Menopause and Weight Gain

Often in society, as menopausal women, you are told that the weight gain that occurs is something you will need to learn to live with.

I Totally Disagree!

I struggled with weight gain after my 35th birthday, every year a couple of kilos (or 4 – 7 pounds) will silently creep onto my small frame.  This weight gain usually came after a holiday, or after the holiday season, or both!!  

By the time I was in my mid-40s I was being told that it was normal to gain weight, that it was due to the hormonal change, that it would be more difficult to shift than ever before.  Does that sound familiar to you?

Now in my late 40s, I have lost this weight easily and it has been maintained for nearly a year.  This is a successful outcome and makes me believe that:

weight gain in your 40s is not to be accepted!!

On the side of science, there is some evidence to support the idea that weight gain occurs after 40.  About 68% of women aged 40 – 59 are overweight or obese (1). Some researches do suggest that hormones are to blame for this rise in obesity.

Another study (2) looked at hormonal changes in menopausal women, and found that hormonal changes in women alter the way the body distributes fat in the body, making it more likely to accumulate in the abdomen as visceral fat (the fat that sits around your vital organs).

What is concerning about this idea is that a recent study (3) has now suggested that visceral fat is linked to bone and muscle loss.  Another cause for concern is that often women with a healthy weight have hidden visceral fat stores that they are unaware of.

The question that is now coming to your mind is:

What Do I Do To Battle The Middle-Aged Spread?

Obviously the most important thing to do is to begin to lose weight and in the process lose the visceral fat and build muscle!

Here are 3 simple steps to combat this outcome:

Step 1: Age strong, exercise intensely

Resistance training at a high intensity helps to stimulate muscle growth, which in turn increases the metabolism and burns fat.

People who are physically inactive can lose as much as 3 – 5% of their muscle mass each decade after the age of 30

Physcially active women entering menopause are leaner than sedentary women and have a decreased risk of developing metabolic disease. (4)

Post-menopausal women who exercise daily maintain their weight.

Sedentary post-menopausal women have been found to have increased body fat, especially around the middle. (5)

Loss of muscle is a common result of the aging process with women losing about 1% of their lean body mass per year after age 40 if they aren’t physically active.

Step 2: Age lean, eat protein-rich diet

Eating a well-balanced diet with the right amounts of high-quality protein (such as whey protein in Isagenix Isalean) can stimulate muscle growth and boost the metabolism.

A diet lacking in essential nutrients and high in refined carbohydrates and empty calories (that glass of wine in the evening to unwind) will accelerate the aging process including age-related weight gain.

Step 3: Age energetic, sleep well

Up o 61% of post-menopausal women may have issues with falling asleep or getting enough quality sleep most nights. Obviously this can be aligned to menopausal symptoms, including hot flushes.  Loss of sleep has been associated with increased levels of hunger and decreased levels of satiety, leading to overeating and consequently, weight gain.

To improve your sleep quality, avoid caffeinatted drinks before bedtime, follow a regular sleep routine, exercise during the day and turn off all electrical equipment 1/2 an hour before you retire.

Bonus Step 4: Contact me now to take your health into your own hands and make 40 and above feel like 30 all over again!!

Just Shift It!

Weight Loss, Menopause

References:

1. Odgen, CL, Carroll MD, Curtin LR, et al. Prevalence of overwieght and obesity in the United States, 1999-2004. JAMA 2006:295(13): 1549-1555

2. Davis, SR, Castelo-Branco C, Chedraui, et al. Understanding weight gain and menopause. Climadteric 2012;15(5):419-29

3. Zhang P, Peterson M, Su GL, Wang, SC. Visceral adiposity is negatively associated with bone denisty and muscle attenuation. Am J Clin Nutr doi:10.3945/ajcn.113.081778

4. Sternfeld B, Dugan S. Physcial activity and health during the menopausal transition. Obset Gynecol Clin North Am. 2011:38(3):537-566

5. Sternfeld, B, Wang H, Quesenberry CP Jr, et al. Physical activity and changes in weight and waist circumference in midlife women: findings from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. Am J Epidemiol. 2004:160(9):912-922

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