For most women, menopause is a phase of life when menstrual cycles have stopped, typically for 12 months in a row. This natural biological process usually occurs around the mid-40s to early 50s. During this period, due to fluctuations and decreases in hormone levels, certain symptoms such as hot flashes, sleep disruptions, and weight gain can occur. Although quite common, weight gain associated with menopause can be avoided. Let’s find out how.
Weight gain happens in both perimenopause and menopause stages.
This is the biological transition phase prior to menopause, when estrogen levels begin to decrease, causing irregular periods and other associated symptoms. Women tend to gain 2-5 pounds during this perimenopausal transition. However, some women may gain more weight, which seems to be especially true for women who are already obese or overweight. Researchers discovered that perimenopausal women had much higher levels of the "hunger hormone," ghrelin, than either premenopausal or postmenopausal women.
Moreover, as estrogen levels decline in the late stages of menopause, leptin and Neuropeptide Y, the hormones that regulate fullness and appetite, may become less effective. As a result, estrogen-deficient women in perimenopause might increase their calorie intake unintentionally, contributing to weight gain.
As women transition from perimenopause to menopause, they may continue to experience hormonal changes and weight gain. The age at which menopause occurs may be a predictor of the effects on weight. An analysis of more than 1,900 women revealed that those reaching menopause before age 51 had less body fat. A number of additional variables may also contribute to the weight increase associated with menopause.
One of those factors that can contribute to weight gain during menopause is exercise and movement. Women who gain weight during menopause are usually less physically active than their counterparts, which lowers their energy expenditure and has contributed to a loss of muscle mass over time, slowing down their metabolic rate. In addition, menopausal women usually have increased levels of fasting insulin and insulin resistance, which promote weight gain and raise the risk of heart disease.
Menopausal weight gain can have serious implications for your health. One of the biggest risks is cardiovascular disease. This might be partly caused by the postmenopausal tendency to gain weight in the midsection. Visceral fat or body fat stored inside the abdomen wall and around the internal organs also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Incorporating a regular exercise routine coupled with a well-balanced low carbohydrate diet can help to lower this risk.
Additionally, excess weight, especially around your midsection, increases your risk of other health issues, such as:
Weight increase around the time of menopause can be caused by several reasons, such as:
People of any sex typically put on weight as they age because of a normal loss of lean muscle mass (called sarcopenia).
As previously stated, hormones, particularly decreasing estrogen levels, contribute to weight gain. According to research , estrogen may block the body's hunger signals, which may help you control your eating.
The pace at which we burn calories and glycogen (stored glucose in our muscles and liver) slows as muscle mass declines since muscle requires more energy to sustain than fat, even at rest. Hence, weight builds up when calories aren't burned.
Menopausal women often have hot flashes, nocturnal sweats, and elevated anxiety. Research shows that lack of sleep can contribute to weight gain.
Other contributors to weight gain during menopause are:
You can manage weight gain during menopause by following these tips:
Keeping weight under control during menopause can be challenging but doable. It is not uncommon for weight to creep on due to hormonal changes, aging, or even sleep disturbances. As we gain weight, we are more likely to develop diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Taking good care of yourself by eating healthily and exercising frequently is essential.
Are you curious about ways to control menopausal weight gain? Schedule an appointment with the best nutritionist in NYC, Lisa Jubilee, for evidence-based advice. With her years of experience, she can provide you with a personalized online nutrition consultation and create the best meal plan for all your needs. At Living Proof NYC, we are committed to offering the support and treatment you require to live a healthier, happier life.