Menopause is that wonderful time of life when you gain weight, have hot flashes, and experience mood swings. Surely this is the icing on the hormonal cake.
As we all know, the end of our menstrual cycle, or menopause, can cause a number of changes in our body. In fact, menopause weight gain is one of the most unwelcome physical changes for many women.
However, the fact that some women gain weight during menopause is not a mystery that can’t be solved. It’s perfectly natural, as your hormones shift and your metabolism slows down during this time.
Menopause begins when our monthly period (menstruation) stops and we stop ovulating. Weight gain at this stage is typical, especially for women like us who are in their 40s and 50s.
Our lifestyle decisions, such as our diet and exercise regimen, can also cause menopausal weight gain.
The study, which was published in the journal Menopause, suggests that the best way to prevent menopause weight gain may be to change exercise and calorie intake years before the menopause.
Perimenopause, Menopause And Post-menopause
The term “menopause” is quite different from “perimenopause” and “post-menopause.”
Perimenopause is the period of transition before menopause. During this period, the hormone estrogen starts to decrease.
This is when symptoms like irregular periods, hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and weight gain may start to appear. It usually begins in the mid-40s and lasts, on average, four years.
Post-menopause is the time after menopause; that is, you have gone past 12 months without seeing your period.
At this stage, you are past your reproductive years, and you are no longer ovulating. Also, the menopausal symptoms will probably reduce.
READ ALSO: Everything You Should Know About Perimenopause
What You Should Know About Menopause and Weight Gain
Women between 45-70 often have significant concerns about the weight gain they experience.
This is understandable given that obesity is one of the most prevalent nutritional disorders worldwide, with high prevalence and consistently rising rates.
At the perimenopause stage, weight gain is a common occurrence as you approach menopause.
This can be pretty disturbing and sometimes makes you wonder what you are doing that is making you gain so much weight as you approach that age.
Changes in hormone levels, particularly those of estrogen, may have an impact on how body fat is distributed.
As their estrogen levels fall, many women in perimenopause and the early post-menopausal years put on weight.
What Causes Weight Gain During Menopause?
There are many reasons women tend to gain weight during menopause.
Most women are aware of the most frequent cause, which is the sharp decline in estrogen levels.
However, the reality is that it is not limited to women with low blood levels of estrogen.
There are several other factors that contribute to menopause weight gain, and let’s go over each of them.
Reduced estrogen level
A reduced level of estrogen in the blood can lead to weight gain. Estrogen causes an increase in the bulkiness of the muscles and less fat. Thus, with low estrogen comes lesser muscle mass and more body fat.
This is associated with the fact that your ovaries no longer produce enough estrogen. Your body will therefore try to make up for the decreased estrogen level by producing the hormone in other ways.
Fat cells are a good source of estrogen, and your body starts to convert all the energy sources available to fat cells in an attempt to make up for the reduced estrogen in the blood.
This leads to weight gain, especially in the abdominal region known as visceral fat, which can lead to an increase in cardiovascular disease.
In a similar vein, studies on animals revealed that estrogen was shown to aid in weight management and that a lack of estrogen may result in a slow metabolic rate, which governs how quickly your body burns calories.
An unhealthy lifestyle can also be a contributing factor to menopause weight gain. If you frequently eat throughout the day without exercising in any way, you run a high risk of gaining weight.
The reason for this is that you are not making an effort to burn off the calories you are consuming. You also need to be aware that your body has changed from how it once was.
It’s possible that you were doing all of those things at first without gaining weight, but a lot has changed since then. Your body’s metabolism has slowed down, so you won’t burn fat as quickly.
READ ALSO: Avoid These Weight Loss Mistakes Women Over 50 Often Make
Genetics should not be completely ignored when determining what may have contributed to the weight gain you experience as you near menopause.
It’s possible that the weight gain you’re experiencing has an underlying cause if obesity runs in your family.
It’s likely that you will develop abdominal obesity if your parents or other close relatives do.
Other factors like inactivity, poor eating habits, and insufficient sleep may also contribute to menopause weight gain.
As you get older, you may have a propensity to sleep less or not at all, which can lead to weight gain.
Additionally, if you don’t exercise enough, you tend to be more sedentary, which can result in weight gain.
As you get older, your muscle mass decreases and is replaced with fat, which makes it easier to put on weight.
When this happens, you need to exercise or work out harder in order to burn the same number of calories as before.
Excess alcohol intake
The body sees alcohol as a toxic substance. As a result, when consumed, it deactivates the metabolism of other nutrients like fat.
The liver is where both fat and alcohol are metabolized.
Weight gain results from the body storing fat and other nutrients rather than metabolizing them because it wants to get rid of the toxins from alcohol as quickly as possible.
Another factor that contributes to weight gain is diet. It’s been said that we are what we eat. Thus, when you are not mindful of the food you eat, it can be a big problem.
You might put on weight, for instance, if you consume a lot of carbohydrates but few fruits and vegetables. This is due to the high calorie content of carbohydrates. A cup of white rice, for instance, has approximately 206 calories.
Imagine consuming 3 cups, or about 618 calories, followed by a snack of a loaf of bread or a bar of chocolate, both of which are high in calories. This could result in you gaining a lot of weight.
READ ALSO: How To Lose Weight for Women Over 50
Ways for Women Over 50 Can Lose Weight During Menopause
Factors like hormones and genetics cannot be easily controlled; they are factors we do not have control over.
However, when it comes to lifestyle choices like diet and exercise, these are things we have control over, and we can easily modify them to our satisfaction.
These modifiable factors can be broken down into the following;
Cut down on your calorie intake
As you enter the menopausal stage, you tend to burn fewer calories than you used to.
Let’s say your daily calorie intake is around 1500 and your goal is to maintain your weight. You would need to cut about 200 calories from your diet.
Due to the fact that, as you age, your body burns fat much more slowly, there may be weight gain. You need to consume fewer calories overall in order to lose weight.
To achieve this, you need to eat smarter, and you can do the following things;
- Reduce your daily food portion
- Reduce the amount of processed and refined foods you consume
- Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet
- Eat food with fewer calories and more fiber.
- Know the number of calories you consume per day
Exercise more often
Postmenopausal women should incorporate balance, strength, and aerobic exercise into their exercise routine.
Exercise is a great way to stay in shape and lose weight. At the menopause, aerobic exercise is the best way to reduce body fat, and you should aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week.
Aerobic exercise includes cycling, swimming, running, and walking with your dog, which you can do daily.
Apart from helping with weight loss, it can also help regulate the heart rate and control diseases like osteoporosis and diabetes.
If you think these exercises are too strenuous for you, ask your doctor for some less strenuous recommendations.
Along with aerobic exercise, you can also do strength training exercises like lifting weights, using bands, or using weight machines.
These will help to increase muscle tone, which will increase bone mass and cause a decrease in body fat.
Squats, high-knee walking, and single-leg stances are just a few of the exercises recommended for maintaining balance.
Check out some of the HIIT and low-impact workouts and challenges created especially for menopausal women on Fabulous50s. These exercises are safe for the back and knees.
Keep in mind that regular exercise can enhance your quality of life and help you maintain a healthy weight.
Limit alcohol intake
The symptoms of menopause, such as night sweats or restlessness, which can keep you awake at night and cause weight gain, have been shown to worsen when excessive alcohol is consumed.
Therefore, if you typically drink 3 to 4 bottles per day, it is advised to reduce that to 1 to 2 bottles.
Get more sleep
Sleep is a crucial time of rest for our bodies. The recommended time of 7 hours or more should be adhered to strictly.
Inadequate sleep has been linked to the dysfunction of your hunger hormones, like ghrelin.
Although your body doesn’t currently require the food, this hormone makes you feel hungry quickly and makes you want to eat anyway. It also causes you to store extra food as fat.
Additionally, you have a tendency to want to snack on foods while you are awake because, for some people, it is a way to kill boredom, which will make you gain weight.
Join a group with similar interests
It can be difficult to stay motivated on your own at times. Finding a group of people who share your interests and can relate to what you’re going through is helpful.
This supports your weight loss efforts by allowing you to maintain accountability and motivation.
There are several support communities and networks for menopausal women out there. Our Fabulous50s community offers a wide range of resources, challenges, and products that can help support menopausal women.
Consult your doctor about hormone replacement therapy
When a woman’s hormone levels are low, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) involves giving her synthetic estrogen.
As you near menopause, it replaces hormones that are produced at a lower level.
Additionally, it reduces menopausal symptoms in women, including depression, night sweats, mood swings, and hot flashes, all of which cause weight gain.
Although many of these symptoms go away after a few years, they can be uncomfortable, and taking HRT can help many women.
HRT can also help prevent osteoporosis, a condition that weakens bones and is more common after menopause.
Women over 50 may experience a variety of emotions during menopause. In fact, different hormonal changes that occur during menopause will have an impact on their body, moods, health, and energy level.
However, depending on your stage of life and general health and wellbeing, you may need to manage or treat menopausal symptoms, including weight gain.
While there isn’t a magic solution to stop or reverse menopausal weight gain. Always keep in mind that getting enough exercise and rest, eating a nutritious diet can help prevent weight gain during menopause.
Make a commitment to a healthier you by making lifestyle changes. You’ve got this!
♡ Love ♡,