Menopause is a difficult time for most women. It means heated mood swings, insufferable hot flushes and typically, unexpected weight gain. But it’s not just an extra five to ten extra pounds that’s the problem — an estimated 30 percent of women ages 50 to 59 are obese.
Of course, obesity causes a slew of serious health concerns such as added stress on the bones and joints, plus an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. As we age, those risks go up – and it’s also increasingly difficult to keep the weight off.
However, there is hope. In this article, we’ll examine causes of menopausal weight gain, specific risks and prevention as well as how to lose weight during the menopause naturally.
Interested in a 3 week Diet and Workout Plan that can change the way you look at food? Find out more HERE
What Causes Menopausal Weight Gain?
Menopausal weight gain could be caused by any number of things. Lifestyle, genetics and even stress may all play a factor, but the two most common culprits are age and hormones.
Menopause is part of the aging process in women. It usually occurs when a women reaches her late forties or fifties. As the human body ages, muscle mass declines, while body fat increases.
The decrease in muscle mass impacts the metabolism, drastically reducing the rate at which the body uses calories. For this reason, aging women (or men for that matter) may be susceptible to weight gain if they make no changes to their diet or lifestyle.
During menopause, a woman’s body goes through a slew of hormone changes that ultimately put a stop to her menstrual period. These hormonal shifts also make a woman more likely to gain weight in different places. For instance, since a woman is no longer able to bear children, she is more likely to gain weight around the abdomen rather than evenly distributing weight throughout her hips and thighs.
Risks of Menopausal Weight Gain
Health implications are almost always present with serious weight gain. However, these health risks become more serious with age, which is why fighting menopausal weight gain is so important.
Menopausal weight gain produces an increased risk of the following:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain types of cancer (particularly colorectal and breast cancer)
Can You Prevent Menopausal Weight Gain?
In order to prevent menopausal weight gain, a woman must first understand her risk factors. So if your mother or grandmother gained a substantial amount of weight during this time in their lives, then you probably will too.
If you have struggled with weight issues all of your life, then it probably won’t get any easier to manage as your muscle mass decreases and your metabolism declines.
However, just because you may be at an increased risk for weight gain doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to stop it. There are several good old fashioned, natural ways to lose weight during menopause and live a healthy, happy life.
4 Natural Ways to Lose Weight During Menopause
1) Cut Calories
In order to maintain your current weight, you need to eat around 200 less calories each day than you did in your 30’s or 40’s. If you want to lose weight, you’ll need to cut your daily caloric intake by another 100 or so.
Cutting calories is easy if you just make smarter choices. For example, choose fresh fruits and vegetables as a side instead of fries or potato salad. Order your salad without dressing. When you’re craving an afternoon snack, fill up on a glass of ice water instead.
2) Eat More Fish
Eating less isn’t enough to curb menopausal weight gain. You have to eat healthier as well. In order to help build and repair the muscle mass your body loses to aging, you need to eat more protein.
Incorporating fresh fish like salmon or trout into your diet is the best way to do this because it is a lean, low-calorie protein. In addition to being a great source of lean protein, fish is good for your heart and may help reduce your risk of breast cancer.
Try to get at least two servings of fish each week. Don’t like the taste? Try substituting daily fish oil supplements.
3) Increase Your Calcium Intake
In addition to losing muscle mass, we also lose bone density as we age. Strong bones are essential to keeping us active, so it’s crucial to get enough calcium.
Calcium requirements increase substantially after age 50 – from 1,000 milligrams each day up to 1,200. Fortunately, dairy products are usually a good source of a calcium so it can be easy to make up the difference. Just make sure to choose low or no-fat products like fat-free cottage cheese and skimmed milk.
4) Get Moving!
The best way to fend off menopausal weight gain is simply staying active. Cardio can help you burn more calories and shed excess pounds. Strength training is another important part of staying active. It will help you gain back some of the muscle you lose with age, helping your body burn calories more efficiently.
So how much exercise do you need? The Department of Health and Human Services recommends moderate aerobic activity for at least 150 minutes each week.
Examples of moderate aerobic activity include brisk walking, light cycling or swimming. If you’re healthy enough to work out harder, strive for 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week. This could be as simple as a 10-minute jog each morning.
Not sure if you’re healthy enough for exercise? Consult your doctor about what works best for you before starting a new workout regimen.
Can You Beat Menopausal Weight Gain?
Menopause brings about many changes in a woman’s life, including what happens to her body. Unfortunately, weight gain during menopause is incredibly common due to age and hormonal changes. However, it is not impossible to combat, even if a woman happens to be genetically predisposed to it.
There is no magic pill you or any woman can take to prevent weight gain with age – however, you can make healthy diet and exercise changes in order to lose weight during the menopause naturally or simply maintain her size.
But it’s not just about looking better – weight loss can help drastically reduce your risk of heart disease, stoke and certain types of cancer so that you can feel better… and live longer too.