Menopausal weight gain is not inevitable and can be avoided with the necessary lifestyle adjustments, dietary habits, and physical exercise. Menopause might be a really good thing. It can motivate you to make long-term dietary and lifestyle changes. Not only will these make menopause easier, but they’ll also benefit your health for the rest of your life.
Has weight gain during menopause been a concern of yours? Don’t worry, because you and millions of other women experience this added stress in life too! To be frank, hormonal changes just keep wreaking havoc on your body. The mid-life transition is not a simple one, nor is it fun. And there’s nothing worse than seeing the number on your scale go up too.
However, just because you’re getting older, it doesn’t mean it’s time to give up on yourself. You definitely do not have to get heavier! Scientists found that weight gain during menopause is caused by something that may surprise you.
Luckily, we have their latest research tips here to help you.
Menopausal Weight Gain
If you’re experiencing numbers on your scale rising rapidly during your transition into the menopausal state, then just so you know, it doesn’t have everything to do with ‘the change.’ Lifestyles, genetics, and, of course, hormonal fluctuations all play significant roles. Whether they’re doing it for better or for worse. Having said that – the weight gain process is different when you’ve reached this stage.
Maybe you’re somebody who is used to losing weight easily – or perhaps – gaining it in the first place. Either way, the rapid increase in weight might be a scare or shock to you.
This kind of weight gain is slow and steady, about one or two pounds per year. Initially, there isn’t a lot to notice, but it does creep up on you over time. Most women start seeing excess fat accumulate around the abdomen. Just what you want, right? Belly fat. To make things worse, this is the kind that’s linked to heart disease and diabetes.
It is also common to experience an increase in breast size and an accumulation of fat around the back area. So, if you’ve been lacking in this department for some time, then, you might be happy about this change. The biggest complaint among menopausal women is that this weight is hard to lose once you’ve put it on. You can likely expect to see changes in your body shape.
We often associate this with weight gain, but in the case of menopause, it is a real thing and has got to do with how your body processes energy.
What Really Causes Menopausal Weight Gain?
Besides the hormonal changes in estrogen, it has a huge amount to do with your lifestyle.
You may not like this truth. But, the most common reason is because menopausal women are generally less physically active than before. Your muscle mass decreases and muscles turn to fat.
On top of this, you might tend to comfort eat as you adjust to changes taking place around you. Changes are signs of aging, inability to sleep, your changing roles in the lives of those close to you, illness, death of a loved one, divorce, or a combination of a lot of things.
Moreover, your metabolism changes at perimenopause. Your body might appear to hold on to fat until you learn the secrets to burning off fat through exercise and eating a low-fat healthy diet. Lastly, you might also be stressed because you’re producing excess cortisol. This is a hormone thatch associated with fight or flight responses. Therefore, high cortisol levels often cause you to put on weight especially around your waist.
In all honestly, these are what really causes weight gain. All middle-aged women should consider some of the other life changes that often occur:
- Kids move out of the nest.
- There is a decrease in workload around the house.
- Increased travel.
- Increased interest in leisure activities.
- Increased time for social activities, like cooking/entertaining/dining out.
- Change in life priorities, slower pace in life.
What’s the Solution?
- Have your kids left home? Then, use your extra time to exercise. Join a gym. Organize a hiking or walking group. Perhaps try and learn a new sport.
- Do you have more time to entertain? So why not learn a few healthy cooking tips? You could share some low-calorie, low-fat meals with friends and family.
- Travel and leisure activities can include exercise. Many travel companies specialize in active vacations. Instead of laying on the beach or pool all day, try something new and adventurous. Go on a bike, hike, or paddle ride through your favorite tropical destination.
Dieting is very important too, if you want to reduce menopausal weight gain.
Stabilize Your Blood Sugar
First things first, avoid eating white bread, mashed potatoes, sugary drinks, alcohol, cakes and biscuits. These all 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.
It’s best to regulate insulin and blood sugar levels by eating a diet rich in unrefined whole foods that include long-acting carbohydrates. These include 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 (PMS)
- Clearer skin
- Deeper, better quality sleep
- Stable moods and more optimism
More importantly, establish a healthy weight for yourself and stick to that weight. Calculating your BMI (Body Mass Index) is generally a good place to start.
Eat MUCH Less And More Good Things
According to research, women require 200 fewer Calories per day, in their 50’s than in their 30’s or 40’s. You need to eat plenty of lean protein like chicken and fish, as well as plenty of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. You also need to establish regular eating habits.
Do you often skip meals? If you answered yes, then you need to stop this. Missing meals encourage you to hit the snacks for a quick sugar fix, resulting in menopausal weight gain. You should try to have at least three main meals and possibly two small snacks throughout the day. Most perimenopausal women do their best when they keep their blood sugar stable throughout the day by eating frequent, smaller meals. Researchers recommend eating a protein snack in between meals like a handful of almonds at 4 PM. This is because your blood sugar often drops at this time and your mood changes leading to possible over eating and cravings.
Portion Control Is Everything
You need to prioritize portion size. A good rule of thumb is to use your hands. If you cup your two hands together this will show you the size of your stomach capacity. Limit your intake to no more than that at each meal or snack. Use a small plate or bowl for your meals, as you will feel more satisfied with less food.
Eat protein with each meal. This means eating lean meat, fish, eggs, dairy or vegetarian alternatives such as tofu, soybeans or tempeh. Limit beans, although they are a good source of protein, they are high in carbohydrates.
Reduce refined carbohydrates and sugar including alcohol for menopausal weight gain.
If you feel you are putting on a lot of weight for no obvious reason, you may need to have your thyroid checked – consult your GP in this instance.
Dr Josh Axe explores fat burning tips and tricks for women experiencing menopausal weight gain. These are some foods that might be worth trying.
- Coconut Oil.
- Broth – stock meat bones which add collagen to our diet.
- Chia seeds and flaxseeds. (Apparently sesame seeds and avocado do a similar fat burning job.)
- Leafy greens, especially Kale and Parsley
- Lean protein with every meal. The expert says to make sure your meat and dairy is organic, and he also recommends kefir.