weight. Although expected, retaining excess weight in the abdomen carries health risks, so it's best to work to maintain a healthy weight as you approach or go through menopause. To help prevent or reduce menopause belly, increase your activity level, follow a nourishing diet (like the Mediterranean diet), and reduce stress.

A Word From Verywell

Believe it or not, doing abdominal exercises to get rid of belly fat may be overrated. Studies have found that it's more productive to reduce your calorie intake. You'll lose weight everywhere, including your belly.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the average weight gain during menopause?

    On average, people gain 1.5 pounds a year in their 50s and 60s. About three-quarters of them have excess weight and half are obese. Consult a handy chart from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to learn if you're underweight, of healthy weight, overweight, or obese.

  • Does menopause weight gain go away?

    Menopause weight gain often appears without any apparent behavior change. But it doesn't go away on its own. Instead, like any other weight loss, losing menopause weight requires you to expend more calories than you take in.

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7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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