5 Proven Ways To Beat Looming Menopause Weight Gain
Women can beat menopause weight gain!
Many women struggle with the unwanted pounds that seem to come with this natural transition. But don’t give up hope just yet.
In this blog post, I reveal five proven strategies that can help you beat menopause weight gain and reclaim your health and confidence. Keep reading to discover how to stay fit, strong, and fabulous during and after menopause.
How Does Menopause Affect Weight Gain?
Menopause itself does not directly cause weight gain. However, hormonal changes that occur during this time can make it easier to gain weight and harder to lose it. During menopause, the body’s production of estrogen decreases. This can affect the body’s metabolism and lead to a reduction in muscle mass. This can make it easier to gain weight and harder to lose it. Additionally, as women age, their overall muscle mass tends to decrease, which can further slow down their metabolism.
Furthermore, menopause can also lead to changes in lifestyle habits, such as decreased physical activity and increased calorie intake. This combo is likely to contribute to weight gain. The good news is that we can prevent it.
Weight, Shape and Body Composition At Menopause
While we are seeing many more studies coming out on menopause, there is still much work to do. That is the world of science, and it is wonderful. It allows us to continue to explore, challenge, and understand information.
In this blog, I am featuring the article “Weight, Shape, and Body Composition Changes at Menopause.” It is a narrative review of existing literature on menopause-related changes. (1) The authors did not collect any new data for this review. Instead, they searched PubMed, Embase, Medline, Google Scholar, and several other databases for relevant articles published from 2000 onward.
The authors used a combination of search terms related to menopause, body weight, body composition, and hormonal changes to identify relevant articles. They then screened the resulting articles for eligibility based on pre-defined inclusion and exclusion criteria. Those deemed relevant for their review were selected.
The authors, who synthesized the findings into a cohesive narrative, discussed the quality and limitations of the studies included in their review. They then provided their interpretations and conclusions based on the available evidence.
Overall, this review provides a comprehensive summary of the current understanding of menopause-related changes in weight, shape, and body composition, based on the existing literature in the field.
WHAT DID THEY FIND?
They note that menopause is associated with an increase in body fat and a redistribution of fat from the hips and thighs to the abdomen. This can increase the risk of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.
The article discusses the role of hormonal changes, aging, and lifestyle factors in developing these changes. For example, they believe the decline in estrogen levels during menopause contributes to weight gain by regulating appetite, metabolism, and fat distribution.
Lifestyle modifications were suggested, such as regular physical activity, a healthy diet, and stress reduction. This may help prevent or mitigate the weight gain and body composition changes that occur during menopause.
They also note that hormonal therapies, such as estrogen replacement therapy, may be beneficial for some women in managing menopausal symptoms and preventing weight gain.
Overall, the article highlights the importance of recognizing and addressing the changes in weight, shape, and body composition that occur during menopause. This is necessary to promote healthy aging and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
5 Proven Ways To Beat Looming Menopause Weight Gain
The good news is that weight gain during menopause is not inevitable. Women can take charge and manage it through a healthy diet and regular exercise. This may sound like a daunting and overwhelming task if you do not have healthy routines established.
The biggest obstacle you are most likely going to face is remaining consistent in your regime. As we age, it can take longer for things to change. When we go through menopause, emotions can also impact our decisions. It is easy to fall off track.
Take small steps in creating a sustainable, healthy lifestyle. Embrace it, push through, and know that eventually, you will see results.
Here are five ways to beat menopause weight gain or to manage your current weight during menopause.
1. Eat a healthy diet
There is no one magic diet to solve this problem. Every single woman will have to find a healthy way of eating that works for her. Focus more on eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats.
Try to avoid foods that are highly processed, fried, high in sodium and sugary drinks such as pop, flavoured coffees and alcohol.
These foods are often high in calories and can cause the body to retain water which leads to bloating. They can be difficult to digest, which can cause gas and stomach upset. Some women may be sensitive or intolerant to certain foods, such as dairy products or gluten, which can cause bloating as a symptom of the intolerance.
Try identifying problem foods and then eliminating them from your diet for two to three weeks. Find healthier alternatives to put in place of what you remove. Keep a log. Track changes and anything else you notice. Mindfulness and self-assessments are some of your greatest tools to use during this time.
Fiber-rich foods are beneficial for women in menopause.
Fibre promotes satiety and can help control appetite and reduce overall calorie intake, essential for weight management. Fibre can help regulate digestion and prevent constipation, a common issue during menopause.
Some studies suggest that fibre may even help to reduce menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats.
It can also help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, which can become more common after menopause.
Increasing protein intake in the diet of women in menopause is very important.
Protein helps to preserve muscle mass, which tends to decline during menopause due to hormonal changes. It is more satiating than carbohydrates or fats, which can help to reduce overall calorie intake and aid weight loss.
Adequate protein intake is essential for maintaining bone health, as it provides the building blocks for bone tissue. All good reasons to eat more lean protein, right?
Even though women in menopause may experience changes in their metabolism and hormonal levels that can make weight loss more challenging, a calorie deficit is still required to lose weight.
This is because weight loss ultimately comes down to burning more calories than you consume, regardless of age or hormonal status. In other words, you need to create a calorie deficit by consuming fewer calories than you burn through daily activities and exercise.
This can be achieved by reducing your calorie intake through dietary changes, increasing your physical activity levels to burn more calories, or combining both.
While it may be more difficult to lose weight during menopause, a calorie deficit can still be achieved by making sustainable changes to your diet and lifestyle.
However, an effective and sensible calorie deficit can be very complicated to establish. This is where most women struggle.
But, what is even more challenging is getting most women to follow through on what they need to do to lose weight. Compliance and commitment are very big issues.
If weight loss is getting you down, go on a food adventure instead.
If you are becoming frustrated, take a break from the scales and go on a food adventure. Get reconnected with good food, how it makes you feel and perform in your daily life. Journal about it. List what makes you feel good and what doesn’t. Be mindful. Explore.
And if you need help with ideas, check out my new recipe blog here. I release a new recipe each week from my LipSmackers collection.
2. Stay active and Do Cardio
Like diet, there is no one magic type of exercise either. Find your fun in fitness. When you enjoy it, you are more likely to be consistent.
Regular cardio exercise can also help with weight loss during menopause by burning calories and increasing metabolism, which can help to create a calorie deficit and promote fat loss
It increases the number of calories burned during and after the workout, as the body works to recover and repair muscle tissue. Cardio increases the production of hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine, which can boost metabolism and promote fat burning.
A lot of people don’t realize this, but regular cardio exercise can help to build and maintain lean muscle mass too. This will increase metabolism as muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue, during your activities and at rest.
Cardio exercise can also improve insulin sensitivity, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels and prevent weight gain. Being an endurance athlete, I can attest to all of this.
How much cardio and what type?
Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, such as brisk walking, swimming, or cycling. You can try mixing in some short high-intensity intervals too.
If you are new to exercise or have not worked out for many years, start easy. Choose low-intensity exercise, such as walking at a comfortable pace.
Because beginners start at lower intensities, aim for 300 minutes per week. This will help build muscular and cardio endurance while reducing risks of injury that can happen from going too hard too soon. After a few months, when you established a strong foundation, begin to incorporate higher-intensity workouts.
Read my blog “The Best Exercise For Weight Loss.” It gives you a lot to think about and may be just what you need to get going now.
3. Strength train
There is one big misconception that prevents many women from strength training later in life: that they will get injured if they lift heavy weights. I’m happy to say this is mostly untrue.
The risk that a middle-aged or older woman would get injured from starting a strength training routine is very low. In fact, most injuries happen to people outside the weight room.
Regular strength training is crucial to menopausal women trying to lose or maintain body fat.
Firstly, it can help to maintain and build lean muscle mass, which tends to decline during menopause which can be due to hormonal changes. However, many studies argue that the decline in muscle mass is mostly due to a drop in physical activity and not maintaining a consistent fitness routine which includes regular strength training.
Regardless, it’s never too late to start to lift. Lean muscle mass can help with burning more fat because it requires more energy (calories) to maintain than fat tissue, which means that having more lean muscle can increase metabolism and calorie burning.
Secondly, strength training can help to improve bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, which becomes more common after menopause. Better bone density can help with fat loss because, well, it is the full circle. Strong bones help you to do more weight-bearing exercises to build more muscle and burn more calories. See how it’s connected?
Finally, strength training can improve insulin sensitivity, which can help to regulate blood sugar levels and prevent weight gain, which can be more challenging during menopause.
Incorporate progressive strength training into your weekly exercise routine to help maintain and build strength
This can include lifting weights, doing bodyweight exercises, or using resistance bands. I suggest at least two sessions per week. Each session can be 30 to 45 minutes, including the warm-up and cool-down.
I also suggest following a progressive training plan to maximize strength and avoid plateaus. While I have a YouTube channel, they are just one-off random workouts. Solely relying on YouTube workouts may put you on a rollercoaster ride of gains and losses, leading to stagnation and increased frustration.
The progressive overload principle in strength training involves gradually increasing the intensity, frequency, and duration of exercises over time to continually challenge the body and promote muscle growth and strength. This is very important for women in menopause as they need to work harder to make gains due to the barriers they are up against.
Use a progressive weight training program to prevent muscle and bone loss, increase metabolism, and improve overall health and fitness.
However, it’s best not to try to lose weight while also trying to build muscle during menopause.
Building muscle requires a calorie surplus to provide energy and nutrients for muscle growth. Weight loss requires a calorie deficit to burn stored body fat. While you can technically build some muscle during weight loss, it requires very strict adherence and a specialized program. It is best to do them separately.
To build muscle first, focus on hypertrophy training several times per week using weights, kettlebells, barbells, resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises. Consume enough calories and protein to support muscle growth, which again, is best done in a calorie surplus.
To lose weight afterward, focus on a calorie deficit through a combination of healthy eating and cardio exercise, while continuing to incorporate strength training to maintain muscle mass.
You are already fighting a battle with menopause, so you will want to be as efficient as possible. The results are encouraging. If you do not know how to build your plan, hire a fitness trainer to build on it for you.
If hiring a personal trainer is not in your budget, check out my women’s wellness online community membership program.
4. Get enough sleep
Numerous studies have come out over the past several years highlighting the great importance of sleep. This is not just for menopause, but for overall physical, mental and emotional health at any age.
Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night to help regulate hormones and support a healthy metabolism.
A lack of sleep can greatly impact your ability to lose weight during menopause. Combine that with stress, an unhealthy diet, and a lack of exercise during menopause and the struggle will be real!
Hormones that regulate appetite and metabolism can be disrupted. This can increase cravings for high-calorie foods and reduce energy levels and physical activity.
Sleep helps to stabilize the cortisol hormone. If cortisol is not balanced and remains at a high level, it can increase appetite, particularly for sugary and high-fat foods. Combine this with reduced energy levels and physical activity and it will lead to an imbalance between energy intake and expenditure and ultimately resulting in weight gain.
Did you know that high levels of cortisol in menopausal women can create water retention by increasing the production of aldosterone?
This is a hormone that regulates sodium and water balance in the body. When aldosterone levels are high, the body can retain more sodium, which can lead to an increase in water retention and bloating.
This effect can be exacerbated in menopausal women who have low estrogen levels, which can lead to increased sensitivity to aldosterone and further water retention.
Who’d a thunk that sleep was so vital and plays such a strong role in women’s health during menopause? But it makes sense. Sleep is vital at every age, so why would it be any different at this stage?
5. Consult with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian:
If you’re struggling to manage your weight during menopause, and the above suggestions are not helping you, then consider consulting with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian. They can help you create a personalized plan to manage weight and achieve optimal health during this time.
In conclusion, menopause can affect weight gain, but it’s not inevitable. By making healthy lifestyle choices such as eating a balanced diet, doing cardio, doing strength training, getting enough sleep, and consulting with a healthcare provider, you can manage your weight and support your overall health during this transition.
Before you move on, I would love to hear your thoughts about this discussion. Are you struggling? Do you have any of your tips to offer? What is working or isn’t working for you? Did you try any of the five suggestions above? Any success?
Or do you feel lost, overwhelmed, and need support? If yes, feel free to reach out to me directly by sending me an email at email@example.com.
(1) Fenton, A. ‘Weight, Shape, and Body Composition Changes at Menopause.” J Midlife Health. 2021 Jul-Sep;12(3):187-192. doi: 10.4103/jmh.jmh_123_21. Epub 2021 Oct 16. PMID: 34759699
Additional scientific and expert sources for further learning:
The Menopause Foundation of Canada: https://menopausefoundationcanada.ca/
International Menopause Society: https://www.imsociety.org/
North American Menopause Society: https://menopause.org/home
The Journal of the North American Menopause Society: https://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/pages/default.aspx
Journal of Menopause Medicine: https://e-jmm.org/
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