The Best Way To Lose Weight During Menopause
The onset of menopause, the point when a woman hasnt had a period for the past 12 months, and the bodily changes that occur in the years leading up to it can trigger a number of symptoms, including weight gain. During perimenopause or the menopausal transition, production of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone shift, which causes a redistribution of fat to your belly. Weight gain and an expanding waistline are common complaints during this period, according to Elizabeth Ward, a registered dietitian and co-author with Hillary Wright of The Menopause Diet Plan, A Natural Guide to Managing Hormones, Health, and Happiness.
Aging reduces your calorie-burning capacity and a reduction in estrogen often results in extra belly fat, Ward told TODAY. She also cautioned that the shift in estrogen levels can also have consequences for bone and heart health. So, even if your main goal in dieting during menopause or perimenopause is to lose weight, there are other factors to consider.
The Ideal Step Count For Menopause Weight Loss
As the weather warms up, many feel motivated to incorporate walking into our exercise routines again. Blossoming flowers and trees, fresh air, and a return to parks, hiking trails, and sidewalks are good for the body and soul.
When it comes to weight loss efforts during menopause, exercise is an indispensable part of the process. Fortunately, walking as a form of exercise is free, accessible for people of varying fitness levels, and an effective way to offset the weight gain many women struggle with after 40.
Even better, a study associated walking with a reduction in both menopausal symptoms and depression, as well as increased physical self-esteem and satisfaction with life.
While walking may seem simple enough, understanding how to utilize it as a weight-loss method through perimenopause and postmenopause isnt always straightforward. As a personal trainer, Ive studied this topic at length, and Im here to answer all of your questions and get you walking towards your goals today!
What Is The Average Weight Gain During Menopause
According to the Obesity in Action Coalition , the drop in estrogen that occurs during perimenopause and menopause causes an average weight gain of about five to ten pounds. Of course, this will vary for each individual dealing with the issue based on their own personal health.
Along with the hormonal fluctuations packing on pounds, symptoms like fatigue, joint pain, and digestion issues can all add up to more numbers on the scale. You might not be overindulging or changing your diet in any way, but still find yourself with gaining weight because you lack the energy or feel too uncomfortable to hit the gym or go on as many walks as you did before hitting menopause.
You might also notice and be irritated by that your clothes dont fit as well as they used to, even if you actually havent gained any weight. This happens when our hormones shift the way our bodies store fat. Prior to perimenopause, estrogen deposits fat in your thighs, hips, and buttocks, the OAC explains. During and after menopause, the drop in estrogen leads to an overall increase in total body fat, but now, more so in your midsection.
This becomes what is known as visceral abdominal fat which causes menopausal belly fat. Aside from affecting the way we look , this type of fat is associated with increased risk for serious conditions like heart disease, breast cancer, uterine cancer, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, sleep apnea, and many other troubling diseases.
Stress And Depression During Menopause Can Cause Weight Loss
Hormonal changes during menopause can cause severely low moods in women. They can even lead to stress, irritability, and hopelessness. Sometimes, this is just a normal symptom of menopause, but there are times it could lead to chronic depression. This, paired with difficulty in sleeping that comes in naturally with age, can lead to loss of appetite, and in turn, an unhealthy loss of weight. This is just as bad as putting on weight, as the body still needs a healthy balanced diet to perform all its functions properly, irrespective of what the age may be.
Treatment A healthy diet can be very beneficial in boosting mood levels, especially if it includes foods that are rich in magnesium. Try and get some physical activity every day as exercise releases endorphins or feel good hormones and can significantly help in bringing down your stress levels.
In case you feel your mood swings are too severe or indicative of a more serious condition, such as depression, it is very important to seek professional intervention. Consult your doctor for advice he will discuss the possibility of various treatments with you, such as antidepressants which can help ease your symptoms.
Note: Always seek the guidance of your doctor before taking antidepressant drugs for you may be unaware of the serious side effects they could have on your health.
Hormone Fluctuations And Changes
Estrogen balance is one of the primary changes that occurs during perimenopause and menopause. The primary form of estrogen during reproductive years takes a backseat to a different form, and some women can either experience too high or too low levels or both at varying times during this shift. Estrogen levels that are either too high or too low can lead to increased fat storage in women, making hormone balance one of the crucial ways to regain equilibrium with weight.
Estrogen changes can also trigger other symptoms in women, like difficulty sleeping or insomnia. Lack of regular, restful sleep can also contribute to weight gain and a difficulty in losing it.
Other hormones also get off balance after the age 50, including progesterone and stress hormones like cortisol. This collective hormonal chaos can leave you feeling tired, gaining weight, and not feeling like yourself.
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Indulge In Some Cardio
You will be surprised to know that the deposition of abdominal fats has been found to be a contributing factor to the increased risks of insulin resistance.
Cardio training has immense impacts in handling the weight gain and preventing the unprecedented problems many face with losing the excess pounds.
Additionally, these forms of exercises have important impacts on improving the cardiovascular health of an individual.
The three types of cardio training that you can indulge in include:
- Interval training
- Circuit training
- Speed play
When it comes on how to lose weight during menopause, the process is not just tough but there are a number of other factors influencing or rather, preventing the steady weight loss process. Be firm on your decisions and ensure that you do stick to the effective ways and make healthier switches to ones diet and lifestyle.
Exercise For Weight Loss After Menopause
Certain kinds of exercise help me lose weight.
Walking is number one for me. I think that it does two things. It reduces stress and it promotes fat-burning. The secret is to keep a steady pace and walk for 40 to 60 minutes four to five times a week.
I love outside walking but I also love to do walking videos. Here is a link that shows you two free walking videos to try.
In addition to walking I enjoy exercise like Barre, yoga,and fusion types of exercises. I also do push-ups a couple of times a week.
The best exercise is one that you stick with. This post goes through all my favorites that Ive used to help lose weight and maintain that loss.
While you might be able to lose weight without exercise,exercise gives you definition. In addition, it helps with your posture andself-confidence.
It helps you look better way beyond just losing weight!
What Is A Menopause Diet And How Can It Help Your Symptoms
A menopause diet involves eating certain foods that could help you feel better and have a balancing effect on fluctuating or declining hormones during this period of transition. A menopause diet also helps you avoid the foods that may exacerbate unpleasant symptoms and side effects of menopause.
Food can transform your health, and its the same for hormones and the menopause transition, says Nicki Williams, an award-winning nutritionist and founder of the website Happy Hormones for Life.
Hormones need a steady stream of nutrients for them to work efficiently. Without the right nutrients your menopause symptoms can worsen. Your natural instinct is to go for a fast fix with the wrong foods . This makes things even worse, she explains.
Jackie Lynch, a nutritional therapist and founder of the WellWellWell clinic, and author of The Happy Menopause adds: A diet that helps to regulate the bodys response to stress is very important in managing menopause symptoms. There are lots of ways that nutrition can help to manage menopause symptoms. For me, the thing to focus on is a diet to support hormone balance.
During the perimenopause and menopause, our sex hormones are on a rollercoaster. This hormone fluctuation is at the root of many symptoms, from dealing with hot flushes and night sweats to anxiety, mood swings and brain fog.
One thing to be aware of is that any existing dietary requirements you have could adversely affect you during this time.
How To Lose Weight During Or After Menopause
The idea that because you are going through menopause you can only gain weight is inaccurate. As we mentioned earlier, while menopause can make weight gain more likely due to affecting sleep and mood, it doesnt mean that weight gain is likely.
You can avoid weight gain and even lose weight by making changes to your lifestyle. Check out our article on starting an exercise habit at an older age to find ways in which you can disrupt the supposedly inevitable.
Increasing your daily activity, signing up to a gym or exercise class, going for long walks or hikes, and counting your steps are all proven ways to increase your metabolism and help to create a calorie deficit.
Making changes to your diet is also a smart move. As we saw above, there aren’t foods that can specifically cause fat loss. However, adding higher protein foods, more fibre, and more fruit and vegetables to your diet can help you consume fewer calories each day. This can then lead to weight loss, particularly when combined with increased daily activity.
Vary Your Workouts And Try New Activities
Its easy to get into an exercise rut, and even easier to fall out of the habit of exercising at all. But at this stage of your life, not getting your move on is not an option. Ideally to keep your weight in check, youll be working out three or four times a week with the injection of some HIIT and it only needs to take 15 to 20 minutes, says Peeke. Its extremely effective at keeping excess body levels of fat down, and make sure to get in some weight training, even if its just using your own body weight.
So potentially take a Zumba or barre class. See what all your buddies are talking about and join them one weekend for a beginner class at a CrossFit center. Give PiYo a go . There are so many different exercises to try, youll be able to find ones you like and stick with them.
Or maybe youll enjoy the chase of trying out new workouts regularly. According to research published in the Journal of Sport Behavior, adding variation to your exercise routine may be the most successful way to make you stick with it. Any kind of physical activity is better than none at all, but if your body gets too accustomed to a routine, it wont burn belly fat as efficiently as when you first started working out.
Action Steps: Menopause & Weight Gain
The main approach that we need to consider is to regain this balance of hormones. For this reason, we really need to consider the adrenals as central to that restoration of balance.
That is where the Adrenal Reset Diet comes into play . The point of the diet is to regain an overall healthy cortisol slope. This results in high cortisol in the morning, and low cortisol at night, when you need it most and when you need it least.
When your cortisol slope is not optimal, it can be the key driver for many different symptoms in your body . The types of symptoms that can be included are:
- Chronic ongoing stress
- Changes in lifestyle
Bottom Line: If you are effectively able to disrupt any of these key issues, you are better able to regulate your cortisol slope and get it back to where it belongs. Think of it like a menopause metabolism reset.
Move More Once You Hit Midlife Say Experts
Weight gain may feel like its inevitable once youve entered your fourth decade, but the truth is, it doesnt have to be. Natural hormonal changes mean you may start to notice symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings, but you dont need to idly accept that the number on the bathroom scale will steadily creep up, too.
Heres whats going on with your body if elastic-waist pants are now your go-to fashion staple: Weight distribution changes as you hit menopause, with the added pounds accumulating right around your belly. I named the extra fat that collects around your middle the menopot, says Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, author of Body for Life for Women.
What we did when we were 30 and what we do when were 60 is very different, says Kathryn A. Boling, MD, a family medicine physician at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. We have to adjust our exercise some as we get older. If youve lost some gusto, create incentives for yourself to stay moving. I have an Apple Watch, and I like to see that circle closed, she says. Peeke says you dont have to go to a gym, but you do need to do enough strength training to keep your muscles strong and your metabolism revved. Try activities that have you lifting, pushing, and pulling, she says.
What About Plant Oestrogens
Plant oestrogens are very similar to human oestrogen. If eaten regularly, and in sufficient quantities, they can start to have mild oestrogen-like effects which is useful as oestrogen levels decline.
For some women these effects could be sufficient to help relieve menopausal symptoms, particularly hot flushes. It is worth knowing that:
- it can take two to three months for benefits of plant oestrogens to be seen
- they seem to work better for some women than others which might be down to differences in gut bacteria
- consuming plant oestrogens several times a day appears to be more effective compared to one larger dose
- foods containing plant oestrogens are also heart friendly so its worth trying to include calcium-enriched soya products like milk, yoghurts, soya and linseed bread or edamame beans two to three times each day before opting for supplements.
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Top 7 Hormones That Affect Weight Loss During Menopause
Most of our lives, as women, are spent comparing ourselves to others. Those we see on tv, our friends, family, and co-workers are all used to guide us toward deciding what is good and beautiful.
About the time we begin to accept the way we look, the way we feel, and decide to stop comparing ourselves to others our bodies begin to take a turn for the worse. The weight begins to build again and we donât feel as good about ourselves.
This is because perimenopause has taken hold with its hot flushes, headaches, and weight gain. You are not alone â this is a very common occurrence that many women experience.
Although itâs common, it is not mandatory.
Keeping the 7 hormones that most affect weight loss during menopause balanced will help you avoid those unwanted symptoms.
Estrogen & Progesterone
Known as the two primary hormones in women, estrogen, and progesterone work together to keep the female reproductive system function properly. While estrogen is the hormone that controls your mood, it also maintains cortisol, insulin, and other metabolic hormones.
The counterbalance is progesterone, which encourages calming and sedating effects in the brain while keeping your insulin and thyroid hormones balanced.
What happens when unbalanced? â The most common result is known as estrogen dominance. This may cause mood swings, irregular periods, fat gain from changes to the hormones that control your metabolic rate.
Leptin & Ghrelin
Are There Foods That Make Menopause Worse
Dr Mukherjee recommends avoiding:
- Caffeinated drinks in the evenings. These can cause insomnia. Jackie also points out that green tea contains the same amount of caffeine as black tea. Be careful not to swap one problem for another opt for a caffeine-free or herbal tea, she says.
- Alcohol. While its OK for some women to drink, if youre someone who becomes intolerant to alcohol during the menopause you may find it worsens your sleep. And it can cause a hangover even when you havent drunk very much, says Dr Mukherjee.
- Sugary drinks. Avoid as they will cause weight gain, tooth decay and can cause sugar crashes and even type 2 diabetes in the long-term, she says. Alcoholic drinks are also a source of sugar.
- Foods containing refined sugar. These can cause weight gain for many women. Avoid if possible.
- Processed foods. These also cause weight gain, are not nutritionally balanced and should be limited or avoided. Understanding what processed means is essential. For example, wheat-based foods and many liquidised foods and sugary drinks are processed. So bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits, pizza, pastry and noodles are processed. Non-wheat alternatives to these are also processed. Fizzy drinks contain lots of sugar or lots of chemical alternatives to sugar, she explains.
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