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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Weight Control


Fight menopause belly fat


As many women know, it can be difficult not to gain weight as you near menopause. The weight gain can be attributed, in part, to the drop in estrogen and the slowdown in your metabolism that is brought on by menopause.


“Muffin tops aren’t funny to middle age women, and many struggle to find an effective way to fight it,” shares Susan Mills-Gray, Nutrition Specialist with University of Missouri Extension.


Commit to these five proven techniques to fight against the middle-aged spread.


  1. Get active. Daily exercise is crucial in the battle against belly fat. Focus on 30 minutes of brisk walking each day, and then add two to three 20-minute sessions of strength training each week. Both of these forms of physical movement build muscle, which helps boost metabolism.
  2. Get your zzzz’s. Family and work responsibilities combined with community involvement can leave you over-committed and working late at night to stay caught up. Also, many women have started “unwinding” via electronic social networks which trigger brain activity. Lack of sleep can be the result. Getting adequate sleep is absolutely necessary to fighting weight gain. Lack of sleep reduces the production of the appetite controlling hormone, leptin. Studies show that aiming for about 7 hours per night is best.
  3. Eat less. When you were in your 20’s and 30’s a periodic larger intake of calories didn’t result in as easy weight gain as you have experienced in your 40’s and 50’s. As you age, you have to eat less and move more in order to fight belly fat. Pay attention to how much you eat – 1600 to 1800 calories a day is a healthy goal for most women.
  4. Eat an early, light dinner. Menopause causes a slower metabolism. Combine that with a naturally occurring slower metabolism while we sleep and this means more calories are converted to fat. Make your evening meal your lightest meal of the day and try to not eat within three hours of bedtime.
  5. Seek support. Surround yourself with friends and loved ones who'll support your efforts to eat a healthy diet and increase your physical activity. Better yet, team up and make the lifestyle changes together.


For more information, contact your local MU Extension Center or contact Susan Mills-Gray directly at


Mayo Clinic


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Last update: Thursday, June 14, 2012