Why Do We Gain Weight During Menopause
Nine out of 10 American premenopausal and menopausal women will gain weight , says Amos Pines, MD, former president of the International Menopause Society. Women can expect to gain 10-20 pounds, which translates into the need for clothing thats one or two sizes larger. Many menopausal women become frustrated, discouraged, annoyed, and angry as they gain the weight.1
As with most forms of weight gain its not usually a single factor thats to blame, but its multi-layered. Women who never gained weight suddenly do, and its a mind-fuck. So I feel your painthe struggle is real.
During menopause our bodies produce less estrogen from the ovaries, but still need estrogen to function, so fat cells begin to produce hormones. Because of this change in prodcution, you tend to put on a few pounds to keep up with the estrogen demand. These few pounds begin to show themselves especially around the mid-section. The truth is that your body needs some fat to have normal hormone health, but not too much fat because that may lead to health issues such as obesity and cardiovascular disease.
Therefore, one of the first steps you need to do is acknowledge that your hormonal functions and the way your body copes with them are not what they were , and what you do moving forward has to change, too. The old ways wont work anymore.
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.
The Truth About Weight Gain During Menopause
The change. Kinda sounds like a low-budget horror film, doesnt it? But lets skip the suspense: All were talking about here is menopause, a normal phase of adult life marked by a predictable pattern of hormonal shiftsand for some people, shifts on the scale, as well.
Like many aspects of aging, menopause has long been stigmatized . And the lack of open dialogue means many people get stuck with unanswered questions about their health during this phase of life. Menopause can feel like someone changed the rules of your body and forgot to tell you, says Stephanie S. Faubion, MD, director for Mayo Clinic’s Center for Women’s Health and medical director for The North American Menopause Society.
In this article, well take a closer look at the topic of menopausal weight gain, a big source of confusion for many. One comprehensive review of research on midlife women found that subjects gained an average of 1.5 pounds each year throughout their 40s and 50s. Why does this happen? And is weight gain during menopause a foregone conclusion? Read on for a science-backed guide to how menopause may affect your weight and metabolism, along with compassionate expert advice for supporting your health during this stage of life.
Read Also: What Causes Hot Flashes Besides Menopause
Find Out How Menopause May Affect Your Life And What The Canberra Menopause Centre Can Do For You
Based at SHFPACT, the is a dedicated service for those seeking information, support and medical management of menopause symptoms. Menopause is the stage of life when periods cease. This occurs when the ovaries are no longer producing eggs, and is a natural life event. Menopause has three stages: perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause.
Find A Friend Or A Group To Exercise With
To attack belly fat and any other menopause weight gain, youll need to burn between 400 and 500 calories most days of the week from cardiovascular exercise, such as walking briskly, jogging, bicycling, dancing, or swimming, Peeke says. Need motivation? Find a friend who needs to exercise as much as you do, and set a date to work out together. Research published in April 2015 in the British Journal of Health Psychology found that actively looking for a new workout partner and exercising together is beneficial for both exercise and emotional support.
If you dont have a buddy to join you on your weight loss mission, it may be time to try a group fitness class at your local gym or community center. Data published in November 2017 in the Journal of Osteopathic Medicine found that participating in regular group fitness classes resulted in a significant decrease in stress and a rise in physical, mental, and emotional quality of life compared with exercising regularly on your own or not engaging in regular exercise at all.
Q& a: Gaining Weight During Menopause
I recently turned 50, and I walk about 1 mile daily and work out two to three times per week. I believe I am beginning to go into menopause, as I have not had a period in a few months. Also, I have noticed the number on my scale rising, even though I have not changed my diet or activities. I’ve heard weight gain is common in menopause. As I enter this stage of life, what can I do to maintain my weight other than continuing to work out and eat well?
You are certainly well on your way to a warding off midlife weight gain with your healthy lifestyle. Weight gain is often an issue as women move into menopause, even for those who eat well and exercise regularly. Over the next several years, you may find it more difficult to stay at your current weight, and that you’ll need to increase your activity level and be more diligent about your eating habits.
A woman is considered to be in menopause when she’s gone a year without a period. Menopause usually happens in the late 40s or early 50s. The final years leading up to menopause are called perimenopause. They are characterized by menstrual irregularities. During perimenopause, many women start experiencing a variety of symptoms that come with menopause, including weight gain.
Considering all these changes, maintaining the same level of exercise and calorie intake you have always had may no longer be enough for weight maintenance as you head toward menopause. You may need to add more exercise to your regular routine.
Aerobic Exercise And Strength Training Can Help Shed Excess Pounds
Its a common complaint among women as they reach menopause age: Why am I gaining weight?
Though menopause doesnt automatically add pounds, it does lead to changes that may make it more difficult to maintain your pre-menopausal weight. For example, research in animals suggests that estrogen may help control weight, and that less estrogen may lower the metabolic rate, which determines how quickly the body burns calories. So, as your estrogen level declines during menopause, you may find you gain weight more easily than you did in the past.
In addition, aging itself can lead to weight gain. As women age, they are less likely to exercise as much as when they were younger. Whats more, muscle mass declines with age.
The more muscle you have, the more energy your body uses just to maintain it, says Katrina Kelly, MD, an OB-GYN at Scripps Clinic Rancho Bernardo. When you lose muscle mass, your body doesnt work as hard to burn calories, making it easier to gain weight.
Proven strategies to prevent weight gain after menopause
Despite these factors, weight gain after menopause is not inevitable. There are steps you can take to prevent unwanted pounds from creeping on. In fact, maintaining a healthy weight is important after menopause, since excess weight increases your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
Here are five tips to help you keep the numbers on your scale stable.
1. Get motivated
2. Get moving
3. Build strength
4. Eat smarter
5. Get support
Recommended Reading: Does Menopause Cause Dizzy Spells
Pros & Cons Of Weight Loss During Menopause
Maintaining or reaching a healthy weight is advisable at any stage in life, however, there are important factors to consider when losing weight during menopause. Extreme weight loss, such as that often seen during yoyo dieting, can lead to a loss in bone mineral density . It is therefore very important to get healthy in the right way and to take the necessary steps to aid bone health with nutrition and supplements. You can read all about how weight impacts menopause symptoms and bone health here.
Are you struggling with menopause or worried about perimenopause symptoms? Get in touch today to book an appointment with one of our doctors and find out how bio-identical hormones can make a difference for you. Dont forget to too, for all of the latest news, advice and information.
Level Up Your Sleep Game
In addition to helping you wake up energized and refreshed, high-quality sleep supports long-term weight management, according to a 2017 literature review in the journal Sleep Medicine Clinics. Even if you cant avoid every hot flash, creating a consistent bedtime routine and setting up your sleep environment can help optimize your ZZZs. About an hour before youd like to be snoozing, try winding down by dimming the lights, taking a bath, and/or cracking open a good book. If you have control of a thermostat, adjust your bedroom temperature to about 65°F, a thermal sweet spot that seems to keep sleepers comfortably warm without overheating. Your beds comfort factor matters, tooif your mattress feels lumpy or your pillows are flat as pancakes, some upgrades might be in order.
Recommended Reading: Sweet Potatoes And Menopause
Hormonal Changes Change How Your Body Stores Fat
The hormonal changes that come with menopause may change how your body stores fatfrom storing it around your hips and thighs to your abdominal area. Hormone levels in a menopausal woman can therefore influence body fat or the location where excess weight is stored. Menopause may increase the fat surrounding organs like your liver, intestines and other organs, which is different from subcutaneous fat, the belly fat right beneath the skin. Both may draw extra attention to waist circumference, but visceral fat is associated with certain health risks. While these changes can cause your body to store fat in a different place, they dont necessarily make you more likely to gain weight.1 Weight gain during menopause is more often caused by a combination of lifestyle factors and how our bodies naturally change with age.
Metabolism Also Slows Down With Age Which Can Lead To Weight Gain
Not only does your body store fat differently as you age, but metabolism also slows down too. Outside of menopausal symptoms, age has a direct influence on a womans metabolic rate. This is true for men as well, but for women, this natural progression toward a slower metabolism is compounded with hormonal changes that come with menopause.3, 4
Also Check: Sweet Potato Hormone Therapy
An Introduction To Weight Gain And Menopause
After the age of 40, the human body is susceptible to gaining, on average, one pound a year. When women reach the menopause, this average weight gain is likely to increase because of hormonal and physical changes which take place at this time. Many women feel self-conscious about this and attempt to crash diet to counteract the effect. However, these actions do not tend to be effective as eating too much is not usually the cause of weight gain during the menopause.
Many people feel that the weight they gain during the menopause is more noticeable because it tends to accumulate in one area of the body rather than be distributed evenly across the body. The most common place for weight to accumulate is around the tummy and this can be difficult to shift once there.
How Hormones Cause Weight Gain During Menopause
During peri-menopause, the first hormone that decreases is usually progesterone. This can lead to estrogen dominance, a common symptom of which is weight gain, causing you to store more fat around your stomach area.
It can often be confusing to hear that estrogen dominance is one of the primary factors that lead to weight gain during menopause, as it is commonly understood that estrogen levels drop during this time.
Whilst it is true that your estrogen levels drop significantly during menopause if your progesterone levels decrease at a faster rate you can still become estrogen dominant, no matter how little estrogen you actually have in your system. So long as you have lower levels of progesterone than estrogen, you are likely to experience many of the symptoms associated with estrogen dominance.
Read Also: Relactation After Menopause
Vary Your Workouts And Try New Activities
Its easy to get into an exercise rut, and even easier to fall out of the habit of exercising at all. But at this stage of your life, not getting your move on is not an option. Ideally to keep your weight in check, youll be working out three or four times a week with the injection of some HIIT and it only needs to take 15 to 20 minutes, says Peeke. Its extremely effective at keeping excess body levels of fat down, and make sure to get in some weight training, even if its just using your own body weight.
So potentially take a Zumba or barre class. See what all your buddies are talking about and join them one weekend for a beginner class at a CrossFit center. Give PiYo a go . There are so many different exercises to try, youll be able to find ones you like and stick with them.
Or maybe youll enjoy the chase of trying out new workouts regularly. According to research published in the Journal of Sport Behavior, adding variation to your exercise routine may be the most successful way to make you stick with it. Any kind of physical activity is better than none at all, but if your body gets too accustomed to a routine, it wont burn belly fat as efficiently as when you first started working out.
Causes Of Weight Gain During Menopause
As the years progress, metabolism slows, setting the physiological stage for weight gain. Although age itself can lead to weight gain, women approaching menopause have particular cause for concern. As a woman’s hormone levels fluctuate prior to menopause in preparation for the end of menstruation, they are likely to experience weight gain.
You May Like: Perimenopause Dizzy Spells
How To Whittle Your Middle
Not sure how to start? Follow these three tips to use the power of your mind to tackle your muffin top.
Work your whole body. The magic formula for blasting body fat is combining cardio, weight lifting, and core work. The trick with the cardio is to do intervals — alternating high- and low-intensity bursts within one workout — and work up to burning 400 calories per workout, four to five times a week. Weight train twice a week, either at home or at the gym, and do yoga or Pilates to trim that core.
Visualize your reward.Close your eyes and see yourself without the bigger belly. What do you look like? What are you wearing? How much lighter do you feel? Do this daily. Without a goal in mind, you will be stuck doing technical tasks that might feel meaningless.
Combine discipline with self-love. Sure, you need discipline to drag yourself out of bed for that early morning exercise class. But the stronger your self-love and respect, the more you’ll see that discipline as one route to realizing your dreams.
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.
Read Also: Menopausal Apron Belly
What Can You Do
Weight gain associated with ageing is not inevitable. There are a number of things you can do to maintain your weight as you age.
Incorporate regular daily exercise, with a mixture of intensities and variety of activities. Try to include body-strengthening exercises two days per week.
2. Weigh yourself but not too much
Weigh yourself once a week at the same time and day to monitor the trend over time. Any more than this will only create a fixation with weight. Day-to-day fluctuations in weight are to be expected.
3. Create positive habits
Create positive habits by replacing negative behaviours. For example, instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media of an evening or turning on the TV and comfort-eating, replace it with a positive behaviour, such as learning a new hobby, reading a book or going for a walk.
4. Eat more slowly
Eat food away from technological distractions and slow down your food consumption.
Try using a teaspoon or chopsticks and chew your food thoroughly as slowing down your food consumption reduces the quantity consumed.
5. Switch off from technology:
Turn off technology after dusk to improve your sleep. Blue light emission from phones, tablets and other devices tell your brain its day, instead of night, which will keep you awake.
Lack of sleep can compromise your decision-making abilities which might lead you to make unhealthy choices that contribute to weight gain.
6. Curb sugar cravings naturally