How to Get Rid of Menopause Belly? Tips for a Flatter Stomach

Last updated 11.30.2023 | by Sabrina Johnson | 10 Minutes Read

This article has been reviewed and fact checked by Dr. Karen Pike, a senior physician administrator and board-certified emergency room doctor actively working in northern California. Read more at our medical disclaimer page.


The findings of a study on weight gain during menopause amazed me immensely. It mentioned that while transitioning into menopause, women are likely to gain a pound a year. The weight gained on average varies from one woman to another, depending on several factors. However, approximately 20% of the women may gain around ten pounds or even more than that in perimenopause. 

If I were to tell you my story, here’s how it goes. My anxiety knew no bounds the day I realized that M-sized clothes fit me more comfortably than the S-sized ones that I usually wore. It all started in the 40s. Till then, I would proudly flaunt my lean frame. I eventually realized that belly fat was becoming an issue. My mood swings and anxiety levels were so high that I would often binge eat. That added to my woes. I am sure I wasn’t the only one facing this ordeal. 

The additional pounds you put on in menopause mostly accumulate around your tummy, making it bulge.

Even if one has always had a flat tummy, menopause often causes women to notice a slight bulge peeking out of their trousers or pants, and that’s the sign of a menopausal belly.

Are you in your 40s? Do you find your belly bulging out of late? You must be worrying about the same, right? To help you understand better, I have included facts about menopausal weight gain. You will get to understand the reason why women gain weight in menopause. The article also covers ways to manage a menopausal belly. I hope it will help.

Why Do Women Develop Belly Fat During Menopause?

If you have had a lean frame throughout, the accumulation of fat around your belly when you are nearing menopause could certainly be worrisome. Before you put all the blame on the hormones, let me tell you that’s not the only reason. There are other causes as well. Let’s take a look at them.

Hormonal Changes

As a woman approaches menopause, the estrogen levels drop, and there is an increase in the levels of a hormone known as androgen. These changes in hormonal levels can often lead to weight gain. With the loss of muscle mass, your metabolism slows down as well.

Witnessing hunger in a new way is not uncommon for menopausal women because of hormonal imbalances. One might notice they are beginning to crave different kinds of foods, much like in the same manner when periods make you want to reach for food items that are sweet, salty, and rich in carbs.

Shift in Body Mass

During and after menopause, a person’s body shape changes, which is a natural occurrence. The fat that is present in an individual’s thighs and butt could shift to their belly, and they could notice that although their weight hasn’t increased, they aren’t able to fit into their old clothes in the same way. One of the main reasons for this is the low estrogen level. This causes increased fat accumulation in the abdominal region instead of the thighs and hips, leading to the customary menopausal belly. 

If we look at the stats, it says that 15-20% of the body fat in postmenopausal women comes from belly fat. Contrastingly, in premenopause, belly fat accounts for only 5-8% of the total body weight. Besides hormonal imbalances, diet and genetics are responsible for the menopausal belly. You will likely follow suit if your mom or aunt has belly fat. That’s why you must be super careful.

Aging

We mentioned the shift of body mass above due to hormonal imbalances. Another important aspect is the loss of muscle mass with age. As women age, they eventually begin losing muscle mass, which in turn slows down metabolism. When this happens, the body isn’t able to burn calories quickly. This triggers weight gain, especially if you do not watch out for your diet or pay attention to your exercise needs. 

Symptoms of Menopause

Sometimes, the hot flashes, night sweats, and sleep issues could be overwhelming to the extent that you miss out on paying attention to your diet. When you miss a good night’s sleep or are cranky, you might binge eat to feel better. If you do it regularly, then you could put yourself at risk of weight gain.

How to Get Rid of Menopause Belly?

How to Get Rid of Menopause Belly

Menopause belly doesn’t come with a warning, and it’s not easy to make it disappear. However, you can take a few steps to control belly fat. Weight gain during menopause can impact how someone feels about their body.

Listed below are the safe ways to get rid of menopause belly:

Change your Diet

There isn’t a particular diet that can help shed belly fat, which is why it’s vital to look at it holistically. Increasing the calories you burn on a daily basis becomes just as important as consuming fewer calories. A nutritionist once told me that when a woman is in her 50s, she must reduce her calorie intake. She even gave an estimated number, which should be 200 calories less than she consumed in her 20s or 30s. That could be challenging but possible.

  • Eat less sweets, processed foods, and meat. If red meat dominated your platter always, try replacing it with healthier options. How about seafood and fish? If we are to talk about sugary foods, that’s harmful as well. They are high in calories.
  • Shift more towards vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans.
  • Going for a Mediterranean diet helps in maintaining muscle mass. If you are wondering what that is, it’s a wholesome diet. It comprises fruits, veggies, beans, whole grains, nuts, and herbs.
  • Cut down on alcohol, as increased consumption could aggravate weight gain alongside other menopausal symptoms. 
  • Focus on frequent smaller meals.

Engage in Exercise

With the decrease in energy levels, women could find themselves not having the will to exercise, but engaging in physical activities is the only way to prevent fat from accumulating in different parts of your body.

A heavy workout isn’t always needed to accomplish this. Instead, even going on a daily walk can help you stay fit. Look for exercises that tighten and strengthen your abdomen muscles.

Try whatever you enjoy in terms of exercise, and keep changing up your routine every now and then to make it interesting. Burning calories becomes easier with cardiovascular exercises such as dancing, swimming, and biking.

Manage Stress Levels

Research suggests that fat accumulation in the abdomen can often happen due to the release of a hormone called cortisol, which results from stress. Stress is often connected to weight gain, including belly fat. Therefore, managing your stress levels can help control the situation.

Try to see how you can manage your stressful schedule, and also devote more time to meditation and yoga to help you practice mindfulness. Reaching out to a professional who works in the mental health field can also aid in identifying your stress factors and dealing with them efficiently. I began talking my woes to people who would understand to ease my stress. I joined many social platforms where I found women just like me battling it out with their anxiety and sleep. It calmed me immensely.

Get Enough Sleep

Stress can also be caused by a lack of sleep. Therefore, no matter how busy your routine is, make sure to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night.

By prioritizing your sleep, you get to enhance your mental health, which will ultimately work in your favor while trying to lose weight. Try taking magnesium or melatonin supplements if you have trouble falling asleep, not without the doctor’s consultation though. Also, reduce your screen time before going to bed.

Explore Cosmetic Procedures

In case you feel that the weight you have gained due to menopause isn’t going away and is making you feel self-conscious, you can ask your doctor about the safe cosmetic procedures you can explore to get rid of it. This can include liposuction or a tummy tuck.

There is also the option of CoolSculpting. It’s not as invasive as liposuction, and there is no scarring involved in it, either. It is, however, important to know that the effects of CoolSculpting will change with the changes in your body. I would still say that try natural ways at first. Those are the safest.

How to Prevent Menopause Belly?

Preventing menopause belly isn’t exactly possible since weight gain is a part of the package when it comes to going through the transition of menopause.

There are, however, a couple of steps one can take to prevent menopause from causing major changes to their bodily shape, and those steps include:

  • Staying active: Developing an active lifestyle can help control weight gain during menopause. Participate in physical activities about three to four times a week to remain healthy.
  • Quitting smoking: Smoking can increase the symptoms of menopause and affect your energy level. Smoking harms your body in many ways, and even more so as you age. Therefore, menopause is the ideal time to get rid of this habit so that your energy levels improve, which ultimately helps you to stay active.
  • Consulting a doctor: In case there are certain health concerns you’re experiencing, it’s better to discuss them with your doctor beforehand. They can help you stay aware of the changes that are about to happen so you can also prepare yourself mentally.

FAQs

What is a menopause belly?

Menopause belly isn’t a technical term. When fat accumulates around the abdominal areas during menopause, instead of the hips or thighs, it causes the stomach to bulge. That’s why it is called menopause belly.

Why do women develop a menopausal belly?

Women can develop menopause belly due to changes in metabolism, hormonal changes, and shifts in body mass.

Which exercises are helpful to lessen belly fat in menopause?

Aerobic exercises are effective in lessening belly fat formed due to menopause. The ones that rank high on the list include brisk walking, swimming, running, dancing, and strength training. 

What are the risks associated with increased menopausal belly fat?

Increased accumulation of belly fat could put you at risk of several health issues in the long run, like breathing difficulty, type 2 diabetes, and heart problems. Excessive weight gain may even put one at risk of endometrial, colon, and breast cancer. 

Can hormone replacement therapy help with menopausal weight gain?

Hormone replacement therapy has gained popularity with time due to its effectiveness in treating hot flashes and vaginal issues. When it comes to weight, HRT doesn’t bring in a change in weight. 
However, it helps in the redistribution of fat, which had till then only remained confined to the abdomen and belly because of menopause. HRT also improves sleep, allowing one to lead a healthy lifestyle and not compromise their diet by binge eating.

Conclusion

Once a woman approaches menopause, it’s vital to be prepared for the weight gain one might witness. Putting on weight is extremely common during this transition, and this weight is often reflected in a person’s belly.

The only way to reduce belly fat as a menopausal woman is by resorting to exercise, maintaining a stable diet, and managing your stress levels.

Suppose you still have concerns after making the necessary changes. In that case, it’s best to speak to your doctor to determine the next steps, especially if you’re considering going for a cosmetic procedure to get rid of belly fat.

Author

  • Sabrina Johnson

    Meet Sabrina Johnson, a compassionate author and a seasoned expert in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a driving force behind Simply Menopause, where her extensive medical knowledge and empathetic nature come together to empower women in their menopausal journey. Sabrina offers culturally sensitive guidance and support through her approachable writing, making her a trusted friend on the path to menopause wellness.