Menopause Diet: Foods For Menopause
A menopause diet – which involves eating the right foods for menopause – can help to ease the menopause weight gain we all experience as we reach our mid-life.
So which are the right foods for menopause?
As is correct for anyone hoping to lose weight, a diet rich in fruit and vegetables and starchy fibres, such as brown rice and wholemeal bread, is always preferable.
According to the British Nutrition Foundation, women who are post-menopausal are also at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, so keeping your heart healthy is imperative during and after the life stage. Post-menopausal women should avoid saturated fats, instead replacing them with things like olive and sunflower oils and spreads.
Oily fish should also be eaten twice a week, whilst salt intake should be kept to an absolute minimum. And of course, alcohol should not be consumed to excess – the NHS recommends no more than 14 units a week, with alcohol free days too.
To find out more about the food and supplements you should be taking during the menopause, .
But most importantly, it’s important to remember to love and accept your body as much as you can, even if you are working on improving your health in this way.
Menopause Weight Gain: Why It Happens
Getting older and becoming less active causes loss of muscle mass, which slows down the metabolism. According to experts, it’s this, rather than the menopause itself, that bears the brunt of the responsibility for weight gain in middle age. However, fluctuating hormone levels also play their part.
New evidence suggests that plummeting estrogen levels may encourage us to eat more and exercise less, lowers the metabolic rate, and increases insulin resistance, making it more difficult for our bodies to deal with sugars and starches.
Our hormones also influence fat distribution. Perimenopause weight gain is often associated with the laying down of fat around the abdomen and internal organs, as opposed to the hips and thighs. Feeling stressed? Stress hormones like cortisol promote the growth of that pesky spare tire. It’s not simply a cosmetic issue, either – the more inches you add to your waistline, the higher your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers.
Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, explained, “‘The change’ actually does bring changes for many women, including weight gain that can resist even the most diligent efforts to reverse it.”
“Women often assume that they are the source of the problem when it comes to anything regarding their weight.” But that’s not always the case with menopause weight gain – with our hormone fluctuations – among other things – certainly not helping the problem.
Does Menopause Cause Weight Gain
There’s no doubt that metabolism typically slows about 5 – 10% each decade as you age. But although metabolism and hormonal changes play a role, the primary cause of weight gain in post-menopausal women results from being less physically active as you age.
One of the best ways to prevent weight gain after menopause is to increase physical activity. The more you move, the more calories you burn and the more you help boost your metabolism. Include the following types of activities in your routine:
- Aerobic exercise. Whether you choose to walk briskly, jog, bike, row or climb stairs, aim to get at least 30 minutes of aerobic physical activity on most days of the week.
- Strength training. Weight lifting or resistance training 2 or 3 times a week helps increase muscle mass. Having more muscle helps increase your metabolic rate.
- NEAT . Studies show that in addition to regular exercise, metabolism is affected by everyday “non-sitting” activities. These can include things like cleaning your house, tapping your toes or pacing while on the phone.
Of course, exercise alone is not enough to prevent weight gain. Limiting junk food, sugar and white flour, increasing fruit and veggie intake, and eating moderate portions of healthy meals and snacks are all positive dietary strategies. And when it comes to your diet, it’s not all about eating less. Research has shown the following habits to be damaging to metabolism:
Date Last Reviewed: May 8, 2019
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Weight Gain During Perimenopause
Its estimated that women gain about 25 pounds during the perimenopausal transition. However, women can experience more weight gain, which is particularly true about women who are overweight or suffer from obesity.
Weight gain may also occur as part of ageing, regardless of hormone changes.
The Study of Womens Health Across the Nation is a large observational study that has followed middle-aged women throughout perimenopause.
During the study, women gained belly fat and lost muscle mass. Another factor contributing to weight gain in perimenopause may be the increased appetite and calorie intake that occurs in response to hormonal changes.
In one study, levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin, were found to be significantly higher among perimenopausal women, compared to premenopausal and postmenopausal women.
The low oestrogen levels in the late stages of menopause may also impair the function of leptin and neuropeptide Y, hormones that control fullness and appetite.
Therefore, women in the late stages of perimenopause who have low oestrogen levels may be driven to eat more calories.
Progesterones effects on weight during the menopausal transition have not been studied as much. However, some researchers believe the combination of low oestrogen and progesterone could further increase the risk of obesity.
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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What Can Be Done To Minimize The Weight Gain Caused By Menopause
Start adopting healthy lifestyle practices before menopause by exercising and eating well, so those good habits are in place. Aging is associated with changes in metabolism, decreased muscle and increased body fat. We are often less physically active the older we get, which is a large contributor to weight gain. Weight tends to deposit around the midsection, which can increase the risk of diabetes, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis and certain types of cancer . In addition to the negative impact on health, weight gain often leads to poor self-image and depression.
It is important to your overall health and well-being to adhere to a healthy diet and engage in regular physical activity. A healthy diet includes watching portion control and limiting amounts of sugar, processed carbohydrates, fat and processed foods. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to help with weight loss, improve cognition and decrease the risk of dementia and osteoporosis, as well as improve heart health. Weight-bearing exercises such as walking, Pilates and yoga help maintain posture, balance and core strength.
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.
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What Are The Health Risks Associated With Weight Gain In The Menopause
Any kind of significant weight gain comes with health risks. If youre obese, youre much more likely to develop serious conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Youre also more at-risk for certain types of cancer.
A specific health risk for menopausal women is that weight gain tends to occur around the middle. Fat storage in this area is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and heart attack.
While You Are At Your Doctors Office
While you are your doctors, get all your baseline labs so you can measure your progress over the next couple of months. Let your doctor know you want to lose weight. I was eating a vegetable omelet for breakfast and a big salad for lunch and doing aerobics three times a week. My doctor said I was doing okay. But he said I could do even better. Dr. Kwan recommended to get my thyroid tested. My thyroid was low. Dr. Kwan also said I needed more weight training and half my plate at dinner should be greens. What a difference it made in my life. Back in the day, no matter what diet you went on, the first step was getting a physical. You can bet your doctor will not tell you to adopt a diet of overpriced protein bars and protein shakes.
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Keep Emotional Eating In Check
Its tempting to want to deal with changing hormones through emotional eating. Fluctuating emotions make that late-night nosedive into the ice cream even more appealing than normal.
Trying to shed extra weight in menopause doesnt mean you have to deprive yourself of everything, but you should monitor when you get the urge to binge on junk food and try to regulate your emotions in healthier ways.
Distract yourself, practice self-care, and become aware of whether or not your body is actually hungry.
Weight Changes During And After Menopause
Hormonal changes and weight gain may continue to occur as women leave perimenopause and enter menopause.
One predictor of weight gain may be the age at which menopause occurs.
A study of over 1,900 women found that those who entered menopause earlier than the average age of 51 had less body fat.
Additionally, there are several other factors that contribute to weight gain after menopause.
Postmenopausal women are generally less active than when they were younger, which reduces energy expenditure and leads to a loss of muscle mass.
Menopausal women also frequently have higher fasting insulin levels and insulin resistance, which drive weight gain and increase heart disease risk.
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Does Menopause Cause Hair Loss
Hormonal changes due to menopause can contribute to hair loss. The most common causes of sudden rapid hair loss, or telogen effluvium, are stress and fluctuating hormones that occur during the menopause transition. Female pattern hair loss is also very common. It is more prevalent after menopause because hormones play a role. Underlying medical conditions, heredity and certain styling practices may also influence hair loss.
To help prevent hair loss, adhere to a well-balanced diet. Certain supplements may help. Also, be gentle to your hair and follicles. Avoid hairstyles that cause pulling. Minimize the use of direct heat on the hair and keep hair well-conditioned.Natural oils like argan oil, Jamaican black castor oil or olive oil may help. Over-the-counter products, such as minoxidil, or laser caps or helmets may provide some benefit. It takes up to four months for any of these treatments to work. If, after four months, there is no improvement, then its time to make an appointment with a doctor. Hormone replacement therapy has been shown to help some women with hair loss.
Tips For Managing Weight After Menopause
Gaining weight with the onset of menopause is a common experience. Your doctor can help you assess your weight with respect to your overall health. Whether youre trying to lose or maintain weight, the following simple strategies may be useful in supporting your wellness journey during this life stage.
1. Prioritise protein
Research suggests that eating more protein throughout the day may help you maintain your lean muscle as you get older. Protein-rich foodssuch as fish, eggs, legumes, lean meat and poultryalso play a key role in making meals feel satisfying, which could make you less likely to get the munchies at other times.
2. Eat meals mindfully
On busy days, it can be tempting to multitask as you scoff down a breakfast wrap or poke bowl. But you may find your meal more satisfying if you are fully present while enjoying ita practice known as mindful eating. One small study found that when people heard a prompt to focus on the aroma, flavour and texture of their lunch, they ate fewer snacks later that afternoon than volunteers who didnt receive the audio nudge. In addition to savouring every bite, try setting aside some time in your day to enjoy your meal without distractions and lay down your fork between bites.
3. Put the scale in perspective
4. Reduce stress
5. Level up your sleep game
6. Build your strength
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Subcutaneous Vs Visceral Fat In Menopause
Belly fat isnt just annoying, it can be linked to poor health factors. The fat you can pinch is called subcutaneous fat. But the fat that appears around your stomach is often visceral fat, which is fat that surrounds your organs within your abdominal wall.
This type of fat puts you at an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems. High levels of visceral fat can result in increased insulin resistance, which may lead to glucose intolerance and even type 2 diabetes.
You want to minimize your belly fat not just to look and feel your best but to stay healthy for years to come.
Bottom Line: Can You Lose Weight During Menopause
Maintaining a healthy weight before and after the change is totally possible. Just because youre going through menopause doesnt mean you have to gain weight, Dr. Zeszutek reaffirms. Lifestyle tweaks such as prioritising sleep and stress management, eating plenty of lean protein, and adding strength training to your fitness routine can help keep you healthy in multiple ways after menopauseon and off the scale.
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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.
Menopause And Weight Gain Everything You Need To Know
The menopause is a natural part of ageing for women. In the UK, the average woman reaches the menopause at 51, although it can occur at any time between the ages of 45 and 55 or even earlier or later.
The classic symptoms of the menopause are hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, mood changes, and a loss of sex drive. However, some women also experience changes to their weight.
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Tips For Menopause Weight Loss
Whether youre just starting perimenopause or have already bid a fond farewell to your last period, its never too late to get your eating back on track. These strategies can help you avoid weight gain after menopause.
What Do Your Patients Need To Be Successful At Losing Weight
Increasing physical activity beyond 2400 kcal/week has proven a successful tactic, as has maintaining dietary vigilance and continuing to use medications that target weight loss, or that target factors related to increased energy intake and reduced energy expenditure
In her research, Marlatt found that social support and accountability was the primary need. These women wanted other women like them, who were experiencing the things they were experiencing. They wanted validation for the things that they were feeling, Marlatt said.
The second need was more menopause education. By having more information on what was going to happen, women felt empowered and more in control.
The current barriers to prescription are higher than desired, but Marlatt encourages practitioners to stay patient. In the next few years, there will be approval for reimbursement, so just know they are coming! We just need to be patient a little while longer, she concluded.
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