Why Do I Still Have Belly Fat Even Though I Exercise?

First, it’s important to know that what you were once taught, and may still hear: “eat less and exercise more” will backfire if it’s causing your stress levels – cortisol to go too high. 

If you’ve been fueling well, eating adequate protein (more than most women think), and exercising it’s likely that you’re doing the wrong style of exercise training. 

How Could Exercise Go Wrong in Menopause?

When your hormones change, your exercise also needs to. Women in menopause go through perimenopause for up to 11 years, and a menopause transition that is harder to predict until it’s happened, and post-menopause. 

Even your certified trainer may not be certified specifically in Menopause Fitness: https://www.flippingfifty.com/specialist and this is an extremely important distinction. Only 39% of all exercise research features female subjects. Subjects with very different hormones than the athletic males are so often chosen as subjects. For women in the menopause transition, not only do they have lingering periods, not even regular which makes exercise planning more challenging, but their hormones are trending downward overall, and every woman’s experience is different.

It’s why we at Flipping 50 teach trainers and coaches: https://www.flippingfifty.com/specialist  a blueprint so they have a starting point and then we teach how to adapt to the signs and symptoms their individual clients have. You can do the same for yourself. 

Ideally, for all aging individuals, strength training becomes a higher priority. That, however, is not to be confused with greater frequency, duration or both. Prioritizing strength training boosts lean muscle strength and mass. That in turn boosts metabolism. What can’t be forgotten is the recovery between exercise is when fitness happens. 

Still, Have Belly Fat Even Though You Exercise? What to Do To optimize strength training for belly fat reduction:

It can’t just be any exercise whether you’re on HRT or not. An ineffective exercise program designed for men, mice, young women, or “everyone” has a small chance of working for a midlife woman. 

Plan two days a week with at least 72 hours between 

(Now you’ve prioritized the exercise and the required recovery time). 

On days you’re not strength training, if you’re in a good energy state and sleeping well, you may also want to add HIIT one or two times a week. If you’re in post menopause, when your hormones are more stable you may increase that HIIT to three or four times a week. Keep in mind, these are short sessions, not long. Warm-up to Cool down can be 15-20 minutes long! 

Do strength training protocols that support muscle.

Total bodies are far more effective than split routines for elevating metabolism in women who can’t dedicate daily time to strength training, carefully calculating high protein meals a day, and keeping their lives focused around their exercise. There are female bodybuilders and figure competitors who prove it can be done. Yet, they cycle through some severe “cut” phases that are not sustainable for good health purposes. That can set you up for getting to an “end goal” that you really can’t ever maintain. 

For a woman with some chronic fatigue or adrenal insufficiency, too frequent high-intensity exercise – such as lifting heavy – isn’t going to work. So, if you do choose to do this type of training, do so knowing you need first to feel good, and be ready to eat much more and more consistently throughout the day. Bodybuilders are eating pre, post-workout and evenly distributed meals throughout the day, and don’t skip or skimp on what they need! 

Could Supplements Help You Lose Belly Fat in Menopause?

Supplements may also be something to address for your belly fat challenge.

If you’re not eating adequate animal protein the levels of essential amino acids you’re consuming is likely extremely lower than necessary to serve as building blocks for muscle. 

An Essential Amino Acid supplement would be the first additional support. 

I swore I’d never use protein powders. Until I began at 31 out of convenience and a need to bump my protein intake while training for my first marathon. (Yes, endurance athletes need more protein too- potentially more).

Then, I realized I was using chemical and sugar-laden protein powders full of heavy metals. I didn’t know what I didn’t know at first. I’d sworn for 30 years I’d never sell supplements. But as women began to ask me what I was doing and using and told me what they were using, I realized we needed some clean products… that didn’t interfere with the absorption of vitamins women were taking already … and created products for increasing protein and stabilizing blood sugar.

Collagen vs Muscle-Supporting Protein for Belly Fat

Just a quick reminder that Collagen protein may state it has “all the essential amino acids.” That doesn’t mean it has a high enough level of them to support muscle protein synthesis. Will it mean that it can support blood sugar levels and hair, skin, and nails? Yes. But muscle protein synthesis requires a top level of essential amino acids, and particularly leucine, in order to benefit muscle mass and strength. Add collagen to your diet but don’t expect it to help with muscle without more input. 

If you’re eating your body weight in lbs in grams of protein daily, and lifting to muscle fatigue, following a protocol intended for women in midlife and beyond, then the addition of specific BCAA supplements (leucine, valine, and isoleucine) or specifically leucine – at about 2.5-3g per meal or 5g a day is recommended. 

Creatine has been proven safe, and effective for enhancing the ability to gain lean muscle and preserve bone health in older adults with no negative side effects

 It’s very possible to have belly fat even though you exercise, but these things should help solve that.

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