Menopausal weight gain is one of the most common and frustrating complaints experienced by women, in middle age.
Weight gain is normal and extremely common for women going through menopause. It is perhaps the most common symptom of menopause, with about 90% of menopausal women gaining some amount of weight during this time.
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.
While the entire process of menopausal weight gain is not 100% understood by the medical 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.
Tips for Menopausal Weight Gain
Before looking at drastic medications or crash diets that may not work, below are a few suggestions that may assist in preventing weight gain:
1. Eat and drink 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 consume it!
A meta-analysis looking at sugar sweetened beverages, although not specific to menopause indicated that reducing consumption of soda, reduces body fat mass and reduced weight. This proves that we can’t discount the negative effect refined sugars have on our weight and body mass.
2. Exercise correctly
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 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.
Resistance training is also important, to improve your muscle to fat ratio as well as reducing your risk of bone fracture. It has been recommended that a comprehensive exercise program should be developed to improve weight, health and bone density levels. It is important to work with exercise physiologists to develop the right program for you.
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 an experienced menopause consultant 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.
4. Improve sleep quality and quantity
Menopause is quite often a time where sleep quantity and quality tend to decline. Changing just a few things can make a difference to your sleep patterns. Below are a few tips:
- Ensure 80% of the week, you go to sleep at the same time
- Limit light exposure 30-60minutes before going to bed
- Provide a relaxing environment in the bed room
- Avoid stimulants, such as caffeine, after 2pm
- Don’t over or under eat before bed.
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Include Tryptophan containing foods, such as turkey and pumpkin
Mental and Physical Effects
Aside from the mental and emotional issues that can arise from menopause and the natural hormonal changes that occur, weight gain and an inability to shift the weight can, contribute to depression, lack of motivation and reduced self-esteem. These symptoms as a result, can further perpetuate the viscous cycle of weight gain. As well as the mental and emotional issues that arise from weight gain, the physical effects can’t be discounted. These can include, joint aches and pains, heat disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Talk With an Experienced Menopause Doctor
If weight gain has been problematic since transitioning into menopause, contact our experienced team here at the Australian Menopause Centre. There are a variety of different treatment options that can be prescribed and recommended to assist you in getting back on track with your weight.
Our experienced and knowledgeable team will review your medical history and prescribe a treatment program tailored to you, that has been proven to help relieve your symptoms. You do not have to suffer alone and arming yourself with the right information about your current experiences is the best way to find peace of mind as well as relief.
Call us today on 1300 883 405 and let one of our experienced medical practitioners help start you on a path for treating the hormonal imbalances you are suffering. We’ve helped over 80,000 Australian women relieve their menopause symptoms, and we look forward to helping you with yours too.