How to Lose Weight During Menopause
Menopause brings many changes and hurdles to overcome, including the weight gain many women experience during this time. Statistically, the average woman gains just over 4 pounds when her body prepares for menopause in her 40s, and she continues to gain about a pound and a half each year throughout her 50s and 60s.
Knowing this fact, there are some tricks you can employ when it comes to how to lose weight during menopause.
What Causes Changes During Menopause?
The body goes through many changes throughout menopause. Hormone changes may assist in gaining a little extra weight around your abdomen. Weight gathers here because after menopause your ovaries stop producing estrogen and the only place it can be created is in your abdominal fat cells.
Aging is a major factor when it comes to weight gain. As you get older, muscle mass generally declines, and fat levels increase. It’s a fact that muscle burns more calories than fat. When you lose muscle, your calorie processing slows down and causes you to gain more weight.
Can Weight Changes During Menopause be Prevented?
Most women gain weight as they age, but there are things you can do to minimize weight gain during menopause. Weight gain is not a guarantee. If you’re vigilant about healthy eating and focus on an active lifestyle, you can avoid those excess pounds that can creep up.
Preventing weight gain in the first place is much easier than trying to lose the pounds once they have been gained. However, the following tips will help you both prevent weight gain and lose weight.
6 Ways to Lose Weight During Menopause
1. Increase Your Activity
Activity is fundamental when it comes to losing weight. To put it simply: just get out and move. Aerobic activity (exercise that gets your heart rate pumping for a period of time) helps you lose weight and maintain a healthy number on the scale.
Activities that increase your muscle mass will help your body burn calories more efficiently, such as swimming, cycling or running. Resistance training is important too. Strength training with weights (or an activity like yoga) will help reduce body fat, increase muscle, and offer additional benefits like less physical pain and a better feeling overall.
How much activity do you need to reach your goals? The recommended amount of moderate aerobic activity is at least 150 minutes a week or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. The best way to get the most from your activity and boost your intensity is through high-intensity interval training (HIIT) where you alternate between intense periods of physical activity and recovery periods.
2. Lower Your Food Intake
The needs of our bodies change as we get older. Once we hit our 50s, we don’t need as many calories as we did in previous decades. When you lower your calories, don’t compromise nutritional value — instead, make smart choices when it comes to food. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains will sustain you.
Choosing non-processed, healthy options will also leave you feeling fuller for longer, meaning you won’t be as inclined to grab a snack from the convenience store on your way home. Women going through menopause should try to keep their fat intake under 20% and consume good fats like avocado or fish.
Diets can work. Some professionals recommend intermittent fasting to help cut down body fat, but a rule that’s a bit easier to stick to is no eating after 7 p.m. In theory, you won’t eat until breakfast the next day, and this 12-hour window of not eating offers some of the benefits of intermittent fasting. Be smart when making changes to your diet; it’s important that you still get enough nutrients to power yourself through the day.
3. Cut Down on Sugar
Snack items are full of sugars, and these excess sugars could be to blame for part of your weight gain. Think about all the treats that contain sugar: cakes, cookies, candy, chocolate, doughnuts — the list goes on. It’s easy to grab a small treat when you hit that afternoon energy slump, but a healthy snack, like trail mix, is a better choice.
For some women experiencing menopause, taking birth control has helped relieve the symptoms. Learn more about menopause and birth control here.
Do you start your day with a double-double or fruit juice? There are some sneaky sugars in beverages that we consume every day and these sugars don’t give us any health benefit, but they do increase our calorie count. These thoughtless consumables aren’t usually factored in when we plan our meals out for the day, but the calories in each drink add up quickly.
4. Hydrate Properly
Switch out those sugary drinks for water and you’ll see increased benefit for a few reasons. Water won’t add numbers to your calorie count but will keep you hydrated. Drinking water helps keep you feeling full, so you’re less likely to snack. An added benefit of drinking water is that it may help lessen the effect of hot flashes.
5. Build Your Support Network
Create a community that supports your goals of healthy eating and increased physical activity. It’s easier to stick to a goal when you’re trying to obtain it with somebody else. For many, socializing takes place around food — going to restaurants, going out for ice cream or going for drinks.
Instead, come up with shared goals: become meal planning buddies and make healthy meals to eat throughout the week, train for a 10-k together, or join a gym or fitness class. The point is to surround yourself with people who encourage you to be a healthier version of yourself and help you sidestep situations where you may be tempted to indulge too much or forgo exercise.
6. Get Enough Sleep
Proper sleep is connected to our overall health. If you’re not getting enough sleep, or the quality of sleep you have is poor, it will lead to weight gain down the road. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re likely to end up with an overly stimulated appetite due to confused hormones.
Weight gain is the result of aging, lifestyle and hereditary factors. By focusing on your goals of staying fit and putting in the work, you can avoid the added weight brought on by menopause.