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Weight Gain During Menopause and What You Can Do About It

Updated on May 31, 2020
Ana Yong profile image

As a woman in her mid-50's, I am experiencing weight gain and have done my fair share of research on Menopause.

Contents

1. What is Menopause and When Does It Begin?

2. Why Do I Gain Weight During Menopause?

3. Ways to Manage Weight Gain

4. Last Word

1. What is Menopause and When Does It Begin?

Menopause starts twelve months after a woman's last menstrual period. It can happen from your late 40's to early 50's. The majority of women stop having their periods between the ages of 45 and 55. However, one may start to suffer the signs of Menopause like hot flushes or flashes even before Menopause arrives. This is because as your body is transitioning into Menopause, your hormone production will begin to reduce. You will start having irregular periods but your periods would not stop. This stage is called Perimenopause.

During hot flushes, you will feel a sudden and uncontrollable wave of heat emanating from your body. Immediately, you will feel very warm and begin to sweat. Your face and neck may also turn red. In addition to this, some women suffer palpitations of the heart and in some cases, feel faint. You may be able to decrease the number of incidences of hot flushes by reducing your alcohol and caffeine consumption, avoiding spicy foods, cutting down on your stress levels and keeping away from warm and not so well ventilated areas.

Can't wait to see my grand kids.
Can't wait to see my grand kids. | Source

In an article by Mayo Clinic entitled "Menopause weight gain: Stop the middle age spread" dated 31 July 2019, it was stated that "The hormonal changes of menopause might make you more likely to gain weight around your abdomen than around your hips and thighs. But, hormonal changes alone don't necessarily cause menopause weight gain. Instead, the weight gain is usually related to aging, as well as lifestyle and genetic factors. For example, muscle mass typically diminishes with age, while fat increases. Losing muscle mass slows the rate at which your body uses calories (metabolism). This can make it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight." [i]

In the same article, it was also announced that weight gain may lead to:"

  • Breathing Problems
  • Heart and Blood Vessel Disease
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Various types of cancer, including breast, colon and endometrial cancers."


[i] Menopause weight gain: Stop the middle age spread by Mayo Clinic (31 July 2019)

I love to cook.
I love to cook. | Source

I am not talking about exercise here as that comes under the next point. I'm talking about normal behaviors like gardening where you can increase the level of activity. You may also consider things like:

  • Dancing,
  • Walking the dog,
  • Looking after your grandchildren,
  • Cooking up a feast for your family every weekend,
  • Grocery shopping,
  • Running out to collect the mail,
  • Running errands for friends and family who may be too busy, and
  • House work.

Usually, as we grow older, we may feel less inclined to be active but doing the above tasks regularly, however small, would accumulate into bigger activities that would help us lose weight.

b. Exercise

During Menopause, we not only gain weight but we also lose muscle mass and bone density which make us more susceptible to falls and fractures. Therefore, creating and adhering to a well-balanced exercise routine is vital to us. Such an exercise routine would include weight training and aerobic exercises. This is because weight training helps us to slow down the effects of muscle loss while aerobic exercises work the heart and improves blood circulation.

According to an article entitled "Winning the weight battle after menopause" by Harvard Health Publishing dated August 2019, "Building muscle can increase what's known as your basal metabolic rate, the amount of energy your body needs to keep working when you're not moving. This energy is used for things like maintaining your body temperature, keeping your heart beating, and breathing. So, building muscle can help you burn more calories, which can help with weight control." [ii]

Examples of aerobic exercises include:

  • Running,
  • Walking,
  • Jogging,
  • Hiking,
  • Skiing, and
  • Cycling.


[ii] Winning the weight battle after menopause by Harvard Health Publishing (August 2019)

Fruits and Vegetables.
Fruits and Vegetables. | Source

According to an article called "Best ways to lose weight during menopause by Shannon Johnson, Medically reviewed by Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., CNE, COI for medicalnewstoday.com", [iii] your diet should include:

  • a variety of fruits and vegetables,
  • lean proteins, from beans, fish, or chicken, for example,
  • whole grains in bread and cereals,
  • healthful fats, such as from olive oil or avocados and
  • legumes."


Processed foods and those containing a high level of saturated fats should be avoided. In the same article, such foods are like:"

  • white bread
  • pastries, such as cakes, cookies, and donuts
  • processed meats, such as hot dogs or bologna
  • those with a lot of added oils or sugar."

[iii] Best ways to lose weight during menopause by Shannon Johnson, Medically reviewed by Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., CNE, COI for medicalnewstoday.com (04 June 2019)

=======================

4. Last Word

By following the above pointers, I hope more women will be able to experience a better and less stressful Menopause.

I would like to know..

Which one of the following do you think is the best way to manage weight gain during Menopause?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Ana Yong

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