If you’re a woman in your mid-40s to mid-50s, you may already be battling with perimenopausal weight gain. During menopause, women tend to gain some weight, especially around the belly. This is largely influenced by lifestyle factors, like exercise and diet. Additionally, there’s a shift in the production of female hormones – estrogen and progesterone. This has been associated with the redistribution of fat to your belly. As a result, women in the menopausal transition may experience weight gain and expanding waistline.
Causes of Menopause Weight Gain
After attaining a certain age, your body makes much fewer estrogens and progesterone. Your hormone levels may go up and down during this stage, causing hot flashes and irregular sleep, among other menopause symptoms.
While the hormones largely contribute to weight gain around your abdomen, aging, lifestyle factors, and genetics also play a part. Estrogen, in particular, influences body fat distribution. As the estrogen levels drop, women start to gain mass fat around the abdomen, giving them the ‘apple shape’.
Other factors that may contribute to weight gain around menopause include:
- Number of children
- History of obesity in the family
- Lower metabolic rate
- Reduced physical activity
- Loss of muscle mass
How to Stop Menopausal Weight Gain
No one likes to walk around carrying that extra weight around the belly, whether caused by menopause or not. The good news is that there are various approaches you could try to fight weight gain and manage a healthy weight.
Here are the top tips to lose weight during menopause.
Sit Less and Stand More
The more your body is active, the more calories it burns. One easy way to manage this is to stand as much as you can. This increases calorie burn and helps to prevent heart problems. Several studies found a link between sitting for long hours and higher levels of abdominal fat, as well as, fat accumulation in the liver. This was found to increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
There are many instances when you can stand upright instead of sitting. For example, pace up and down the house when on a phone call, park farther from where you live or work so you could walk more. If you love watching, consider investing in a pedal exerciser that you can place on the floor to help you stay in motion while enjoying your favorite shows. You can also opt for a standing desk if your job involves sitting on a computer from morning to evening.
To burn that belly fat, you can try engaging in some intense workouts like cycling, swimming, running, or walking. Resistance training is also highly advisable to help maintain lean mass and decrease hunger.
This is the best time to employ high-intensity interval training (HIIT) several days a week. The CDC recommends that an adult needs to partake in at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic activity every week and at least two days of muscle-strengthening activities.
Find a gym and choose a routine that will work for you. Each person’s body will respond differently to varied workouts.
Check Your Portions
When you near menopause, your metabolism generally slows down. It means your body now needs a couple hundred calories than when you were in your 30s or 40s. This is the perfect time to watch what you eat and drink.
Choose healthier options like fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains to increase your fiber intake. Additionally, limit eating out as much as possible since most of these foods have twice as many calories as homecooked meals.
Eat Foods with Healthier Fats
Not all fats are bad. You can eat healthier fats from nuts like walnuts or fruits like avocados. Additionally, vegetable sources like olives provide heart-friendly fats. When it comes to choosing healthy fats, restaurant meals are not your friends.
So, be careful when ordering a salad, and be sure to order the salad dressing on the side.
It’s Not Just What You Eat, But When You Eat
Timing has everything to do with weight loss. It’s a bad idea to eat ice cream or potato chips at midnight or any time of day. Health experts warn us about eating “too much too late”, saying it makes it more difficult to lose weight.
So, be sure to time meals and avoid mindless nibbling throughout the day or night.
Reduce Your Carbohydrate Intake
Unrefined carbs like white bread, rice, and pasta can complicate your fight against menopausal weight gain. Carbohydrates turn into sugar when consumed, and others like candy bars turn faster than meals like oatmeal burns.
That’s why it’s essential to be aware of your carbohydrate intake. Your mission should be to keep insulin low and maintain metabolism.
Improve Your Sleep Habits
Insomnia is one of the common symptoms of perimenopause. Experts say that this period when women’s bodies transition toward their final menstrual cycle can last anywhere between 4-8 years.
That’s a long time to not get enough sleep every night. As you may be aware, lack of adequate sleep can trigger the production of hunger hormones, ghrelin, and leptin. No wonder you find yourself in the kitchen late at night.
You should try to get at least seven hours of quality sleep. Regular exercise can help you get a good slumber. In addition, avoid eating just before you sleep because it may interrupt your sleep. It’s also advisable to reduce alcohol intake as it’s known to impair your sleep patterns.
All images by Shutterstock