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Facts and myths about weight gain during menopause

Female bodies are constantly changing. The body changes during pregnancy and is accepted by everyone as a normal part of life.

The body also changes as women age, in order to adjust to hormonal fluctuations and meet changing demands.

Changes in our bodies are often less welcomed when we live in a diet culture. Our bodies are often viewed as a reflection of how we feel.

We are pulled in many directions and caught between what is within our control and what is just part of the menopause journey.

Let’s talk about weight gain during menopause

First, consider your biology and the hormonal changes that are occurring.

Perimenopause weight gain

Our bodies are clever and can detect a decline in estrogen levels and find ways to compensate. The body believes that if it produces more fat cells it can obtain more estrogen. This can lead to fat cells multiplying, especially in our middle, and creating a reserve of estrogen.

Does insulin resistance have anything to do with postmenopausal weight gain or perimenopausal weight gain?

An increase in fat cells around the middle of women can affect insulin response. Insulin is the hormone that helps to convert carbohydrates (glucose) into energy. Insulin is a key that unlocks cells and allows glucose to be converted into energy.

Some people will experience insulin resistance as they age. This is when the lock on the cell becomes less responsive to insulin actions. The body responds by releasing additional insulin to accomplish the same task.

This can make it more difficult to lose weight since insulin is a hormone the body associates storage with. Insulin resistance can occur across many spectrums, and many factors affect it.

It is important to remember that even if you have diabetes, it is not a good idea to avoid carbohydrates or stick to low-carb diets. This is why it’s so important to fully understand the details and make sure you do what is right for your body.

The free ebook “Getting clarity with carbs” might be of help to you.

What happens during menopause to our metabolism?

The levels of testosterone and estrogen in our body can have a negative impact on our muscle mass, which then has an effect on our metabolism rate. Muscle “burns” more calories than any other body part, so as we lose muscle mass, our ability to burn energy even at rest is reduced.

It is important to remember that muscle mass changes can only mean a reduction of around 100 calories per day.

What happens to us if we’ve been dead for years before going through perimenopause.

Many of the women I work alongside have been on a diet for years. Our body composition and muscle mass suffer when our body weight fluctuates. We go through periods where we eat less and then eat more.

Our bodies must adapt to a restrictive diet. Muscles are used to fuel and are then broken down.

While higher protein intake and resistance exercise may help to mitigate this, it is not a guarantee that your body will be able to eat enough calories.

Your body is focused on your fuel needs and your survival. It doesn’t care if it has to use some muscle to achieve this.

With a long history of dieting behind them, women entering their perimenopausal year will likely already have lower muscle mass.

What does exercise have to do with perimenopausal weight reduction?

Also, I see that exercise and dieting can get mixed up so often. We either feel like we are failing at one or both. It’s not sustainable to follow diet plans and exercise programs that are so difficult.

This can lead to a decline in our fitness and food choices. Our relationship with exercise becomes strained when we get caught up in the notion of having to make our own food choices and burn off any ‘naughty slip-ups’.

Exercise is more difficult when you are in a calorie deficit. It makes things feel harder and doesn’t make us remember it as a positive experience.

This brings us back to the topic of weight gain after menopause

How to lose weight after menopause

I encourage you to look at the larger picture. While we are all searching for the right solution to restore our bodies back to their former selves in some way, the reality is that our bodies will change over time. This is perfectly normal.

Diet industry vultures and their hollow promises will continue to circulate. But I believe that in our 40’s, and 50’s, we owe our bodies compassion, nourishment, and sustainable approaches.

Instead of focusing on the end goal of weight reduction, consider the factors that influence your eating habits and take steps to change them.

Major contributors to weight gain during menopause

Priority number one is to examine how you deal with stress. Your body’s exposure to cortisol will be affected if you feel constantly in the fight, flight, freeze mode.

Cortisol isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Cortisol is a hormone that plays many roles in our bodies, including helping us wake up each morning. However, fluctuating levels can make us more vulnerable to its effects and if we don’t get into a calmer state of rest and digest often enough to counter it, it can be quite easy to get out of control.

We need to be clear: you don’t have bubble baths every day. However, you must remember to inhale and breathe your food. This is an enormous topic and I offer support through my online programs.

Sleep is closely linked to all of this. We’ll discuss how perimenopause can often rob us of this precious resource. It’s a good idea to mark it on your calendar as a priority for you to work on to help your menopausal weight loss. Even the smallest changes, such as limiting screen time before bed or allowing yourself to go to sleep on time, can make a big difference.

Does HRT cause weight gain?

HRT is not known to cause weight gain. Therefore, it is important that you assess your hormonal needs and determine if HRT is right for you.

Final thoughts about weight gain after menopause

Regardless of hormonal shifts during menopause, muscle mass decreases with age. It’s obvious that being physically active and eating enough protein is key to preventing muscle mass loss.

It is also important to take care of your muscles in order to improve your posture and balance. I find that I automatically sit straighter when I write sentences like this.

Take care of yourself.

  • Reduce stress
  • Sleep better
  • Take care of your health
  • Be intentional in your actions
  • Avoid strict calorie deficit diets
  • Consult a specialist GP in menopause to replace your hormones

Monitoring all symptoms can help you to understand why your weight has changed and can be very helpful. The balance application is an excellent way to do this.

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