Fat…to boldly go where where none has gone before

Posted by on Jun 28, 2010 in herbal medicine, weight gain | 2 comments

That body tire around the middle that tends to plague most women in their late forties and fifties and into old age reminds me of Star Trek – boldly going where no fat has ever gone before. Despite an hour at the gym daily, eating healthy and moderate (okay sometimes more than moderate) intake of alcohol, I still can’t seem to conquer that bulge that’s creeping into my midsection. I’ve spoken to trainers and nutritionists about it and have even tried conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which theoretically helps reduce deposits of body fat. And still, fluctuating hormones and aging seem determined to redistribute that midsection bulge in ways that remain unacceptable (at least, to me). More importantly, however, is the fact that fat that settles in the abdominal areas increases the risk for impaired blood fat and insulin levels that can lead to diabetes and heart disease.

I’ve written about weight and the middle-aged bulge several times in the past and you can find some of these posts here. My friend Mollie Katzen and I collaborated on a post earlier this year about eating habits, food and midlife. And still, an effective solution to the bold bulge continues to elude women, trainers and researchers alike.

Still, a very small study published in the online edition of Menopause shows that hope may still spring eternal. In fact, results suggests that women who took 70 mg isoflavones daily (i.e. 44 mg daidzein, 16 mg glycitein, 10 mg genistein) for six months and then added at least an hour of intensive aerobics, circuit training and resistance training at least three times weekly for another six months experienced significant declines in blood pressure, fat mass and total body weight, and a small reduction in waist circumference (of about an inch and a half). In this particular study, the researchers selected women who were known to respond physically and beneficially to exercise. However, only the women who supplemented their exercise with isoflavones had demonstrable improvements in their fat mass and distribution. These women also experienced improvements in their insulin levels.

Clearly, the benefits of isoflavones added to exercise from both a weight and health perspective need to be explored more thoroughly and with larger numbers of women. However, it is possible that the addition of soy to a regular exercise routine may help to address that elusive bulge from entering the black hole that we call midlife.

Stay tuned!


  1. 8-23-2010

    Hi, I sent you a comment a few days ago, and this is a further comment on the same suject. I printed out your “Not you mama’s menopause.” I am unsure of just what it is that you have turned to in order to avoid the dreaded and debilitating night sweats. You know from my previour email that I have taken HRT for 30 years without interruption. I have no night sweats. But while you mention several things that one can take or do to eliminate night sweats and flashes, such as exercise, black cohosh, etc., I can’t figure out just what you recommend to one who is having the disturbing, painful and debilitating symptoms associated with ovarian failure at menopause. One could of course try all of the things you mention and see if anything works!

    • 8-23-2010

      Hi Adlele. I am not a physician so I can’t advise you on what you should or shouldn’t take. My goal on Flashfree is to provide evidence-based information on alternatives to hormones so that women are empowered to make decisions that work for them. There is a lot of great evidence supporting the use of black cohosh and I’ve personally have had great success with it for shutting down night sweats. Does this mean that you should take it? Absolutely not. But if you are interested, I’ve provided enough foddor for you to have an intelligent conversation with your health professional about whether or not it may be a good choice for you. Thanks for commenting.


  1. The B’s have it – bursting the belly and bones myth « Flashfree - [...] significant increases in physical activity and decreases in caloric intake. Some data suggest that isoflavones might help reduce waist…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *