Hormonal Changes Alter Where The Body Deposits Fat
Certain areas such as your stomach are more prone to weight gain during menopause. This is because the change in hormones, which lead to a higher testosterone-to-estrogen ratio, alters where the body deposits fat. Fat comes off the hips and is deposited around the middle.
But the hormonal changes involved in menopause arent the reason you gain weight.
Does Menopause Cause Emotional Changes Too
Yes. Emotional symptoms can begin as early as the perimenopause time frame. Difficulty with memory , irritability, mood swings, increased anxiousness and depression are commonly experienced. These symptoms often cause significant distress and can negatively affect personal and professional relationships. Some patients say the emotional toll is the most distressing. A history of depression or anxiety disorder is a risk factor for recurrence or exacerbation of symptoms during the menopause transition. Lifestyle modifications such as exercise, relaxation techniques and dietary changes can help. For those experiencing severe symptoms, seeing a therapist and possibly taking medication like mood stabilizers or hormone replacement therapy can help.
How Does Menopause Affect Your Appearance
Menopause officially starts one year after you have your last menstrual period. The average American woman enters menopause at age 51 but even before menopause begins, your hormone levels start changing.
Estrogen and progesterone are the two main female hormones. They influence reproduction and certain female characteristics, and these hormones naturally decline as you get older and approach menopause.
These hormonal changes are natural. However, dropping hormone levels can trigger a range of symptoms. The best-known symptoms of menopause might be hot flashes or mood swings, but unfortunately, menopause symptoms arent limited to the way you feel inside.
Your skin, hair, and body weight could also change. Navigating menopause and its symptoms can feel overwhelming. Thats why Farly Sejour, MD, Natalie Gould, WHNP-BC, and our team at Solace Women’s Care offer personalized menopause support for our patients.
If youve noticed changes in the way your skin looks or feels, nows the time to learn how your appearance is affected by menopause.
Tips For Losing Weight After Menopause
You may think since an imbalance of hormones is the cause of your weight gain, hormone therapy can solve your problems. While hormone therapy does treat weight gain, it poses additional health risks.
Most doctors dont recommend hormone therapy unless you have other health problems. Instead, you should try to address your menopausal weight gain with diet and exercise.
Make a sustainable plan. Weight loss is a long-term goal and should be treated that way. In order to maintain weight loss, you need to make lifestyle changes that support your health. Dont think about going on a diet. Instead, rethink your relationship with food. Make healthy eating a priority.
Keep it simple. Diet plans and exercise regimens often have hefty price tags and flashy promises. Weight loss fads may give you short-term results, but will they last? Dont overcomplicate weight loss. Its about eating less and moving more. Be serious about sticking to a healthy diet and watching how much you eat. Its OK to splurge once in a while on treats, but every day cant be a cheat day.
Count on cardio. Burning more calories than you take in is what causes weight loss. You should get at least 30 minutes of activity, 5 days per week. Remember that small changes can make a big difference. Park in the back of the parking lot when you go shopping. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Engaging In Physical Activity To Promote Healthy Ageing
Physical activity is recommended for all adults at all ages, including women during the menopausal transition and after menopause . Current Australian physical activity guidelines for adults 1864 years, define physical activity as any activity that increases breathing rate and heart rate. Potential benefits of physical activity for postmenopausal women include:
- improving blood lipids and blood pressure
- improving physical abilities strength, coordination, balance and endurance
- reducing the risk of osteoporosis
- reducing the risk of falls
- reducing the risk of chronic diseases
To help improve blood pressure, cholesterol, heart health, as well as muscle and bone strength, the recommendation is for women to do either:
- 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity weekly (eg brisk walking, recreational swimming, dancing, household tasks like cleaning windows/ raking leaves or pushing a stroller.
- 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity weekly .
To maintain balance, muscle strength and bone health, weight bearing exercises and resistance training is required on 2-3 days per week .
To obtain greater benefits and help weight loss, avoid unhealthy weight gain and to reduce the risk of cancer, 300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity weekly or 150 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity weekly is required.
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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.
Burden Of Obesity In Menopausal Women
The problem of obesity is rising at an alarming rate, with disproportionately higher prevalence in female than male counterparts. This trend can largely be attributed to differences in age-specific reproductive cycles in women. A pooled analysis of international studies on menopausal obesity reports that almost 39% women undergoing menopausal transition are either overweight or obese. In the Indian context, the proportion of overweight/obese women increases from 4% at younger age to 34% at middle and older age. This steep increase in the prevalence of obesity in middle-aged women coincides with the initiation of the menopausal transition.
Nearly, 401 million perimenopausal women in our country will be predisposed to the risk of menopausal obesity by 2026. Obese women at this stage are exposed to the dual burden of menopausal symptoms and metabolic complications of obesity for the rest of their life. Weight gain at this stage can be partly attributed to the lack of awareness among middle-aged women toward their health-related issues as they prioritize the wellness of their family members over their own. This neglect impedes the initiation of any weight loss intervention by them, further aggravating the problem of weight gain. The massive proportions of menopausal women and the affected number of life years due to obesity and its consequences make it an issue of public health concern.
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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
Signs Of Perimenopause That May Affect Your Weight
Menopause has a clear definition that helps women know when theyre on the other side of their fertility. Its the point when menstrual cycles permanently cease, and youre considered to be menopausal when you havent had a period for a year.
But perimenopause, the transitional time before that happens, when reproductive hormone levels begin to fluctuate, can feel much less clear cut.
Thats because experiences can vary widely a woman may start perimenopause in her 30s, or not until her 40s or even 50s. Symptoms typically last 48 years, but can also go on for longer than a decade or for only a few months. She may experience a breadth of effects similar to menopause such as hot flashes, insomnia, mood problems and fatigue or nearly no symptoms at all apart from menstrual changes.
But there are commonalities, according to Dr. Lila Nachtigall, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU Langone Health.
This is a time when theres a feeling of transition, she says. Its good to recognize that and be mindful of the ways it might affect other aspects of your life. For example, your weight may fluctuate in ways it hadnt before, and you may experience weight gain even though your nutrition and exercise are the same.
Here are some signs you may be going through perimenopause, along with a few tips on how to deal with potential weight-gain issues:
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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.
Eating To Reduce The Risk Of Osteoporosis
Lifestyle changes that promote healthy ageing also promote healthy bones: having an adequate calcium intake, and vitamin D, engaging in tailored physical activity, stopping smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption .
Postmenopausal women should aim to consume 1000-1300 mg of calcium each day, preferably from dietary sources . If women cannot maintain the recommended dietary intake of calcium, supplements can be prescribed.
To improve absorption of calcium, adequate daily vitamin D is recommended :
- 400 IU for women 5170 years and 100-1000 IU for women older than 70 years.
Geographical location, age and lifestyle factors mean that many women in Australia and New Zealand may be vitamin D deficient and supplements may be required. Recommendations for Vitamin D supplement doses and duration of safe sun exposure by season and location can be found for Australian women at:
Note that whilst adequate calcium and vitamin D are required for healthy bones, those supplements alone or in combination have not been shown to reduce osteoporotic fractures without the addition of anti-resorptive therapy .
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Can You Achieve Long
Ward explains that because the menopause diet in her and Wrights book includes satisfying portions of enjoyable foods, and since its not overly restrictive, its more likely to be sustainable and effective. The word diet invokes deprivation, but a menopause diet should be thought of as a way to enhance well-being, Ward said. This eating pattern can help you look and feel your best while reducing the risk of chronic conditions that may affect your quality of life later on. She also pointed out that no one, including dietitians, eats perfectly all the time. The menopause diet is meant to help you make small changes to your routine that will stick in the long run.
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.
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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.
Find A Friend Or A Group To Exercise With
To attack belly fat and any other menopause weight gain, youll need to burn between 400 and 500 calories most days of the week from cardiovascular exercise, such as walking briskly, jogging, bicycling, dancing, or swimming, Peeke says. Need motivation? Find a friend who needs to exercise as much as you do, and set a date to work out together. Research published in April 2015 in the British Journal of Health Psychology found that actively looking for a new workout partner and exercising together is beneficial for both exercise and emotional support.
If you dont have a buddy to join you on your weight loss mission, it may be time to try a group fitness class at your local gym or community center. Data published in November 2017 in the Journal of Osteopathic Medicine found that participating in regular group fitness classes resulted in a significant decrease in stress and a rise in physical, mental, and emotional quality of life compared with exercising regularly on your own or not engaging in regular exercise at all.
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Menopause And Your Skin
Estrogen controls female reproduction, among a variety of other female characteristics. But did you know it also affects skin health?
Estrogen influences two key elements of your skin: water retention and collagen production. Water retention is a key element of skin plumpness. But as your estrogen levels decline, so does the amount of water in your skin.
Lower estrogen also means that your body produces less collagen. Collagen is a protein that makes skin firm and resilient, and loss of collagen can also contribute to noticeable skin changes.
Lack of hydration and declining collagen production contribute to the signs of aging in your skin. You might notice skin issues like:
- Age spots
- Post-menopausal acne
Hormonal changes can also cause unwanted hair to grow on your face, such as your upper lip or your chin.