It’s no secret that as we age woman or man, our metabolism slows down. This can become a significant problem for women struggling with their weight. What role does menopause have to do with our aging metabolism? Hormones control many of our bodies systems and we know that during perimenopause and menopause our hormones change affecting our metabolism and changing the way our bodies respond. So the question here is can you lose weight during menopause? I’ve researched this and the answer is yes. Check it out.
What is Perimenopause & Menopause?
Perimenopause is defined as the bodies transition into menopause. Surprisingly this transition takes place many years before menopause, the halt of your period. and your production of eggs. The ovaries start to reduce the amount of estrogen they produce and this can happen in your 30s or 40s, sometimes earlier. You may also hear the term premenopause which basically has the same definition.
There are three stages of menopause, perimenopause, menopause, and post menopause. Because the stages are gradual, the changes may not be that noticeable at first. During perimenopause you can still get pregnant. The symptoms of perimenopause become more noticeable the closer to menopause you are and can continue into menopause. Menopause has occurred after your period has stopped for 12 months.
Perimenopause may last anywhere from 2 to 10 years and everyone is different. If you have problems with your thyroid or other glands this may happen earlier. Premature menopause can happen as early as your 40s for some women. The most common first sign of perimenopause is irregular periods due to the decrease in hormone levels. Here’s a list of other common signs:
- Thinning hair / hair loss
- Dry skin / thinning of the skin
- Urgent feeling of having to urinate or leakage
- Night sweats
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Vaginal dryness
- Low sex drive
- Weight gain
Why Menopause Can Cause Weight Gain
So why does menopause cause weight gain? The drop in estrogen during perimenopause and menopause is the main factor in some weight gain especially around the middle. It can be especially difficult to lose the weight and easy to gain. Age can also contribute simply because our metabolism slows down as we age. We may lose muscle mass and our sleep can get thrown off.
Although the drop in estrogen isn’t the direct cause of weight gain, fat is more easily stored during this time especially around the abdomen. If you’re on hormone replacement therapy to quell the symptoms of menopause, that too also can increase body fat. So what can we do? Starting to take care of your body early on is key.
During perimenopause you should cut out sugar and processed foods as well as increase your physical activity so that your metabolism doesn’t slow down too much so get a head start.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, you should look into natural ways to get your sleep back on schedule and reduce stress, such as having a set bedtime as well as turning off all devices earlier and maybe try some meditation or breathing exercises to calm your body and mind from the days stresses.
Can You Lose Weight During Menopause?
Let’s take a look at ways you can stop weight gain or even lose weight during menopause:
- Improve Your Nutrition – Changes to your diet are important for losing weight and health in general. You need to consume fewer calories and eat nutritious healthy foods, low in refined sugars and processed foods. You should aim for healthy fruits and vegetables, lean meats such as fish and chicken as well as healthy fats like olive oil and avocado oil. Try to stay away from fried foods and sweetened beverages such as soda and certain fruit juices.
- Reduce Stress – Stress is known to raise cortisol levels, cortisol is a stress hormone that causes weight gain around the stomach area. To reduce daily stress, end your day with a hot relaxing bath or shower or try listening to some relaxing music or guided meditations. You could also try other alternative therapy such as hypnosis. Exercise is also a great way to reduce stress.
- Get Enough Sleep – Sleep is important to repair our body and stresses from the day. People who don’t get enough sleep have a higher amount of the hormone ghrelin which increases hunger. Women have a harder time sleeping at night due to some symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats due to the effects of lower estrogen. Exercise and eating healthy can help with your sleep issues as well as a supplement such as melatonin. Always speak with your doctor first.
- Green Tea – Green tea has been shown to help with weight loss by burning fat and it also may have caffeine so do not drink before bed time and check the label.
- Get Enough Protein – Protein is important to reduce muscle loss as well as keeping you feeling full longer. This may also increase your metabolism.
- Eat Enough Fiber – Fiber is important in for your digestion and will also help to keep you feeling full. High fiber foods such as avocados, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and flax seed will promote weight loss and keep your digestive track regular.
It is possible to lose weight during menopause it just takes a few changes. If you’re not in menopause yet, you can incorporate these changes into your life and possibly avoid the menopause weight gain. If you’re having trouble make sure to speak with your doctor. Adequate sleep, exercise, and nutrition are key to feeling great as we age. I would love to hear your thoughts so please comment below with any questions.