Big surprise, the loss of estrogen is the main driver of belly fat. In fact, 65% of women ages 40 to 59 are obese and so are nearly 74% of women 60 and older. During these years, women store the majority of their weight gain as abdominal fat, also called visceral adipose tissue.
This isn’t the fat under the skin that you can pinch; it’s behind the abdominal wall and around some of your vital organs. Complete loss of estrogen causes visceral fat to increase by 10% in just 5 months. Remember those apple and pear shaped body type comparisons? This is the apple – the shape that you don’t want.
The concern is that this kind of fat is associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cognitive decline and other chronic health issues. It also produces large amounts of a protein that can turn a healthy cell cancerous. That’s no bueno.
What triggers this uptick in belly fat?
🌀 A slowed metabolic rate – Without estrogen, the resting metabolic rate goes down about 50 calories a day. Over the years, postmenopausal women can gain dozens of pounds through a lowered metabolic rate alone.
🌀 A changed fat cell type – These visceral fat cells come from bone marrow stem cells and are more likely to produce cytokines, which cause inflammation and reduce insulin sensitivity, increasing risk of type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
🌀 Disrupted sleep patterns – Night sweats, insomnia and hot flashes can disrupt your sleep, inviting cortisol (the stress hormone) to show up in the morning to ruin your day. With excess cortisol you can expect: increased appetite, cravings for high-carb foods and a tendency to overeat, not to mention a hotter temper.
🌀 Reduced activity – Decreased estrogen tends to make us more sedentary, but most importantly, decline in exercise exacerbates loss of muscle mass. Muscle mass determines our metabolic rate so with less of it, we get a lower metabolic rate and more belly fat.
This is why it’s not just what you eat, but also lifestyle factors and movement that are needed to lose weight and promote health for longevity. I’ve got you covered in my programs!
Still, if nothing else, start with my free “Just.ONE.Thing.” in the Resource Library. It’s a TED talk video to watch and takes about 20 minutes. It ties in with what I talked about above and can make a big difference without changing WHAT you are eating.
I’m Coach Cherie Ó and I work with women just like you, using eating, movement and lifestyle changes to bring out that super-woman inside. You may not be able to leap tall buildings, but you will feel body confident in your super, sexy bad-ass self to take on whatever comes your way, even if its just enjoying life to the fullest in your Second Half. 🧡