Cessation of menstruation is called menopause. It is a normal part of life like puberty and usually occurs naturally at an average age 51, but for some women, it can happen as early as 40 or as late as 55 years of age. Despite being a natural process, menopause can some common set of symptoms that includes.
Cessation of monthly period or iregular period
Mood fluctuations and cognitive changes
And weight gain
When Menopause happens ovaries stop producing the main two hormones- oestrogen and progesterone.
Weight gain during menopause is so common and frustrating. According to Academy of Nutrition and dietetics “Menopausal weight gain is not just uncomfortable, but it is also hard for your health and often correlated with the increased risk of heart diseases, high blood pressure and insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes”. But on a brighter side, menopausal weight gain is not inevitable. Healthy eating habits and active lifestyle can reverse the changes. C
Causes of weight gain during Menopause
During menopause women tend to put weight around their abdominal area, instead of hips, thigh and rear, and had a typical “apple shape” figure. There are several factors that contribute to weight gain during menopausal period. According to a scientific studies conduct by National institute of health , the hormonal changes during the premenopausal period contribute to abdominal obesity which may further lead to other physical and psychological changes. There are mainly 3 hormones that influence the fat distribution during the premenopausal and menopausal period.
Oestrogen: even though there is the lack of enough scientific studies but certain animal studies suggested that as during menopausal period ovaries reduces the oestrogen production, the drop in oestrogen level influences the fat distribution and causes lower metabolic rate (a rate at which the body converts stored energy into working energy). And there is increase in body weight.
Progesterone: Since during menopausal period there is the decrease in progesterone level causes more tendencies to water retention and bloating. Though this does not result in weight gain, but women feel themselves heavier, this bloating and water retention disappears within few months.
Testosterone– it is the third hormone that influences body fat distribution during menopause. Testosterone helps your body to create lean muscle mass out of the calories that you take in. as during menopause, a level of testosterone drops results in loss of muscle mass. And unfortunately, it means the slower metabolism. The lower your metabolism is, the slower your body burn calories.
Decrease in muscle mass– decrease in muscle mass is a common occurrence that begins usually after 4os and continues a steady, downhill course into old age. And women who are physically inactive can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass each decade after age 30. And this decrease muscle loss becomes an important contributing factor for weight gain all over your body including belly.
Genetic factors – genetic factors also play a role in menopausal weight gain. Women who have strong family history of obesity have a higher risk of gaining weight during menopause.
Lifestyle habits such as diet and exercise– of course, adopting a healthy life style is the must for maintaining an ideal weight. It also helps in prevention of various metabolic disorders. Unhealthy eating habits, lack of exercise, poor sleep and the higher level of stress are a prominent contributing factor for weight gain during menopause.
5 Effective tips of maintain a good health ( and ideal weight) during menopause
Of course, “eat healthy and regular exercise” is the key to maintaining an ideal and healthy weight. As during menopausal period age, hormonal factors and decreased muscle mass creates more challenges for maintaining an ideal weight, it is mandatory to follow “weight loss basics” more vigilantly. That should include:
Exercise should be a part of your daily routine
Regular exercise has numerous health benefits for everyone. And during menopause regular exercise especially aerobic activities can help you shed those extra pounds and also help in maintaining an ideal body weight. According to National institute of health, people who keep themselves engaged in any kind of aerobic activities has 6 inches lower waistline than those who do not exercise. Apart from that strength training exercise also play a vital role in preventing the loss of muscle mass and osteoporosis. It helps in building muscle mass and improve metabolism. Expert recommended it is good to do strength training exercise twice in a week.
Regular physical activities help not only in maintaining an ideal body weight, but it also improves overall mental and physical health. But ii is always recommended to take a professional medical advice before starting any kind of exercise program. Here is a complete guideline for exercise during menopausal period.
Diet (eat healthy and balanced)
We all know eating a healthy and balanced diet help our body in many ways. It strengths our immune system and plays a great role in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancers. But during menopause managing your calorie intake is also very important. According to Mayo clinic to maintain your current weight, you might need about 200 fewer calories a day during your 50s than you did during your 30s and 40s.
Diet had a vital role not only in controlling the menopausal symptoms but it is equally important in prevention as well. According to British nutrition foundation , women from the eastern and western countries often have a different experience of the menopausal symptoms. And it is thought that differences in eating and dietary habits may account for this.
Along with weight management, a good diet can improve other menopausal symptoms too. And for that purpose, it is very important to get organised for getting the nutritional elements in order. And it is good to follow some simplest rules such as:
- Eat in small portions. Do not skip meals, especially breakfast. Also, avoid the over-sized portions; prefer using a smaller plate, bowl and glass for maintaining the calorie intake.
- Include whole grain, more fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products in your diet. These essential nutrients are must to strength the immune system.
- Avoid excess sugar, processed and refined and fried foods. But always ensure that you are getting enough of the right foods to provide nutrients to keep you healthy during and after a menopausal period.
- Keep a food diary for managing your calorie intake. Try to practice mindful eating. Always try to plan a meal ahead. Use healthy cooking methods and try to give a healthy makeover to a routine dish. Here is a complete list for planning and cooking for a healthy menopause.
Lifestyle interventions are most important and these are the most obvious tool that can prevent weight gain during menopause.
Manage your stress level
Higher level of stress hormones is a major contributing factor for weight gain during menopause. Stress hormones may make weight loss or even maintenance of weight so impossible. It leads to store extra calories in the body and sometimes may cause a metabolic disorder called “adrenal fatigue”. So during menopause, when you are already struggling with maintaining an ideal body weight, it is very important to manage your stress level effectively by using stress relieving techniques. Yoga, meditation, spend some quality time alone, focus on your hobby, better sleep are some easiest way to reliving stress and anxiety.
Regular health check-ups for rule out thyroid and other metabolic disorders
Regular health check-ups are very important for early detection and treatment of various metabolic disorders. These diseases may be hidden factors for weight gain. So be extra careful to rule out them.
Last but not the least always seeks support from friends and family. Pick a partner to exercise or walk with. Surround yourself with loved ones who motivate you and encourage your efforts to eat a healthy diet and regular exercise. Make these changes a part of your everyday life. And in spite of this effort you still feel uncomfortable, do not hesitate to take a professional help.
So these are some coolest strategies that can help you during and after menopause not only in maintaining your body weight but also in losing those extra pounds as well. What are your thoughts please share!