Between the ages of 45 and 55, virtually every woman will begin to go through their menopausal transition. This natural part of the aging process signals the end of a woman’s reproductive years. While this transition means no more painful periods, cramps, or chances of getting pregnant, it can also lead to troubling weight gain.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent that weight gain and maintain a healthy weight during and after menopause! This article will explore the reasons behind this sudden weight gain and what you can do to better control it.
Does Menopause Cause Weight Gain?
While it does not happen with every woman, the majority of women will experience some weight gain throughout their menopausal transition. In fact, it is very common for women to gain weight at menopause. This weight gain can be mainly attributed to hormonal changes in the body.
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Throughout the various stages of menopause, your estrogen levels will fluctuate and eventually begin to slowly decline. Studies have suggested that those decreasing levels of estrogen send a hormonal signal to the body, telling it to promote fat storage in the belly area as visceral fat (i.e., dangerous fat that surrounds your organs and is associated with numerous diseases). This is a stark change for the body, as prior to this transition, women tend to store fat in their hips and thighs as subcutaneous fat (i.e., the harmless jiggly fat that is visible just under the skin).
Of course, numerous other factors can also contribute to this weight gain. Things like your age, your lifestyle, your stress, and even your genetics can play a crucial role in how you gain weight during and after menopause.
We should also note that menopause varies from woman to woman. So some women may experience more significant weight gain than others.
Why It’s Important To Watch Your Menopausal Weight Gain
Excessive weight gain at any stage of your life may pose serious implications for your overall health. Many of these risks have been well known for years, and the extra weight you gain from menopause only increases those risks further. If you don’t pay attention to your menopausal weight gain, you may increase your risk of many health issues, including:
- Breathing problems
- Cardiovascular disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- And high blood pressure
Excessive weight gain may also increase your risk of various types of cancer (i.e., breast, colon, and endometrial cancers).
How To Successfully Control Your Weight During Menopause
Although weight gain is very common during menopause, there are steps that you can take to prevent and even reverse it! Take the initiative now to:
- Reduce your carb intake – By cutting back on carbs, you may reduce your belly fat.
- Add more fiber to your diet – A high-fiber diet can help reduce your appetite, which in turn can decrease your caloric intake. Fiber can also help improve your insulin sensitivity and lower your blood pressure too.
- Work out consistently – Regular exercise is the cornerstone of any effective weight loss strategy. Do some strength training exercises at least once or twice a week to increase your strength, improve your body composition, and build lean muscle.
- Get plenty of restful, quality sleep – Not enough sleep will lead to higher levels of the “hunger hormone” (ghrelin) and lower levels of the “fullness hormone” (leptin). When you get enough sleep, you’ll have a smaller appetite, thus benefiting your caloric intake.
Should You Go On A Diet?
Your nutrition is arguably the most important part of your weight loss strategy. We know that you might feel eager to try out a fad dieting trend, like the Ketogenic diet or the Paleo diet. However, you should steer clear of those trendy fad diets!
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Those fad dieting strategies can be effective ways to lose weight, but they are not sustainable. As soon as you meet your weight loss goals, you’ll revert to your old unhealthy dietary habits. Soon enough, you’ll regain those lost pounds, and you’ll be back to square one.
Of course, there are a few healthy diets endorsed by nutritional experts that may help with weight loss during and beyond the menopausal transition. These diets include the low-carb diet, the Mediterranean diet, and even a vegetarian approach.
At the end of the day, the best weight loss diet is one that’s well-balanced and healthy! Find an approach that works well for you and with your lifestyle.
Other Tips To Lose Weight During Menopause
Preventing menopausal weight gain won’t be a walk in the park. You’ll need to hold yourself accountable on a daily basis to achieve your weight loss goals. Here are a few final tips to help you shed those pounds during menopause:
- Watch those added sugars – Soft drinks, sweets, and other sugary treats can add hundreds of extra calories to your daily diet. Try to limit and reduce the amount of added sugars you consume every day.
- Get active more often – Any kind of physical activity will help you shed some pounds and maintain a healthier weight. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise.
- Limit your alcoholic beverages – Beers, wines, and liquors can all add excess calories to your diet, which may lead to weight gain.
- Seek support from friends and family – Your immediate close circle can provide effective support to hold you accountable to your weight loss goals. They’ll act like your cheer squad, encouraging you and checking in on your progress every step of the way.