When talking to any woman, especially women over 40, their biggest complaint about gaining or losing weight is the dreaded OVER 40 BELLY FAT or perimenopause belly fat! Whether you call it “love handles” or “muffin top”, we all have it and some may have more than others. We all want to know what causes it, how to get rid of it and keep it off and if there are any health risks associated with too much belly fat.
Belly fat is a dangerous type of fat especially in women over 40. The more you understand the effects of having excessive belly has on your health and what causes belly fat the you can decrease your chances of getting health related diseases caused by perimenopausal belly fat. As women over 40, you can expect your waistline to expand as you get older especially when you reach perimenopause which can start as early as age 35 in some women and go through menopause. As you age, your body fat will begin to shift from your hips and thighs and start to accumulate around your midsection because your estrogen levels are decreasing. For women over 40 to be successful in losing that dreaded over 40 perimenopausal belly fat and decrease the risk of serious health problems, you have to first understand what belly fat is and what causes it.
What is Belly Fat?
Belly fat contains subcutaneous fat which is fat that is found just beneath the skin. If you were to grab the skin on your belly or “pinch an inch” you would be grabbing subcutaneous fat. Subcutaneous fat is more cosmetic. Another type of belly fat is visceral fat and is considered the most harmful form of fat.
Visceral fat is more dangerous of the two and is found beneath the muscle tissue and accumulates around your internal organs. When you have an excessive amount of visceral fat, it begins to produce hormones and other substances that can increase your blood pressure and affect your cholesterol and can cause insulin resistance. When you have excess deposits of visceral fat you are prone to more serious health problems including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and predisposed to certain cancers like breast cancer and colorectal cancer. Also too much fat can also affect your estrogen levels and cause hormonal imbalance. As women get older, especially women over 40, the risk of gaining belly fat increases and so does the risk factors of its adverse affect on your health. By understanding what causes belly fat, women over 40 have a better chance of losing it, improving their overall health and keeping it off.
What causes belly fat?
Although there are many factors that can cause perimenopausal belly fat in women, there are a some causes that stand out that you can immediately begin to address. Regardless of your age, we all know that you should eat a clean diet and exercise in order to lose weight including belly fat. Some women over 40 may also not know that your hormones and stress can cause you to gain belly.
Poor diet & lack of exercise
Many factors can cause an increase in over 40 belly fat in women and poor diet and lack of exercise are contributing factors. One thing I’ve always stressed in my blog posts is that as you age your metabolism starts to slow down due to muscle loss. When you consume too many carbs in your diet, the carbs that are not burned through exercise or your daily routine will be stored in your body as belly fat. This is why poor diet and lack of exercise is one of the main causes of the over 40 belly fat syndrome. When you change your diet and start to exercise you’ll begin to lose weight immediately.
In addition to poor diet and lack of exercise, the decrease or increase in estrogen along with other hormonal changes, as women over 40 begin to enter perimenopause and menopause, can contribute to over 40 belly fat. Hormonal imbalance can cause women to have extra fat around their midsections. This is the most difficult to lose and requires a specific diet to help balance hormones. For women over 40, like me, who struggle to lose weight especially belly fat, hormones are a contributing factor. Your hormones can control where your fat is stored, slowing metabolism as well as your cravings. Even if you’re exercising and eating a clean diet, unbalanced hormones will still keep you from getting rid of your belly fat and reaching your goals.
Maintaining a regular exercise regimen can help with relieving stress. When you are continuously stressed out your body produces a stress hormone called cortisol. Too much cortisol in your body increases your appetite and your food cravings and causes you to lose muscle mass which is important because “muscle burns fat”. Studies have shown that too much stress can cause an increase in belly fat especially perimenopausal belly fat. Even if you’re slim, if you’re stressed out, you will still have abdominal fat. Eliminate your stressors which will reduce the amount of cortisol your body produces thereby eliminating your over 40 belly fat.
Are you at risk?
How would you know if you were at risk of serious health problems associated with excessive belly fat? Whether you’re a woman over 40 or not, if your waist measures greater than 35 inches you have a higher concentration of belly fat and you’re are at risk of getting heart disease, type 2 diabetes, or high blood pressure and certain cancers. If you are at risk of any of the diseases associated with perimenopausal belly fat, don’t worry you can still reduce your risk by making small changes to your diet and adding exercise to your daily routine.
What can you do about it?
First, you can decide that you’re fed up and ready to make a change. Next you can stop making excuses. Lastly, you can get started to transforming your health so you can transform your life and join my free H.E.A.L challenge group. According the Center for Disease Control 34.9% of American adults are obese, you do not have to be one of them. Losing weight is not easy. You can start by making changes to your diet and getting active. If you’re not used to working out and don’t know where to start then I recommend the 21 Day Fix. This program teaches you how to eat and what to eat and the workout is only 30 minutes a day and there’s a modifier for all of the moves. This is the perfect workout for someone starting out.