Weight Loss Tips

Menopause and Weight Loss: What is Happening to Your Body and How to Cope With It

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Hey ladies! Talking to you now. Menopause is a part of your life that you just can’t avoid, whether you want to or not. During this time your body is changing and often you don’t know what to do to adjust to these changes. You may start to experience hot flashes, your metabolism may slow down, and a decreased amount of estrogen and testosterone changes your body. And these don’t necessarily seem like desirable things right?

However, I don’t think that menopause is something that you need to fear! Your body is amazing, and goes through amazing changes. Sure you probably won’t be able to eat everything you did 20 years ago without gaining a little more weight (no fair!). But if you think of menopause as a natural progression in your life and body you may be able to better accept the changes that are happening. And knowing how to handle these adjustments will also help us when the time comes (which may be now)!

Kim Cattrell, actress and advocate for the Tune In To Menopause campaign said, “What I would say, which I’ve said to myself and to girlfriends who’ve also experienced hot flashes, in particular, is that change is part of being human. We evolve and should not fear that change. You’re not alone. I feel that part of living this long is experiencing this, so I’m trying to turn it into a very positive thing for myself, which it has been, in the sense of acceptance and tolerance and education about this time of life.”

The more you know about menopause, and the more you educate yourself about it, the easier it will be to accept these changes. So ladies, let’s all try to love our bodies and accept this change.

What is Menopause?

Menopause is a normal condition that will happen to all women as they age. Menopause won’t happen all at once, instead, it happens in a few different stages. Perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause.

Perimenopause

This is pre-menopause, or the transition to menopause, and can begin several years before menopause. During this time the ovaries gradually make less estrogen and this stage will last up until menopause.

Menopause

Menopause occurs 12 months after your last menstrual period. During menopause, the function of the ovaries cease and you can no longer become pregnant. It is a natural change that your body will go through generally from 45-55 years old, but can also occur as early as 30 and as late as 60 plus years old. Everyone’s bodies are different and will go through this change at different times, and will experience different symptoms.

Postmenopause

This is the time that follows menopause, and you will actually be in this postmenopausal state for the rest of your life.

What Happens to our Bodies During Menopause?

During menopause, your body will experience a decline in estrogen as your ovaries cease to function. During this time you may experience some or all of these symptoms that are related to this change.

Symptoms of Menopause

  1. Steady Weight Gain
  2. Slower Metabolism
  3. Change in Body Shape
  4. Fat Accumulation Around Abdomen
  5. Increased Body Fat Percentage
  6. Difficulty Maintaining Normal Weight
  7. Hot Flashes
  8. Depression and Mood Swings
  9. Problems Sleeping
  10. Changes in your Skin and Hair
  11. Most of these symptoms happen because of lowered production of estrogen and progesterone.

Let’s talk about these in a little more depth.

Why is Weight Loss is Harder After Menopause?

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Estrogen

Okay, so we know that during menopause there is a decreased production of estrogen by the ovaries. In a series of animal studies conducted at the American Chemical Society, researchers showed how estrogen receptors in the hypothalamus work as a master switch to control food intake, energy expenditure and body fat distribution. When the receptors are destroyed they found that the animals began eating more food and burning less energy.

From this study we can see how these dwindling estrogen levels in our bodies may result in weight gain. The American Chemical Society also found this: “The findings show the animals quickly developed an impaired tolerance to glucose and a sizable weight gain, even when their caloric intake remained the same. What’s more, the excess weight went straight to their middle sections, creating an increase in visceral fat.” Whereas before you might have experienced weight gain around your hips and thighs, you may experience more weight gain in your midsection after menopause.

Testosterone

Testosterone works to build and maintain muscle mass, a healthy libido and strong bones. As you age your testosterone levels decline. This decline in testosterone can result in fatigue, weight gain, and bone and muscle loss. Making it harder for you to keep the weight off after menopause.

We will also talk about a few more factors that are related to this weight gain during menopause:

Progesterone

Progesterone levels also begin to decrease during menopause. And while low levels of progesterone don’t cause you to gain weight, it can result in water retention and bloating.

Insulin Resistance

Insulin is produced in the pancreas and helps to control blood sugar. Glucose is carried by the bloodstream to cells and the insulin will signal to these cells to absorb the glucose to fuel our bodies. Insulin resistance occurs when there are high levels of glucose in the body. Our cells will become desensitized, causing our blood sugar levels to become too high. If these levels of insulin remain high, it will disrupt cellular metabolism and increase inflammation.

During menopause this insulin resistance may happen because of metabolic changes that are happening in your body. Insulin is a predominant hormone so the body may now have a hard time balancing estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone. During this time your body may begin to incorrectly convert calories into fat which will lead to weight gain.

Stress

Menopause can be stressful. There are many hormonal changes happening in your body during this time that makes stress hard to avoid. Your body will produce cortisol in response to stress and the hormone estrogen will help to maintain the level of cortisol in your body. During menopause, estrogen levels start to drop. Which makes it harder to regulate cortisol levels in your body, making it harder to cope with stress.

And you know that when you are stressed you may start mindless snacking, as cortisol is an appetite-stimulating stress hormone.

Age-Related Factors

As you get older you begin to lose muscle mass. A reduced amount of muscle mass lowers your resting metabolism, which can make it easier for you to gain weight.

Nanette Santoro, MD, professor of ob-gyn at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York says, “The metabolic rate slows with age. This means that a woman eating the exact same number of calories a day will maintain her weight at age 20 but will gain weight at age 50. Add menopause to this, and for some women, it’s the perfect storm.”

How Can We Make It Easier?

This might make us feel a little discouraged, and that we are doomed to gain weight. Change can be hard to deal with! But if you know what changes you need to make and what to do to help prevent this weight gain you can be in control of your life and not have to fear this time.

Here are some tips to weight loss after menopause:

Exercise

exercise

Getting up and being more active now is important due to a slowed metabolism. Also because you lose muscle mass as you age, it is imperative that you exercise so that you can try to replace that lost muscle. You should aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week or 75 minutes of high intensity aerobic activity and you should do some sort of strength training at least two days a week. And be sure to always warm-up before your exercise as it will help to prevent injury and post-workout pain.

Best Aerobic Exercises

  • HIIT- or high intensity interval training is a great way to boost your metabolism and burn fat in a short amount of time.
  • Hiking/Jogging/Walking- Not only is walking/jogging important to get your body moving, hiking will put you out in nature so that you can get some fresh air.
  • Spin Classes- You will REALLY work up a sweat spinning. Spinning or indoor cycling is an intense workout guided by an instructor that can burn up to 900 calories. Crazy right?
  • Swimming- Is highly recommended to help combat hot flashes. Because swimming will work your whole body, and will help cool your whole body down which will help you cope with these hot flashes.
  • Zumba- Zumba gets you moving and is a lot of fun for everyone. The instructors are full of energy and the environment is ELECTRIC.

Best Strength Training Exercises

  • Lifting Weights- This is a great way to improve muscle strength.
  • Yoga- This helps to improve flexibility and increases strength while focusing on breathing will quiet your mind and reduce stress.
  • Pilates- This is great for menopausal women. It incorporates strength training, interval training and stretching. Which is beneficial to help strengthen bones and muscles, improve balance and can also help to deal with lapses in heat control.

Healthy Diet

Delicious Veggie Swaps

“In general, you need 200 less calories a day to maintain your weight during your 50s,” says Sheth, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson. This means that you should be eating less, but more than just that, you should be eating healthier.

What we can do:

  • Try Counting Macros Use tools such as MyFitnessPal which will assess what your needs are and then you can plug in the foods that you are eating to see what your macro count will look like. Actually tracking what you are eating is a good way to have a well-balanced meal plan.
  • Fiber- Getting enough fiber in your diet is a great way to help women manage their weight and prevent chronic illness.
  • Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables- Eating plenty of these can help to reduce the risk of many diseases, and fruits and veggies are rich in vitamins and minerals.
  • Drink Plenty of Water- Vaginal dryness and dry skin is an effect of menopause. So drinking enough water is important for your skin’s moisture. Try drinking 1/2 gallon to a gallon of water a day.
  • Get Enough Calcium- The loss of estrogen during menopause can speed up bone loss, so consuming enough calcium will help to slow down this process.
  • All Things in Moderation- Try cutting back on high-fat foods, cutting back on processed foods, and use salt and sugar in moderation.

 Let’s Wrap It All Up

In an op-ed for the New York Times Angelina Jolie talked about her experience with menopause, “I am now in menopause. I will not be able to have any more children, and I expect some physical changes. But I feel at ease with whatever will come, not because I am strong but because this is a part of life. It is nothing to be feared.”

This is a part of life that all women can expect to go through at some point in their lives. SO instead of being fearful about this change, you can learn to accept it, and in living a healthy lifestyle you will find that it isn’t impossible to keep control of your body and life.

You know that your body is going to change during this process, so you must learn to change with your body. You will need to make some adjustments in your life so that you can see the results that you want.

Whether you are going through menopause or not, you can always strive to live a healthier lifestyle. Exercising is one thing but eating healthy is a whole different beast. That’s why we came out with our meal replacement shake, IdealShake.

Replacing a meal with an IdealShake is a great way to get a delicious low-calorie meal replacement, that is tested to keep you full for up to three hours and can help to accelerate fat loss.

IdealShake nourishes your body with all-whey protein and 22 vitamins and minerals. Making it easier than ever to curb calories and burn fat without feeling deprived!

IdealShake comes in many flavors, and tastes so good you will feel like you are cheating. But don’t worry… You aren’t!



Caitlin Peterson

Caitlin Peterson

Writer and expert


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