Menopause Weight Gain: How to Maintain Your Weight and Your Health During Menopause
There are many reasons why women gain weight during the transition to Menopause. And it is extremely common - MOST women will gain weight particularly in their stomach area during Perimenopause - in the lead up to Menopause.
Visceral fat is the unhealthy fat that accumulates around the stomach and it is this fat accumulation that is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, dementia and increased hot flushes and night sweats. That's why maintaining a healthy weight and keeping healthy is so important to women approaching menopause.
There are multiple reasons why 80% of Australian women gain weight in the lead up to menopause.
1. Declining Estrogen Levels
As women approach menopause, our natural level of estrogen declines. One particular type of estrogen 'estradiol' is responsible for regulating our metabolism and body weight. So the lower level and estradiol and weight gain go hand in hand.
This does make it harder for women to maintain a good BMI.
2. Age-Related Loss of Muscle Tissue
The reduction in estrogen levels in the body is also associated with loss of muscle and bone tissue. The more muscle in our bodies, the easier we naturally burn calories. So with less muscles, our bodies are just less capable of burning off those calories.
But this can be reversed by engaging in regular weight bearing exercise.
3. You Lead a More Sedentary Lifestyle
As we get older, we are more likely to have a sedentary lifestyle. And the more sedentary you are, the more severe menopause symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats will occur.
4. Slower Metabolism
As women age, their metabolism naturally slows down. This means that the body burns fewer calories at rest, making it easier to gain weight if calorie intake is not adjusted accordingly.
5. Lifestyle Factors
Menopause often coincides with other lifestyle changes that can contribute to weight gain. For example, women may become less active or exercise less frequently, which can lead to a decrease in calorie expenditure. Additionally, changes in sleep patterns, stress levels, and dietary habits can also impact weight management.
Get moving! Ensure you get in your 10,000 steps per day. Walking is the very best exercise you can do regularly, not only to combat menopause weight gain, but it is also fantastic for menopause related anxiety. A good smartwatch will remind you to get your steps in every day, and some are great at monitoring your health, your sleep and will keep you motivated to move.
If you lack the motivation to get started, why not consider starting a walking club in your neighbourhood, or do a Park Run in your area, they are free to participate, and they are worldwide!
If you struggle to maintain enthusiasm for exercise, invest in a Smartwatch and download a fitness app - they keep you accountable!
Increase Your Muscle Mass:
Menopause means the loss of estrogen which is linked to weaker bones (and can lead to osteporosis). To combat this, strength training not only builds stronger bones, but helps you burn fat more effectively.
Every middle-aged woman should be lifting heavy weights (under professional supervision). There is no better time than menopause to join a gym and learn how to lift.
Some fun ways to 'lift' and get fit include:
Weight lifting is fun and an excellent way to keep your bones strong. Maintaining muscle mass can improve your overall strength, mobility and metabolism. Plus it makes your body look amazing!
A Body Pump Class:
Body Pump is a 60 minute weight resistance workout to music. The class includes squats, presses and curls. Body Pump classes are available in most areas.
Take out all your aggression and anxiety whilst getting fit.
If you love to dance, or used to dance, Barre is a fun way to using ballet moves to get fit and lean.
Keep Your Sweet Tooth in Check
It's easy to eat more sugar than you should. Especially in the afternoon when most people need a bit of a sugar hit to get through until dinner. Avoid consuming items such as muesli bars that contain just as much sugar as chocolate. Instead, try and get your sweet hit in other ways:
A couple of frozen grapes are a great way to get a sweet treat without too much sugar.
Make a 'homemade Snickers Bar' by getting a Medjool date, removing the seed, popping a teaspoon of crunchy peanut butter in the middle, and dipping the date in dark chocolate and sprinkling with some salt flakes and freeze. Tastes just like a Snickers - and much better for you.
A small fresh fruit sorbet (with no added sugar)
Monitor Your Alcohol Consumptions
Alcohol and calories go hand-in-hand. Swap a glass of wine for a low fat latte, or stick to lime and soda water for a refreshing and reduced calorie drink.
Consider Hormone Therapy
Hormone Replacement Therapy is the most widely known and successful treatment for the symptoms of menopause. There are new HRT treatments all the time including Oestrogen plus Serm and although HRT does come with risks, those risks are very small.
Stand instead of Sitting
The more you move your body, the more calories your body will burn. So anything you can do standing up instead of sitting down, will make a difference. According to the Better Health Channel, 'Sitting is the new Smoking'.