GALVESTON, Texas – If you’re a woman in your late 30s, 40s, or beyond, your body might be accumulating fat in your midsection as you transition to menopause - even if your diet is on point & you’re exercising. And that belly fat can lead to real health problems.
KPRC 2 spoke to certified OBGYN and founder of the Galveston Diet, Dr. Mary Claire Haver, about how to get and stay healthy.
if you follow Dr. Haver on social media, you know her goal is to educate women about menopause.
And one big topic she covers is belly fat.
“So my patients were coming to me for years, grabbing their midsections and shaking them in my office, saying, ‘what is happening? I haven’t changed my diet, my exercise habits, but this is happening!’”
Overall weight gain and muscle loss as we age is seen in both men and women, but an increase in visceral fat, or belly fat, independent of calorie intake, is something Dr. Haver said we see in perimenopausal and menopausal women, and it comes with health risks.
This change in how and where women store body fat isn’t due to declining estrogen but to the increased activity of testosterone. Dr. Haver says a quick way to know where you stand is the waist-hip ratio.
“Number one- you’re gonna measure your waist at its smallest point, usually the belly button. Number two- you’re gonna measure around your hips at the widest part. Then you’re gonna divide your waist size by your hip size. Cut to .24 if you’re waist-hip ratio is 0.85 or less, you’re doing pretty well. A ratio of 1.0 or greater typically means you have a higher risk for health problems,” she explained in a recent TikTok video.
There are ways to reduce belly fat and most of them depends on your diet:
- Eat at least 25 grams of fiber a day.
- Eat no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day.
- And get regular exercise.
Dr. Haver said eating a diet rich in probiotics is also shown to reduce belly fat, as do supplements with turmeric. She also said the waist-hip ratio is a better measure of health than your weight or body mass index (BMI)