Menopause is the permanent end to a womanís monthly period. It usually occurs when women are in their late 40s or 50s. This is a natural process for a womenís body to experience but it sure leads to many permanent changes like loss of fertility. Most women experience weight gain after menopause along with hormonal changes and low energy levels.
Before and during menopause, there is dramatic decrease in the estrogen levels. This causes symptoms of menopause. It is also common for menopause to occur prematurely, say at age 40 or so. But even in those cases, the symptoms remain the same.
During the period leading to menopause, women might experience a range of symptoms. These are a mix of physical and psychological symptoms such as:
- Irregular periods
- Mood swings
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Dry skin
- Loss of hair
- Lower energy levels
- Vaginal dryness
- Slow metabolism
- Loss of libido
- Vaginal infections
- Sleep disorders
- Weight gain
In fact weight gain in menopause is the reality for many women going through this stage in their lives. The weight gain usually occurs around the abdomen or the hip area. Weight gain after menopause could also lead to other health problems if not managed right. All the extra weight gain in menopause can make women susceptible to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even breast cancer.
Menopause Weight Gain Causes
The chief cause of weight gain after menopause is the decrease in the levels of estrogens. Estrogens are hormones that help in the reproductive and sexual growth in women. During menopause, estrogen levels drop, thereby, lowering the metabolic rate of the body. A slow metabolism often leads to weight gain especially when combined with other factors like advancing age and low energy levels. Loss of estrogen may lead to insufficient use of starches and glucose, thus adding to weight gain in menopause.
Women in their 50s are also less likely to exercise owing to their age. But menopausal women might also not exercise because of other symptoms like low energy levels. This is also the age when women experience muscle loss and loss of bone density. This also leads to sedentary lifestyles thus further contributing to weight gain after menopause.
There could also be genetic causes to your weight gain in menopause. If your mother, sisters, or other close female relatives carry extra weight around their middle, it is very likely that you too are susceptible to weight gain in your abdomen region.
Solutions for Menopause Weight Gain
Even though menopause is inevitable and causes lots of uncomfortable and at times even painful symptoms, weight gain after menopause can be managed with simple solutions and remedies.
- As uncomfortable the thought of exercise might seem with all that muscle loss, and bone problems and lethargy, a good workout remains the most effective way to manage weight gain in menopause.
- It helps to choose an activity or a combination of activities that you find enjoyable. This will help you adhere to your exercise routine.
- Also, working out with a companion or a friend helps as all the motivation from a trusted partner can do wonders for your energy levels.
- Opt to brisk walk three times a week or a go for a game of your preferred sport a few times a week. Tennis, badminton and squash are activities that you can enjoy with a partner. Swimming is also a wonderful workout idea as it might also help with bone density loss along with your weight management.
- Opt for a high intensity cardio workout at least twice a week. The harder you work, the more calories you burn.
- Add strength training to your workout. This will help your body build muscles and aid in managing menopause and weight gain. If strength training has been a part of your exercise routine before menopause then you will have an easier time adding more intensity to your routine. But it is never too late to begin strength training. You can learn to do it right with the help of a trainer.
- Another option is to include a practice of yoga into your daily life. This will help you lose weight and also manage your stress. Stress leads to excessive and compulsive eating and thereby contributing to weight gain in menopause.
- Women in menopause need to completely overhaul their diet to compliment the new and drastic changes to their bodies. A healthy diet will help in managing weight gain and menopause symptoms.
- Do not give into the temptation of a crash diet. This will do you more harm than good. Your body will use your already dwindling muscle tissue for its energy supply because you have reduced your food intake. This loss in muscle tissue leads to a decrease in bodyís ability to utilize fuel thereby leading to more weight gain. And the fact is we canít be crash dieting all our lives.
- It pays to add more vegetables to your diet. Green leafy vegetables carry lots of fiber and nutrients that fill you up nicely without adding too much calories to your diet. When mixed with other vegetables, they add a nice crunch to your salad.
- Make friends with nuts. Add walnuts and almond in moderation to your diet. Also include sesame seeds and flaxseeds to your daily calorie intake. Nuts and seeds are packed with essential fatty acids, which are so necessary for all age groups but especially during and after menopause. They not only add healthy calories to your diet but also aid in managing other menopausal symptoms like dry skin, hair loss, and fluctuating memory.
- Enhance your diet with legumes and pulses. Soybean, chickpea, and different lentils are a value addition to a diet after menopause.
- Cereals like oats, sorghum, and pearl millets are healthier options to include for your carbohydrate requirements.
- Get creative. Find new ways to use familiar ingredients. Add nuts and seeds to your salad. Or make breakfast smoothies using green vegetables.
Menopause is not an end to your life. It is just a beginning to a new phase in a womanís life. Educate yourself about menopause and tweak your diet and lifestyle in accordance with what you find comfortable. Consult a doctor who might give you additional information in managing menopausal symptoms including weight gain after menopause. Indulge yourself in your interests and hobbies and donít stop living. Donít let your weight gain and menopause stop you from living life to your fullest. Play. Laugh. Live.
Latest Publications and Research on Menopause Weight Gain
- Preclinical efficacy of the GPER-selective agonist G-1 in mouse models of obesity and diabetes. - Published by PubMed
- Weight Management Module for Perimenopausal Women: A Practical Guide for Gynecologists. - Published by PubMed
- Uterine cancer in breast cancer survivors: a systematic review. - Published by PubMed
- Structural equation model analysis for the evaluation of factors associated with overweight and obesity in menopausal women in RaNCD cohort study. - Published by PubMed
- Associations of Pregnancy History with BMI and Weight Gain in 45-54-Year-Old Women. - Published by PubMed