Menopause weight gain
Unwanted weight gain during menopause is a symptom many get frustrated with. While some gradual weight gain is normal, especially around your middle, it doesn’t help that this may affect your confidence or self-esteem. Read on to find out how to manage menopause weight gain.
Menopause and weight gain
Weight gain during and after menopause is slightly different compared with weight gain pre-menopause. The extra pound or two gained before menopause tends to settle more evenly over your hips, bottom, thighs, and arms as an all-over weight gain. At this time of life, any weight gain tends to head to your middle, known as the middle-aged spread.
For many, weight gain and middle-aged spread tend to be fairly gradual across the menopausal transition. It is partially due to hormonal changes, but also other factors that aren’t directly related to menopause such as not enough exercise and diet.
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DOES MENOPAUSE CAUSE WEIGHT GAIN?
- Research shows a weight gain between 5-10 pounds on average during menopause and this is mostly around the middle
- Some may gain more weight during perimenopause, especially those who are already struggling with their weight
- The age at which menopause occurs can also be a factor
Read more about the stages of menopause.
Other reasons for weight gain
Stress and big life changes, such as a newly empty nest, divorce, or moving to a new home
Stopping smoking or drinking
Certain medications such as antidepressants
HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT IN MENOPAUSE
Have you noticed that your usual nutrition and exercise are no longer working? As you get older your metabolism slows down, so in essence, even if you eat the same and do as much exercise as you used to, you are bound to put on weight.
As unfair as this is, you have to eat more healthily and do more exercise to keep up! There is no quick fix or magic bullet. Many enter menopause already overweight, and the falling estrogen levels affect how and where you store fat. Try to target this with specific exercises and changes in what you eat and drink. Here are five things you can try.
1. Take care of your diet
Eat well and enough – now is not the time for very low-calorie fad diets or trying to exclude major food groups. You could make your health worse. Track what you are eating and aim for a varied diet low in saturated fat with plenty of fiber, protein, leafy vegetables, and fruit. Pack in those nutrient-rich, menopause-friendly foods.
2. Increase exercise
It is never too late to start exercising. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (brisk walking or cycling) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity (running) each week. You can also pack in short bursts of very vigorous-intensity exercise, such as sprinting or stair climbing to boost your exercise minutes.
Read more about the best exercise for menopause.
Find an exercise that you enjoy and if you are mainly sedentary, start by walking every day and slowly increase your steps and pace. You don’t need an expensive gym membership to start being active.
If you are already in an exercise routine, build in strength training. It burns calories and helps prevent the loss of muscle mass.
You can combine moderate and vigorous-intensity exercise and this helps prevent and manage weight gain. It also prevents and lowers your risk of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, mental health problems, musculoskeletal conditions, and some cancers. Exercise also has a positive effect on wellbeing, mood, sense of achievement, relaxation, and release from daily stress.
3. Manage stress
Keep an eye on triggers and use techniques to keep your mind from racing at a thousand miles an hour. You might roll your eyes, but yoga and meditation really can help – the scientific evidence is there!
4. Track your sleep
Your mind and body need quality sleep for a chance to rest and repair. It’s very hard to prioritize your wellbeing when you are feeling exhausted too. Menopause can interfere with falling and staying asleep and this disruption in sleep cycles can mess with your hunger hormones.
5. Be kind to yourself
Lifestyle changes are difficult and you may fall off the wagon many times. Try not to punish yourself and recognize your intention to be more healthy and the effort you are putting into your health.
Does hormone therapy (HT) make you gain weight?
No. Although some report weight gain with HT there is no clear evidence to support this. Currently, it is thought that weight gain during menopause is related to several factors including aging, poor sleep, lack of exercise, and stress.
Menopausal weight gain FAQs
Eating better? Well, that’s my nemesis. If I’m tracking every day and planning meals, I am usually fine. Yet, if there is anything in the house that looks tempting, the struggle is real