How Not To Gain Weight During Menopause
Menopause can be a truly stressful and uncomfortable time for many women. On top of the hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings, many women find themselves gaining weight, especially in the tummy area, seemingly overnight.
If youre wondering if this menopausal weight gain is simply inevitable, the answer is no but youll likely have to make a few lifestyle changes.
During menopause, a womans estrogen levels drop significantly. This effectively decreases muscle mass, which in turn slows down metabolism. Since some women toss and turn at night due to night sweats or other symptoms, and become quite fatigued, they may be less inclined to exercise, which further aggravates the problem.
Another menopause factor that contributes to weight gain, and especially to belly fat, is stress. The hormonal and mood changes that plummeting estrogen levels often produce can lead to a spike in cortisol, a primary hormone involved in stress, which has been shown to increase the risk of developing belly fat when elevated for continual periods of time.
Belly fat is especially dangerous, as it carries with it an elevated risk of hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and even certain cancers. In women, having a ring around the tummy increases the risk of breast, colon and uterine cancers. This is one type of fat that you definitely dont want to be sporting. It is also much easier to prevent than to shed once it settles in.
Start now, and enjoy how great you will soon look and feel!
Importance Of A Calorie Deficit
To lose weight, a calorie deficit is needed.
According to some research, a womans resting energy expenditure, or the number of calories she burns during rest, declines during and after menopause .
Although it may be tempting to try a very low calorie diet to lose weight quickly, eating so few calories can sometimes make weight loss harder.
Research shows that restricting calories to low levels causes loss of muscle mass and a further decline in metabolic rate
So while very low calorie diets may result in short-term weight loss, their effects on muscle mass and metabolic rate will make it hard to keep the weight off.
Moreover, insufficient calorie intake and decreased muscle mass may lead to bone loss. This can increase your risk for osteoporosis .
Adopting a healthy lifestyle that can be maintained long term can help preserve your metabolic rate and reduce the amount of muscle mass you lose with age.
A calorie deficit is needed for weight loss. However, cutting calories too much increases the loss of lean muscle, which accelerates the drop in metabolic rate that occurs with age.
Here are four nutritious diets that have been shown to help with weight loss during and beyond the menopausal transition.
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.
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The Risks Of Weight Gain After Menopause
Many of the risks of weight gain are well known: high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes, to name a few. Extra fat at your waistline raises these risks more. Unfortunately, a bigger waistline is more likely after menopause. If you now have a waist measurement of more than 35 inches, it’s time to take steps to reverse this trend.
Menopause And The Gut Microbiome
The gut microbiome is the collection of all the microbes that live in your gut. They influence your bodys response to foods and are important for your overall health.
Research suggests that the diversity of the microbiome is linked to estrogen levels and menopausal state in women. Because of the changes happening in the body during menopause, there may be a change in microbiome diversity as well.
ZOEs PREDICT study, the worlds largest in-depth nutritional study of its kind, explores the relationship between your gut microbiome and your health. The results so far indicate that the gut microbiome is linked with how your bodys metabolism responds to food.
Thats why changes in the microbiome as a result of menopause may contribute to changes in weight.
Based on this cutting-edge research, the ZOE program can help you learn more about your bodys unique metabolic responses to food.
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Why You Gain Weight During Menopause
Symptoms associated with menopause can start as early as four years before your last period and persist for an additional four years or longer. While many symptoms eventually subside as your body adjusts to hormonal changes, menopausal weight gain can make a permanent change in your long-term well-being.
Understanding why menopausal weight gain occurs is key to taking control and maintaining good health in this new phase of life. The menopause specialists at Ovation Wellness in Madison, Mississippi, provide the guidance and support women need to remain healthy and adjust to their changing bodies. The professional and caring staff members help you find the strategies and treatments necessary to address your symptoms and establish long-term well-being.
How To Reduce Menopausal Weight Gain
While your risk of weight gain during menopause is higher, it doesnt mean its inevitable. Research indicates that women who succeed in preventing menopausal weight are those who remain active in the years leading up to and beyond menopause. Adding weight-resistance exercises and strength training to build muscle mass can also help increase your metabolism.
Changes in diet and eating habits can support the benefits of exercise. Your body needs about 200 fewer calories in your 50s than you did in your 30s and 40s. If youre struggling to establish healthy habits, you may benefit from nutrition counseling or medical weight management to help you reach and maintain a healthy weight.
Avoiding or minimizing weight gain during menopause can help reduce your risk of health problems associated with obesity. It can also improve your self-confidence and lead to a better quality of life during menopause and beyond.
Find out more about weight gain during menopause and what you can do to remain healthy as you age. to schedule a medical consultation today.
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Hormone Disruption And Stress
We also know that low estrogen impacts your ability to cope with stress, and if you are in a constant heightened state of stress then you produce more cortisol and likely become more insulin resistant. This state of being leads to weight gain. Studies have shown the impact of estradiol and fat storagewe burn less fat than we did prior to peri-menopause and during menopause. We are not only likely to store more fat, but will also have an inability to part with it as easily as we did before.3
Other independent risk factors for stress during menopause include poor sleep, negative life events, lack of employment, change in family dynamics, and the acceptance of the natural aging process, which can certainly contribute to higher levels of stress, even depression. Its important to recognize these deep biochemical level changes and the impact they have on your body.
Consume More Complex Carbohydrates So As Not To Gain Weight During Menopause
Complex carbohydrates are those that do not increase blood sugar levels and are slowly absorbed. They are characterized by their high content of fiber and vitamins, elements necessary for the proper functioning of the body.
Among the main foods that contain it are:
- Wholemeal pasta and flour
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Eat Lean Clean And Green
What you eat during and after menopause is just as important as when you were a growing child. Cut out processed foods and cut back on carbohydrates.
Now that you know how a reduction in estrogen affects blood sugar, its important to not overload your new tolerance. Sugar that isnt used is stored as fat.
Eating clean means avoiding chemicals, including those used in the raising of conventionally-grown produce. Organic, natural, non-GM foods devoid of preservatives and other additives will nourish your body without further taxing it with added toxins.
As If The Hot Flashes Mood Swings Night Sweats And Sexual Challenges Weren’t Enough Now You Can Add Weight Gain To The Menopausal Whammy
As if the hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats and sexual challenges weren’t enough, now you can add weight gain to the menopausal whammy.
That’s right. In case you hadn’t noticed , women tend to gain about 10 to 15 pounds on averagefrom 3 to 30 pounds is the typical rangeduring and after menopause. And because our entire metabolic mechanism is different now, that weight is blessedly hard to take off.
“I feel like my body has betrayed me,” said one of my patients.
“Prior to menopause I was able to maintain a weight loss of 70 pounds. I see that 25 pounds have come back and nothing I seem to do is helping,” said another woman.
Weight gain during menopause isn’t totally related to “the change.” Lifestyle, genetics, and, yes, hormonal fluctuation all play their respective roles, for better or for worse. But the weight goes on, and the way that happens is different from weight gain in previous years.
So, if you’re accustomed to losing weight easilyor not gaining it in the first placethis development may come as a puzzling and unpleasant surprise. And if you struggle with your weight, be forewarned: The deck is about to be reshuffled, and that struggle may become harder yet.
The single bright spot is that you’re in a very big boat with a lot of other menopausal galsup to 90 percent of us gain weight during this transition, according to this article.
Menopausal weight gain is different because:
Why does this happen?
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Lifestyle Changes May Not Always Be Enough To Control Biologically Driven Body Changes
You spend hours in the gym every day. You eat nothing but grilled chicken, fish, and salads. Yet the numbers on the scale don’t budge or worse, they slowly creep up, along with your waist measurement.
Welcome to menopause.
“The change” actually does bring changes for many women, including weight gain that can resist even the most diligent efforts to reverse it, says Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School.
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How Hormones Cause Weight Gain During Menopause
During peri-menopause, the first hormone that decreases is usually progesterone. This can lead to estrogen dominance, a common symptom of which is weight gain, causing you to store more fat around your stomach area.
It can often be confusing to hear that estrogen dominance is one of the primary factors that lead to weight gain during menopause, as it is commonly understood that estrogen levels drop during this time.
Whilst it is true that your estrogen levels drop significantly during menopause if your progesterone levels decrease at a faster rate you can still become estrogen dominant, no matter how little estrogen you actually have in your system. So long as you have lower levels of progesterone than estrogen, you are likely to experience many of the symptoms associated with estrogen dominance.
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How Long Does Menopause Weight Gain Last
How much you might gain and over how long a time period is highly individual. A lot depends on your overall diet, activity level, and muscle toneand not just your menopausal status.
Some data indicates that weight starts to plateau when youre in your 50s and then drops in your 60s. Other research shows that women tend to keep gaining weight through their sixth decade of life.
How much of the weight gain is related to menopause and how much is related to the other aging factors isnt entirely clear.
Its Better To Stand Than Sit If And When You Can
The formula is simple: The more time that your bodys in motion, the more calories your body will burn. One low-effort way to do that? Stay as vertical as possible throughout the day, Peeke says. Not only will that increase calorie burn, it can also help prevent other health problems. A study published in January 2018 in the journal Obesity found that prolonged sitting is connected to higher levels of abdominal fat, as well as fat thats accumulated around organs such as the liver, which increases risk for diabetes and heart disease.
Staying vertical isnt exactly the same as breaking out a full-on sweat . To stay upright more often, stand and pace when youre on the phone, or park further from the front door of the places youre going, so youll have to walk more. If youre a binge watcher, place a pedal exerciser on the floor in front of your couch, so you can fit in some needed movement while still catching up on all your favorite shows.
To stay upright more often, stand and pace when youre on the phone, or park farther from the places youre going so youll have to walk a little more. If youre a binge-watcher, place a pedal exerciser on the floor in front of your couch, so you can fit in some needed movement while still catching up on your favorite shows.
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Why Do Women Gain More Weight In Their Stomach During Menopause
Changes in hormone levels from menopause affect where women gain weight, usually in the stomach area as opposed to the hips or thighs. The hormonal changes affect only where you gain the weight, not why you gain extra weight. After menopause, weight gain is more likely a result of an inactive lifestyle and eating more calories than you burn. Genetics can also play a role in weight gain as we get older.
I can’t tell you how many women come in and tell me how healthfully they’re eating, how active they are, how well they’re doing in general, and yet they gain a pound a year during peri- and actual menopause, which often adds up to ten to fifteen pounds in the midsection. There are a few reasons this happens. On average, women tend to become less active during this time. Metabolism and muscle mass decrease, and hormones change. Of course, your body’s hormones have a direct impact on your appetite, metabolism, and fat storage, so weight gain during this time is more likely caused by hormones rather than overeating. In your younger years, you may have gained in the hips and buttocks, but now you’ll notice you gain in your waist, which has to do with low estrogen.
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Hiit Your Menopause Symptoms Where It Hurts
Exercise routines that we used to stay fit and healthy in our 20s to early 40s no longer work the same way as we age. The key to losing your menopause belly fat is to shake things up. One of the single best types of exercise during menopause is high-intensity interval training , shown to help you lose weight faster and keep it off, especially during times when this can be more challenging, like menopause.
HIIT workouts are usually quite varied, which helps keep them from getting boring
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How Changes In Hormones Affect Metabolism
During perimenopause, progesterone levels decline slowly and steadily, while estrogen levels fluctuate greatly from day to day and even within the same day.
In the early part of perimenopause, the ovaries often produce extremely high amounts of estrogen. This is due to impaired feedback signals between the ovaries, hypothalamus, and pituitary gland .
Later in perimenopause, when menstrual cycles become more irregular, the ovaries produce very little estrogen. They produce even less during menopause.
Some studies suggest that high estrogen levels may promote fat gain. This is because high estrogen levels are associated with weight gain and higher body fat during the reproductive years .
From puberty until perimenopause, women tend to store fat in their hips and thighs as subcutaneous fat. Although it can be hard to lose, this type of fat doesnt increase disease risk very much.
However, during menopause, low estrogen levels promote fat storage in the belly area as visceral fat, which is linked to insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems .
Changes in hormone levels during the menopausal transition may lead to fat gain and an increased risk of several diseases.
However, some gain more weight. This appears to be particularly true for women who are already overweight or have obesity.
Weight gain may also occur as part of aging, regardless of hormone changes.
During the study, women gained belly fat and lost muscle mass .