Many women will find that they gain weight during the process of menopause. As we age, we tend to lose muscle density, our metabolism slows, and we may become less active than we were during our younger years. Hormones will also fluctuate in women’s bodies during menopause. Levels of progesterone, testosterone, and oestrogen will decrease affecting how a woman’s body is able to lose fat.
It can be very frustrating to feel as though you are gaining weight throughout menopause. It’s not only aesthetic changes that are made, but the accumulation of fat around the abdomen can also put menopausal women at risk of chronic illness like insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease. For that reason it’s always important to ensure you speak to a menopause specialist and make sure your body is on the right track.
While the entire process of menopausal weight gain is not 100% understood by the medicine world just yet, there are ways that you can help decrease your chances of weight gain during this period. The good news is that the sooner you start modifying your behaviours, the easier it will be to maintain a healthy weight during menopause. Methods of weight loss during menopause are the same as those that keep you healthy at any stage of your life.
Keep these simple rules in mind and you should hopefully keep weight loss at bay during menopause:
1. Eat less sugar
If you’re partial to sweets and soft drinks, try to give it a break for now. Even getting rid of one can of soft drink per day will stop you from consuming the equivalent of around 14 kilograms of sugar each year. Processed sugars add no nutritional benefit to your life, and can also exacerbate spider veins, cellulite, and tooth cavities. Unfortunately, sugar is also incredibly addictive – but if you take it one day at a time and don’t berate yourself for falling off the wagon, you can cut it out of your life. Try to remember that just because something tastes good it doesn’t mean you have to eat it!
2. Exercise the right way
There’s a misconception that high intensity workouts are the right remedy for the menopausal pouch and losing unwanted kilos. But to decrease your fat it’s better to engage in moderate cardiovascular activity, such as a brisk 45 minute walk. Cardio exercises like this should be done regularly, at least 5 times a week, if you want to see a result.
The benefits of gentler and less gruelling types of exercise like this is that your body enjoys it, and there are no intense thigh burns or aching Achilles tendons the next day. This means that you can actually incorporate more exercises into your life and will be more likely to keep it as a part of a routine. Walks can be a great opportunity to catch up with friends or spend time in nature, and can really help with mental clarity and relaxation.
Another excellent form of exercise for menopausal women is yoga, which depending on the method practiced can help balance out your hormonal levels. And of course, if you love high energy classes like Zumba or spin, keep doing them as well!
3. Don’t deprive yourself
Crash dieting and extreme diet changes aren’t going to help much with your weight loss program during menopause. This is because as you experience ‘the change’, your entire body chemistry is evolving. It will ultimately be different to anything you’ve experienced before, meaning that diets that have helped you lose weight in the past may have absolutely no effect on your new body. Skipping meals may cause your body to slow its metabolism even more, as it feels like you are going through a period of starvation. Instead, increase the amount of healthy whole foods to your diet. Prepare meals that are rich in grains and nutrients, and mostly free from animal products. It’s also useful to add homemade soups to your diet, as they’re soft enough for your body to easily extract the nutrients from.
If you’re finding yourself gaining weight during menopause and unable to get rid of it, talk to a menopause specialist to find the best solution for you. Remember that the best treatment for menopausal symptoms, including weight gain, will always depend on what works best for you as an individual.