Menopause

You probably wouldn't be shocked to find that your metabolism changes during and after menopause. What you might find surprising is that the one size fits all diets that you've tried in the past may have actually increased your chances of gaining weight. Learn how to readjust your body's metabolism to accommodate the changes that menopause brings.

Menopause Weight Gain: Causes & Solutions

Weight gain is a frequent outcome and frustration menopausal women face. Learn why menopausal weight gain occurs and if it is certain or can be avoided.

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Menopause is the ceasing of menstruation induced by the natural decline in women’s reproductive hormones. It is signaled by 12 months following last menstruation and most experienced between the ages of 40 and 50.

Common menopausal symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and low sexual function due to declining estrogen levels. Weight gain is further a frequent outcome and frustration menopausal women face.

Learn why menopausal weight gain occurs and if it is certain or can be avoided.

Menopause and Weight Gain

According to a Mayo Clinic Proceedings review, weight gain is common among aging women, especially during the menopausal transition. On average, women gain about 1.5 pounds per year during midlife.

About 67 percent of U.S women aged 40 to 59 and 75 percent of women 60 years and older are overweight. This is based on a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25. Almost half of these women are considered obese, which means having a BMI equal to or greater than 30.

Postmenopausal women often experience changes in body fat distribution. They are more likely to carry excess weight as abdominal fat, which is also known as android obesity. Fat carried around the abdomen increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic health conditions.

Causes of Menopausal Weight Gain

There are many contributing factors to menopausal weight gain, including insulin resistance and the natural consequences of aging.

Insulin resistance is a common condition amongst pre- and postmenopausal women. People with insulin resistance have difficulty shuttling glucose into their cells, which causes them to feel deprived and starved. Desperate for fuel, the cells signal a hunger response to the brain and food is likely sought out. Regularly feeding into this hunger can increase calorie intake and the risk of weight gain.

To make matters even more problematical, insulin also acts as a chemical messenger that signals the liver to hold onto glucose. So rather than glucose being released in the blood, it is stored as fat for later use. This function makes it more difficult to hold onto weight rather than shed it off.

Weight gain during menopause can likewise be caused by the natural consequences of aging. For instance, both men and women tend to lose muscle mass with age. Losing muscle, in turn, decreases metabolism and the rate in which calories are burned. Physical activity and sleep may also be reduced with age.

Ultimately, such combining factors can make it challenging to maintain a healthy body weight.

How to Lose Weight During and After Menopause

Women can find comfort in knowing menopause weight gain solutions do exist. Health experts encourage women to make lasting lifestyle changes to manage weight.

Essential steps to lose menopausal weight gain include making modifications in the diet and exercising regularly. Managing stress and ensuring adequate sleep is additionally important.

Follow a Menopausal Weight Gain Diet

A menopausal diet is essentially a healthy diet rich in nutrient-dense foods. An emphasis of whole grains, fresh produce, lean protein, and healthy fat sources can naturally control calories while maximizing nutrient content. Also, limit the intake of foods laden in refined flours, oils, added sugars, and salt.

A diet moderated in carbohydrate can defend against insulin resistance and weight gain as well. Lowering carb content helps keep blood sugars stable and limit the amount of insulin being released. This, in turn, helps the body burn fat mass more effectively.

Other diet-related tips include monitoring portion and serving sizes. Also slow down at meal times, control hunger with a protein-based snack, and stay hydrated with water. Turning to a weight loss meal delivery service is a valuable solution, too.

Fortunately, bistroMD offers a menopause plan to help women lose weight and feel great. The bistroMD menopause plan is moderated in net carbs to stabilize blood sugars. Net carbs are essentially the carbohydrate with most impact on blood sugar, as fiber is non-digestible and bypasses the bloodstream.

Meals are also rich in lean protein, a nutrient vital for weight loss, and balanced with healthy fat. Members have the option of EATS (essential and tasty snacks), which are low in carbs and rich in protein. Enjoying the meals and snacks every three to four hours further helps stabilize blood sugars and curb cravings throughout the day.

All recipes are crafted by seasoned chefs using only the freshest ingredients. They are free of unwanted fillers and ingredients, including trans fats, artificial colorings, MSG, chemical fillers, nitrates, added sulfites, or aspartame.

Offering 200 recipes and a customizable menu, there is always a find something to satisfy personal taste buds without feeling deprived!

Participate In Regular Physical Activity

Diet may be key for weight loss, but the importance of regular physical activity should not go unnoticed.

Aerobic exercise helps burn calories while supporting cardiovascular and overall health. Aim for at least 150 minutes of cardio weekly by jogging, brisk walking, dancing, and biking. Really, any activity that elevates heart rate is considered cardio.

Incorporate at least two to three strength training sessions in an exercise regimen. Focus on all major muscle groups, including the shoulders, back, arms, legs, and core. Weight-bearing exercises lower the risk of muscle and bone loss that often comes with age.

Reduce and Manage Stress

Managing stress is important to combat mood swings. It can help deter the risks of emotional eating and save hundreds of calories, too.

Several positive coping techniques exist, including exercise and meditation. Talking with a loved one and reading a favorite book can also help. Truly, though, manage stress in a positive way that is most impactful for you.

Ensure Adequate Sleep

Getting good sleep might be a challenge when experiencing night sweats and hot flashes. But sleeping on its importance can lead to weight gain and other consequences related to physical and emotional health.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults between the ages 26 and 64 should sleep 7 to 9 hours nightly. Older adults aged 65 and older are recommended to sleep 7 to 8 hours.

Ensure adequate sleep by sticking to a bedtime with consistent wake times. Steering clear of caffeine, large meals, and naps starting in the late afternoon can ease a good night’s rest. To mitigate from night sweats, maintain a cool room temperature.

Written By Christy Zagarella, MS, RDN. Published on November 07, 2012. Updated on October 22, 2019.

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