Most women think, well I'm in menopause, here comes the weight gain. Well that does not have to be so. We all know that hormone changes and aging are not working in our favor to stop the excess weight gain. There are things you can do to stop it dead in its tracks!
Menopause officially starts when a woman hasn’t had a menstrual cycle for 12 months.
Around this time, she may find it very hard to lose weight. In fact, many women notice that they actually start putting on weight during perimenopause, which can begin a decade prior to menopause.
Here are a few factors that lay a role in weight gain:
Hormone fluctuations: Both elevated and very low levels of estrogen can lead to increased fat storage.
Loss of muscle mass: This occurs due to age, hormonal changes and decreased physical activity.
Inadequate sleep: Many women have trouble sleeping during menopause, and poor sleep is linked to weight gain.
Increased insulin resistance: Women often become insulin resistant as they age, which can make losing weight more difficult.
What’s more, fat storage shifts from the hips and thighs to the abdomen during menopause. This increases the risk of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Therefore, strategies that promote the loss of belly fat are particularly important at this stage of a woman’s life.
Here are three healthy diets that have been shown to help with weight loss during and beyond the menopausal transition.
1. The Low-carb Diet : Many studies have shown that low-carb diets are excellent for weight loss, and are also able to reduce abdominal fat. (Remember low carbs =low glycemic levels, which means less blood sugar spikes, limiting fat storage) Although peri- and postmenopausal women have been included in several low-carb studies, there have only been a few studies looking at this population exclusively. In one such study, postmenopausal women on a low-carb diet lost 21 lbs (9.5 kg), 7% of their body fat and 3.7 inches (9.4 cm) from their waist within 6 months. What’s more, carb intake doesn’t need to be extremely low to produce weight loss. In another study, a paleo diet providing roughly 30% of calories from carbs produced a greater reduction in belly fat and weight than a low-fat diet after 2 years. Here is a detailed guide to the low-carb diet. It includes a meal plan and menu.
2. The Mediterranean Diet: Although the Mediterranean Diet is best known for improving health and reducing heart disease risk, studies show it may also help you lose weight. Like low-carb diet studies, most Mediterranean diet studies have looked at both males and females rather than peri- or postmenopausal women exclusively. In one study of men and women aged 55 years and older, those who followed a Mediterranean diet had significant reductions in abdominal fat. Read this for a guide to the Mediterranean diet, including a meal plan and menu.
3. The Vegetarian Diet: Vegetarian and vegan diets have also shown promise for weight loss. One study in postmenopausal women reported significant weight loss and improvements in health among a group assigned to a vegan diet. However, a more flexible vegetarian approach that includes dairy and eggs has also been shown to work well in older women.
Exercise is also very important! However, exercise may be more important than ever during and after menopause. It can improve mood, promote a healthy weight and protect your muscles and bones. Resistance training with weights or bands can be extremely effective at preserving or even increasing lean muscle mass, which normally declines with hormonal changes and age. Although all types of resistance training are beneficial, recent research suggests that performing more repetitions is better, especially for reducing abdominal fat. Aerobic exercise (cardio) is also great for women in menopause. Studies have shown that it can reduce belly fat while preserving muscle during weight loss. A mix of strength training and aerobic exercise may be the best strategy.
Other Weight Loss Tips:
Eat plenty of protein. Protein keeps you full and satisfied, increases metabolic rate and prevents lean muscle loss during weight loss.
Include dairy in your diet. Research suggests that dairy products can help you lose fat while retaining muscle mass.
Eat foods high in soluble fiber. Consuming high-fiber foods like flaxseeds, Brussels sprouts, avocados and broccoli can increase insulin sensitivity, reduce appetite and promote weight loss.
Drink green tea. The caffeine and EGCG in green tea may help burn fat, particularly when combined with resistance training.
Practice mindful eating. Mindful eating may help reduce stress and improve your relationship with food, so you end up eating less.
Let's remember that the although you want weight loss, overall health is a much better goal to strive for. It’s important that you make changes you can maintain over the long term. It’s also best to focus on health, rather than the number on the scale. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help you look and feel your absolute best during menopause and beyond.
I am with you and in your corner!