Menopause and Weight Gain: Explaining Middle Age Spread


How Do You Lose Weight During Menopause?

Although it may seem like the odds are against you, menopause weight gain is not inevitable. There are several ways to stop weight gain during menopause and help your body adjust to new conditions, and it’s important to try some of these new approaches before the number on the scale climbs too high.

After all, being overweight puts you at risk for diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Keep Moving

For most healthy adults, aerobic activity is recommended. If your life is particularly busy, remember brisk walking counts towards aerobic activity.

Even if you are walking 20 minutes to a half hour daily, you are still making significant strides in managing your weight and being active.

You can walk more by:

  • Parking further away from your workplace or other destination.
  • Taking the steps instead of the elevator, especially when you are only taking a flight or two of stairs.
  • Walk instead of driving for short trips.
  • Schedule walks about your office building during your work day so you are not sitting all the time.

Every little bit of activity helps you to keep moving and keeps you active.

Skim Portions

To maintain weight – and even lose weight – you might consider consuming 200 fewer calories per day than you did before age 40.

To reduce calories without losing valuable nutrients, pay attention to what you eat. Choose more fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, and stay away from fatty and processed foods.

And don’t forget the healthy proteins. For some reason, women start cutting back on the protein in their diets as they get older, without understanding that increasing protein will actually help them lose weight.

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One 2014 report in the journal, Nutrition & Metabolism, confirms diets high in healthy proteins positively affect weight control and a feeling of fullness, so individuals don’t overeat.

Of course, people need to be careful what types of proteins where are consuming, as some are still high in fat content, such as red meats. But many lean meat choices, (i.e., chicken and fish), and legume proteins (i.e., lentils or quinoa) are beneficial to weight management.

Remember, starving yourself is not the answer — just examine nutrition labels more closely, turn down second helpings, and be sensitive to cues that your stomach is satisfied.

Focus on High-Quality Calories

It’s time to adopt a new mantra: “nutrients over calories.” Instead of counting every calorie you take in, concentrate on the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that grace each plate.

When you choose foods with more nutrients in every bite, you’ll find that you’re consuming fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and quality proteins — filling ingredients that are naturally lower in calories. Most packaged foods, fried foods, sugary foods, and too much alcohol have no place in a healthy diet, especially after menopause.

Reduce your Sugar Intake

Even if you are not eating desserts, you could still be consuming huge amounts of sugar from sweetened beverages, including juices, soft drinks, and sweetened coffee.

Cutting back on these types of drinks could significantly reduce your daily caloric intake.

Get More Sleep

Menopausal symptoms, especially hot flashes, can keep you up at night. Lack of sleep affects ghrelin hormones, the hormones that affect how hungry you are.

In 2014, researchers from Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, confirmed the effect ghrelin hormones had on weight gain.

The Stanford study recruited over 1,000 people and found those who slept less had higher ghrelin levels. The study participants with higher ghrelin levels also had higher body mass and weighed more.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep for most healthy adults. If you are getting less, you may want to talk to your doctor about managing nightly hot flashes and other symptoms that are affecting your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep during the night.

Strengthen Muscles

It gets harder to build muscle as you age, so you might need to up your strength training routine. However, it’s well worth your time to pick up the free weights or try your hand at resistance training, because more muscle mass means a faster metabolism, and more energy throughout the day to work off any extra calories.

If you’re not sure where to start, why not book a session with an experienced trainer to get some helpful advice and a surge of motivation?

The Bottom Line…

There’s no overnight solution to weight gain, and weight maintenance never comes in the form of a fad diet. The keys to lasting, healthy weight management are education, self-care, and commitment.

Fortunately, you have the willpower and tools to use all of those elements for a lean and energetic body now, and in the years to come.

Resources

National Institutes of Health (Understanding weight gain at menopause)

American Diabetes Association (Adipocyte fatty acid storage factors enhance subcutaneous fat storage in postmenopausal women)

National Institutes of Health (Effects of a dietary intervention and weight change on vasomotor symptoms in the Women’s Health Initiative)

Menopause (Depressive symptoms and weight in midlife women: the role of stress eating and menopause status)

National Institutes of Health (The effects of stress on body weight: biological and psychological predictors of change in BMI)

Menopause (Association of genetic variation in the tachykinin receptor 3 locus with hot flashes and night sweats in the Women’s Health Initiative Study)

National Institutes of Health (Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index)

The North American Menopause Society (Changes in Weight and Fat Distribution)

National Institutes of Health (A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats)

National Sleep Foundation (How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?)

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