Losing Weight after Menopause?
Losing weight after menopause can be distressing, frustrating, and exhausting. Rest assured it’s not all in your head. Facts are facts, and there are plenty of these behind why losing weight is so hard after menopause. And many women ask, “Can I lose weight after menopause?“
Perimenopause, the transition period that leads up to menopause, causes significant weight gain in many women. Predominant symptoms of perimenopause and menopause can be similar. They include hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, change to libido, and of course, weight gain!
Much of the new weight will be around your middle, shortly we’ll delve into why that is. In the meanwhile, it’s important to be encouraged, menopause is a significant process for your body to go through, and as is the case for any major physiological condition, you now have a ‘NEW’ normal.
Effective weight loss after menopause is definitely doable with a few new techniques and understanding.
Let’s look at why you’re gaining weight. Here are some crucial factors to consider:
- Insulin, estrogen & other hormonal changes
- Lower muscle mass
- Depleted energy through altered metabolism
- Hormonal changes, including hot flashes
- Sleep deprivation
- Changes to taste and interests
It’s a daunting list, but don’t feel distressed! Once you get your head around what’s happening, there are many easy approaches to losing weight after menopause, as we said a NEW normal.
Let’s start by giving you a bit more information on the key hormones, then let’s get you motivated by giving you some ideas that will help you create a whizbang weight loss approach.
Insulin is a hormone responsible for fat storing and muscle building. While you were producing estrogen, it was the buffer system against insulin, meaning that you had lower levels of insulin. With the fluctuation and drop of estrogen comes an increase in insulin and with it the retention of fat in the body. After menopause, fat retention will occur particularly around the waist area, as opposed to in the lower body like it used to.
Avoid too much fruit and be sure to add vegetables to your diet. This will help.
For low fat low calorie meal ideas, check this post.
Estrogen is the primary female hormone. During perimenopause, estrogen fluctuates vastly and certainly, once menopause is reached, estrogen levels drop. It’s the estrogen changes that drive most menopausal symptoms.
While it isn’t possible to gain estrogen directly through diet, there are two primary sources of phytoestrogen that will help estrogen bind and mimic its behavior in your body. These are soy and flaxseed. Adding these to your dietary intake is a great place to start.
Progesterone, Cortisol and Testosterone
These are the key culprits in the menopausal world. While we used to believe menopause was related mostly to changes in estrogen, recent studies have allowed us to understand the crucial impact that these other hormones are causing. There is no set ratio, or type of woman, to help us predetermine how our hormones will be affected but we can test for levels of these hormones once we are postmenopausal and determine where we fit on a map of varied combinations.
For example, while one woman will be high in testosterone, yet low in estrogen, she may have normal levels of progesterone.
Another woman will be low in both estrogen and testosterone, but normal in progesterone.
There are some twelve known combinations in the estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone model.
The menopausal effects on a woman will vary depending on where her combination sits, but all of the combinations result in weight gain!
Losing weight after menopause means understanding your levels. See a GP or specialist in menopause for this.
What can I do?
Exercise. Mix it up. Make some changes.
A key to losing weight after menopause is to change the way that you exercise. If your routine is too vigorous or excessive, you may be encouraging the testosterone levels to increase, or creating more of a challenge for the insulin imbalance.
It’s suggested that you exercise for approximately 30 minutes a day, which will also avoid depression due to the healthy production of natural endorphins.
Try to move towards calming and low impact exercise choices. Tai Chi, Yoga and swimming can be fantastic.
A major component of success in weight loss after menopause is finding a hormonal balance. These calming exercises will be very effective for this.
Check this post on How to Get Rid of Belly Fat after Menopause.
Work on Your Sleep
Common sleep issues relating to menopause are insomnia, difficultly getting to sleep, waking up through the night and unable to get back to sleep, and low quality of sleep.
Disturbance to sleep patterns can be one of the biggest problems in losing weight after menopause, simply because you are too tired during the day to want to exercise, or becoming deflated and irritable from lack of sleep which may stop you going to the gym or out on your normal circuit.
What can you do?
Be kind to yourself, if you find that you’re waking up too early, or struggling to get to sleep, try to relax and be comfortable laying still. Avoid getting out of bed unless you’ve to, as sometimes the second round of sleep that comes to you can be more restful and effective.
Remember that sleep comes in a circadian rhythm. Although you may swear, you’re not tired if you lay a while longer that pattern of drifting off will be back.
Use deep breathing to get to sleep with, it’s a powerful mechanism for the body and if you add self-speak, such as “I fell so calm, I feel relaxed.”
Your mind and body will quickly learn to respond with deeper sleep. It can also be helpful to grip and release the muscle groups, starting with the face, adding the neck, the shoulders – all the way down to the toes.
Grip should be for 5 second counts and release for the same. Each time that you add a muscle group include the previous ones, your last grip ought to be the full body, that is if you’re not already asleep!
Increase Your Strength
By increasing your muscles, you’ll directly increase your body’s ability to burn up calories. Just one pound of muscles chews up 13 calories a day.
If you can work with a personal trainer, or at home with strength building exercises, aim to develop ten pounds of muscle. Your new muscles will burn up around 130 calories a day, that’s 910 calories a week!
Thinking about meal plans? Then check this post Healthy Low Calorie Meals for Weight Loss on a Budget
This option is not for everyone but can be super for others. It’s important to speak to your preferred health provider on this topic.
HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) is the adjustment to your hormone imbalance using medication. Some women swear by it; if that isn’t you, then try one of the herbal remedies.
Black Cohosh, Dandelion, and Licorice are all on the list of helpful hormonal herbs but there are many herbal alternatives available with a little research.
Finally, but maybe most importantly, connect with others on your weight loss journey.
Losing weight after menopause is a common obstacle. Traditionally, many women have been closed or shy on this topic, but we are learning more all the time about how and why. By connecting with others, you’re encouraging other women in their battle as well as feeling better yourself.
Try social media or other online chat groups, they can be a wonderful source of information.