Read Up on the Side Effects of Weight Gained During Menopause

Many women in their late 40’s and 50’s experience weight gain as an unfortunate side effect of menopause. According to WebMD, roughly 30% of women aged 50-59 are not only overweight, but also are actually considered to be obese. Although a bit of weight gain is often linked to menopause, there are still definite health risks of being overweight. High blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes are just a few of the risks that everyone who sits at an unhealthy weight faces.

Fortunately, there are ways to limit how much weight we gain during menopause. Knowing what causes weight gain and having the right tools to try to stay healthy are a good start.

What Causes Weight Gain During Menopause

For starters, fluctuation in estrogen levels causes weight gain. Studies have shown that decreased levels of estrogen can cause low energy and a diminished metabolic rate. Low levels of estrogen can also cause the body to use blood sugar and starches less effectively. A study from Australian Family Physician found that weight gain during menopause is primarily linked to a decrease in “spontaneous activity.”

Menopause can also interrupt normal sleep patterns—just read our blog post on menopause hot flashes for more information. Troubled sleeping and night sweats can inadvertently lead to weight gain, as you are more likely to skip a workout if you are exhausted from a sleepless night.

Menopause usually occurs around the same time as other signs of aging start to emerge. Women in their late 40’s and early 50’s are less likely to exercise—according to WebMD, 60 percent of adults simply aren’t active enough. Losing muscle mass can also contribute to lower metabolic rates. Other age-related factors combine with symptoms of menopause to make it more difficult to maintain a healthy weight.

How to Combat Weight Gain During Menopause

Weight management is crucial during menopause, as weight gain increases the risk the onset of many diseases. Whether you are a lifelong fitness buff or just hoping to keep off the extra pounds as you take on the next phase of your life, there are plenty of healthy ways to combat weight gain during menopause and aging.

Regardless of your fluctuating hormones, keeping your weight under control so that you can feel happy and healthy even throughout the menopause process should be a priority.

You Are What You Eat, So Eat Right

As you hit menopause, lean proteins should become your new best friend. Chicken, turkey, fish, soy beans, cottage cheese, and egg whites should become staples in your diet. This doesn’t mean that you need to start a boring diet, removing all flavor and the foods you love the most. Instead, find fun recipes and yummy side dishes to compliment these naturally healthy foods.

Next, limit your alcohol consumption – mixed drinks, beer, and wine are very high in calories and sugar. Consuming more than two drinks per day can increase your levels of risk for stroke and some types of cancer. In addition, alcohol can cause hot flashes, so women who are sensitive to alcohol should try to avoid it during menopause.

Exercise Regularly

As you age, it can be difficult to keep up with a daily exercise routine. Life gets busy and your body may experience new pain and tension that you didn’t experience in younger years. Exercise will not only reduce your chances of weight gain during menopause, but it will also reduce your risk of some cancers. In addition, exercising can strengthen your bones. During menopause, many women experience decreased bone density and a higher risk of osteoporosis.

Put simply, aerobic exercise can do wonders for your health. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercising for 75-150 minutes per week can help to reduce risk of diseases caused by obesity. Setting achievable goals and having an accountability partner can help make regular exercise more enjoyable.

What to Do If Nothing Is Working

When it comes to hormones, sometimes weight gain is inevitable despite healthy eating practices and regular exercise. If you feel like nothing is working for you, you’re not alone. Dr. Gottfried, author of The Hormone Reset Diet, told Goop that reducing stress can actually help to balance hormone levels in your body.

She recommends meditating daily, finding a close friend with whom you can vent about stress, and getting regular massages. When all else fails, she recommends a healthy chunk of dark chocolate.

It’s Not Just Menopause, It’s Just Life

At the end of the day, aging is a fact of life. Risk of weight gain as you age inevitably increases, regardless of your gender. According to this article from NPR, exercising regularly and eating healthy even in old age will help you avoid not only weight gain, but also symptoms of arthritis and swollen joints. Try to maintain a healthy body image even as your appearance and body change with time. A healthy body image can actually keep you motivated and energized to continue to work out.

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