Before menopause, many women carry excess weight on their hips and thighs. But once "the change" happens, estrogen levels plummet, and even formerly pear-shaped women can develop round tummies. Meanwhile, testosterone drops, too. "By losing testosterone, you lose muscle mass. And when you lose muscle mass, it slows down your metabolism," says Steven A.R. Murphy, MD, an assistant professor at New York Medical College. "It becomes much harder to process simple carbohydrates, and that leads to fat storage."
The stress hormone cortisol can really screw with your belly. The problem with cortisol is two-fold: First, the chemical makeup of cortisol causes the body to store visceral fat. Visceral fat is stored between your main organs and in the midsection and is the most dangerous type of fat. Experts state that visceral fat increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease.