Any woman who has approached midlife will tell you that maintaining weight as we age is difficult. It seems that the older we get, the more stubbornly our belly fat insists on sticking around. Why do women have a harder time keeping a flat stomach as menopause approaches? Is there any way to fight back against menopausal weight gain?
Hormonal changes actually begin to affect a woman's body years before menopause. As progesterone levels drop, estrogen becomes the dominant hormone in the body. Estrogen, unfortunately, interferes with the body's ability to break down fat, encourages belly fat storage, and causes the thyroid to reign in metabolism. All of this adds up to fewer calories burned and more fat stored.
Regular exercise—daily if possible—is an important part of preventing weight gain in women as they age. However, exercise may not be as effective for fighting belly fat as stress reduction and a healthy diet. Avoiding processed foods and refined sugars can help, as well as consuming foods that specifically help get rid of excess estrogen. Green leafy vegetables, root vegetables and seeds can be especially helpful at limiting your daily calorie intake and lowering estrogen levels. It's important to note that long-term diet changes rather than temporary fad diets are the only way to significantly reduce your risk of midlife weight gain.