Menopause weight gain: Stop the middle age spread
Most women gain weight as they age, but excess pounds aren’t inevitable. To minimize menopause weight gain, step up your activity level and enjoy a healthy diet.
By Mayo Clinic staff
As you get older, you may notice that maintaining your usual weight becomes more difficult. In fact, the most profound weight gain in a woman’s life tends to happen during the years leading up to menopause (perimenopause). Weight gain after menopause isn’t inevitable, however. You can reverse course by paying attention to healthy-eating habits and leading an active lifestyle.
What causes menopause weight gain?
The hormonal changes of menopause may make you more likely to gain weight around your abdomen, rather than your hips and thighs. Hormonal changes alone don’t necessarily trigger weight gain after menopause, however. Instead, the weight gain is usually related to a variety of lifestyle and genetic factors.
For example, menopausal women tend to exercise less than other women, which can lead to weight gain. In addition, muscle mass naturally diminishes with age. If you don’t do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose, your body composition will shift to more fat and less muscle ó which slows down the rate at which you burn calories. If you continue to eat as you always have, you’re likely to gain weight.
For many women, genetic factors play a role in weight gain after menopause. If your parents or other close relatives carry extra weight around the abdomen, you’re likely to do the same. Sometimes, factors such as children leaving ó or returning ó home, divorce, the death of a spouse or other life changes may contribute to weight gain after menopause. For others, a sense of contentment or simply letting go leads to weight gain.
Menopause weight gain: Stop the middle age spread.
How risky is weight gain after menopause?
Weight gain after menopause can have serious implications for your health. Excess weight increases the risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. In turn, these conditions increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Excess weight also increases the risk of various types of cancer, including colorectal cancer and breast cancer. In fact, some research suggests that gaining as little as 4.4 pounds (2 kilograms) at age 50 or later could increase the risk of breast cancer by 30 percent.
What’s the best way to prevent weight gain after menopause?
There’s no magic formula for preventing ó or reversing ó weight gain after menopause. Simply stick to weight-control basics:
Move more. Aerobic activity can help you shed excess pounds or simply maintain a healthy weight. Strength training counts, too. As you gain muscle, your body burns calories more efficiently ó which makes it easier to control your weight. As a general goal, include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your daily routine and do strength training exercises at least twice a week. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to increase your activity even more.
Eat less. To maintain your current weight ó let alone lose excess pounds ó you may need about 200 fewer calories a day during your 50s than you did during your 30s and 40s. To reduce calories without skimping on nutrition, pay attention to what you’re eating and drinking. Choose more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Opt for lean sources of protein. Don’t skip meals, which may lead you to overeat later.
Seek support. Surround yourself with friends and loved ones who’ll support your efforts to eat a healthy diet and increase your physical activity. Better yet, team up and make the lifestyle changes together.
The bottom line? Successful weight loss at any stage of life requires permanent changes in diet and exercise habits. Take a brisk walk every day. Try a yoga class. Trade cookies for fresh fruit. Share restaurant meals with a friend. Commit to the changes and enjoy a healthier you!
WEIGHT LOSS AFTER MENOPAUSE:
IS IT EVEN POSSIBLE?
Is it possible to have weight loss after menopause? Have you noticed that youíve had trouble maintaining the weight that you used to be able to manage easily?
Do you find that your extra weight has started to accumulate around your abdomen instead of distributing itself? Is it even possible to turn this post-menopausal trend around? Sure it is!
Welcome to weight loss after menopause
Thatís the good news! The bad news is that in order to have weight loss after menopause, youíre going to have to accept that what has worked for you for the past 50 years, works no longer!
Menopause-related weight issues generally begin during perimenopause. The majority of women gain about a pound a year during this time leading up to menopause.
Welcome to weight loss after menopause! Donít assume that changes in hormone levels are the primary cause for this weight gain. Other factors such as lifestyle, genetics, and aging play an important role as well.
So, how can you achieve weight loss after menopause? First you need to understand what is going on inside your body. As you age, your caloric needs decrease because the aging process slows down your metabolism. Aging naturally causes the gradual replacement of muscle with fat. Remember that muscle burns more calories than fat. You now have less muscleÖhence, the sluggish metabolism!
Is it important to strive to reach your weight loss goal? Consider that post-menopausal extra weight contributes to an increased risk of breast cancer, stroke, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. Is that incentive enough?
The strategies for weight loss after menopause are basically the same as they are for any kind of weight loss effort. Your biggest advantage is understanding why your metabolism slows and what you can do to try to counteract it.
The 10 Best Tips For
Weight Loss After Menopause:
Increase activity. A recent study showed that women who exercised just 2 hours a week (or 17 minutes daily) reduced their risk of heart disease and stroke by 27%, so you can lose weight and get healthier at the same time!
Add weight training to your workout. Research shows that people who lift weights weekly for two months gained nearly as much lean muscle as those who work out three times a week! This added muscle continuously burns more calories!
Decrease the number of calories you consume. Check out the 5-4-3-2-1 Diet as an easy way to help you reduce your portion sizes.
Make the calories count. Dump the junk food and choose nutritious, low-fat, healthy alternatives.
Decrease alcohol consumption. If you used to be able to drink 2 glasses of wine every night without consequences, you may have to have only one now. Or limit yourself to a half glass mixed with club soda.
Save the things that you love, that you KNOW arenít good for you, for special occasions, or learn to significantly decrease the portion size.
Decrease the amount of sodium in your diet. Try to rely on alternate spices to flavor your meals.
Increase the calcium in your diet. Remember that research shows that calcium, found in low-fat dairy products, has a positive effect on weight loss.
Welcome to weight loss after menopause
Find ways to relax! Stress causes fat to accumulate in and around the abdomen, so find your inner yogi, and breathe!
And finally, portions, portions, portions! Just because you used to be able to eat the big bucket of popcorn at the movies and still look cute in your jeans, doesnít mean you can now. They do have smaller buckets!