While weight gain is not inevitable during menopause, hormonal fluctuations, coupled with aging and lifestyle factors, can contribute to shifts in your body composition and weight gain.
Menopause typically occurs in a woman’s late 40’s to early 50’s. During this phase, weight gain can be a common concern. In fact, a majority of women start to see changes in their weight and body composition occurring in their 40s, when perimenopause starts.
Reasons for Weight Gain During Menopause
The primary reason for weight gain during menopause is hormonal changes. As early as in your 40s, estrogen levels in your body start to decline. The reduction in estrogen can lead to weight gain, especially around the abdomen.
At the same time, as you age, your metabolism starts to slow down. This means your body burns fewer calories at rest. This decrease in your metabolic rate can contribute to weight gain if your calorie intake is not adjusted accordingly.
Also, with age and menopause, there is a loss of muscle mass, and unfortunately, an increase in fat mass. This reduction in muscle mass contributes to a decline in your metabolic rate as well.
Lifestyle factors also play a role. As you age, you may not exercise as much, especially when it comes to incorporating strength training. If your physical activity decreases and your calorie intake remains the same, weight gain occurs. You may also experience mood changes and a lack of sleep which accompany menopause. These can result in weight gain as well.
Finally, while you cannot control the genes that you are born with, genetics does play a role in how your body stores and processes fat. If your family members have experienced weight gain during menopause, you might be more predisposed to it as well.
Effective Weight Management Strategies During Menopause
While weight gain is not inevitable during menopause, there are some specific strategies to effectively manage your weight.
- Embrace Dietary Changes: Your caloric intake may have to be decreased, as well as your total carbohydrate intake. And – very importantly – your protein intake often needs to go up. It is important to create a balanced diet that minimizes highly processed foods, sugary snacks, and excessive alcohol consumption.
- Stay Active: Especially during and after menopause, regular exercise becomes ever so important. You will definitely need to add in strength training to help rebuild your muscle mass. In fact, it you have to choose between cardio and strength training during menopause, pick strength training.
- Prioritize Sleep: Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. While this can be diﬃcult when you are going through menopause there are some things you can do to improve the quality of your sleep. Create a relaxing bedtime routine, minimize screen time for at least an hour prior to bedtime, and ensure your sleep environment is comfortable and conducive to rest. It is important to view sleep as a necessity, not a luxury.
If you are experiencing signiﬁcant weight gain or ﬁnding it diﬃcult to manage your weight, it’s important to see your medical provider. Remember, every woman’s body is different. It’s important to ﬁnd what treatment plan works for you. If you would like to explore your options for weight loss during menopause, Dr. Trupti Patel and her experienced team at Physicians Premiere Weight & Wellness Center can help. Please contact us for more information or to get started at healthymeweightloss.com/contact-us