Weight Loss during Menopause is considered to be one of the most difficult challenges for women as it means altering your body composition in the reverse direction than the one decided by nature. While one is going through an emotional upheaval, hormones are playing havoc in our system. Add to this the burden of trying to maintain your current weight, or in fact lose that weight, this stage in a woman’s reproductive cycle becomes extremely burdensome to handle.
Before tackling the challenge of weight loss during menopause, it’s critical to understand how your body changes throughout this stage of life.
WHAT IS MENOPAUSE?
Menopause marks the end of the reproductive cycle or childbearing age of a woman. It is a stage in which you no longer get your monthly period. It’s a natural phase of aging. Menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 50.
Menopause usually happens after 12 months without menstruation. Increased follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels are measured by your doctor to confirm menopause. When a woman’s FSH blood level is constantly elevated to 30 mIU/mL or more, and also she has not had her menstrual period for a year, it is confirmed that she has reached menopause.
Understanding Menopausal Weight Gain
When you’re young, weight gain tends to settle around your hips and thighs. As you age, your patterns of weight gain shift to your midsection. This can cause frustration as you adjust to a different body type than you had before.
Menopause begins when a woman has not had a menstrual period for 12 months. It may be difficult to lose weight around this time. In reality, many women discover that they begin to gain weight during perimenopause, which can begin a decade before menopause.
Causes of weight increase during menopause:
Both high and low estrogen levels can enhance fat accumulation.
Muscle Mass Loss:
Loss in muscle mass happens as a result of ageing, hormonal changes, and decreased physical activity.
During menopause, many women have difficulty sleeping.
Increased Insulin Resistance:
As women age, they typically become insulin resistant. This makes losing weight all the more difficult.
Furthermore, after menopause, fat storage transfers from the hips and thighs to the belly. This raises the chances of developing:
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Heart Disease
SYMPTOMS OF MENOPAUSE:
Every woman’s menopausal journey is distinct. Menopause symptoms are often more severe when it happens quickly or over a shorter period. Conditions that affect ovarian health are Cancer, as well as certain lifestyle choices such as smoking, which are likely to enhance the intensity and length of symptoms. Menopause causes hot flashes in around 75% of women.
Frequent menopausal symptoms include:
- Memory issues
- Hot Flashes
- Low sex desire
- Dry vaginal skin
- Gaining weight
- Focusing difficulties
- Heightened urination
- Breasts that are aching or sensitive
- Pounding heart
- Infections of the urinary tract (UTIs)
Hot flashes are the most common sign of menopause. It can last for many years for some women. The change in estrogen level may be the primary cause for Hot Flashes. A hot flash is a sudden surge of heat in the body especially the upper part of it. Your face and neck may become reddish or pinkish. It may lead to Heavy sweating or even cold shivering. Hot flashes can be mild or even strong enough to wake you up (called night sweats). Most hot flashes last from a few seconds to a few minutes. The frequency of hot flashes varies from one person to another.
TIPS FOR WEIGHT LOSS DURING MENOPAUSE:
1) REGULAR EXERCISE:
Physical activity, such as aerobic exercise and strength training, can help you lose weight and keep it off. As you grow muscle, your body burns calories more effectively, making it simpler to maintain a healthy weight.
Experts recommend moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, for at least 150 minutes per week for most healthy individuals, or strong aerobic activity, such as running, for at least 75 minutes per week. Strength training routines are also advised at least twice a week. You may need to exercise more if you want to shed weight or reach certain fitness objectives.
2) CONSUME HEALTHY CALORIES:
To maintain your present weight, much alone lose extra pounds, you may require around 200 fewer calories per day in your 50s than you did in your 30s and 40s.
Pay attention to what you eat and drink to save calories without sacrificing nourishment. Choose more fruits, veggies, and whole grains that are less processed and higher in fibre.
- Good options include legumes, nuts, soy, salmon, and low-fat dairy products.
- Meat, such as red meat or chicken, should be consumed in moderation.
- Oils such as olive or vegetable oil can be used in place of butter, stick margarine, and shortening.
3) INCREASE IN-TAKE OF NUTRITIOUS FOODS:
A healthy diet should include a range of colourful fruits and vegetables, complete grains, and lean protein sources.
A Mediterranean-style diet is a well-known and beneficial health diet. According to a 2016 study, this diet can reduce heart disease risk factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels while also resulting in weight loss.
People should eat regularly:
- A wide range of fruits and veggies
- Lean proteins, such as beans, fish, or chicken
- Bread and cereals made from whole grains
- Healthy fats, such as those found in olive oil or avocados
People should avoid processed meals and foods rich in saturated fats. Here are a few examples:
- White Bread
- Baked Goods – Cakes, Cookies, and doughnuts
- Processed meats, such as hot dogs or bologna
- meals with a lot of added oils or sugar
Following a Good Diet For Weight Loss During Menopause
The internet is full of diet suggestions for women who are going through menopause. Some diets are also charged for. However, something which is basic understanding and addresses a large concern need not be commercialized. Here we discuss about easy to manage yet delicious diets that you can follow during this phase.
Cut Back the Carbohydrates!
Carbohydrates are a strict NO while losing weight in general – irrespective of your age. This becomes more important if you are going through menopause. White Breads, Potatoes, Cookies, Sodas, Canned Fruits and Juices, Nuts, Legumes, Sauces are a Strict NO. Weight Loss comes only through thorough discipline. Avoiding regular consumption of carbohydrates is essential for the start of your weight loss journey.
Mediterranean Diet for Weight Loss During Menopause
- Vegetables: tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips
- Nuts, seeds, and nut butters: almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almond butter, peanut butter
- Fish and seafood: salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, mussels
- Herbs and spices: garlic, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper
- Fruits: apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, melons, peaches
- Eggs: chicken, quail, and duck eggs
- Poultry: chicken, duck, turkey
- Legumes: beans, peas, lentils, pulses, peanuts, chickpeas
- Healthy fats: extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados, and avocado oil
- Whole grains: oats, brown rice, rye, barley, corn, buckwheat, whole wheat bread and pasta
- Dairy: cheese, yogurt, milk
4) MAKE SLEEP A TOP PRIORITY:
Getting adequate good sleep is essential for keeping a healthy weight and general health. Sleep deprivation can result in weight gain. Changes in sleep quality and circadian rhythms can have an impact on:
- Hormones of appetite
- Body fat percentage
- Energy consumption
Moreover, symptoms such as hot flashes and sweats might interfere with sleep. Getting enough restorative sleep might help decrease weight gain associated with menopause.
5) CONSIDER ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES:
While these methods are unlikely to result in considerable weight reduction, they may alleviate certain symptoms and reduce stress.
Among the potential complementary and alternative therapies are:
- Herbal remedies
6) COGNITIVE-BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY(CBT):
CBT is a type of talk therapy, sometimes known as psychotherapy. It aids in the treatment of sleeplessness and may benefit ladies having symptoms of low estrogen.
According to research, Postmenopausal women who got CBT for insomnia saw a larger improvement in sleep duration over 6 months. CBT involves mental health specialists assisting you in different segments.
It includes identifying, addressing, and correcting negative thoughts and behaviour. They will assist you with developing coping mechanisms so that you can respond to difficulties more effectively.
CBT is frequently used to treat:
- Anxiety problems
- Concerns about substance abuse
- Marriage issues
- Consuming disorders
- Serious mental illness
7) KEEPING TRACK OF FOOD:
Tracking meals can help a person determine which unhealthy items they consume regularly and in what situations. This knowledge can aid in the implementation of certain dietary adjustments.
People who keep meals track, and maintain high exercise levels are more likely to lose clinically significant weight.
8) CONTROL PORTION SIZES:
Portion sizes in restaurants have risen throughout the years and people are dining out more, making it difficult to determine how much food a person requires per meal and per day.
Understanding the normal serving sizes of certain common foods will help you estimate how much to include in a meal. Some typical portions are, for example:
- 1 slice of bread
- 12 cup cooked rice and noodles
- a little slice of fruit
- 1 cup milk or yoghurt
- 2 ounces cheese.
- 2 to 3 ounces of meat or fish.
The following suggestions can help people reduce their portion sizes:
- Instead of consuming food straight from the bag, measure them out.
- Instead of dining in front of the television, eat at a table.
- Choose less bread and fewer appetisers while dining out.
- To measure portions at home, use a kitchen scale and measuring cups.
9) RELEASE STRESS:
Stress relief is also crucial during the menopausal transition.
In addition to raising the risk of heart disease, stress raises cortisol levels, which are linked to an increase in belly fat.
Several studies have revealed that yoga can assist women going through menopause reduce stress and improve symptoms.
10) MEAL PLANNING:
Meal planning and having healthy items on hand make it less likely that a person will pick unhealthy meals in a situation.
Stock the kitchen with nutritious ingredients for fast meals, and prepare ahead of time to avoid impulsive, mindless eating. Carry healthy snacks with you to avoid trips to the vending machine.
While losing weight is your primary goal, it is essential that you make long-term adjustments. During menopause, many women suffer an increase in body fat. This is associated with lower estrogen levels, worse sleep quality, and decreased metabolism and muscle mass.
It is also preferable to focus on health rather than weight.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle via exercise, adequate sleep, a nutrient-dense balanced diet, and mindful eating will help you look and feel your best during menopause and beyond. Weight Loss during Menopause in Women is difficult but not impossible!