Menopause is a very natural part of a woman’s life, and it brings about many changes in our body. One of the most common issues associated with menopause is weight gain, something that resonates with me very well. No sooner had a reached my late forties I began to gain weight around my stomach, something I had never experienced before. During menopause, our hormone levels rise and fall, which can cause huge fluctuations in our metabolism, making it harder to maintain a healthy weight. All the things you’ve previously tried and tested successfully to lose weight no longer seems to work. Then there are factors such as lifestyle choices (not always of our own making), age, diet, and physical activity also contributes to weight gain. However, what I have found is that it is possible to manage menopause and weight gain through eating a well-balanced diet, regular exercise (even if it’s just walking everyday if possible), and proper rest, sleep is imperative. With the right approach, it’s possible to not only maintain a healthy weight but also feel good during this transition. So, don’t let menopause and weight gain get you down. Take charge of your routine and plan to take care of yourself during this time, I promise you it will be worth it.
What is Menopause?
Menopause is a natural process that marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. It generally happens to women between 45 and 55 years of age and is caused by a decrease in the production of certain hormones such as estrogen. Menopause can bring about a variety of physical and emotional changes, including weight gain. For me, I found things that I usually took in my stride were now causing me to get distressed, and often at very simple or innocuous situations. Furthermore, the fluctuating hormones during menopause were impacting my metabolism, making it more difficult lose and maintain a healthy weight. There are several steps we can take to keep our weight in check during and after menopause. For me, paying special attention to my diet, eating plenty of vegetables, lentils and good quality proteins has been key. Furthermore, exercising regularly, doing something at least 5 times a week and getting enough sleep has helped me tremendously. Additionally, stress management is key, as a business owner and busy lifestyle – it’s been very important to participate in activity to combat the stress hormone, cortisol. This is where exercise has been wonderful to absorb the stress and strengthen muscles that can weaken over time. Hormone Replacement Therapy is another way to help manage the symptoms and can also be beneficial in managing weight gain associated with menopause. I was determined to use every tool at my disposal looked into HRT as soon as I begin to understand the symptoms. I did my own risk assessment associated HRT and I highly recommend you should look into whether this could be a suitable option for you.
How Does Menopause Impact Weight Gain?
The primary cause of menopause-related weight gain is the change in our hormones. During menopause, the ovaries stop producing estrogen, which leads to a decrease the metabolic rate. Our bodies also produce less testosterone, which contributes to a decrease in muscle mass and an increase in fat storage. Additionally, changes in appetite, sleep patterns, can lead to weight gain. You may also like to read my article regarding foods to avoid for weight gain.
Fortunately, there are steps we can take to manage menopause-related weight gain.
The three key factors that work time and time again for women that visit me in clinic at The Cooking Academy is eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly (I stress that it needn’t be a punishing schedule at the gym at all), and getting enough sleep are all very important for maintaining a healthy weight. Additionally, staying active (making sure you get your 10,000 steps in everyday) and managing stress can help reduce the risk of weight gain. Finally, if you are struggling, speak to a healthcare provider can help women better understand the changes they are experiencing and develop a plan to keep their weight in check. Don’t let the medics take you down the route of anti-depressants as so many clinicians do, make sure you explore all the options. Don’t be scared of getting a second opinion if you’re not happy with the solution.
What Causes Menopause-Related Weight Gain?
As our metabolism slows, the body no longer burns calories as quickly as it once did, leading to a greater likelihood of weight gain. Stress, lack of physical activity, and poor diet will also contribute to weight gain during menopause. Understanding the causes of menopause-related weight gain is the first step to preventing and managing this issue. Look out for specific foods that can aggravate your menopause symptoms and eat foods that help to ease the symptoms. In Our Menopause Cookery Class recipes are crafted to specifically cater to these needs.
During menopause, our body experiences a significant decrease in the production of estrogen and progesterone. This decrease causes a range of symptoms, including weight gain. Weight gain during menopause is often due to the body’s inability to metabolize and store fat in the same way as it did before menopause. Furthermore, if you’ve not been feeling yourself as a result of the symptoms, and this has impacted your sleep or exercise levels then a decrease in physical activity and rest will also have a knock-on effect and become a vicious circle to menopause-related weight gain. If you have any concerns about hormone imbalance, it is important to talk to your doctor to develop a plan of action.
Again, since we are what we eat to combat this, it is very important to maintain an optimum diet. A poor diet is a major contributor to menopause weight gain. Eating processed and high-sugar foods can lead to an increase in fat and inflammation, while reducing the body’s ability to burn calories. So to combat the effects of menopause, make sure that your diet includes plenty of lean proteins, vegetables and low sugar fruits. Eating smaller meals more often can also help regulate the body’s metabolism and prevent unwanted weight gain. By making a few simple changes, women can ensure their body remains at a healthy weight during menopause. For a comprehensive guide on eating well to live well, check out our ‘Nutritious & Delicious Cookery Class’. Click here to explore more!”
Strategies to Combat Menopause-Related Weight Gain
Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and exercising regularly can help reduce the amount of weight gain during menopause. Limiting processed foods and unhealthy fats can also help reduce weight gain. Additionally, reducing stress levels is important as elevated stress hormones can contribute to weight gain.
Vitamins and supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and probiotics can also be beneficial in combating menopause-related weight gain. These supplements provide the body with essential nutrients that can help maintain a healthy weight.
Finally, seeking the advice of a physician or nutritionist to develop a personalised nutrition plan is an important step in combating menopause-related weight gain. A health care provider can provide guidance on proper nutrition and exercise and help create a plan that is tailored to individual needs.
By taking the necessary steps to combat menopause-related weight gain, women can ensure that they maintain a healthy weight during this time in their life.
Movement & Exercise Regularly
Keeping active, exercising and practising gently movement such as yoga has been proven to be an effective way of reducing the likelihood of gaining weight during menopause. Regular physical activity will help to boost metabolism, reduce stress hormones, and regulate blood sugar levels. It can also help to improve overall physical and mental health. Exercise can be anything from moderate intensity activities such as walking or swimming, to more strenuous activities such as running or weightlifting. It is important to find an activity that you enjoy, and to make sure to exercise regularly in order to gain the most benefit. Regular exercise will help to keep your body and mind healthy during menopause.
Menopause is a very significant time in a woman’s life and creates many changes that we find difficult to navigate. Menopause-related weight gain is a very common concern for most women and so it’s important to take be ready for this stage in our lives. Whilst the symptoms can be very distressing, a balanced approach to nutrition, regular exercise, and seeking professional advice, will help you to manage this phase of your life with confidence. Remember, your health and well-being are always a top priority.
Kumud Gandhi is a Nutritional Food Scientist bestselling Author, Broadcaster, and Keynote Speaker on the subject of nutritional health for productivity & performance in the workplace. In 2010 Kumud founded ‘The Cooking Academy’ a cookery school that focusses on cooking for nutritional health and wellbeing. Kumud regularly presents to international audiences on a variety of topics such as ‘Eating for Immunity and a Lifetime of Wellness’. She is an expert in the field of Wellness in the Workplace and works with organizations to create transformational change in employee health & well-being through nutrition and health coaching.