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Weight gain after menopause isn't related to just hormonal changes. It is probably more likely due to aging changes, as well as lifestyle and genetic factors. The human body tends to lose muscle mass as it ages and gain fat instead. A woman can alter this by changing her eating habits and increasing her activity level. A good exercise goal is 30 minutes of vigorous activity daily.
Weight gain above 2-4 pounds during menopause will require lifestyle changes to be reversed. In this video, Darcy Bryan, MD, of Riverside Community Hospital, shares the typical cause of an increase in weight during menopause.
It's easy to gain weight during menopause. That doesn't mean that you can't lose it. As you get older, your metabolism slows down. If your metabolism slows down, you have to eat less and exercise more to stay the same weight. Make small changes to start losing the weight. Find a physical activity that you enjoy doing and do it every day. Avoid the extra calories, such as sweets, salty snacks, and alcohol as much as possible. You may still have hormonal cravings, so it takes extra diligence to say "no thank you." These foods don't have any nutrients but have lots of calories, which will quickly add extra pounds.
As we age, our metabolism does slow down. More exercise is the best way to keep our metabolism up. Muscle is an active tissue and requires more calories to maintain it. Fat is rather inert and requires few calories to maintain it. The more muscle you have, the more you can eat without gaining weight. Walking is an easy activity to add to your life. It can change your body shape and make you feel better.
Reversing weight gain or losing weight, after menopause, can be achieved. A combination of eating healthy foods and becoming more active will yield positive results. A healthy diet should include more fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Be sure you are choosing lean protein such as chicken or fish. Don't forget to watch what you are drinking because many calories from beverages are not as nutritional. This healthy eating must be combined with an active lifestyle. As women age, it is important to be active by just making time for 30 minutes of physical activity each day.
You can reverse weight gain by taking a comprehensive look at the amount of calories that you are consuming. If your weight has been going up over the last year than you most likely are looking at a pattern of overeating. If your weight has been staying basically the same over the last year, then you can rest assured that you are taking food in at a rate that is generally equal to your metabolic rate. If your weight has been dropping over the last year you wouldn't be asking this question but you could assume you are eating less than your average metabolic rate.
To reverse weight gain simply cut your calories below what is needed to maintain your weight for a period of time long enough to lose the weight that you want to lose. Losing weight is simply finding what you need to stay the same and eating fewer calories than this on a regular and long term basis.
In addition to dietary changes, which may include sticking to a low glycemic diet with enough healthy proteins and essential fats, try the following suggestions:
- Have your thyroid gland tested. If you are menopausal, problems of the thyroid gland can occur, especially if you are taking HRT. You should have TSH, Free T3, Free T4 and thyroid antibodies. Your TSH should ideally be less than 2.
- Have your fasting blood sugar and fasting insulin levels tested. If you have high insulin levels on fasting tests you will tend to gain weight around the abdomen and have difficulty losing weight in general.
- Monitor your stress levels. Elevated cortisol levels cause an inhibition of thyroid gland function leading to accelerated aging, water retention and increased abdominal fat.
- Make sure your estrogen and progesterone levels are healthy. Ask your health practitioner about bioidentical hormones.
- Watch your sleep habits. Sleep in complete darkness and get to bed before 11 PM for optimal release of hormones that affect body composition. If you are sleep-deprived, it may cause weight gain and a tendency to overeat.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.