Belly fat isn’t just annoying, it’s also unhealthy. Turning 40 isn’t the crossover into old age that it once was, but it can come with certain complications and drawbacks. Most women begin perimenopause (the period of two to 10 years before menopause) sometime after the fourth decade — which means you may start to experience menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings at this age. You may also notice that the number on the bathroom scale begins to creep up and that your pants fit a little tighter around your waist. This is because your weight distribution changes as you hit menopause, with the added pounds accumulating right around your middle. “I named the extra fat that collects around your middle the ‘menopot,’” says Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP, author of Body for Life for Women.

Belly Fat

Before, during, and after menopause, your estrogen levels begin to wane and your metabolism slows, making it more difficult for you to lose weight, particularly around your middle. And belly fat isn’t just annoying — it’s also unhealthy. Studies show it increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and perhaps even early death. Here, 10 ways to help you fight the battle of the bulge.

Why It’s Important To Lose Belly Fat

Study after study shows that the people with the largest waist sizes have the most risk of life-threatening disease. The evidence couldn’t be more convincing. According to the National Institutes of Health, a waistline larger than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women signals significant risk of heart disease and diabetes.

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Think of your midsection as your body’s infrastructure. You don’t want a core constructed of dry, brittle wood or straw and mud. You want a midsection made of solid steel, one that will give you a foundation of protection that belly fat never could.

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Ways To Beat Menopausal Belly Fat

Break a Sweat

Start with vigorous exercise to burn off menopause weight gain. Your routine should include aerobic exercises such as swimming, walking, bicycling, and running, as well as resistance or strength training. “You need to build muscle mass to maintain your edge,” Dr. Peeke says. “You’re not going to be at the same level as you were in your twenties, but your goal is to be ‘optimal’ for your age.” Note that you’ll need to work harder and longer than you had to when you were younger, as your metabolism decreases about one percent every year after age 30. Start with at least a half hour of aerobic exercise five times a week and increase the length, frequency, and intensity of your workouts as you build strength. Also include 15 minutes of strength training two to three times a week. Muscle burns more calories than fat

Flat Tummy Water To Help You Lose Belly Fat

Flat tummy water is a great natural drink to help you lose belly fat and assist with weight loss in general. Water infusion recipes to help get a flatter tummy are also delicious and pleasurable to drink. What’s more, drinking water infused with ingredients like cucumber, ginger, mint, and lemon effectively flush toxins from your body and help you lose fat around your belly at the same time.

Stay Vertical

The more your body is in motion, the more calories you burn. “Stay as vertical as possible throughout the day,” Peeke says. “As soon as you sit down, you turn off your fat-release enzymes.” That, plus the fact that your fat cells become much less efficient at dumping fuel after the age of 40, means you need to squeeze as much activity into your day as possible. Try standing and pacing when you’re on the phone, or park further from destinations so that you’ll have to walk more. If you’re normally a bit of a couch potato, place a treadmill in front of your TV so you can walk while still catching up on all your favorite shows.

Minimize Stress

Minimize Stress

You may find this surprising, but your diet can actually impact your stress levels. The food you eat, how you eat it, and when you eat it can positively or negatively affect your overall stress levels. And if your stress level increases, so can your waistline.

So in the same way that it’s important to get regular physical activity to manage stress, it’s also just as important to focus on eating the right foods (at the right times) to help manage stress.

Get 7-8 Hours Of Sleep Per Night

Sleep

Proper sleep can help you avoid excess weight gain and, over time, lose weight. But if you’re looking to drop 10 pounds by the end of the month, sleep isn’t your answer. You might think that the more hours you’re awake, the more calories you’re burning, so you should be losing more weight. When dining out, for example, share your meal or eat half and take the rest home to have for dinner or lunch the next night.

Seek Support

To attack belly fat and any other menopause weight gain, you’ll need to burn between 400 and 500 calories most days of the week from cardiovascular exercise such as walking briskly, jogging, bicycling, dancing, or swimming, Peeke says. Need motivation to get you out on the tennis court or down to the gym? Find a friend, colleague, or family member who needs to exercise as much as you do, and set a date to work out together. You’re less likely to skip your routine if you know someone is waiting for you. A good support system can help with diet motivation, too.

Talk With Your Doctor

Talk With Your Doctor

If your lack of estrogen is contributing to other bothersome symptoms such as severe hot flashes and night sweats, you may need hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or other medication to help you deal. Many women fear that HRT will cause them to gain weight, but several studies have dispelled this notion. Some even suggest that HRT can prevent weight gain. Ask your ob-gyn about medications you might take to help you control your menopause symptoms. Your doctor will likely want to investigate whether your weight gain is indeed from menopause and not from some other health condition that needs treating as well.

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