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Getting Rid Of Menopausal Belly Fat After Age 50
Each phase of our life brings new challenges. For women over fifty, one of the challenges can be described as stubborn fat around the abdominal area. With our metabolism slowing down naturally with age, more sedentary lifestyles and increasing hormonal changes due to menopause, we tend to store more fat around the waist. The good news is that this fat can be reduced, but it takes a combination of lifestyle changes and dedication to keep it from coming back.
Unfortunately, muscle mass gradually decreases with age, so fat increases as a percentage of your total body weight. With less muscle mass, the rate at which your body uses calories, or your metabolism, slows down. When you take in more calories than you burn, fat increases. If you consume the same number of calories as you did when you were younger and more active, and you lead a more sedentary lifestyle, you will store fat. Factors that affect how much energy you burn are genetic and hormonal. Women going through menopause will produce more estrogen because the cells are alerted that the ovaries are not producing enough. This results in cells storing fat to produce more estrogen. When the estrogen is produced, your metabolism slows down, and the fat cells are not converted into energy. You’re left with stubborn belly fat.
Abdominal fat just below the skin is subcutaneous fat. It is a cosmetic concern, but does not necessarily pose health problems. Visceral fat lies deep in the abdomen, surrounding the body’s internal organs. An excess amount of visceral fat produces hormones that can raise blood pressure, change cholesterol levels and possibly make the body insulin resistant, resulting in type 2 diabetes. Excessive amounts of either type of fat will increase estrogen levels and can cause cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer. You can’t change the aging process or genetic factors, but there are things you can do to get rid of belly fat and keep it off after fifty years.
Because your metabolism is slower with age, you don’t need as many calories per day, so lower your caloric intake. The US Department of Agriculture specifies that people over fifty only need 1600-2000 calories per day. If you start with a good breakfast, and fewer calories more often, this seems to help. When you eat more often, you trick your body by not giving your hormones a chance to signal to your brain that you’re hungry. Also, smaller meals more often keep your blood sugar stable. You’ll get the same number of calories, just at different intervals. A slow diet will cause your body to store more fat for later because your metabolism will slow down more because your body is signaling that you need nourishment, so it would defeat the purpose. Improved diets include eating more whole grains, plant-based foods, fruits, and vegetables, and cutting back on foods high in cholesterol, saturated fat, and sugar. If you eliminate any of these foods, however, your body will be signaled, and more fat will be stored, so do not stop eating.
Physical activity is critical if you want to rid your body of abdominal fat. Strength training, also called resistance training, is the best way to get rid of fat in a certain area of the body. Strength training promotes the formation of muscle, and increased muscle mass boosts your body’s metabolism, in turn burning calories or fat. Resistance training exercises can be isotonic, where the body part moves against a force, or isometric, where the body part is stationary against a gravitational force. Isotonic exercise would be lifting a weight repeatedly, and isometric involves positioning your body in a certain way to stretch muscles, but no body movement involved. These types of strength exercises will tone muscles and increase bone mass. Resistance bands, exercise machines, weight machines, exercise bikes, treadmills, elliptical trainers, or stair climbers, and swimming machines can be used.
Exercise that is at least moderately intense, or enough to make you sweat, and enough to raise your heart and breathing rate is necessary to shrink those fat cells. It is suggested that you exercise for thirty minutes at least five times a week to promote an overall healthy body. To burn those fat cells, you will need to increase to sixty minutes each day. In addition to cutting calories, the additional exercise will increase your metabolism, and burn fat, shrinking fat cells. For women, it is suggested that a waist measurement of 35 inches or more may indicate an unhealthy concentration of abdominal fat.
Stress can be another contributing factor to stubborn fat. If you are stressed, your body produces cortisol, and excessive amounts can cause your body to be insulin resistant. You may want to try meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or just walk away from it. Many of us, when we are stressed, eat. You need to have a stress outlet that doesn’t involve food. If you are not used to doing this, remind yourself that in stressful situations, you will turn to a form of exercise. Dieting can be stressful in itself. If you focus too much on what you can’t eat, you’ll probably crave it more. Change your mind by exercising, or doing stress management exercises.
Stubborn, belly fat weight loss will require more dedicated effort and long-term lifestyle change. The most important thing to start with is a visit to your doctor. It is important to rule out another cause of the fat, such as thyroid disease. Your doctor will be able to suggest an exercise regimen that you can live with, making sure it’s safe for you to do these exercises. Remember that you require fewer calories, due to a slower metabolism. Change your diet, but don’t exclude food groups. Avoid alcoholic beverages that are high in calories and low in nutritional value. Losing that dreaded belly fat after fifty requires dedication, lifestyle changes, education and most of all, patience. Life after fifty is just another journey, and you can lose the bulge if you commit to the effort.
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