We’ve all experienced it. It happens. And we’re usually surprised. At first we deny it. But eventually, when we move up to the next jeans size, we see it clearly: we’ve changed. More specifically, our bellies have changed.
Why? Well, it looks like a simple formula, but it’s complicated. It’s basically like this: we get busy. We’re less physically active. But we haven’t changed our diets. We add fat to our bodies. This changes our metabolism. We don’t feel like moving much. So we don’t. And if we still haven’t adjusted our eating habits, we add a bit more fat. And this slows our metabolism. So even if we change our food supply a bit, but we don’t move any more, we need even less fuel, and then we store the rest which changes our metabolism, and….well, you see the formula.
One of the big factors affecting middle-age weight gain is insulin. Insulin is the key that unlocks cell walls to allow glucose (the cell’s energy source) to get in for cell functioning. Its mission is to get the glucose out of your blood stream. When we eat too many carbohydrates, especially the simple ones (the white ones), glucose floods the blood stream, and insulin production spikes. At the same time, your cells only need so much glucose, especially if you’re not making any demands on them. (Sitting in a chair and wiggling your fingers doesn’t count as demand…) So when those insulin levels spike, and keep spiking in a frantic effort to get that sugar into the cells, the liver gets word to start storing these extra sugars for later. How does the liver do that? By converting them to, you guessed it, fat cells. And even worse, those fat cells are loaded with glucose receptors, so they actually attract more glucose than your lean mass cells. And then they get bigger…Meanwhile, your other cells can go “hungry” when cortisol kicks in–I’m getting ahead of things here–which triggers your need to quickly grab some sugary thing for a pick-me-up, which then gets converted to, yes, fat.
If you’re also enjoying peri-menopause or menopause, unfortunately these fat cells are estrogen factories, which will contribute to estrogen-dominance and so many of the symptoms you’re struggling with.
What can you do about that? Let’s talk about fuel first. You’ll need to start making much better food choices.
One of the problem areas is carbohydrates. Carbs are gleaned from many things: vegetables, fruits, and grains. By choosing the ones that are most complex, you can slow down the delivery of this glucose to your blood. That’s what the Glycemic Index is all about. You want to eat foods on the low end of the scale (a GI <55). This means eliminating the refined carbohydrates from your world. Refined carbs are the simple white ones, usually found in our supply chain as barely nutritious grains–white unbleached or bleached flours specifically. These get converted into glucose in absolutely no time, flooding your blood with it, and triggering the response. Try to choose instead whole grains–and mix it up. Wheat isn’t the only grain out there! Keep the grains to a minimum. Eat other carbs instead! Vegetables are best.
Also eat good fats. Anything sourced from a vegetable counts as a good fat. But mix it up! And eat nuts, seeds, avocados. Animal fats are good as long as they are “clean”–sourced from grass-fed animals. These slow down your glucose delivery system also, while delivering important vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
Don’t miss Part 2–Toxic Baggage and Stress!
Or Part 3–The Conclusion…