Menopause can do all sorts of things to your body. It can cause stress, major hormonal changes, and can even change how you experience aging. All of these changes can also make it difficult to lose weight. But don’t give up yet. There are a few things you can do to help control and even lower your weight throughout menopause. You do have to put a little bit of work into it, but this is no different than regular attempts to lose weight. The only difference is that you have to change the methods you use to lose that weight.
Why Is Weight Loss Harder During Menopause?
Many women experience increased weight gain throughout menopause. Furthermore, some women notice that they gain more weight even before menopause, during premenopause. The time frame of premenopause can vary for each person differently. Some women experience short premenopause durations and others can see its effects as early as a decade before menopause.
There are many different factors which add to weight gain that are associated with menopause. One of the major factors is the drastic hormonal change that your body experiences. As you enter menopause, your body’s estrogen levels can start to fluctuate and tip either towards the low side or high side. The problem is that both lowered and elevated estrogen levels can cause drastic weight gain, especially around the belly.
Decreased muscle mass is also part of the body changes which can occur during menopause. Lowered muscle mass occurs because of hormonal changes but also because of lifestyle changes which come with aging. You start to move less because of various aches and pains which surface as you get older. This lack of motion adds to reduced muscle mass and creates a more favorable environment for weight gain.
Your sleep cycles also play a huge role in your weight gain. Unfortunately, many women report difficulty sleeping when they enter menopause. Night sweats are one of the most common experiences noted during menopause which cause restless sleep. The consequence is waking up frequently throughout the night, resulting in a lack of sleep. This reduced rest at night leaves you with less energy throughout the day. You are forced to use the energy that you do have for mandatory tasks, which means you end up with almost no energy for physical activity or exercise which is an absolute must to deal with weight gain.
Genetic factors can also play a huge role in your weight gain. If you have parents with excess weight around the abdomen area, chances are you will be more susceptible to weight gain as you age. And the perfect time that this genetic predisposition shows is during menopause.
Finally, unhealthy eating can also become one of biggest contributors to your belly fat. Remember all that energy that you don’t have because of your irregular sleep cycles? Well, it is also needed to cook and make healthy food for you at home. No energy equals less time or desire to go shopping for healthier products. Sure, you can just opt into buying all healthy premade food, but this isn’t a sound reality. Not only does it become extremely expensive but there are plenty of unhealthy chemicals added to so-called fresh and healthy foods which many people have a tendency to overlook.
Add together all of these different situations and changes that occur throughout your menopause, and then sprinkle some stress on top…this is the perfect recipe for weight gain cake, which (like most other cakes) you should really try to stay away from.
Stress is an odd topic to discuss when it comes to weight gain or weight loss. The effects of stress can go two ways, severe weight gain or severe weight loss. But generally, if you are in your menopause years it will add to your increased weight. There are plenty of reasons why one might become stressed throughout menopause. That same lack of sleep from earlier can also add to it. The initial weight gain which comes from hormonal changes can also add to levels of stress, which in turn can spiral into more weight gain. It can become a vicious cycle relatively quickly if left uncontrolled.
Why Are Low-Calorie Diets Less Effective?
We all know that the primary principle of losing weight is to burn more calories than your intake. Those of us who are a bit on the lazy side and might not want to spend more time at the gym end up having to turn to the low-calorie diet. While this might work for those of us who are on the younger side and haven’t gotten into our later years, it isn’t as good of a choice for women in menopause.
Even though typically, the amount of calories used during resting time is drastically declined for women during or after menopause, there are plenty of reasons why reducing your calories intake can have an adverse longtime effect on your body. Fewer calories mean that your body’s metabolic rate starts to slow down to conserve energy. Muscle mass begins to decline because there aren’t enough calories for muscle cells to grow. Decreased muscle mass leads to weaker bone structure, which can put you at risk for injuries or osteoporosis.
Decreasing your calorie intake can cause weight loss, but this is only short term. The rapid decrease in metabolism and decreased muscle weight will cause you to gain weight, in the long run, no matter how many calories you cut out. Furthermore, the effects of you seeing weight gain even though you are carefully observing a strict low-calorie diet can lead to even higher stress, which can result in more weight gain and other potential issues.
The best way to decrease your weight through dieting is by watching your intake portions rather than the calories. But the absolute best combination for weight loss is keeping an eye on your portion sizes and also adopting a healthier overall lifestyle. Choosing to walk to the nearest store rather than get in your car to drive for two minutes can do wonders for your body. Staying away from processed foods and alternatively focusing on fresh fruits and vegetables will prove much more beneficial for long term weight loss or weight management.
What Diets Are Most Effective During Menopause?
Although we determined that the low-calorie intake diet is definitely not a good choice, there are still a few different options you can turn to to help you with weight loss via dietary restraint. These types of diets have shown their effectiveness during and after menopause.
The low-carb diet has been proven to be one of the best ways to lose weight. Even though there isn’t much research that has been done with women during menopause, there have been a few studies dedicated to this specific group which show promising results. One specific study showed that postmenopausal women who were observing a low carbohydrate diet were able to lose an average of 22lbs and a seven percent body fat reduction throughout a period of six months. The best part about a low carb diet is that you don’t have to completely cut out all of your carbs. Even removing some carbs from your diet will show weight loss. Another diet which will also reduce the amount of carbohydrate you consume is the Paleo diet. Although the Paleo diet doesn’t exactly focus on reducing carb intake, it does focus on cutting wheat and sugars out of your diet. These food types are very high on carbohydrates and avoiding them can definitely help you lose weight.
Generally, the Mediterranean diet isn’t targeted towards improving the overall health of the person who is willing to follow it. However, some research has shown that weight loss is very possible with the help of this specific diet. Although the researchers who looked at the effects of the Mediterranean diet didn’t study it exclusively in women during menopause or post menopause, they did study it in women and men over the age of 55. Both showed the ability to reduce fat significantly around the abdominal area, which happens to be the area that menopausal and postmenopausal women should target for weight loss.
Lastly, the vegetarian diet also showed very promising results with weight loss. Studies were done with postmenopausal women and showed that significant weight loss is achievable if following a vegan diet. However, even better results were documented in older women who observed a more flexible approach by not eliminating eggs and dairy from their diet.
What Exercises Are Best For Weight Loss During Menopause?
Age is one of the biggest factors when it comes to choosing the right types of exercises to reduce your belly fat post menopause. A good rule is to stay away from anything that heavily impacts your joints and bone structure. These types of exercises are less effective for weight loss and are more likely to cause long-term injury in an older body. This doesn’t mean you should cut out strength exercises completely, you will need to keep your muscle mass up and the best way to do this is through strength exercises. Our suggestion is to combine low impacting strength exercises with something more flexibility promoting.
Resistance training is probably one of the best ways to increase both the flexibility and strength aspects of your body. Using bands or weights for your resistance training will increase lean muscle mass, which is extremely important considering that your hormonal changes will decrease the overall lean muscle mass in your body during menopause. The only modification we think you should add to your resistance exercise is to increase amounts of repetitions rather than the amount of weight or resistance on your bands or weights. This will help you get rid of that stubborn belly fat and has been proven to be far more effective than the standard training routine with heavier weights or higher resistance.
Most aerobic exercises will also be extremely useful when trying to lose belly fat. These exercises promote flexibility, reduce impact on your joints, and decrease muscle loss in your body. Add a few light weights or dumbbells into the mix for strength promotion and you’ve got yourself the perfect fat burning exercise. Just like with resistance training, you should focus on duration and repetition of these exercises rather than the amount of weight you can hold or lift, as this is more beneficial for overall fat loss.
What Other Tips Are There For Weight Loss?
One of the best things you can do for your body is to give it time to rest and rejuvenate. You won’t be able to perform the way you should at the gym or at home when exercising without the proper amount of sleep. You need to focus on resting the right amount. If you are experiencing insomnia or any other sleeping problems, then have a conversation with your doctor and see what can be done to help you sleep at night.
Stress is another vital factor which you have to consider. Like we said earlier, its direct effects are difficult to calculate, but we know for a fact that stress is bad for your health. You have to do everything you can to eliminate it from your life and learn to deal with it when it cannot be eliminated. One of the best ways to stress is through yoga, which can be utilized no matter how old you are. Many people think it requires extreme stamina and concentration, but there are many different types of yoga out there which you can use. Lack of sleep can also add to stress, so make sure you get plenty of rest.
Menopause can be a difficult time for any woman, especially when dealing with weight loss. It can cause stress, reduce levels of energy, and lead to an unhealthy lifestyle. However, all of this can be managed. Being proactive with your health and knowing what needs to be done is the first step to dealing with the effects of menopause. Once you establish what needs to be done, your second step is to start forming these good habits which will help you lose that excess weight and make you healthier in the long run. Determination is the key to success, and we know that you can do it!