Most women who enter menopause become concerned about gaining weight as their body changes. While the goal for our patients is to help them prevent post-menopausal weight gain, women do often gain weight during and after this stage of life. Is it possible to lose the extra weight and stay healthy? There are many things you can do to help your body and metabolism heal and regulate, but you must be patient and set achievable goals to do so, while educating yourself as to the reasons many women gain weight during and after menopause.
What is Menopause?
During a woman’s mid to late 40s, her body transitions away from childbearing functions. This involves perimenopause, which happens just before her final menstrual cycle. Some women stop all at once, and others may experience light spotting after some time without a period. This can go on for 4-10 years. Symptoms vary for women but can include irregular periods, mood swings, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, hot flashes and night sweats. In many cases, during and after menopause, women can experience weight gain.
Menopausal Weight Loss Strategies
Not only is it a health danger to gain excessive weight after menopause, but it’s also easier to gain, and tougher to lose, as the body’s metabolism slows down. It’s important to lose weight sensibly. Make sure to get enough nutrients without depriving your body and to exercise without raising cortisol levels that in turn create leptin resistance. Not having a clear strategy for weight loss can reinforce a worse post-menopausal cycle of not losing fat and even storing more fat. A successful weight loss strategy includes:
- Fruits and vegetables – Include leafy greens, colorful whole plant foods and fruits low on the glycemic index at every meal.
- Lean proteins – Poultry white meats, lean beef cuts and wild-caught fish. Protein in your diet can help protect your muscle mass from being used for energy.
- Reduce or eliminate high carb foods – Get your main carbs from fruits and veggies while cutting down on starchy, low-nutrition options like rice, pasta, breads and potatoes. Cravings for sugars and other sweets will reduce over time if you limit or eliminate them for a time.
- Exercise – If you can, try burst or surge training activities that raise your heart rate for short periods. Weight lifting also helps to build muscle, which, at rest, still burns calories. Have some type of activity each day.
- Portion control – You don’t want to deprive your body of nutritious food, but smaller portions can help while you’re trying to lose. Once you reach your goal weight, you may slowly increase portions and see how your body responds.
- Water is your friend – As your body burns fat, it releases toxins that need to get flushed. Water also facilitates most of your body functions. Try to drink half your weight in ounces each day. It also helps with constipation, which can stall your weight loss.
- Fiber – Try to include 25 grams of fiber each day in your food. This keeps your bowels active and helps eliminate waste from your body without the side effects that some supplements may cause.
Our staff at Marietta OB-GYN cares about every life stage our patients experience. We have compassion for patients who struggle with weight gain and offer practical advice and help to lose weight or address other healthy goals at any life stage. We encourage you to call our office with all your menopausal weight loss concerns.