How To Lose Weight During Menopause
Menopause brings many changes and hurdles to overcome, including the weight gain many women experience during this time. Statistically, the average woman gains just over 4 pounds when her body prepares for menopause in her 40s, and she continues to gain about a pound and a half each year throughout her 50s and 60s.
Knowing this fact, there are some tricks you can employ when it comes to how to lose weight during menopause.
Your Body Shape Will Change
As you may know, the menopause years ultimately culminate in a decline in estrogen. When youre younger one of estrogens roles is to deposit fat onto your hips. However, as it diminishes this action shifts to the tummy area. Its part of our evolutionary makeup and why we tend to move from an hourglass or pear shape to an apple shape.
Just as your shape is hardwired to alter during puberty and pregnancy, its in your DNA for it to change at menopause. If youre a post-menopausal woman and you feel your body looks markedly different from when you were younger, it probably does. Its normal and natural.
A change in shape, a couple more kilograms and a little more belly fat are to be expected. Research shows that on average, a woman will gain 1-2.5kg during menopause.
However, thats not to say that an excess of any of these is something you should take in your stride, because then it can become a health concern.
Surplus weight can lead to a risk of conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and post-menopausal breast cancer.
Safety Tips For Losing Weight During Or After Menopause
Losing weight is different for everyone. But the best way to lose weight and keep the weight off is to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
There are some additional general guidelines that are good to follow to ensure youre losing weight at a safe and sustainable rate of 0.5 to 1kg a week, which include:
- making sure you dont go without food for long periods of time or cut out whole food groups from your diet. This can cause you to become unwell and fall into bad eating habits
- staying away from very low-calorie diets, where you consume less than 800 calories a day. These can cause you to lose a lot of weight very quickly, but theyre not a safe and sustainable way to lose weight
Its best to speak to a doctor about how to lose weight safely if youre obese .
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Blame Low Estrogen Levels
As women go through perimenopausethe multi-year period that precedes the total cessation of menstrual cyclestheir ovaries gradually produce fewer female hormones, particularly estrogen. By the time a womans menstrual cycles have stopped, her body produces almost no estrogen.
Its this lack of estrogen that seems to trigger a shift in fat. Almost all women gain weight as they get older, but studies have found that women who have entered menopause have significantly more visceral fat, or fat located deep in the abdomen, than similar-aged women who have not yet experienced menopause. Some women remain the same weight before and after menopause but notice a significant challenge in their silhouette. In almost every case, women add inches to their waist after .
Women who use hormone therapy to treat menopausal symptoms tend to have less visceral or belly fat than other menopausal women, which lends support to the theory that lack of estrogen drives the accumulation of belly fat. Unfortunately, when women stop hormone therapy, they gain belly fat.
The Composition Of Belly Fat
Belly fat is different from other types of fat as it can be made up of two varieties:
1. Subcutaneous fat: the visible kind that sits just under the skin.
2. Visceral fat: this sits around the internal organs. It can amplify issues like insulin resistance, elevated cortisol and high blood sugar. Visceral fat is also implicated in cardiovascular disease, dementia, breast and bowel cancer, type 2 diabetes and stroke.
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Here Are The Tools She Uses To Help Manage The Progression Of The Disease
When Dr. Oz found out in September 2019 that his mom, Suna, then 81, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, he was gutted. He wondered how he missed the signs and what he could do next. Like so many caregivers, he had to recognize that his mom was not going to get better. But he also knew that he wasn’t alone: There is an Alzheimer’s diagnosis every 65 seconds.
Dr. Oz immediately contacted his friends and colleagues and crafted a treatment plan with two of the country’s top experts in the field: Richard S. Isaacson, MD, a neurologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and the founder of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic, and Dr. Rudy Tanzi, a professor of neurology at Harvard and the founder of the “Alzheimer’s Genome Project,” who co-discovered the first Alzheimer’s gene.
“When loved ones are diagnosed, take a deep breath,” Tanzi says. “Alzheimer’s is a challenging condition and the only way you can help is to create a plan of action.”
Here is Dr. Oz’s mom’s science-backed regimen for which he hopes will help to slow down and manage the disease’s progression.
Weight Gain And Metabolism
You may have unknowingly become a bit more sedentary as youve aged into your 40s and 50s as well, making weight gain all the more common. Your metabolism slows down as you lose muscle, and aches and pains or a busy schedule may keep you from exercising as frequently.
All of these factors can contribute to an increase of abdominal fat during your menopausal years.
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Manage Stress With Relaxation Techniques
Diet, sleep, and exercise are not the only things that influence weight. Daytime stress and life-stress can raise cortisol, possibly making it harder to drop those excess pounds.31 Though its hard to prove, we believe that yoga, relaxing exercise like Tai Chi, meditation, and relaxing hobbies can all help.
Why Do Women Gain Belly Fat In Midlife
And is there any way to target it through diet or exercise?
Q: Im a woman in my late 40s and for the first time Ive developed belly fat. Is there any way to target it through diet or exercise?
If youre a middle-aged woman and youre noticing that your midsection is expanding, the first thing to know is that youre not alone.
This is a physiological change that, unfortunately, really happens to virtually all women as we age, said Victoria Vieira-Potter, an associate professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri. Its not something you did, she added, or an indication that youre letting yourself go, so to speak.
In the years leading up to menopause, Dr. Vieira-Potter said, levels of hormones like estrogen shift. And research suggests that these shifts likely lead to changes in body shape, she said along with hot flashes, mood changes, irregular periods, trouble sleeping and more. This perimenopausal transition, which typically begins between 45 and 55 and lasts for about 7 years, officially ends one year after the last period. At that point, women are said to be in menopause.
Before the menopausal transition, women tend to store more of their body fat in the thighs and hips, resulting in a pear-shaped body, Dr. Vieira-Potter explained, while men tend to store more fat in the abdominal area, making them more apple-shaped.
Alice Callahan is a health and science journalist.
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She Follows A Mediterranean Diet
Sure, Dr. Oz’s mom lives in the Mediterranean, which makes it easier to eat well, but this is a diet that can be adopted no matter where you live.
A Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, nuts, vegetables, olive oil, and alternative sources of protein such as fish, legumes, tofu, and mycoprotein from mushrooms. It’s also high in fiber and antioxidants and has been shown to reduce inflammation, Tanzi says.
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.
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Can Weight Changes During Menopause Be Prevented
Most women gain weight as they age, but there are things you can do to minimize weight gain during menopause. Weight gain is not a guarantee. If you are vigilant about healthy eating and focus on an active lifestyle, you can avoid those excess pounds that can creep up.
Preventing weight gain in the first place is much easier than trying to lose the pounds once they have been gained. However, the following tips will help you both prevent weight gain and lose weight.
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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Ways To Lose Weight During Menopause
1. Increase Your Activity
Activity is fundamental when it comes to losing weight. To put it simply: just get out and move. Aerobic activity helps you lose weight and maintain a healthy number on the scale.
Activities that increase your muscle mass will help your body burn calories more efficiently, such as swimming, cycling or running. Resistance training is important too. Strength training with weights will help reduce body fat, increase muscle, and offer additional benefits like less physical pain and a better feeling overall.
How much activity do you need to reach your goals? The recommended amount of moderate aerobic activity is at least 150 minutes a week or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. The best way to get the most from your activity and boost your intensity is through high-intensity interval training where you alternate between intense periods of physical activity and recovery periods.
2. Lower Your Food Intake
The needs of our bodies change as we get older. Once we hit our 50s, we do not need as many calories as we did in previous decades. When you lower your calories, do not compromise nutritional value instead, make smart choices when it comes to food. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains will sustain you.
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3. Cut Down on Sugar
4. Hydrate Properly
5. Build Your Support Network
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.
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Tips For Reducing Menopause Symptoms
Youd be surprised at how great of an impact a few small tweaks to our daily routines can have on relieving the ailments associated with menopause. In addition to taking a daily support vitamin, there are a whole host of dietary changes, for instance, that have been proven to offer reprieve.
Studies have shown that eating plenty of vegetables and fruits can help to minimize symptoms, while diets high in mayonnaise, liquid oils, sweets, and desserts and solid fats and snacks exacerbated the risk of problems associated with menopause.
A 2015 study by the Mayo Womens Health Clinic also determined that caffeine use is associated with greater vasomotor symptom bother in postmenopausal women, so avoiding the stimulant where possible may be a good idea.
Dr. Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson, ScD, who acted as the research director in a 2018 study published in Human Reproduction said the food you eat can also help prevent early onset menopause. We found higher intake of calcium and vitamin D from dairy foods to be associated with lower risk, she explained in a press release.
Make Your Schedule And Commit To It
A schedule for your weight-loss journey is so important. And no, its not so you can beat yourself up for not reaching your goals, but so you can track your progress. To lose weight, you have to be committed, and schedules help you work out a strategy that pushes you forward.
Exercise here and there, healthy dinner when you can manage it thats not going to cut it.
Build a weekly schedule of when youre going to train, what youre going to eat and stick with it. Its okay if you cant meet your schedule needs. Its hard to know from day one how well respond to a new training regime, but the best results are all about sustainability and accountability. So if your schedule isnt working for you, dont fight to fit it into your life but change it up. Keep working on it until you find a system thats getting you to where you want to go.
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How To Tackle Menopause Belly
If you are approaching perimenopause or menopause, you may be noticing a shift in your body how the weight is distributed. Whereas in our 20s, 30s and 40s most women have their fat in their hips, buttocks and thighs , as we hit the age of perimenopause and menopause usually around age 40 the fat gets redistributed to the belly area, particularly deep inside the tummy and becomes menopause belly. This leads to the muffin top something I get asked about all the time!
If you dont tackle menopause belly or this new mid-section weight gain, it can get out of control, and quickly! And the bottom line is its not healthy to have too much extra weight around your belly: A waistline larger than 35 inches on women is an indicator of health concerns like heart attack and diabetes.
The Link Between Menopause And Weight Gain
Before menopause, you could primarily associate weight gain with a lack of physical activity, inadequate sleep, or unhealthy eating behaviors. This is not to say that these are not causes of weight gain during menopause. They certainly are.
However, after reaching menopause, you realize that you may be adding more pounds than usual, despite exercising and eating right. During the menopause phase, you experience hormonal changes that affect your weight in several ways.
First, the hormonal changes cause a shift in weight distribution . You could find that you have more fat deposits around areas like your belly, arms, and thighs. This weight distribution may also make weight loss harder .
Similarly, the transition makes your body release low amounts of estrogen. When estrogen levels drop, you tend to store fat, particularly in your abdomen, leading to visceral or belly fat, as most people know it .
Weight gain, even after menopause, can be detrimental as it leaves you at a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and high blood pressure . With this in mind, talk to your doctor about an effective strategy to help the weight at bay.
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