It is amazing: we eat the same, exercise the same, but the moment we come to a certain age, we start developing a belly, a spare tire and all that fat in the middle. Even people with normal weight have the same problem. That is going on? And even more importantly: can we do something bout it?
Menopause and hormones
We know better than all scientists that our hormones are out of whack while we are going through the menopause and from then on. After all, we have all those hot flashes to show for it. Unfortunately, the same hormone that make us suffer hot flashes and other menopause delights make us accumulate fat around the middle, exactly where we do not want it.
The first culprit is estrogen. It drops, since we do not need so much of it after we are not of child-baring age any more. Its decrease also changes how and were we store excess body fat. Before, we used to load it on the surface, where it can be seen, now we store it inside, around the organs. That other kind of fat is called visceral fat.
Other hormone that is out of balance during the menopause is leptin, an appetite suppressant. Leptin tells us when we are not hungry any more. Not enough of it, and we are hungry all the time. At the same time, ghrelin, an appetite stimulant, goes up. Add to that unholy mix cortisol, the stress hormone, which also goes up during menopause for logical reasons ” “ we are stressed, aren”t we, and we have all odds stacked against us.
Not without exercise
Of course, there is no reason to accept this situation lying down. Literally. Diet alone will not keep your belly fat off. You need to get off your armchair and get your heart rate up by 50 percents at least two to three times a week. You can do it jogging, biking, dancing, gardening or playing basketball with your kids. Just do it.
Interestingly, yoga seldom gets your heart rate up, but many yoga exercises are very effective for eliminating belly fat, and not only belly fat.
Is it belly fat or all fat?
When we are getting rid of our belly fat, we are actually getting rid of all fat, at least the type of fat that does not show on the surface ” “ visceral fat. Whatever you read, there is no such a thing as eliminating only fat on the belly. You can strengthen your stomach muscles and tighten your belly, so your belly looks flat, what is surely better than nothing. But, visceral fat will still be underneath.
Getting rid of your belly fat is not just a matter of vanity. Research shows that waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio can predict cardiovascular events such as heart attack. Excess visceral fat is linked to diabetes mellitus as well. The new research shows that belly fat increases a risk for bone loss: it adds fat to bone marrow and consequently reduces bone density.
Waste to hip ratio is a better way of evaluating your general health than body mass. Healthy waste to hip ratio for women is 0.8 and for men 0.9. Pear shaped people are healthier than apple-shaped people.
What to eat?
To get rid of belly fat, it is more important talking about what not to eat. Stay away from processed food that contains transfats. It means a life without store-bought cookies, pasta and crackers. Junk food in general is full of transfats. Take your fats from healthy sources such as nuts, seeds, avocados and olives.
Add some fiber to your meals every day. All fresh vegetables are rich in fiber. So is oatmeal and whole grains.
If you want to get rid of your belly fat for this bikini season, it might be a bit late, healthy changes take time to show effects. And anyway, at certain age, unless you are Jane Fonda, a nice, elegant one piece bathing suit is much more flattering.