Most women start gaining weight as they reach middle age and most agree it presents a seemingly insurmountable challenge.
Understanding the obstacles however, assists in developing effective strategies to avoid classic “middle-aged spread.”
What causes menopausal weight gain?
– Hormonal changes and fluctuations – weight gain can appear around your abdomen, hips and thighs.
– Hormonal changes alone don’t necessarily cause menopause weight gain. Instead, added pounds are usually related to aging, lifestyle and genetic factors.
– Loss of muscle mass – muscle mass typically diminishes with age, while fat increases. Loss of muscle mass decreases the rate at which the body utilizes calories, which challenges healthy weight management. Maintaining previous eating patterns and a decrease in activity can also add unwanted pounds.
– The genetic factor. Look at parents and close relatives. If they carry extra weight around their hips, you may also be predisposed.
– Inadequate amount of sleep – many women going through menopause have trouble sleeping (number of hours as well as quality of sleep). Poor sleep is linked to weight gain. Find effective strategies to achieve 6-8 hours per night.
– Insulin resistance – this common syndrome is implicated in weight gain.
The good news is that lifestyle factors play a paramount role in weight management. Increase exercise, adopt a healthy diet and pay attention to sleep.
Which is the best strategy to fight menopausal weight gain?
1. Try HIIT
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is a great way to boost metabolism and burn more calories and fat in a short period of time. This is a training technique featuring short and intense bursts of activity.
2. Weight Training
Muscle mass decreases after age 50 which means we lose our number one calorie burner. To replace muscle mass, add weight and resistance training to a weekly exercise routine.
3. Eat fiber rich foods
Aim for a serving of fiber-rich foods at least twice daily at breakfast and lunch.
Best high fiber foods:
- legumes – split peas, lentils, black beans
- vegetables – artichokes, peas, broccoli, Brussel sprouts
- fruit – raspberries, blackberries, avocado, pear
- grains – bran flakes, whole wheat pasta, barley, oatmeal
- flaxseeds, chia seeds
4. Ditch the sugar
Eliminate as many sweets as possible (do it gradually) and bake healthy sweets with minimal added sugar or sweeten with dates.
5. Don’t forget the H2O
Drink 8 – 10 glasses of water daily between meals. Create a water routine to reach your daily goal. Keep a water bottle at hand and sip regularly.
6. Develop Good Sleep Hygiene Habits
Menopause can disrupt sleep, so it is important to shoot for 6 -8 hours each evening. Create a bedtime routine, stop using electronic devices or watching TV one hour before bed, avoid caffeine, use a diffuser with essential lavender oil for a calming effect, read a book or try a bath with Epsom salts.
LAURA PEISCHL, BA, INHC
Laura is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Holistic Menopause Health Specialist and Certified Hormone Health and Wellness Practitioner. She is the founder and owner of Feel Good Menopause™️.