How To Fight Menopause Weight Gain
By: Stephanie Kirby
Updated May 21, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Audrey Kelly, LMFT
Sometimes as a woman, it's easy to feel like you're fighting a losing battle with your body. If you've given birth to children, you have gone through weight gain and loss from that, and then comes along menopause which can bring with it weight gain as well. Sometimes it can make you want just to throw in the towel when your hormones have so much control over your body. But, don't give in because you can fight menopause weight gain. Here's what you need to know:
Why Does Menopause Weight Gain Happen?
It is very typical for women to experience weight gain as menopause approaches. Part of the reason that this happens is that hormonal changes that are happening within the body. This makes it more likely that a woman will gain weight around her hips, thighs, and the abdomen. However hormonal changes are not the only reason why menopause weight gain happens.
When a woman reaches the point of menopause there are also genetic and lifestyle changes that are typically happening along with the natural aging process. As you get older, it is normal for fat to increase and muscle mass to decrease. The less muscle mass that you have in your body,the fewer calories that you naturally burn, which makes it harder to maintain weight. This means if you don't change your eating and activity it will be very difficult for you to maintain the same weight that you have throughout the years.
As you age, it is also normal to struggle with getting enough exercise, and enough sleep at night. It is believed that unhealthy eating, not getting enough sleep, and a lack of exercise also contribute to menopause weight gain.
Why Should We Be Concerned With Menopause Weight Gain?
Weight gain during menopause is no different than waking at other points of your life. The same risks are there and are things that you want to avoid in your life. The more excess weight that you carry,the harder your body has to work. This extra weight can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and problems with your breathing. It has also been found that excess weight can increase your chance of getting certain types of cancer such as endometrial cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer.
How To Fight Menopause Weight Gain
When it comes to fighting menopause, weight gain it's important to remember that most of the same techniques and strategies that work for losing weight or stopping weight gain throughout the rest of your life still apply. Your lifestyle changes at this point in your life can make it harder to accomplish some of the things that you used to do, but some of these changes can also make it easier for you to get these things done.
Many times, when women are reaching the point of menopause or perimenopause they are also becoming empty nesters. The lack of children keeping them busy with activities can make it easy to be more sedentary. However, this lack of activity also frees up additional time where you could take up new hobbies and activities to keep yourself active.
Here Are Several Things To Remember To Help Fight Menopause Weight Gain:
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
There has been some research done that has shown that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help resist weight gain during menopause. HRT is a prescription for estrogen, progesterone, or testosterone, that helps to ease the symptoms of menopause. However, these prescriptions also come with side effects of their own. Some of these side effects include an increased risk of stroke or heart attack.
If you are interested in using HRT to help fight weight gain during menopause is very important that you talk with your healthcare provider about all of the options and possible side effects.
While it sounds nice to think that HRT could help you fight weight gain from menopause, there is no real magic formula for fighting the weight gain. It all comes down to the basic weight control strategies like exercise.
There are so many different types of exercises that you can do to help fight weight gain. Participating in aerobic activity can help you maintain a healthy weight or shed excess pounds. This could include participating in an aerobics class or going for a walk or a jog. Strength training is also an important part of staying fit. When you build muscle through strength training your body begins to burn more calories. It helps to boost your metabolism and maintain your body weight or lose the extra weight that you have.
It is recommended that you participate in strength training at least twice a week. However, while there are recommendations around exercise, it's important that you talk with your healthcare provider to see what the best option for you is. Each person has limitations of their own,and if you have other health-related issues that you deal with, it's important that you have a balanced plan.
Get Your Eating Under Control
When you are in pre-menopause or menopause you cannot eat the same way; you did when you were a teenager. And, you have probably noticed throughout the years that you've had to change your eating to maintain your current weight. When you enter your 50s, it's possible that you may need to eat as many as 200 fewer calories per day than you did when you were younger.
It's important as you look at cutting calories that you are also looking at making healthy food choices. If you cut calories while not improving your eating, you will still not be seeing the improvement that you want. And, it can have a negative effect on your body if you are eating lots of processed foods and junk food instead of healthier options.
Try replacing the fats in your diet with a healthier option. For example, try using olive oil or coconut oil instead of shortening or butter. You can also switch out the types of protein you eat. Begin to eat a little less red meat and eat more fish, chicken, and other lean meat. Eat whole grains and more fruits and vegetables.
Make sure that you watch what you are drinking. Soft drinks, energy drinks, juices, sweeteners in coffee creamers add lots of extra sugar in your diet throughout the day. To maintain your current weight and fight the weight gain of menopause you need to restrict the amount of sugar that you are taking into your body.
Limit Your Intake Of Alcohol
Many people fail to think about the extra calories that they are consuming through alcoholic beverages. These calories contribute to weight gain. If you are trying to control your weight during menopause, you need to limit the amount of alcohol that you are consuming.
Get More Sleep
When you are going through menopause, it can be more challenging to get the sleep that you need. However, if you aren't getting the right amount of sleep hormones in your body can be thrown out of whack. These hormones are leptin and ghrelin which are responsible for your appetite. You may notice after you've had a rough night of sleep that you have less motivation to make good food choices throughout the day. You may also experience more cravings for fatty or salty foods.
Creating healthy sleep habits can help you fight menopause weight gain. Try keeping all technology out of the bedroom. If you are struggling to fall asleep, get up and try walking around or participating in a calming activity like reading a book until you feel sleepy again. Make sure that your bedroom is set up as a good sleeping environment. Add blackout shades, control the temperature, the national sleep Foundation recommends that the optimal sleep temperature is 65 degrees. And, don't consume caffeinated beverages, alcohol, or eat fatty or sugary foods when it's close to bedtime. All of these things help make it harder to get a good night sleep.
You Can Gain Control
You have little control over a lot of things that happen within your body. Menopause is one of them. If you are a woman, it is something that you are going to experience, and you have no control over when it happens. However, you can control some of the things that you experience through menopause, such as weight gain, by the choices you make. You want to make sure that you are eating healthy and getting enough exercise, so you will be able to fight the weight gain that comes with menopause.
Menopause brings with it a lot more than just weight gain. Many times, at this point in a woman's life there are a lot of new stressors that are entering as life is in a transition. If you are struggling with going through the transition, reach out to a therapist for help. BetterHelp offers online sessions that allow you to conveniently meet with a therapist that can help guide you through the process.
You might not be able to control experiencing menopause, but you can take control of more than what a lot of people think. Mindset throughout the process plays a big role in being able to deal with and handle the symptoms that occur. If you are having problems in this area, a therapist can help you gain control.