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.
Quit Sugar And Limit Stimulants
Stimulants like caffeine and sugar can have a dehydrating effect on the body as well as a destabilizing impact on blood sugar and hormones. In addition to causing feelings of anxiety and increased stress, caffeine can also worsen typical menopause symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats. If thats not enough reason to quit, it can also contribute to bone density problems.
Alcohol can also worsen hot flashes, night sweats, mood disruptions, and other menopause symptoms. While moderate consumption, such as less than one drink per day, may not have this effect, certain individuals are more sensitive than others. This is largely dependent on genetic individuality, liver health, and the gut microbiome.
While caffeine, alcohol, and even sugar in moderation may not be deal breakers, its best to avoid these for the most part, especially if symptoms of menopause are problematic or if youre having trouble losing weight. Instead, focus on nourishing beverages like water, bone broth, herbal tea, and green tea, and avoid foods that are overly stuffed with sugar.
Bottom line: Losing weight and keeping it off after age 50 is not impossible and with the right strategy it can be easy to do. Sticking to these seven steps above can bring about faster success and help you to feel more at home in your own skin, in spite of changing hormones.
Are There Any Specific Foods That I Should Stay Away From
Asian women, such as from China and japan experience little to no symptoms of menopause than American women. This is predominantly to do with the kind of food they consume. Asian diet’s center around being plant- based with pretty much no dairy products and very little meat. Where as, western diet’s center around meat with extremely low fibre. Women following a low- fat and high- fibre diet all their lives have lesser free floating oestrogen level’s naturally. Thus, during menopause, when the ovaries stop the production of oestrogen almost completely, the transition is easy and does not come in with a lot of hot flushes or menstural cramps.
On the contrary, women eating a lot of dairy and meat, tend to also ignore fibre in their diet. Both of these factors are responsible for excess oestrogen levels in the body to begin with. With the drastic decrease in oestrogen further during menopause, women eating a high- fat and low fibre diet experience more episodes of hot flushes and menstrual cramping.
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Eat More Fruits And Vegetables
In a four-year study, researchers found that women who ate more fruits and vegetables and fewer sweetened drinks and desserts lost more weight than women who didn’t make those dietary changes.
“After the age of 50, our need for energy-calories-decreases, but we still need the vitamins, minerals and fibers from foods,” Upton says. “Make your choices count by selecting nutrient-rich foods.”
Case in point: a recent study found that eating more fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk for postmenopausal osteoporosis.
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Can You Lose Weight After Menopause
Conventional wisdom suggests you can’t lose weight after menopause. Research says otherwise.
You’ve likely heard your whole life that weight loss becomes harder the older you get. There is some truth to that, of course. The metabolism of an average 25-year-old is typically higher than that of a 55-year-old. Likewise, a 30-year-old may be able to exercise longer than a 60-year-old.
Couple physical changes from aging with the hormonal changes brought about by menopause, and it may seem that losing weight after menopause feels really hard for most women.
“Weight gain is a problem for many women, despite maintaining the same diet and exercise routines that they’ve had for years,” says JoAnn Pinkerton, M.D., executive director of the North American Menopause Society. “Even if the number on the scale doesn’t change, women complain of a shift in fat to the midsection after menopause.”
Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
Here, how to help your body adjust to changes brought about by menopause so that you can keep weight off and maybe lose a few pounds too.
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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.
Should You Do Hiit Workouts
Note that HIIT is just how it sounds – high intensity – which means that it isnt necessarily intended for beginners who are new to exercise. If you havent exercised in a while, start out with shorter less intense sessions. However, if youre used to regular exercise, HIIT may be just the thing you need to switch up your routine and see the weight loss results you want.
And while HIIT is effective for weight loss, that doesnt mean its the only physical activity you have to do to see results. HIIT can be combined with other exercises you also enjoy. For instance, if you like walking, jogging, biking, or kickboxing, alternating these with HIIT workouts occasionally can also result in long-term weight loss and support healthy weight maintenance.
You can complete an HIIT workout without going to the gym!
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Working With A Weight Loss Doctor
In her late 40s, Connecticut business owner Jamie Cohen was feeling very good about her health. I had done an elimination diet where I figured out a bunch of foods I had sensitivities to, says the mom of two high school students. If I stayed away from those foods, I did well. I had dropped weight and was sleeping well and feeling great.
Then, right as she turned 50, Cohen was hit with a number of stressors at once: family health problems, school difficulties for one of her children, and the onset of menopause. Soon, she found that her weight had crept up to 225 pounds. I was going through every single menopause symptom, and I was also having a lot of digestive problems, says the 56 Cohen. I went to a gastroenterologist who sent me to a medical weight loss program.
The programs doctor recommended a specific number of calories per day or per week for Cohens weight and activity level. I thought I wasnt eating that much, but I soon realized I was letting a lot more refined carbs and sugar sneak back into my diet, she says. It was a lot of little things, like putting more milk and sugar into my tea. Then as I gained weight, Id look in the mirror and not recognize myself, Id feel bad and have another cup of tea with lots of milk and sugar.
Shrink Belly Fat With Tai Chi Or Quigong
Maybe youve never tried it or perhaps youve seen a group of people practicing tai chi together in a public park but a recent research study from Hong Kong showed that this Chinese discipline of low-impact meditative movements could help trim waistlines in middle aged and older adults. This study,;published in the June 2021 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, found that people age 50 and older with central obesity who practiced tai chi for 12 weeks shrunk their bellies as successfully as those who participated in aerobic exercise and strength training for the same amount of time. The study authors wrote that tai chi health benefits similar to those of conventional exercise and thus provides an alternative and more amenable exercise modality for middle-aged and older adults to manage central obesity.
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Change The Way You Look At Food
So its not about dieting. Diets ultimately fail. You have to change your relationship with food. You now need to eat the foods your body can handle if you want to keep your weight in check.
That means not eating foods that increase insulin and eating vegetables and lean protein instead. Fruit should be consumed in moderation because of its high sugar content. Milk and milk products are a problem too. Our bodies dont need it once we stop growing. Milk is a growth hormone. So drinking lattes and such is adding needless calories.
While Dr. Laura designs every eating regimen for the individual, she did offer some generalizations on what your diet would need to look like in order to lose weight;postmenopausal. She recommends getting 50% of your calories from vegetables that are low in carbohydrates. Lean proteins should be roughly 25%. Healthy fats, like olive oil, avocado, etc. should make up 15%, and that leaves only 10% for everything elseother carbs such as fruit, whole grains, oatmeal, potatoes, milk in your coffee, birthday cake, and alcohol, which should only be 1% of that 10%. In other words, you cant drink and lose weight.
First What Is Menopause
Menopause marks the end of a womans menstrual cycles. It is defined as a full 12 months without a menstrual period for women over the age of 40.2 While the average age in North America is around 52, the hormonal changes can start in a womans early 40s and last into her 60s.3
Research shows that the timing of menopause is a complex mix of genetics, ethnicity, geography, socio-economic status, and lifestyle factors. 4
The symptoms of menopause are well known: hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, brain fog, headache, disrupted sleep, vaginal dryness, bloating, and more. Unfortunately, weight gain and increased body fat, especially around the abdomen, are very common complaints.5
Its estimated that most women, without changing anything in their diet or lifestyle, gain an average of 2 to 5 pounds during the menopausal transition. However, some gain much more than this.6
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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.
Focus On Compound Exercises
To cover more muscles in less time, you need compound exercises. A side-lying leg lift works the outer thigh, but doesn’t burn very many calories. A side squat with a band works the outer thigh and most of the other muscles in your lower body. And because you’re standing up and involving more muscle groups, you burn more calories. Other compound exercises include push-ups, lunges, and rows.
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Can Menopause Effect Running
During Peri-menopause while hormones are fluctuating there may be days of fatigue and days where your core temperature is higher but after menopause our big focus is cortisol.
As someone who stopped producing estrogen at 29, I actually got to figure this out early on and have continued running marathons and an Ultra happily since that time!
The idea that of menopause exercise intolerance is just a little misguided. You can and SHOULD exercise, but you might need to shift things in ways you didnt expect.
Are You Overtraining Dont Overdo The Exercise
Doing high intensity HIT and cardio training may also create another issue in the menopause adding too much stress to your adrenal glands.;
Its important that your exercise schedule doesnt put unnecessary pressure on your adrenal output and how much cortisol you release. ;When we do intense, high-impact exercise, we release more cortisol. ;Add to this to a very busy lifestyle, with ongoing stress and overwhelm, and your adrenals are under a lot of pressure! ;If we enter the menopause with already tired and overworked adrenal glands, this can mean you experience more difficulty going through the menopause.
Thats because in menopause your adrenals help with some oestrogen production as your ovaries production declines. ;So you really dont want to go into the menopause driving excess adrenal stress and continual high cortisol. ;Not good for your hormone balance, not good for your metabolism and potentially not good for your thyroid output. ;
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What Causes Hypothyroidism
As mentioned above, hypothyroidism occurs when the gland doesnt produce enough hormones. The condition has several causes including the following:
- Hashimotos disease An autoimmune condition and the most common cause of hypothyroidism. In this disease, the immune system attacks a persons thyroid, causes inflammation, and hinders hormone production
- Thyroiditis An inflammation of thyroid that causes stored hormone to leak out of the gland. At first, this leads to excessively high concentration of thyroid hormones , but within a few months the gland becomes underactive.
- Surgical removal of a part or whole thyroid A surgeon may remove a portion or entire thyroid gland due to thyroid cancer, a large goiter, hyperthyroidism, and thyroid nodules.
- Radiation treatment of the thyroid A common treatment for hyperthyroidism, radioactive iodine, gradually destroys thyroid cells.
- Medications Medications that contribute to hypothyroidism include amiodarone , interferon alpha , lithium
Focus On Body Composition
Although body weight is a good indicator of health, your body composition meaning the percentages of fat and fat-free mass in your body is important as well.
Muscle mass is an important measure of overall health, especially in older adults. Packing on more muscle and losing excess fat should be your goal .
There are many ways to measure your body fat percentage. However, simply measuring your waist, biceps, calves, chest, and thighs can help you determine if youre losing fat and gaining muscle.
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Hydrate The Healthy Way
Drinks like sweetened coffee beverages, soda, juices, sports drinks, and pre-made smoothies are often packed with calories and added sugars.
Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, especially those sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, is strongly linked to weight gain and conditions like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and fatty liver disease .
Swapping sugary beverages with healthy drinks like water and herbal tea can help you lose weight and may significantly reduce your risk of developing the chronic conditions mentioned above.
Over 50 Throw Away The Tried
Bad Idea #1: Relying on Willpower.
There may have been a time when you could muscle out a few hard-core weeks of diet and exercise, but that same level of willpower may not be as easy to come by anymore.
Research shows that willpower is fragile.
Its wiped out by low blood sugar, as I wrote about in Why willpower Will Not Work For Long-Term Weight Loss.
Willpower also flies out the window when youre stressed, which if you are like 98% of the population happens at least once a day.
In lesson #3 of The Science of Willpower, Vanessa Van Edwards spells out why willpower is a finite resource.
She explains that we should think of willpower as a muscle that gets fatigued as we use it.
Every temptation that we resist stresses our willpower muscle. It gets a bit weaker each time we resist telling our coworker what we really think of his crude jokes, avoid sticking our hand in the office candy dish, and say, no thank you to dessert.
If your willpower muscle takes too many hits during the day, you find yourself with a box of rocky road ice cream in one hand and a spoon in the other.
Bad Idea #2: 90 Minute Workouts 6 Days a Week
If you have a goal of running a marathon or participating in an Ironman triathlon, then long workouts are part of the commitment. But, if losing weight over 50 is your top priority, then overexercising could defeat your purpose.
Stress, whether its emotional or physical, causes your adrenal glands to release fight-or-flight hormones, including cortisol.
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