How To Maintain A Healthy Weight In Menopause And Beyond
You experience hormonal changes, and your metabolism naturally slows down as you get older. Despite these facts, gaining weight doesnt have to be inevitable.
Two of the best ways to fight menopausal weight gain are exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet. Since your metabolism is slower, you may need to eat about 200 calories less per day than you did in your 30s or 40s to maintain the same weight.
Our team at OB-GYN Associates of Marietta is here to help you navigate your evolving health needs. We can offer nutrition and exercise recommendations to help you avoid gaining weight or start losing those extra pounds.
It might be more difficult to lose weight during and after menopause, but the benefits can be immense. A healthy body weight lowers your risk of serious health issues, including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.
Along with healthy lifestyle choices, hormone replacement therapy may be an option for you as you navigate menopause.
We offer hormone management for women bothered by severe menopause symptoms. Treatment can help regulate hormone levels, and its available in oral pills, skin patches, creams or vaginal inserts.
Maintaining your weight in menopause and beyond might feel overwhelming, but its possible and we can help. Schedule an appointment with our team in Marietta and Woodstock, Georgia, to get started.
Understand How Insulin Impacts Weight
Insulin is one of the most important hormones when it comes to weight loss and weight gain. Made by the pancreas, insulin is responsible for storing blood sugar, or utilizing it, depending upon your bodys needs of the moment. After you eat a large meal, a substantial amount of insulin releases itself into the bloodstream. It also enters the bloodstream as needed throughout the day, ensuring that blood sugar levels remain stable.
Another key function of this essential hormone is fat storage. Insulin decides how much fat to store, and how much to convert for energy expenditure. Chronically high levels of insulin can lead to a condition known as insulin resistance, which is linked to an uptick in blood sugar as well as continued elevated insulin levels.
Preventing this insulin imbalance is crucial, as it leads to weight gain, and eventually type 2 diabetes. When insulin levels remain high over an extended period of time, obesity and metabolic syndrome are often the unfortunate outcome.
Which Hormones Make You Lose Weight
Some major hormones in the body are associated with weight gain or loss. If you are able to correct hormonal imbalances, you may see a significant reduction in your body weight.
Endocrinologists, physicians that specialize in metabolism and hormones, can help confirm the cause of your weight gain and determine if hormonal therapy is going to affect your weight loss. They can also help you work on a treatment plan, prescribe medications, and monitor your progress.
However, not all hormonal imbalances require hormone replacement. Some hormonal issues may fade away with lifestyle changes such as exercise, proper diet, sleep, and stress management. Specialized diets and supplements may address the symptoms of hormonal imbalances, but they often do not address the cause.
Here are some hormones that affect your weight and may help you lose weight if adequately controlled:
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Tips For Losing Weight After Menopause
You may think since an imbalance of hormones is the cause of your weight gain, hormone therapy can solve your problems. While hormone therapy does treat weight gain, it poses additional health risks.
Most doctors donât recommend hormone therapy unless you have other health problems. Instead, you should try to address your menopausal weight gain with diet and exercise.
Make a sustainable plan. Weight loss is a long-term goal and should be treated that way. In order to maintain weight loss, you need to make lifestyle changes that support your health. Donât think about âgoing on a diet.â Instead, rethink your relationship with food. Make healthy eating a priority.
Keep it simple. Diet plans and exercise regimens often have hefty price tags and flashy promises. Weight loss fads may give you short-term results, but will they last? Donât overcomplicate weight loss. Itâs about eating less and moving more. Be serious about sticking to a healthy diet and watching how much you eat. Itâs OK to splurge once in a while on treats, but every day canât be a cheat day.
Count on cardio. Burning more calories than you take in is what causes weight loss. You should get at least 30 minutes of activity, 5 days per week. Remember that small changes can make a big difference. Park in the back of the parking lot when you go shopping. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
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Increasing Exercise May Be A Key To Success
The old adage of eating less and moving more certainly applies to weight loss after menopause, but the ratios may have to shift to see results.
“Cutting calories is necessary for weight loss, but increasing exercise will help sustain weight loss, prevent weight gain and lead to favorable changes in body composition,” says Pinkerton. “The general recommendation is 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days per week.”
And you don’t have to get that all in one session each day, adds Pinkerton. You can divide it up over two 15-minute high-powered sessions if that helps fit it into your day more easily.
While 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day is a general recommendation, to lose weight and keep it off, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends a little more movement each week than the general recommendation. In their most recent position statement in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise regarding weight loss and regain prevention in older adults, the ACSM states that they recommend 150-250 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity combined with a moderate reduction in caloric intake for weight loss. And the same amount of physical activity is recommended to prevent weight regain. You can reduce how long you exercise by increasing the intensity.
What Hormones Does Hormone Replacement Therapy Help
When thinking of hormone therapy, most people consider the three main sex hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. These three hormones are responsible for most of the changes observed in menopause. And so it makes sense that therapies will typically prioritize balancing them.
However, the best hormone replacement therapy looks beyond these three. It also accounts for thyroid hormones and cortisol.
Since your hormones work together, it is important that they are all balanced. This no-blinders approach is the best way to get the results youre looking for.
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How To Balance Insulin For Weight Loss:
One small step you can take is by starting the day drinking filtered water with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. This will help you regulate your blood sugar first thing in the morning.
If apple cider vinegar sounds too harsh for you, ease into it or at least drink 16 oz of water every morning before you eat or drink anything else.
This acts as a natural body flush.
Other ways to naturally balance your insulin levels include:
- Getting enough protein with every meal
- Eating smaller, healthy meals more often
- Eating low-glycemic carbs
- Eliminating added sugars from your diet
The bottom line is this: if youve been struggling to lose weight but cant figure out what youre doing wrong, your hormones may be to blame.
You can ask your doctor to test your hormones, as well as use the above information to try different techniques to bring suspected problem hormones back into balance.
Its your body, and you should know everything you can to not only lose weight but feel happy, healthy and whole.
Why Can Hormones Affect Weight Loss
As we know, hormones support many vital functions within the body, including our ability to maintain muscle, lose body fat, and experience stress and hunger. When a hormonal imbalance occurs, it becomes considerably harder to lose weight.
But dont worry if your progress has plateaued, hormones are not the be-all and end-all for weight loss. Remember to prioritise your food quality and calorie intake to reap the benefits of a healthy diet and create an environment for optimal hormone production.
Hormones that affect female weight loss include:
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Can You Lose Weight During Menopause
Losing weight may be more challenging during the transition to menopause, but some eating patterns may be better than others. Ward suggested that the best way to lose weight during menopause likely involves eating higher levels of protein and lower levels of carbohydrates than the Mediterranean and DASH plans. In one large observational study from the Womens Health Initiative, a long-term national health study and government program, women who closely followed the reduced carbohydrate eating plan were at a decreased risk for postmenopausal weight gain. On the other hand, a low-fat diet, which was about 60% carbohydrate, seemed to promote weight gain among these women.
Ward explained that unlike traditional eating plans, including those designed for weight loss, her books menopause diet encompasses multiple pillars, including a plant-based eating plan with more protein and less carbohydrates, a focus on meal timing, calorie control and regular exercise. Its a satisfying and enjoyable way to eat, she said, adding that nothing is off-limits. You dont have to worry about having dinner and drinks with friends, going on vacation or having to follow an unrealistically restrictive plan for the rest of your life. That said, she noted, if you want to lose weight during menopause, you should probably be consuming the minimum amount of added sugars, highly refined grains and alcohol.
What Is Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy is a treatment plan used to regulate your bodys hormone levels.
Hormones are your bodys chemical messengers. They are created by your endocrine glands and then travel through your bloodstream to your organs and tissues. In the process, they affect many biological functions. Small changes in hormone levels can have a massive impact on your bodys growth and development, metabolism, energy level, mood, body temperature, libido, cognitive function, and reproductive health.
While hormone levels do fluctuate with age, imbalances are most common in midlife especially with the onset of menopause in women. Thats why many people use hormone replacement therapy to offset the symptoms of menopause .
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Article Content 12 Mins Read
- Risks of Hormonal Weight Gain
- The Relationship Between Hormones and Weight Gain
- Lifestyle Changes to Prevent & Reverse Menopausal Weight Gain
- Why Take Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Any conversation about losing weight or preventing weight gain during menopause must include a focus on hormones. Women, far more than men, deal with ongoing hormone fluctuations throughout their lives. With perimenopause and menopause, its not uncommon for women to gain between 12-15 lbs after the age of 40.
Menopausal weight gain, or hormonal weight gain, is a true struggle for many women. However, rarely do medical professionals talk about it or emphasize the associated health risks. More likely than not, a healthcare provider will suggest that diet or a decrease in exercise are the culprits. Those may be operative, but during the menopause transition , the key factor in weight gain and redistribution is a decrease in hormones that regulate the metabolism.
Nurturing your body during this vulnerable time is paramount. Its understandable to wish for a more youthful body, but the best way to work toward that is to understand what has changed and remedy the underlying causes. To this end, addressing hormonal weight gain is just one of many health goals you can set for yourself as you move through your MT.
Women Experience A Change In Body Shape
What is certainly true, is that women often notice a change in their body shape during the menopausal transition. Fat is stored in the body at peripheral sites, but also inside the abdomen, where it surrounds the internal organs as a kind of thick blanket. This visceral fat is dangerous for health, as it is highly metabolically active. It produces hormones, and chemical messengers, and is a site of harmful, chronic inflammation.
During menopause, there is a natural change in the amount of visceral fat deposited. In premenopausal women, visceral fat makes up 5-8% of total body fat, but after menopause, this increases up to 11-20%. As a consequence, women often notice they become more apple-shaped than pear-shaped.
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Hormone Replacement Therapy Can Affect Weight Loss In Women
In addition to having less abdominal fat, the same study found that women undergoing HRT were almost one whole point lower on the body mass index scale, and they had nearly 3 pounds less of fat mass.
In other research, estrogen has shown signs of controlling body weight. And yet, more evidence suggests estrogen hormone therapy increases a womans resting metabolic rate, which may help slow weight gain.
Stillwatching what you eat and exercising go a long way in helping you manage your weight during and after HRT. Healthy habits can help reduce the other symptoms of menopause, so grab a friend and take a walkjust get moving!
Hormones That Affect Your Weight
A large number of hormones important to your body can significantly affect your weight. It can help to talk to your doctor about your weight concerns and to find out if, perhaps, your hormone levels may be imbalanced enough to lead to the problem. Below, youll find some of the most common hormones that can cause weight fluctuations.
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Importance Of A Calorie Deficit
To lose weight, a calorie deficit is needed.
According to some research, a womans resting energy expenditure, or the number of calories she burns during rest, declines during and after menopause .
Although it may be tempting to try a very low calorie diet to lose weight quickly, eating so few calories can sometimes make weight loss harder.
Research shows that restricting calories to low levels causes loss of muscle mass and a further decline in metabolic rate
So while very low calorie diets may result in short-term weight loss, their effects on muscle mass and metabolic rate will make it hard to keep the weight off.
Moreover, insufficient calorie intake and decreased muscle mass may lead to bone loss. This can increase your risk for osteoporosis .
Adopting a healthy lifestyle that can be maintained long term can help preserve your metabolic rate and reduce the amount of muscle mass you lose with age.
A calorie deficit is needed for weight loss. However, cutting calories too much increases the loss of lean muscle, which accelerates the drop in metabolic rate that occurs with age.
Here are four nutritious diets that have been shown to help with weight loss during and beyond the menopausal transition.
Menopause And The Gut Microbiome
The gut microbiome is the collection of all the microbes that live in your gut. They influence your bodys response to foods and are important for your overall health.
Research suggests that the diversity of the microbiome is linked to estrogen levels and menopausal state in women. Because of the changes happening in the body during menopause, there may be a change in microbiome diversity as well.
ZOEs PREDICT study, the worlds largest in-depth nutritional study of its kind, explores the relationship between your gut microbiome and your health. The results so far indicate that the gut microbiome is linked with how your bodys metabolism responds to food.
Thats why changes in the microbiome as a result of menopause may contribute to changes in weight.
Based on this cutting-edge research, the ZOE program can help you learn more about your bodys unique metabolic responses to food.
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Insulin Resistance Is A Trigger For Meno Belly Weight Gain
Insulin resistance can also contribute to weight gain. If your insulin receptors have become less sensitive to insulin, you can have higher levels of blood sugar and lower energy and also increased disease risk for diabetes and cardiovascular problems. Chronic stress and abdominal fat can encourage insulin resistance. This results in higher insulin levels that can make the body more easily turn calories into fat even if youre dieting.
The good news is you can do something about insulin resistance. Strength training to build muscle also boosts your metabolism and makes those insulin receptors more sensitive, helping you to lose weight. Ever notice how men tend to lose weight more easily than women? Its because they have more lean muscle mass.
Why Weight Gain Often Happens After Menopause
What is it about menopause that makes it so hard to keep off the weight? It’s likely a mix of factors related to menopause and aging.
The impact of estrogen. In animal studies, estrogen appears to help control body weight. With lower estrogen levels, lab animals tend to eat more and be less physically active. Reduced estrogen may also lower metabolic rate, the rate at which the body converts stored energy into working energy. It’s possible the same thing happens with women when estrogen levels drop after menopause. Some evidence suggests that estrogen hormone therapy increases a woman’s resting metabolic rate. This might help slow weight gain. Lack of estrogen may also cause the body to use starches and blood sugar less effectively, which would increase fat storage and make it harder to lose weight.
Other age-related factors. As women age, many other changes happen that contribute to weight gain. For example:
- You’re less likely to exercise. Sixty percent of adults aren’t active enough, and this increases with age.
- You lose muscle mass, which lowers your resting metabolism, making it easier to gain weight.
- The rate at which you can use up energy during exercise declines. To use the same energy as in the past and achieve weight loss, you may need to increase the amount of time and intensity you’re exercising, no matter what your past activity levels were.
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