Balancing Your Hormones With Hrt
HRT, otherwise known as hormone replacement therapy, gets a bad name from many doctors and media outlets.
But should the use of hormones be completely avoided during menopause?
The answer is no!
Using hormones can actually help accelerate the weight loss process by bringing your hormones back to youthful levels before you hit menopause.
The entire goal when using hormones is to obtain a youthful level of hormones, not an excessively high level of hormones.
This can be done using what is known as bio-identical hormones.
Bio-identical hormones look structurally identical to the same hormones that your body produces naturally.
And, if given in the right doses, do not carry any negative side effects.
So why are people so afraid of HRT?
Much of the confusion surrounding HRT has to do with identifying the difference between synthetic and bio-identical hormones.
Most hormones are lumped into the category of HRT even though they are all slightly different.
The synthetic hormones, those created by pharmaceutical companies, often carry with them increased risk.
Bio-identical hormones, on the other hand, can be safely used provided they are dosed correctly.
Using HRT, especially if you are symptomatic and struggling with weight gain, can help put your body back into a weight loss sensitive state.
This means it will be easier to lose weight and get back on track.
Health Risks Of Weight Gain In Menopause
Having overweight or obesity in any stage of life, including menopause, can have negative health effects.
Obesity is associated with an increased risk of:
Menopause itself also increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis.
Thats why looking after your weight and your health is important.
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.
Even though joint pain isn’t the first symptom you think of with menopause, it can still happen. Here’s how joint pain and menopause are related.
3. Cut Down on Sugar
4. Hydrate Properly
5. Build Your Support Network
Also Check: How To Increase Breast Size After Menopause
Menopause And The Gut Microbiome
The gut microbiome is the collection of all the microbes that live in your gut. They influence your bodys response to foods and are important for your overall health.
Research suggests that the diversity of the microbiome is linked to estrogen levels and menopausal state in women. Because of the changes happening in the body during menopause, there may be a change in microbiome diversity as well.
ZOEs PREDICT study, the worlds largest in-depth nutritional study of its kind, explores the relationship between your gut microbiome and your health. The results so far indicate that the gut microbiome is linked with how your bodys metabolism responds to food.
Thats why changes in the microbiome as a result of menopause may contribute to changes in weight.
Based on this cutting-edge research, the ZOE program can help you learn more about your bodys unique metabolic responses to food.
No It’s Not Entirely Your Fault Yes You Can Shed Those Extra Pounds
by Hallie Levine, AARP, July 30, 2018
As you hit your mid-to-late 40s, you may notice that besides battling the occasional hot flash or mood swing, your favorite black go-to pants are starting to feel noticeably more snug. This time it’s not your imagination.
The average woman gains about four-and-a-half pounds as she starts the transition to menopause in her 40s, according to a landmark study. And it’s a trend that doesn’t slow down, either: Women continue to put on about a pound and a half each year in their 50s and 60s, according to a new review published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
“The main reason is the natural loss of muscle mass that occurs with age,” explains Jo Ann Pinkerton, M.D., executive director of the North American Menopause Society and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Virginia Health System. “Since muscle burns more calories than fat, your metabolism slows down, causing you to put on weight.” Starting at age 30, research shows that you lose on average about a half pound of muscle each year and that number rises to almost a full pound once you hit 50.
Sounds daunting, but there are expert-approved ways to reverse your scale’s upward spiral. Here’s how:
Read Also: Relactation After Menopause
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.
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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Lifestyle Changes May Not Always Be Enough To Control Biologically Driven Body Changes
You spend hours in the gym every day. You eat nothing but grilled chicken, fish, and salads. Yet the numbers on the scale don’t budge or worse, they slowly creep up, along with your waist measurement.
Welcome to menopause.
“The change” actually does bring changes for many women, including weight gain that can resist even the most diligent efforts to reverse it, says Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School.
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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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How Do You Stop Weight Gain At Menopause
1) Stabilise blood sugar
When we eat too many refined carbohydrates such as white bread, mashed potatoes, sugary drinks, alcohol, cakes and biscuits, we promote an immediate blood sugar rush. The pancreas is stimulated to secrete large amounts of insulin to regulate the blood sugar. Excess blood sugar over long periods of time eventually leads to insulin resistance.
In general insulin and blood sugar levels are better regulated by a diet of unrefined whole foods that include long-acting carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Complex or unrefined carbohydrates are processed slowly over a longer period of time and require a small amount of insulin for metabolism. A diet high in unrefined carbohydrates helps to balance hormones and alleviate many symptoms of menopause and perimenopause as follows:
- Reduced fatigue, better quality sleep and more energy
- Better ability to sustain exercise
- Clearing of brain fog
- Better ability to build muscle
- Less hunger ability to control portion sizes and cravings
- Less symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome
- Clearer skin
3) Exercise more
4) Eat less and eat the right foods
We need 200 fewer Calories per day in our 50s than in our 30s or 40s. We need to eat plenty of lean protein such as chicken and fish, as well as plenty of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. We also need to establish regular eating habits.
Reduce refined carbohydrates and sugar including alcohol.
Choose Fats Wisely And Eat Meals With Healthy Fats To Counter Weight Gain
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 To Stop Weight Gain During Menopause
Monique Rainford, MD, is board-certified in obstetrics-gynecology, and currently serves as an Assistant Clinical Professor at Yale Medicine. She is the former chief of obstetrics-gynecology at Yale Health.
Hormonal changes that occur during menopause often contribute to weight gain. Many studies have confirmed that menopausal and postmenopausal women are likely to gain weight and have larger midsections than women who have not gone through menopause. But the reason why this weight gain occurs is not clear.
One research study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology questions how different factors such as age, menopause, and lifestyle changes account for the weight gain often experienced by midlife women. They studied the activity levels of over 3,000 women across the country. They found that by remaining active, many prevented weight gain.
In another study where both men and women were studied over the course of 20 years, researchers found that those who maintained a very high level of physical activity experienced smaller increases in body mass index and waist circumference.
Hormone Therapy May Also Help Control Weight Sleep Trouble
Menopausal hormone therapy may also help with sleep, Pinkerton notes. Current guidelines recommend hormone therapy at menopause as the most effective treatment for menopausal symptoms, which includes sleep disturbances, she says. And as this study indicates, improving both estrogen levels and sleep may prevent weight gain often seen during menopause, and thus decrease the risk of heart disease and obesity while improving daytime function, she says.
Santoro recommends trying hormone therapy for a few months. If your sleep and other symptoms improve, you can assume it is helping. If they dont, you can stop the hormones without issue.
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Foods To Avoid During Menopause
Reaching for less-than-healthy foods as you move through menopause can worsen bothersome symptoms, such as hot flashes and insomnia. Knowing what to avoid could make this natural transition much more manageable.
Following a healthy, well-balanced diet is a good idea in general, but its especially true for women who are nearing or have just passed through menopause, says Amy Jamieson-Petonic, RD, a nutritionist and exercise physiologist in Cleveland.
Good nutrition can make a big change in how you feel with regard to menopause symptoms like mood swings, hot flashes, and exhaustion, as well as bloating and possible weight gain, Jamieson-Petonic says. Women of menopausal age should make sure to eat plenty of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean protein for optimal health, she says.
That advice is backed up by a survey of 400 post-menopausal women documented in an article published in April 2019 in journal Menopause, which found that women who ate a diet rich in fruits and vegetables were less likely to report having experienced menopausal symptoms than women whose diets contained more fatty foods and sweets. Decreasing your consumption of these and certain other foods may be able to ease a lot of the discomfort linked to this natural transition and help you stay healthy in the years to come.
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?
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.
Recommended Reading: Perimenopause Dizzy Spells
A Sample Day On A Menopause Diet
Heres what a day of eating on the menopause diet by Ward and Wright looks like. Since meal timing is important, snacks are ideally eaten before dinner.
- Breakfast: 1/2 cup of oats made with 1 cup of low-fat milk mixed with 2 teaspoons of almond butter and a small, sliced banana served with 1 scrambled or hard cooked egg and coffee with low-fat milk.
- Lunch: Tuna mixed with 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise layered with lettuce and tomato between toasted whole-wheat bread. Serve with sliced red peppers.
- Dinner: Salmon served with 1/2 cup of cooked whole-wheat pasta tossed with 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil and roasted broccoli.
- Snacks: 1/2 cup each plain, nonfat Greek yogurt and berries 3 cups popcorn sprinkled with 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese.
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.28
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.
Also Check: What Causes Hot Flushes Apart From The Menopause
What Causes Weight Changes During Menopause
The body goes through many changes throughout menopause. Hormone changes may assist in gaining a little extra weight around your abdomen. Weight gathers here because after menopause your ovaries stop producing estrogen and the only place it can be created is in your abdominal fat cells.
Aging is a major factor when it comes to weight gain. As you get older, muscle mass generally declines, and fat levels increase. Its a fact that muscle burns more calories than fat. When you lose muscle, your calorie processing slows down and causes you to gain more weight.