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How Much Weight Gain In Menopause

Choose Fats Wisely And Eat Meals With Healthy Fats To Counter Weight Gain

Menopause weight gain 7 reasons youre piling on the pounds

Fat adds flavor, makes our food taste better, and is part of a healthy diet. So the good news is that it isnt necessary or recommended to completely eliminate it from your diet altogether. You just need to learn how to be more choosy, says Palumbo. Think more walnuts, and fewer Whoppers.

The healthiest fats are the ones that derive from vegetable sources like olives and nuts, but keep in mind that healthy fats like those found in avocados have the same number of calories as the fat found in an ice cream sundae. An ounce of nuts has 170 calories, so you have to be very careful, says Palumbo. The same goes with extra virgin olive oil. The American way is to go overboard, so you have to be extremely cautious when you use it and measure the amounts of fats and oils that you consume.

And restaurant meals once again are not your friends in the fat department. Restaurants are not in business to make us healthy. They add a lot of flavor carriers, which are known as fats, Palumbo says. Salad dressings are one of the biggest sources of added fat in our diet, so be sure to order your salad with the dressing on the side.

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 .

SUMMARY

Changes in hormone levels during the menopausal transition may lead to fat gain and an increased risk of several diseases.

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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 .

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Pay Attention To Your Diet

It might be tempting to go on a restrictive diet to prevent any menopause-related weight gain, but severely restricting calories can negatively impact your overall health.

Research suggests calorie restriction may also be associated with decreased bone mineral density something thats already a concern during menopause.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, women may lose up to 20 percent of bone density in the 5 to 7 years following menopause.

If youre not sure where to start, a guided nutrition program may be the answer.

With a nutrition program like 2B Mindset, youll follow the Plate It! system with food ratios to help you cut calories while still eating a large amount of lower-calorie foods.

Or if portion control is more in line with your lifestyle, Ultimate Portion Fix with Autumn Calabrese will show you how to perfectly portion all your meals so youre well-fed and well-fueled.

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 lean means reducing inflammatory fats like vegetable oils. Lean meats, fish, and healthy fats will provide energy and brain food.

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.

Menopause Symptoms Worsen Weight Problems

What To Do If You

“During the menopause transition, night sweats, sleep disturbances and problems with mood are common and may affect a woman’s ability to adhere to a healthy diet and regular exercise program,” Pinkerton says. “Whether you are just trying to stay awake or combat a low mood, the candy bar may seem like a great energy booster.”

Similarly, she says, an exercise class may be a bit too daunting after a night of not sleeping well. The combination of poor food choices and lack of movement can lead to a gain around your midsection.

Related:A Natural Solution for Hot Flashes

Other Factors At Play

We dont yet have a clear understanding of all the factors that lead to weight gain during perimenopause and menopause, but here are several ones that do. 

LOSS OF LEAN MUSCLE MASSThe documented loss of lean muscle mass,3 leads to a decrease in metabolism how much energy your body uses. This may lead to weight gain even if you havent made any changes to what you eat or how much you exercise. 

SLEEP DISRUPTIONDuring this time many of us struggle with sleep disruption, which is linked to hormonal changes, and this too can impair metabolism. In addition, sleep deprivation affects the part of the brain that evaluates hunger and increases the desire for weight-gain, high-calorie foods.4 In one study, researchers looked at the brains of people experiencing sleep deprivation and saw neuronal responses thats at the level of brain cells to high-calorie food.5

POSSIBLY LESS TIME FOR EXERCISE AND INCREASED STRESS

Depending on what is on your plate during these years, it may afford you less time and to exercise. Additionally, juggling many responsibilities often leads to increased stress. Chronic stress causes a rise in cortisol, a hormone is known as the stress hormone and cortisol impairs metabolism.

Why You May Gain Fat After Menopause

One of the reasons older women gain weight is that blood levels of estradiol, a form of estrogen, decline measurably after menopause. That change in estradiol also changes one of its metabolites testosterone . Together they alter how you burn calories and manage fat. Researchers have found, however, that hormone levels aren’t the only thing in decline.

A study in the International Journal of Obesity tracked 158 healthy premenopausal women, 43 and older, for four years. The researchers found that women who became menopausal were getting half as much physical activity as they had in the four years prior to menopause. And while everyone in the study added visceral belly fat, post-menopausal women added the most.

What Is Up With Weight Gain During Menopause

Ladies between the ages of 40-55, this blog is for you!   Can you relate to any of these symptoms?

  • Pants are more snug than usual, or dont fit at all anymore!
  • Changes in body weight distribution.
  • Energy level has plummeted.
  • Post-workout recovery takes much longer.

If these sound familiar, you are not alone!  Approximately one year after menstrual periods end, a women reaches menopause.  On average this occurs close to age 50. This is a time of major hormonal and physical changes for women that can include:   Irregular periods, Vaginal dryness, Hot flashes, Chills, Night sweats, Sleep problems, Mood changes, slowed metabolism, Thinning hair and dry skin, and weight gain!   Many of these symptoms can start occurring during the perimenopausal stage in a womens 40s. This blog article will be mainly focusing on weight gain due to menopause and what to do about it!

Whats up with my hormones?

Fluctuating levels of hormones cause many of these menopausal symptoms.   Women typically begin to notice these symptoms around ages 45-50. When hormone levels start to drop, our bodies try to compensate for this loss.  Since fat cells produce estrogen, our bodies start to accumulate more of these cells in an effort to increase estrogen.  This helps to explain part of the mid-life weight gain. Unfortunately, these newly formed fat cells are not very efficient at producing estrogen, so fat begins to accumulate without estrogen levels increasing.  

What about metabolism?

Why cant I sleep?

Add In Resistance Training

Menopause Weight Gain: What Causes it & How to Prevent it

Muscle mass may decrease during menopause, but the best way to counteract this is through strength training, says Dani Singer, a NASM-certified personal trainer.

Resistance training not only builds muscle, but in one study, menopausal women who followed a 12-week program of walking, stretching, and strengthening exercises reported better vitality and mental health than their non-exercising peers.

Cardiovascular training is still important, Singer says. But, for transitioning through menopause, strength training comes at number one.

Avoid Excess Consumption Especially Snacks Nuts Alcohol And Keto Treats

When metabolism slows during menopause, even consuming slightly more than you need can add to weight struggles. While a low-carb diet can help you keep consumption in check by reducing cravings and increasing satiety between meals, you can still go overboard on keto-approved foods.

Paying attention to food and drinks that contain little nutrition and/or lots of calories is important for women in menopause. That means be careful with keto desserts, fat bombs, bulletproof coffee, MCT oil, alcohol, low-carb fruits, and nuts. If youre really struggling, try eliminating dairy, such as eating lots of cheese and cream. Understanding hunger signals helps control excess consumption, too.

Demystifying Perimenopausal Weight Gain

Perimenopausal weight gain feels different for many reasons. The excess pounds seem to go on more easily and are much, much harder to lose no matter how often you diet or exercise.

Gaining weight in perimenopause is also extremely common nearly 80% of the women who took our Menopause & Perimenopause Quiz last year reported moderate to severe weight gain as a symptom.

Excess weight in perimenopause appears without explanation and quickly becomes another obstacle that prevents you from feeling and looking the way you want to at this sensitive time in your life. Perimenopause is the time in life when everything feels like its changing beyond your control. When you add in the frustration of gaining weight that you just cant seem to lose, its very discouraging.

The truth is perimenopausal weight gain is different. Thats why losing that weight will require something different too. The first step is to understand whats really causing you to gain weight right now. The reasons are probably not what youd expect:

Why Weight Gain Often Happens After Menopause

What is it about menopause that makes it so hard to keep off the weight? It’s likely a mix of factors related to menopause and aging.

The impact of estrogen. In animal studies, estrogen appears to help control body weight. With lower estrogen levels, lab animals tend to eat more and be less physically active. Reduced estrogen may also lower metabolic rate, the rate at which the body converts stored energy into working energy. It’s possible the same thing happens with women when estrogen levels drop after menopause. Some evidence suggests that estrogen hormone therapy increases a woman’s resting metabolic rate. This might help slow weight gain. Lack of estrogen may also cause the body to use starches and blood sugar less effectively, which would increase fat storage and make it harder to lose weight.

Other age-related factors. As women age, many other changes happen that contribute to weight gain. For example:

  • You’re less likely to exercise. Sixty percent of adults aren’t active enough, and this increases with age.
  • You lose muscle mass, which lowers your resting metabolism, making it easier to gain weight.
  • The rate at which you can use up energy during exercise declines. To use the same energy as in the past and achieve weight loss, you may need to increase the amount of time and intensity you’re exercising, no matter what your past activity levels were.

Muscle And Bone Density Loss

Are you in menopause? Check these 5 hormones to prevent ...

Lower estrogen levels not only can increase body weight but can also decrease bone density and muscle mass.

According to a 10-year, multi-ethnic study on more than 800 premenopausal women, women lost around 10% of their bone density related to menopause, with 7% of the loss occurring during the perimenopausal and early menopausal years.

Furthermore, menopause is associated with lower muscle mass. Studies suggest that women suffer a 1.17% muscle mass decrease and a 0.6% muscle strength reduction per year after menopause. Lower muscle mass is associated with decreased resting metabolism,  making it easier to gain weight.

Lower estrogen levels also lead to lower bone density,  leading to osteopenia or osteoporosis. This in turn leads to a higher risk of fractures, and poorer muscle performance, factors that make it harder for women to exercise, leading to increased weight gain and fat build-up.

Exercise Tips For Menopause Weight Gain

HomeMenopause Resources

While many women report menopause weight gainthis natural life change isnt the real reason were finding it increasingly difficult to maintain a healthy weight.1 The most common reasons women gain weight during menopause have more to do with the natural aging process and lifestyle changes.1 Aging slows down metabolism, causes lean body mass to decrease, and changes how the body stores fat.1 As we age, we also tend to become less physically active, which means burning fewer calories, both of which can contribute to menopause weight gain.2 While many of these factors may be outside of our control, finding a safe and fun way to stay active is well within our grasp.  

What Causes Weight Gain At Menopause

Weight gain at menopause is primarily caused by 3 main categories. 

Understanding these categories is very important because if you understand what is causing weight gain in your body then you can target treatment to those specific issues. 

So, what is actually happening in your body to cause weight gain? 

#1. Genetics. 

A good way to determine how you will handle menopause is to talk to your mom or sisters . 

Their experience will probably be a good reflection of what your experience will be like. 

You can’t always control your genetics , but you can actually control some of the expression of your genes through something known as epigenetics

So, even if it’s in your cards to gain weight at menopause doesn’t necessarily that you will. 

Certain factors, including behavior factors such as the foods that you eat and how much you exercise, can impact the expression of your genes. 

In this way, you may be able to prevent some of the negative side effects associated with menopause even if you are genetically pre-disposed to them because of your DNA. 

#2. Hormonal Changes. 

The next category, and probably most important, has to do with the changes associated with the menopause transition. 

You already know that your sex hormones are powerful, but what you probably didn’t realize is that they impact very important processes in your body including how your body metabolizes and stores fat. 

And this makes perfect sense if you think about it:

#3. External Factors. 

Best Foods To Prevent Weight Gain During Menopause

Eat a mostly plant-based diet to cut calories and stay healthy during menopause. You can eat lean red meat, fresh fish and poultry occasionally. Be sure to buy meat and poultry fresh at the butcher counter or from organic providers. 

Stock up on nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and tofu. Choose low-fat dairy products like Greek yogurt and cottage cheese, and replace butter and shortening with olive oil when cooking. 

Reduce, or better yet, eliminate consumption of sugar-laden foods. Most people consume well beyond the recommended daily amount of sugar per day.

All you favorite comfort-food snacks, like pies, cookies, cakes, candy and ice cream make you gain weight, especially around your mid-section.  

You drink a lot of excess sugar, sometimes without even knowing it. Soft drinks, energy drinks and juices add both refined and natural sugar to your diet. Pouring sugar into your coffee and tea adds excess calories and no nutritional value. 

Use honey or stevia to sweeten your coffee or tea, or drink unsweetened beverages. Avoid using artificial sugar substitutes, or drinking diet soda. Studies show diet drinks may actually cause you to gain weight. 

Some women may experience mood swings from consuming too much sugar. Be sure not to exceed the 25 gram/six teaspoon daily limit, per the American Heart Association. The limit includes both refined and natural sugars.

Why Do We Gain Weight At Menopause

How to Reverse Pre and Post Menopausal Weight Gain
  • Primarily because we are less physically active than before. Muscle atrophies when we dont use it and fat can increase if our energy intake exceeds our output.
  • We may comfort eat as we adjust to changes taking place around us: signs of ageing, inability to sleep, our changing roles in the lives of those close to us, illness, the death of a loved one, divorce, or a combination of a lot of things.
  • Our metabolism often changes at perimenopause, and our bodies appear to hold on to fat until we discover the secrets of burning off fat through exercise and eating a low-fat healthy diet.
  • We may be stressed and producing excesses of the hormone cortisol which is associated with flight or fight responses. High cortisol levels often cause us to put on weight especially around our waists.

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    Unrefined carbohydrates like fruit can help to stabilise blood sugar levels

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.

What Causes Menopause Weight Gain

Menopause officially starts 12 months after your last period.

But weight gain may start in the decade or so before that happens, known as perimenopause.

There isnt one specific reason for menopause-related weight gain, but rather a perfect storm of factors that all influence the number on the scale, according to Carrie Lam, M.D., a board-certified physician specializing in family medicine and anti-aging and regenerative medicine.

These factors may include:

Estrogen and progesterone are two of the most important hormones in the female reproductive system.

These hormones fluctuate day to day, phase to phase, says Lam.

Estrogen and progesterone levels typically rise and fall unevenly during perimenopause, then decline during menopause. Research suggests lower estrogen levels during menopause are associated with increased abdominal fat storage.

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? 

We Go Through Many Transitions During Life That Make Us Susceptible To Weight Gain Some Are Shared By Both Genders: Arriving At Adolescence Entering Our Elder Years Or Undergoing A Stressful Life Event Others Happen Only To Women: Having A Baby Then Having A Second Or Third Baby And Going Through Menopause

Belly

This article has been archived. We will no longer be updating it. For our most up-to-date information, please visit our menopause hub here.

We go through many transitions during life that make us susceptible to weight gain. Some are shared by both genders: arriving at adolescence, entering our elder years or undergoing a stressful life event. Others happen only to women: having a baby, then having a second or third baby, and going through menopause.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data found that:

  • 51.7 percent of women ages 20-39 were classified as “overweight” or “affected by obesity”
  • 68.1 percent of women ages 40-59 were classified as “overweight” or “affected by obesity”

The 40-59 age range includes the time that most women are perimenopausal. As we age, we start losing our muscle mass, and fat storage tends to increase. This change in body composition puts us at higher risk for metabolic disease, such as heart disease and diabetes.

So, you may be thinking, I’m destined for failure! But this isn’t true. There are many things that go into weight gain during this phaseand many can be modified. Let’s look at how menopause and other contributing factors can affect your weight and what we CAN do to minimize the potential health threats.

  • Hot flashes
  • Urge to urinate more frequently
  • Night sweats
  • Weight gain

How Can You Prevent Weight Gain During Menopause

The best things you can do to prevent menopausal weight gain are to get and stay active and watch what you eat.

If you notice your weight creeping up, reduce your caloric intake by a couple hundred calories a day. Limit sweets, sugary drinks, and alcohol, and stick with healthful foods high in nutrients and fiber.

Research shows that people who had a high adherence to a reduced-carbohydrate diet with moderate fat and high protein were at decreased risk of gaining weight during menopause.

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.

Read more:Hot flashes? Night sweats? Progesterone can help reduce symptoms of menopause

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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