Fat around the waist is a common problem faced by many women in middle age. So first up – do not think you are alone in this fight. Many women who have been slim and fit throughout their early life suddenly find it difficult to keep the viscera fat off. That’s right, this fat is often called visceral fat since it concentrates around your middle. Now, why is this condition common to women in their middle ages? Well, it may seem coincidental, but it indeed isn’t. And losing it is a tad bit more difficult than weight in other parts of the body. And today we’ll be taking a look at both these aspects one by one…
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About the fat concentrated around your waist;
Firstly, it is essential to note what causes this deposition of fat around this part of your body. Well, the major causes are as follows:
- One major reason is menopause. As your body goes into menopause, the estrogen levels decrease. Now the body is used to certain amount of estrogen – and in its absence, the body tries to compensate. And one of the easiest ways is to store fat around the middle. The stored fat cells release estrogen – giving the body its quick fix!
- Another thing is that with age and menopause, the metabolism also slows down. Now slow metabolism and weight gain are a vicious downward spiral. Let’s explain why… with a slow metabolism, your body isn’t able to metabolize the sugars and carbohydrates in your food and stores these as fat. But with greater fat deposition, the metabolism only slows down further.
- And finally, most women face more stress at this age, and the menopause doesn’t make the situation any better. Stress leads to a flood of the stress hormone, cortisol, in your bloodstream. This hormone inhibits insulin. And in the absence of insulin, your body’s sugar metabolizing mechanism is compromised. And all the un-metabolized sugar just gets stored as fat!
So much for the major causes that are mainly common to middle aged women with an expanding waistline problem. But that is not all you need to know. There is in fact an even more important aspect to throw light on. And that is the health complications that arise from carrying a lot of weight around your waist:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Breast cancer
- Diabetes, the Type 2 kind.
All the above are serious health risks, as you can obviously tell. And there is no point in remaining vulnerable to these. Instead, it is time to take charge of your life and health and reverse the situation! And how will you do that? Read on…
The steps middle aged women should take to lose fat around the waist
We have separated it into points so you find it easier to follow. So let’s take a look now:
The first step is to be particular about what you eat and when you eat. Usually at this age, visceral fat is an indicator of your body getting too many calories – quite a bit of which it doesn’t need. While it metabolizes what it needs, the rest just gets stored as fat – and stored around your middle region. Now here are the dos and don’ts in a nutshell:
- Do not skip breakfast at any cost. When you do – your body goes into crisis mode and starts to conserve energy. And where does the calories and sugar that is not burnt go? To your waist as fat!
- Instead go for low carb fiber rich alternatives, like rye bread, oats porridge. And talk to your dietician about portion control.
- Also remember that nothing slows down your metabolism like 3 or fewer medium to big meals a day. You know what gives it a kick start? 6 nutritious but small meals spaced out through the day. Ideally have one snack between breakfast and lunch and 2 equally spaced out ones between lunch and dinner.
- Also pick healthy, low carb, high protein snacking options.
- Talking about carbs – you need to cut down on these. Carbs are the best source of energy and therefore calories. And when you have too much, most of it gets converted to fat. So pick vegetables that aren’t high carb – like bell peppers, beetroot, broccoli, lettuce, cucumber etc. Even when it comes to the grains, like rice, bread, and porridge, go for the high fiber whole grain options, rather than the refined white ones. Also remember to gradually reduce carbs – do not stop suddenly, as this will make you feel lethargic and sick.
- At the same time cut back on sugar. Sugar is the easiest way to put on weight!
- Protein is also an important element. Proteins, the lean ones of course, actually take longer to digest. As a result, in the process, they burn more calories. Another good news is that protein metabolism boosts production of a specific hormone called glucagon – that burns fat in the body! Now what proteins to consider? Low fat dairy, lean fish, skinless chicken are good choices.
- Cutting carbs does not necessarily mean cutting fats. This is because there are a number of essential vitamins in the body that are fat soluble, and in its absence cannot be used. But when choosing fats make healthy choices like fish oil, avocados, and nut oils. Avoid saturated fats, Trans fats, butter, clarified butter etc.
- Now we come to your meals. Do not eat on the go or in a hurry. Slow down, relax and eat at leisure. When you eat on the go, it triggers the fight or flight state of mind. This is essentially a crisis state and your body goes into save-fat-for-later mode. Also when it comes to dinner – eat early, so your body has enough time to digest it, before you hit the bed.
- Avoid smoking, too much coffee, and alcohol. You can have tea instead, as tea is good for you and doesn’t release any cortisol, either.
- Load up on fruits and veggies – these are the best source of nutrition, healthy fiber, and just enough carbs.
So much for food, now we take a look at exercise.
2. Exercise is a must
Merely controlling what you eat will not help you to lose enough weight and fast enough. It needs to go hand in hand with exercise and lifestyle changes. Check those out now:
- You need to do 30 minutes of cardio exercise or aerobic exercises 4-5 times a week. If you aren’t in the habit, start with low intensity ones for 15 minutes or so. Then slowly work up to 30 minutes. After that start progressing to more high intensity exercises. This will help you to burn all those excess calories.
- Alongside this you need to practice weight training or resistance training. This you should do in 30 minute sessions twice to thrice a week. This is what is going to help you to build muscles to make up for the fat lost.
3. Drink a lot of water
Now there is a little trick here. Water not only keeps your metabolism moving, but it can also curb your hunger and cravings. Drink a glass of water about 20 minutes prior to your meals. You are less likely to overeat then. Also whenever you crave for high calorie food and fast foods, drink some water. Also, when you think you need a snack (one outside the 3 planned ones), drink a cup of water first. Then check again if you still feel hungry. Quite a few times, you will find that the hunger is gone.
4. Getting adequate sleep can help you lose weight!
Sleep, sound sleep that is, is a relaxant. It helps to counteract stress and lower the levels of cortisol in your body. So ensure you get 7-8 hours of sleep everyday – so that your body can fight the weight gain and otherwise harmful effects of stress.5. Follow the rule of 80:20
This is usually what helps people to stay on track. When you switch to a healthy eating plan, your cravings are bound to increase. And the best way to tackle these and avoid binge eating is to follow the rules strictly for 80% of the time, and take a break for the other 20%. In other words, in the first month, you can cheat one day in a month, in the second month, you can take one every fortnight, and in the third you can have one a week. But beyond that, do not increase on that!
6. Take supplements
And finally, taking supplements can not only help you to keep the weight off, but also help you to follow the healthy plan:
- Daily multivitamin and mineral supplements – to control your stress and blood sugar
- Menopause supplements – to manage the estrogen levels in your body
- Chromium supplements ( no more than 200 mcg) – to control cravings
There are others too – but for all of these, you should talk to a doctor, dietician, or naturopath before you start. This is because every woman’s needs are different and both your meal plan as well as the supplementation should be planned accordingly.
And with that we come to the end of the in-depth discussion on fat around waist. It sure is a problem that many women start to face around middle age. But these are the tried and tested methods to control it. So do it right, make healthy choices, and see how you can get back your younger looking body again!