Menopause can be a headache in so many ways, making the weight gain feel like insult added to injury. Fortunately, there’s no need to despair. There are options. Those who have entered menopause can lose weight by making some adjustments, understanding how hormones affect appetite, controlling portion sizes and choosing healthy over high-calorie snacks. Exercise and strength training will help to preserve muscle mass, which raises the number of calories a body needs each day and can help to lower weight as a result. Reducing stress to minimize levels of cortisol and other stress hormones that can worsen menopausal weight gain may also be big factors. Here are some ideas and details to help with menopausal weight loss.
Hormones and Weight
At least two-thirds of women over 40 are overweight, with the number as high as three-quarters when they reach 60. Part of this is due to estrogen loss, which can alter the way menopausal women carry their weight. Related factors, like hormonal effects on mood and sleep, can disrupt self-care practices and lead to reduced exercise and poorer meal choices. So this business can feel like a slippery slope.
Shifts in hormones, like increases in ghrelin, also known as the “hunger hormone,” cause many menopausal women to experience increased appetite. As a result, they may also not register when they’re full, leading to overeating. Staying in charge of calories by keeping firm on portion control and making healthy snack choices in between meals is a must.
Exercise is Imperative
Adding, maintaining, or even increasing an existing exercise regimen can help tremendously. Keep in mind that we humans can only burn so many calories in a day, so exercise won’t negate the effects of a poor diet but it can help with so many other factors that are at play, so it's just as important as a good diet. We need to combine exercise with a healthy diet if we want to see real results.
Consider those muscles, too. Menopause causes loss of muscle mass, which can further increase weight gain. Muscles use up a lot of calories, and the more muscle we have, the more calories we can burn. Adding some strength training to the weekly regimen can combat muscle loss and thus help control weight.
Role of Stress
Stress can be terrible on the waistline, especially during menopause. Stress exacerbates increases in ghrelin along with cortisol and other hormones. These stress hormone increases can put the brain’s food reward centers into overdrive, which may make it more difficult to resist unhealthy food cravings.
Reduce stress levels by taking time for self-care, practicing mindfulness, and working to remove stressors. Combat high-stress days by taking a hot bath, going for a walk, or listening to music. Pick up an old hobby or find a new one. Learn how to practice meditation or yoga. Find whatever works, and then use those outlets regularly.
Menopause might increase the odds of gaining some unwanted weight, and it may be more difficult to lose that weight, but it can be done. Rein in any bad habits now to avoid an even larger battle later. Embrace this time of change, and make the transformation complete with a healthier, happier body. Menopause doesn't have to be negative. It can absolutely be a time of great transformation, and health needn't be the exception.