Menopause is a natural biological process marking the cessation of the menstrual cycle (2). Another major concern for you is weight gain, especially in the tummy area.
Studies have linked menopausal weight gain to hormonal imbalances and a sedentary lifestyle (5). And it can help you too.
In this post, we will show you how to prevent menopausal weight gain and lose weight post-menopause. Of course, it won’t be a cakewalk. But if you adhere to the plan, you will surely see results. Let’s begin!
Menopausal weight gain is caused due to hormonal imbalances, a sedentary lifestyle, and/or stress levels. Let’s look at each cause briefly:
- Hormonal imbalance and menopausal weight gain have been closely linked. Scientists believe that perimenopausal (early stage of menopause) women have decreased levels of estrogen. Also, the androgen levels shoot up, causing central obesity. Decreased estrogen levels also affect the secretion of the hormone leptin, which signals the brain about satiety (8).
The question is, why should you be concerned about your weight gain, apart from the aesthetic part of it? Scroll down to find out.
Health Risks Of Weight Gain During And After Menopause
Weight gain during and after menopause may put you at the following risks:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Other metabolic disorders
This list of diseases and disorders was certainly not a part of your plan. So, why make it now? Know what to do to prevent menopausal weight gain or lose weight post-menopause and get your life back on track. Take a look at the master plan we have created for you in the next section.
1. Hormone Therapy
Menopause hormone therapy (MHT) was found to help reduce the symptoms of menopause. MHT also helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. However, you must restrict this therapy to a maximum of 3 years as MHT might increase the risk of breast cancer (10).
Hormonal therapy might seem scary, but get your doctor’s opinion before you decide whether to go for it or not. Your doctor will be able to guide you and help you get through the therapy without running the risk of further deterioration of your health.
Apart from undergoing hormonal therapy, you must also take care of what you eat. Here is a list of diets that will work best for you.
2. Healthy Diets That Work Well During Menopause
- Low-Carb Diet
Going low on refined and simple carbs can help you shed the pounds quickly. You may continue to consume complex carbs like veggies, fruits, herbs, and whole grains. You may try the Paleo diet, Atkins diet, Dukan diet, Whole30, and the Ketogenic diet. Consult your doctor or dietitian before starting any of the diets mentioned here.
- Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is a diet rich in healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, and fish. Healthy fats help reduce inflammation in the body, reducing the chances of inflammation-induced weight gain. You will also consume fresh veggies and fruits to help improve your digestion and metabolism.
- Vegan Diet
Vegan diets are plant-based diets that help reduce weight and the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes (12). Following a plant-based diet will help you to load up on dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This, in turn, will improve metabolism and reduce inflammation in the body.
Along with following a low-carb/Mediterranean/vegan diet, you must also be physically active. Here’s how exercising can help you.
3. How Exercise Helps During And After Menopause
Being physically active, in general, has many health benefits. But more so when you are transitioning through menopause (14). Here’s why:
- Light to moderate exercise has shown to improve the quality of life in menopausal women and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and hypertension.
- Exercising regularly can also help reduce the risk of cancer.
- Improves musculoskeletal health.
- Reduces stress and alleviates depression.
- Reduces insomnia by improving sleep quality.
Hormonal therapy, diet, and physical activity will bring a change in your life. But you have to make a conscious effort to improve your overall lifestyle. Here are a few lifestyle tips that will help you glide into a new lifestyle with minimum effort. Take a look.
4. Best Lifestyle Tips To Prevent Weight Gain After Menopause
- Move Around More
Get up from the couch or desk and walk around every one hour. It will get your blood circulating, and if you are stressed or depressed, walking around will surely help. Moreover, it will burn some calories.
- Eat Less Junk
When you are feeling moody, stressed, or depressed, and are going to hormonal changes, you might feel hungry frequently. During those times, you tend to reach out for foods that are easily available like junk foods that are high in calories and have zero nutrition value (fried, frozen, and processed foods) or foods that are low in calories, high in sugar, and low in nutrition value (like diet soda).
Avoid consuming these. Instead consume foods that have high nutrition value like carrots and hummus, sultanas, nuts, fruits, homemade cakes (with wheat flour or multigrain flour), and homemade yogurt, homemade lunch, breakfast, and dinner.
- Reduce Sugar And Salt Intake
Excessive sugar intake can make you sluggish and gain weight. Foods high in salt/sodium can cause water retention and increase blood pressure levels. If you are a sugar addict, here’s how you can cut down on sodium intake.
- Limit Alcohol
Alcohol gets converted into sugar in the body. It also causes dehydration as a result of which your metabolic rate goes down, and glucose gets stored as fat instead of getting used up in the form of expendable energy. Limit your alcohol intake to about a glass of wine per week.
- Avoid Smoking
Smoking increases toxicity in the body, which elicits an inflammatory response. Smoking habitually can cause chronic inflammation in your body and lead to inflammation-induced obesity. Reduce smoking and quit the habit eventually to lead a healthy, stress-free life.
I know, it’s difficult to relax when your body and mind are not aligned. Sit in a garden or look at a soothing picture, listen to soft music or the birds chirping, and concentrate on what’s happening around you. Do it for a few seconds and keep practicing. You may also try painting or pick up a long-lost hobby. You will start feeling relaxed and not be stressed out all the time.
Menopause is a part of your life. This natural process can be scary to deal with, but if you reach out for help, you will be able to deal with it much better. If you seem to show signs of menopause, talk to your doctor and then change your lifestyle gradually. For sure, you will feel better, physically and mentally. Take care!
- “Efficacy of Exercise for Menopausal Symptoms: A Randomized Controlled Trial” Menopause, US National Library of Medicine.
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