Menopausal Weight Gain: Causes And Ways To Fight It
Menopause is the stage in a person's life when they have not experienced menstruation for a continuous period of 12 months or more, without pregnancy or any other underlying health conditions. The transition leading up to menopause, known as perimenopause, involves changes in the production of hormones such as oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
During perimenopause, the hormonal changes, particularly the decline in oestrogen levels, can result in missed or irregular periods and decreased fertility. Menstrual cycles may become heavier, lighter, longer, shorter, and eventually cease altogether as the ovaries stop producing eggs. Fluctuating levels of oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone can also give rise to various symptoms, including mood swings, hot flashes, increased perspiration, thinning of the skin, vaginal dryness, and weight gain.
Causes of weight gain in women during menopause
- Hormonal changes - Hormonal changes occurring during menopause, such as a reduction in oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, can lead to a redistribution of weight. Specifically, there is an increase in the deposition of fat in the mid-section or abdominal area. This type of fat, known as visceral fat, is considered unhealthy as it is associated with many health conditions.
- Decrease in metabolic activities - As women age, there is a natural decline in the basal metabolic rate and muscle mass, which contributes to weight gain and an increase in body fat percentage. Since muscle is metabolically active and burns calories even at rest, a loss of muscle leads to a decrease in the number of calories burned while at rest. If food intake and physical activity levels remain constant, this reduction in calorie expenditure can result in weight gain.
- Eating patterns - Lastly, changes in eating patterns and reduced physical activity are also commonly observed during menopause, and these factors can contribute to weight gain, particularly in the abdominal area.
- Insulin resistance - During and after menopause, the distribution and storage of fat in the body can undergo changes. These changes are influenced by both muscle loss and insulin resistance. As hormone levels naturally decline during this period, women become more susceptible to insulin resistance, which can result in an accumulation of abdominal fat.
- Sleep quality - In addition to hormonal changes and insulin resistance, getting sufficient and good-quality sleep plays a crucial role in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Poor sleep is closely associated with weight gain, and sleep difficulties tend to escalate during midlife.
How does menopause weight gain affect your body?
The ageing process and hormonal changes commonly result in weight gain for women during their postmenopausal years, typically around 1.5 pounds per year in their 50s and 60s. This weight gain can have negative effects on health, increasing the risks associated with various conditions.
- Accumulation of abdominal visceral fat - Menopause can bring about insulin resistance and hormonal shifts that contribute to the accumulation of abdominal visceral fat in certain individuals. This type of fat is particularly hazardous as it builds up around the organs and in the abdominal region, leading to weight gain in the belly area
- Heart health and cholesterol - Hormonal fluctuations during menopause can have significant implications for heart health, primarily due to oestrogen's vital role in maintaining arterial flexibility and healthy blood pressure. Hormonal changes experienced before, during, and after menopause can raise blood pressure and lead to the stiffening of blood vessels. Furthermore, alterations in oestrogen levels can also affect cholesterol and blood sugar levels, potentially causing them to increase.
How to deal with menopausal weight gain
- Physical activity - To enhance weight loss and overall physical well-being, engaging in regular physical exercise is highly beneficial. As people age, it is common to experience a decline in muscle tone, which can contribute to an increase in body fat. Incorporating exercise into one's routine is crucial in counteracting age-related muscle loss and promoting muscle growth.
- Eat a nutritious diet - To ensure a nutritious diet, it is recommended to substitute saturated fats with healthier alternatives like avocado. When aiming for weight loss, it is important to consume fewer calories than one burns, and making changes to the diet is a crucial aspect of achieving this goal.
- Prioritising sleep - Ensuring an adequate amount of quality sleep is crucial for both maintaining a healthy weight and overall well-being. Insufficient sleep of poor quality has been associated with weight gain. Numerous studies have established a connection between sleep disruptions, ageing processes, and metabolic disturbances during menopause.
- Alternative treatment options - In general, there has been limited and inconclusive scientific investigation on the efficacy of alternative medicine in alleviating menopause-related symptoms. Although these therapies may not result in substantial weight loss, they have the potential to provide relief from certain symptoms and decrease stress levels.
- Conscious eating - Engaging in mindful eating practices can bring about a transformation in eating habits and potentially prevent weight gain. The act of mindful eating enables individuals to recognize internal cues rather than relying on external prompts to consume food.
- Intermittent fasting - Intermittent fasting has gained significant attention recently as a popular approach to eating. It involves abstaining from food consumption during specific time intervals. While many people endorse intermittent fasting, there is currently insufficient evidence to establish its effectiveness and long-term sustainability.
During menopause, many people commonly notice a rise in body fat. This occurrence can be attributed to the decline in oestrogen levels, compromised sleep quality, and a decrease in metabolism and muscle mass. Studies have established a connection between low oestrogen levels and the accumulation of body fat, particularly in the abdominal region. By adopting healthy lifestyle habits, one can aid in weight loss.If you have concerns regarding their weight or experience symptoms of hormonal imbalances, it is advisable to consult a doctor for suitable treatment options.Disclaimer: The above content is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a qualified physician or doctor. The Company does not vouch for or endorse any of the above content, and disclaims any and all warranties, express or implied, relating to the same.