How Menopause Can Lead To Weight Gain
- Less estrogen. During perimenopause, your ovaries dont produce as much estrogen. Low estrogen levels decrease your metabolism, and make it more likely youll store fat, especially in your belly.
- Less muscle mass. As you age you lose muscle mass, which also decreases metabolism.
- Poor sleep. Its common for perimenopausal women to have trouble sleeping, and a lack of sleep increases your cortisol or stress hormone levels. When you dont sleep well, youre more likely to make poor food choices and skip your workout.
- Poor diet. If youre busy with work, family, and other commitments at this stage of your life, youre more likely to grab fast food or processed food to save time.
- Avoiding exercise. You may scale back your workout routine if you find it leads to hot flashes.
The sad truth is, during perimenopause and menopause, these changes mean that if your diet and exercise remain the same, your weight could increase.
Watch Your Carbohydrate Intake
Not all nutrients are created equal, and some experts believe that a steady diet heavy in unrefined carbs like pasta and bread are a significant factor for excess belly fat. Carbs are the enemy of the middle-aged woman, says Dr. Boling. If you are perimenopausal, look at how much sugar you are eating. Carbs turn into sugar in our bodies. Some turn faster, like candy bars, oatmeal burns slower, but eventually it all turns to sugar. If you are aware of how many carbs you are eating, you are going to do better. Research published in April 2017 in the British Journal of Nutrition found that a reduced-carbohydrate diet may decrease the risk of postmenopausal weight gain.
Hormonal Changes Change How Your Body Stores Fat
The hormonal changes that come with menopause may change how your body stores fatfrom storing it around your hips and thighs to your abdominal area. Hormone levels in a menopausal woman can therefore influence body fat or the location where excess weight is stored. Menopause may increase the fat surrounding organs like your liver, intestines and other organs, which is different from subcutaneous fat, the belly fat right beneath the skin. Both may draw extra attention to waist circumference, but visceral fat is associated with certain health risks. While these changes can cause your body to store fat in a different place, they dont necessarily make you more likely to gain weight.1 Weight gain during menopause is more often caused by a combination of lifestyle factors and how our bodies naturally change with age.
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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.
Body Changes At Menopause
As we age, our muscles decrease in bulk and our metabolism slows down. These changes can contribute to weight gain around the time of menopause.Other physical changes associated with menopause may include:
- skin changes, such as dryness and loss of elasticity
- vaginal dryness
- hair growth .
These changes may affect a womans body image and self-esteem and increase her risk of depression and sexual difficulties. Taking steps to manage the symptoms of menopause can help.
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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.
Meno Belly Is Real And Heres What Works To Get Rid Of It
Reviewed by Dr. Mary James, ND
Finding it difficult to button up your favorite jeans? Midsection weight gain in perimenopause and menopause is real and frustrating. It often feels like this stubborn weight just isnt going anywhere, no matter how much you diet or exercise.
But heres the secret: when you deal with the underlying hormonal imbalance driving this weight gain, your body can finally let go of this weight and you can look and feel the way you want!
Dr. Mary James, ND, one of our Women’s Health Network experts, gives her tips for losing “meno belly” fat in her new video. Watch it now — or read the video transcript below for her easy steps.
If you are dealing with meno belly, the nickname for stubborn weight that often shows up around a womans midsection during perimenopause, I am here to help you understand why this is happening and more importantly what you can do to lose this weight.
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Why Menopause Makes Weight Loss So Hard
Menopause officially starts when a person hasnt had a menstrual cycle for 12 months. Around this time, it may be very hard to lose weight.
In fact, many people notice that they actually start putting on weight during perimenopause, which can begin a decade prior to menopause.
Several factors play a role in weight gain around menopause, including:
- Hormone fluctuations. Both elevated and very low levels of estrogen can lead to increased fat storage .
- Loss of muscle mass. This occurs due to age, hormonal changes, and decreased physical activity .
- Inadequate sleep. Many women have trouble sleeping during menopause. Poor sleep is linked to weight gain .
- Increased insulin resistance. Women often become insulin resistant as they age, which can make losing weight more difficult (
Whats more, fat storage shifts from the hips and thighs to the abdomen during menopause. This increases the risk of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease .
Therefore, strategies that promote the loss of abdominal fat are particularly important at this stage of life.
Menopause may lead to hormonal changes, loss of muscle mass, poor sleep, and insulin resistance. These effects may, in turn, increase the risk of weight gain.
Time Meals And Snack Right To Counter Mindless Eating
Its not just what you eat when you are following a mid-life diet that matters, but also when you eat. Midnight ice cream binges and potato chip raids, for example, are generally bad ideas and would be a poor choice even during the light of day. But the general message on food timing is clear: Dont eat too much too late, Peeke says. Eating later in the evening is murder for trying to keep weight off.
Another way to keep snacking calories in check is to avoid mindlessly nibbling throughout the day or falling into the dreaded afternoon snack trap. What a menopausal woman does from 3 p.m. on every day can determine how big her belly is. Thats when most women tend to overeat and oversnack.
To help rein in your snacking, Peeke says to start paying attention to your circadian rhythm. Eat during a window of 8 to 12 hours a day, and then dont eat for the rest of the time. Experts find this imperative to take care of weight at any age, but especially during menopause, she says.
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Getting Started With Hiit
HIIT can look daunting, but the keys to success are starting out at a pace that works for you, not comparing yourself to others, and sticking with it for 4-6 weeks. Dont give up! After a few weeks, youll start to notice that the sessions are getting a little easier, you are less winded and sore, and you feel stronger and more confident. Weve seen women in their 60s and 70s in HIIT classes alongside women in their 20s and 30s, kicking butt, and adapting the exercises as they need to. Even if you are nursing new or old injuries, most people can adapt HIIT to work around them. These older women inspired us to give HIIT a try, and we were happy we did. We lost weight, gained more energy, and found that several annoying menopause symptoms like hot flashes, insomnia, and brain fog started to diminish.
If youre having trouble losing belly fat, or weight in general, during menopause, HIIT may be worth a try. If anything, it can be fun to try a new exercise routine – and it just might be the change you need to see the results youre seeking. You might surprise yourself by just how much your body is capable of doing!
For more recommendations on losing your belly fat and staying fit as you age, sign up for Lisa Health and join our Stay Active Journey.
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.
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Menopause And Its Impact On Your Body
Every single woman will eventually go through menopause in her life.
Despite the fact that so many women go through it, many women aren’t prepared for the transition or what it means for their body!
So, with that in mind, let’s dispel the uncertainty and talk about it in plain English.
First of all, what is menopause?
Menopause is a state which occurs in the female body which marks a sudden and rapid decline in the sex hormones estradiol and progesterone.
The sudden decline in these hormones is responsible for all of the symptoms associated with menopause, including weight gain.
These sex hormones are some of the most important hormones in biology because they help define the female phenotype.
You can imagine why the sudden decline in these hormones cause many problems in the body .
For our discussion, we are going to be focusing primarily on weight gain, but just realize that much of the information presented here may help with other issues as well.
So is it an inevitability that you will gain weight during your menopause transition?
Not necessarily, and this is something that we will touch on later in this article.
But first, let’s discuss what actually causes weight gain when you hit menopause:
New Strategies To Face A New Stage
Menopause is another stage in a womans life where living fully should be the prevailing norm. The most sensible thing will be to deploy strategies that provide you with that change of perspective necessary to face the future.
It is important to be able to have the support of your doctor. They will be able to guide in this process, because sometimes, it is necessary to administer a hormone replacement treatment. In any case, this is something that only a doctor can recommend. Each woman is unique, it should be remembered that there are no collective recipes.
What is a fact is that, when the woman enters this stage, the organism demands less energy. This does not mean, therefore, eating less, but eating better.
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What Causes Weight Gain During Menopause
Weight gain during menopause has a variety of causes. Some of the gain is due to the bodys natural aging process. As your age creeps up, estrogen and muscle mass decline. That slows your metabolism and changes the way your body stores and distributes fat, leading to weight gain.
Lifestyle factors such as becoming more sedentary and developing sleep problems can also promote weight gain.
Weight Gain During Menopause Treatments
When looking for treatments for weight gain, it’s important to begin with methods that are the least obtrusive, with the least likelihood of side effects, and progress from there.
Did You Know
Most women experience a 5% decrease in metabolic rate per decade. Because metabolism slows as women approach menopause, they need about 200 fewer calories a day to maintain their weight as they enter their mid to late 40s.
This means that lifestyle changes are the best place to begin. The tried and true way to cope with weight gain is to exercise regularly and eat a healthy, balanced diet, practicing moderation.
Typically, combining lifestyle changes and alternative medicines will produce the best results. When seeking out alternative medicines, keep in mind that because weight gain during menopause is associated with hormonal imbalance, so look for herbal supplements that bring a natural balance to hormonal levels, as this will go a long way toward curbing weight gain at the source.
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What Can I Do
A range of lifestyle changes can make symptoms more tolerable. Hormone replacement therapy can be used by many women to help control these symptoms, however some women cannot take HRT due to other health problems, whilst others choose not to. The decision to take HRT or not should be discussed with your doctor. For all women, diet and lifestyle changes can help with symptoms. This can include taking dietary supplement products.
Menopause And Weight Gain Take Their Toll
Due to a change in body fat distribution and increase in waist circumference, menopause can also increase your risk of other health conditions.
Following menopause, your ovaries make very little of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen helps to keep your blood vessels dilated relaxed and open which helps keep your cholesterol levels down.
Without estrogen, or with lower quantities, your bad cholesterol starts to build up in your arteries. This can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Having less estrogen also results in a loss of bone mass, putting you at risk of the disease osteoporosis, which makes your bones more prone to fractures.
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Update Your Healthy Sleep Strategies To Rest Better And Fight Weight Gain
Insomnia is an extremely common symptom of perimenopause, which is the period of time when womens bodies transition toward their final menstrual cycle. And according to the North American Menopause Society, that transition phase can last for four to eight years. All that time spent waking up unrefreshed means youre probably feeling too exhausted to head out for a workout, too. Its imperative to get sleep as you get older, says Peeke. One of the things that truly helps combat the menopot is high-quality sleep.
Inadequate sleep impacts our hunger hormones, ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin and leptin become dysfunctional when you dont get enough sleep, so good luck trying to lose weight if you dont fix that problem, says Peeke.
Palumbo says that you should close your kitchen and brush your teeth by 7 p.m. This will keep you from eating late, which can keep you from getting restful slumber and cause you to pack on the pounds. You shouldnt be eating before you sleep, because it will interrupt your sleep, she says.
Aim for a minimum of seven hours of shut-eye, although this varies from person to person and over time. Keep your bedroom cool to offset hot flashes and night sweats, and turn off all glowing screens for at least an hour before you want to fall asleep. If you really cant fathom doing that, wear amber-lensed glasses to counteract the sleep-disrupting effects of blue light, or see if your device has an amber light setting, says Peeke.
An Introduction To Weight Gain And Menopause
After the age of 40, the human body is susceptible to gaining, on average, one pound a year. When women reach the menopause, this average weight gain is likely to increase because of hormonal and physical changes which take place at this time. Many women feel self-conscious about this and attempt to crash diet to counteract the effect. However, these actions do not tend to be effective as eating too much is not usually the cause of weight gain during the menopause.
Many people feel that the weight they gain during the menopause is more noticeable because it tends to accumulate in one area of the body rather than be distributed evenly across the body. The most common place for weight to accumulate is around the tummy and this can be difficult to shift once there.
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