We all know that weight gain is inevitable as we age. The combination of shifting hormones and slowing metabolism makes it difficult to maintain the same weight we had in our twenties, even when eating what used to be a healthy diet and exercising regularly. However, many women experience more than just normal changes in their weight during midlife; they also find themselves struggling to lose a menopausal "spare tire," even if they continue to eat carefully and exercise regularly. What's going on?
In menopause, estrogen and progesterone levels start to drop. This change may be sudden in some women, while the decrease is gradual for others. In both cases, hormone fluctuations can cause menopausal weight gain in a number of ways. Your energy levels drop causing you to burn less calories than you used to during a normal day. You may even skip workouts all together. You also may experience disrupted sleep cycles. Poor sleep an often lead to increased cravings. So now not only are you moving less you are eating more.
To make matters worse, that weight that you gain may be going to different places than you are used to. Researchers from the University of Alabama in Birmingham recently published a study showing that menopausal women tend to gain weight more in their bellies than they do in other parts of their body. This is mostly caused by a change in hormones that causes menopausal belly fat cells to behave differently. Just as with younger people, menopausal women who lack physical activity and get less than 30 minutes of daily exercise are more likely to gain weight all over their body.
However, menopausal women who get regular exercise and work out for 30 minutes or more at least five days per week may be able to prevent the increased belly fat that leads to menopausal weight gain. If your menopausal weight gain is due mostly to menopause-related hormone changes, maintaining a healthy exercise regimen can help you maintain your weight. Obviously, the more menopausal weight gain that is due to hormonal fluctuations , the more important regular exercise becomes.
Sometimes menopausal weight gain isn't caused by menopause alone. If your weight gain is accompanied by menopause symptoms like hot flashes or night sweats, it's possible that menopause is the root of menopausal weight gain. If you still have menopause symptoms even though your periods haven't stopped for a long time, you may be perimenopausal. During this early menopause transition stage, hormone levels can fluctuate erratically and cause changes in how the body stores fat. As menopause progresses , the changes in hormone levels become more constant, and menopausal weight gain may be driven less by menopause itself than it is by simple age-related weight gain.
If menopausal weight gain has you discouraged, here are a few things you can do to help yourself stay healthy at any size:
● Eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise. Maintaining a healthy weight is the best way to fight menopausal menopause-related menopausal weight gain.
● Challenge yourself physically by trying new types of workouts and sports, like biking or boot camp classes. You'll not only get in better shape, you'll also improve your menopausal fitness level, which will help you maintain your weight.
● Get regular menopause treatments that can help with menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats, including hormone therapy (HT) or low-dose menopausal estrogen therapy (ET). These menopause treatments may also help reduce the likelihood of menopausal weight gain. However, menopausal weight gain is a common side effect of menopausal treatments, including HT and menopause medications.
● Talk to your menopause doctor about menopausal weight gain and ask for guidance
It's important to remember that menopause is a part of life for many women, but menopausal menopause-related weight gain doesn't have to be. By eating a healthy diet and getting regular physical activity, menopausal women can fight menopausal menopause-related menopausal weight gain with great results.
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