Unfortunately, belly fat – or the infamous menopot - is something that many of us battle as we enter perimenopause. That’s important since belly fat has been linked to health issues, such as heart disease and inflammation. So I was interested in learning more about what belly fat is and how to conquer it.
First let’s talk about what causes gains in the waist area. According to "YOU: Staying Young" by Dr. Michael Roizen and Dr. Mehmet Oz, "When it comes to waist gain, progesterone deficiency may be to blame. Progesterone increases basal body temperature, which burns calories. No ovulation, no progesterone, no increased temperature, fewer calories burned. Those calories can add up to several pounds a year." The challenge that these additional pounds present, according to Dr. Roizen and Dr. Oz, is that often they are stored as fat in an organ called the omentum (located in the belly). Although originally used by our ancestors to get past periods of famine, we now often overeat due to chronic stress and then store the resulting fat in the omentum to access for energy. Additionally, the steroids released by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis also enter the omentum and help it grow. This proves to be damaging since the toxins from the omentum fat are sent directly into surrounding organs. Thus, the omentum fat can create an inflammatory process that irritates arteries and increases the risk of blockage. "Belly fat becomes a serious issue at midlife - it increases heart disease risk by raising blood pressure, blood sugar, triglycerides and inflammation," Dr. Nieca Goldberg said in More magazine’s "Five Foods That Fight Belly Fat."
Food for Thought
So let’s discuss what you can do. First of all, diet is really important; according to the More article, certain kinds of proteins, fats, vitamins and antioxidants seem to help stop belly fat. These foods include:
Cooked tomatoes, which have carotenoids, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and lycopene. These nutrients become more potent when cooked.
Mushrooms, which contain vitamin D. Additionally, Sun-Bella mushrooms are being exposed to ultraviolet light, which increases the quantity of vitamin D. Researchers have found that without enough vitamin D in the bloodstream, weight loss (especially of fat) becomes more difficult.
Raspberries, which have 50 percent high antioxidants than strawberries and which have one antioxidant - raspberry ketone - that helps fight belly fat. Raspberries also are high in fiber.
Coconut oil, which has higher levels of good HDL, also was found to reduce body weight, body fat, waist circumference and visceral fat in women with high triglycerides.
Alaska Pollock - Based on a Japanese study, this fish was found to inhibit visceral fat and lower blood insulin levels.
In addition, Dr. Oz ecommends eating high-fiber foods (whole grains and fruit) which help you feel full while lowering caloric intake.
Move to Remove
More.com’s article "The New Way to Burn Belly Fat:Two Exercise Strategies " suggests high-intensity exercise is best because it triggers hormones that make fat available for energy. The recommended routine is adding 2-3 sprint-interval sessions a week on alternate days to two longer workouts that are more leisurely. In addition, the article suggests abdominal exercises, although not sit-ups and crunches (which aren’t as effective as were once thought). Instead, the article suggests five moves - the front plank, the bicycle, the ball crunch, the boat pose, and the bird dog. These exercises are designed to challenge the abs from different angles.
It’s no surprise that exercise and diet are the two main ways to stop a menopot from forming since these are the basis of all weight loss plans. However based on the research of the potential health hazards from the placement of this extra weight, this particular battle is one that each of needs to fight.
Dorian Martin writes about various topics for HealthCentral, including Alzheimer’s disease, diet/exercise, menopause and lung cancer. Dorian is a health and caregiving advocate living in College Station, TX. She has a Ph.D. in educational human resource development. Dorian also founded I Start Wondering, which encourages people to embrace a life-long learning approach to aging. She teaches Sheng Zhen Gong, a form of Qigong. Follow Dorian on Twitter at @dorianmartin, Facebook or Instagram at @doriannmartin.