You eat well, you get a lot of exercise, and you even lift weights – so why are you still carrying extra weight around your mid-section?

This weight can be especially stubborn – doing loads of extra Pilates isn’t necessarily going to budge it. That’s because even slight changes in your hormone levels can make it hard to lose fat around our belly and waist.

So, how can you tell if your belly fat is due to hormonal changes which can also start a few years ahead of menopause?

You’re eating well, but your waistline is growing bigger

A hormonal belly can appear as we become more insulin-resistant with menopause, encouraging our body to store fat. If you’ve had a flat stomach throughout your life, but you gain a ‘spare tire,’ it’s likely down to your hormones.

Your moods are up, down, and every which way

Are you experiencing mood swings? They’re likely down to fluctuating oestrogen levels. Mood swings and depression are one of the most common symptoms of menopause. It’s important that you try not to blame yourself if you can’t control your weight, which cause exacerbate low mood. Speak to your doctor if you find that your mood swings are extreme.

You crave sweets and unhealthy treats

Insulin resistance can affect your leptin levels, which is a hormone that should tell your body when you’re full. When your leptin levels are too high, you end up eating more than you need, causing an increase in belly fat. While the rare person out there craves steamed broccoli and kale, most of us crave unhealthy treats – sugary cupcakes, greasy chips, and cheesy pizzas.

You feel tired but can’t fall asleep easily (or at all)

Sleeplessness is another of the most common symptoms of menopause. If you’ve always been a good sleeper but start to feel exhausted all the time and have trouble sleeping, hormones are the likely culprit for your weight gain. When you get less sleep, you feel more stress, which can then lead to insomnia. Stress raises your cortisol levels – which brings us to the next point…

You feel more stressed than usual

Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, increases when you feel anxious and overwhelmed. As you start heading towards or going through the menopause, your fluctuating hormones mess with your cortisol levels. As a result, your body thinks it needs to go into ‘survival mode,’ sending signals to your brain that it should store more weight. You might then start to feel stressed about your weight gain, and the whole vicious cycle begins anew.

Do these points sound familiar?

Thankfully, you can take control. While hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help with the problem, there are also natural ways to tweak your hormone levels. You can lower your sugar consumption, and kick dairy and alcohol to the kerb, which can re-adjust insulin levels and blood sugar.

Have you experienced an increase in belly weight? We would love to hear your stories on how you have coped by getting in touch at info@emmemagazine.com.

Don’t forget you can get in touch with some of the world’s leading hormonal experts for advice by clicking here 

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