Getting To Know Ghrelin
You can think of ghrelin as your hunger hormone. Like leptin, it communicates with the brain in this case, telling your brain to eat. Every time your stomach becomes empty, it naturally releases ghrelin into your bloodstream. Ghrelin levels are lowest just after youve finished a meal. Theyre at their highest when the stomach is empty and youre ready for your next meal. This scenario is normal when a person is healthy and maintaining optimal weight.
An overweight person, on the other hand, will find that like the other hormones weve explored ghrelin levels are typically out of whack. In healthy individuals, ghrelin levels decrease in a way that satiates them and signals their brains to stop eating. But in obese individuals, ghrelin levels dont decrease enough after eating, which fails to send the brain the signal it needs to stop eating and feel satisfied.
Unexplained Weight Loss During Menopause
If youre feeling the complete opposite to the above, and have actually experienced unexpected menopause weight loss, youre not alone!
During the start of menopause, a womans ability to gain fat doubles while her lean muscle mass decreases.31
However, muscle weighs more than fat, so if your bodys level of fat remains stable while your muscle decreases, you may see unexpected weight loss.
Reasons Why Women Gain Weight During Menopause
Weight gain can often seem like one of the most common and inevitable menopause symptoms, but why do women gain weight during menopause? Why do women gain weight after menopause? And are these changes as irreversible as they seem? While the hormonal changes during menopause wont necessarily cause weight gain on their own, they will change where your body primarily stores fat. Thankfully, it seems as though weight gain is only partially because of the hormonal fluctuations during menopause and that there are plenty of small daily lifestyle changes you can make to restore balance to your bodys ability to cope with this change.
Lack Of Sleep Can Also Contribute To Weight Gain During Menopause
Studies show that people who dont get enough sleep tend to consume more calories and be more overweight.6 Missing out on sleep also causes our hormones to get out of sync with one another and leads to food cravings.1, 6 Getting a good nights rest is one of the most underrated healthy living tips, and its important for everyone, regardless of age or weight.
Try The Best Exercises For Menopause Weight Loss
The most recommended exercise routines for menopause and weight gain in the stomach are:
- Resistance training
One of the effects of changing hormones and aging is that lean muscle mass decreases.12,13
So high-repetition resistance training has been proven to support a reduction of abdominal fat, often a problem area for women during menopause.14,15
- Cardio training
Another way of supporting your goals in losing weight after menopause is cardio training, or aerobic exercise, as studies have shown that cardio can help you to fight off abdominal fat without losing muscle.16
Cardio also doesnt require any new equipment or too much pressure from more intensive exercises, meaning that it can help support menopause weight loss over 50.
Handpicked content:13 of the best cardio exercises
- Combination training
For the best results, some studies have suggested a combination of resistance and cardio training as a strategy for healthy weight loss and muscle mass retention.17
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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.
Some More Useful Tips
Be sure to meet your calcium requirements
You already know that youre at a greater risk for osteoporosis so clearly calcium is a must in a good premature menopause diet. Low fat dairy products supply you with much needed protein too, and help keep your bones strong. Calcium-rich vegetables, like broccoli, are another good source.
Read more about your calcium intake in our ultimate guide on calcium and early menopause.
Try to eat more before 5:00 PM and try not to eat anything after 8:00 PM
So-called intermittent fasting may be of significant help in keeping the added weight off.
Some have argued it makes no difference that calories are calories, no matter when you eat. But other studies have shown youre best off eating large meals earlier in the day, and potentially even fasting through the evening into the next day.
During the day youre more active, so you can burn off some of the calories youve taken in. In fact, to put it more scientifically, it takes about four hours after eating for your blood-triglyceride levels to rise.
So, if you have a large dinner at 7:00 or so, your triglycerides might hit their height around 11:00 right when youre going to bed or lying on the couch watching television.
In general, it might be worth following that old saying: Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a peasant.
Drink water whenever you can remember to and definitely before meals
Eat more soup!
Finally, give in to your cravings… but only a little
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Why You Gain Weight During Menopause
Symptoms associated with menopause can start as early as four years before your last period and persist for an additional four years or longer. While many symptoms eventually subside as your body adjusts to hormonal changes, menopausal weight gain can make a permanent change in your long-term well-being.
Understanding why menopausal weight gain occurs is key to taking control and maintaining good health in this new phase of life. The menopause specialists at Ovation Wellness in Madison, Mississippi, provide the guidance and support women need to remain healthy and adjust to their changing bodies. The professional and caring staff members help you find the strategies and treatments necessary to address your symptoms and establish long-term well-being.
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.
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Weight Gain In Menopause: Why Does It Happen And What Can You Do
All too often the “change of life” results in unwelcome changes in the number on the bathroom scale. Many women find that no matter how sensible their diet or how frequently they exercise, they still start packing on the pounds once menopause begins.
This problem is primarily driven by estrogen loss that occurs during menopause. Estrogen loss causes a number of health issues, one of which is deterioration of muscle mass. Because muscle burns more calories than fat, less muscle also means fewer calories burned, all of which adds up to a recipe for a slower metabolism.
Speaking with CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook, Dr. Lori Warren, a gynecologist and a partner with Women First of Louisville, said weight gain is one of the top complaints among her patients.
“As a gynecologist one of the biggest things I’m asked is, ‘What is going on with this weight gain as I’m aging and going through menopause,'” she said. “And it kind of creeps up on women and all of the sudden they’re angry about it when they come in for an annual visit and they’ve gained 10 pounds and they say, ‘Why didn’t anyone tell me that I might gain weight?'”
Women need to understand that eating and exercising the same way they have in the past may not be good enough as they age.
Hormonal Changes During Menopause
To answer the question of whether you gain weight during menopause, it is important to note that a series of hormonal changes occur during this period. Although these may be related to weight gain, experts link it more to aging.
Muscle mass decreases as you age, especially if you do not exercise regularly. This loss of active tissue leads to a significant reduction in calorie burning and consequently to a low weight gain without changing dietary habits.
This study by Climacteric suggests that hormonal changes may be linked to weight gain around the abdomen. They also suggest estrogen therapy as a solution.
However, they conclude that there are not enough studies to prove how effective this type of therapy is on body composition.
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Why Weight Gain Often Happens After Menopause
What is it about menopause that makes it so hard to keep off the weight? It’s likely a mix of factors related to menopause and aging.
The impact of estrogen. In animal studies, estrogen appears to help control body weight. With lower estrogen levels, lab animals tend to eat more and be less physically active. Reduced estrogen may also lower metabolic rate, the rate at which the body converts stored energy into working energy. It’s possible the same thing happens with women when estrogen levels drop after menopause. Some evidence suggests that estrogen hormone therapy increases a woman’s resting metabolic rate. This might help slow weight gain. Lack of estrogen may also cause the body to use starches and blood sugar less effectively, which would increase fat storage and make it harder to lose weight.
Other age-related factors. As women age, many other changes happen that contribute to weight gain. For example:
- You’re less likely to exercise. Sixty percent of adults aren’t active enough, and this increases with age.
- You lose muscle mass, which lowers your resting metabolism, making it easier to gain weight.
- The rate at which you can use up energy during exercise declines. To use the same energy as in the past and achieve weight loss, you may need to increase the amount of time and intensity you’re exercising, no matter what your past activity levels were.
Ageing Is The Real Cause
The weight gain that comes with menopause is a .
As we age, our body stops working as efficiently as it did before. Muscle mass starts to decrease a process known as sarcopenia and fat begins to increase.
And because muscle mass is one of the determining factors of how fast your metabolism will run, when your muscle mass decreases, your body starts to burn fewer calories at rest. This might make it more challenging to maintain your weight.
As we age, we tend to continue with our same food habits but dont increase our activity. In fact, aches and pains can make some people actively decrease theirs.
Not compensating for the ageing process and the change in body composition can lead to weight gain.
And this applies to men too they are just as likely to gain weight due to this process known as sarcopenia.
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How Do I Stay Fit During Menopause
Now that were monitoring our calories and opting for smarter meal choices, we need to begin a training routine that not only fights back against menopause symptoms, but assists our body. Before starting your fitness journey, remember this: Menopause and weight loss are not mutually exclusive. With enough will power and determination, we can remove unwanted weight loss from our lives and sculpt the body of our dreams.
During our womanly change, our bone strength begins to dwindle and the chances of developing arthritis rises. The way that we can fight back against this occurrence is by incorporating a strength-training routine into our daily habits. Located below are a few exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home or gym to build lean muscle and bone density:
- Walking with light dumbbells
- Bike riding
Each of these practices, when performed on a day-to-day basis, make menopause and weight loss easier to manage!
Chronic Stress Feeds Belly Fat
Some underlying triggers for this weight shift may be out of our control, but other aspects are very much within our control. One factor that we can influence is stress. Belly fat contains receptors for cortisol, our bodys main stress hormone. When we’re stressed our adrenals release cortisol and this stimulates these belly fat receptors resulting in the formation of even more belly fat.
Constantly feeling stressed out may seem like the norm in today’s fast-paced society but that does not mean that it’s healthy. To tame your cortisol levels, do whatever works for you to slow down and de-stress: unplug, delegate, meditate, stretch and relax. Taking a high quality adrenal supplement also helps to support balanced cortisol levels.
Keep in mind that stress can also be physical, mostly due to inflammation. Chronic inflammation alone can make it hard to lose added weight because it inhibits some enzymes that normally break down fats in the body. So, get some help to optimize your health and tackle inflammation. Take care of gut imbalances and other inflammatory conditions, like thyroid disease or hashimotos. Slowing of your metabolism, weight gain and trouble losing it commonly go along with low thyroid function.
These issues may not produce symptoms until you hit menopause, so it’s a good idea for any woman hitting menopause to get her thyroid function checked, including thyroid antibodies, especially if there’s a family history of thyroid problems.
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What About Conventional Medicine
If you are really struggling to control your weight and have not found that home and herbal remedies are helping, it is important to seek medical attention. While your doctor may be reluctant to prescribe diet pills on the basis that it is the menopause causing you to put on weight, he will be able to work with you to find a solution.
It is important to remember that weight gain can have a serious impact on your lifestyle and health. Weight gain or difficulty losing weight are also symptoms of an underlying health condition such as low thyroid function, which will need to be treated by a doctor.
If you are worried about your condition or fear that it is causing you to have further health problems such as heart disease, then it is vital to seek medical attention.
Menopause And Its Impact On Your Body
Every single woman will eventually go through menopause in her life.
Despite the fact that so many women go through it, many women aren’t prepared for the transition or what it means for their body!
So, with that in mind, let’s dispel the uncertainty and talk about it in plain English.
First of all, what is menopause?
Menopause is a state which occurs in the female body which marks a sudden and rapid decline in the sex hormones estradiol and progesterone.
The sudden decline in these hormones is responsible for all of the symptoms associated with menopause, including weight gain.
These sex hormones are some of the most important hormones in biology because they help define the female phenotype.
You can imagine why the sudden decline in these hormones cause many problems in the body .
For our discussion, we are going to be focusing primarily on weight gain, but just realize that much of the information presented here may help with other issues as well.
So is it an inevitability that you will gain weight during your menopause transition?
Not necessarily, and this is something that we will touch on later in this article.
But first, let’s discuss what actually causes weight gain when you hit menopause:
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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