Weight Gain During Menopause

One particularly distressing symptom of menopause is the unexplained weight gain. For some women this is just a natural part of the "change" but for others weight gain is worse than any hot flashes or mood swings. You don’t have to live with looking like a portly grandmother. There is life after forty and losing the extra weight after menopause is no harder than losing it at any age. All you need is to restore the balance and figure out what is going on in your body.

Causes of weight gain

The added weight is caused by the declining hormone levels that slows a woman’s metabolism down. Although the fluctuating hormone levels aren’t the only culprits to the weight gain. Aging and lifestyle factors play a big role in your changing body shape.

Menopausal women tend to exercise a lot less than other women. You also burn fewer calories as you age because your energy needs decreases as you age. Another factor that may influence your weight gain is simple genetics. If you have fat relatives, you may be predisposed to be fat too. There’s nothing you can do about it.

What you can do to prevent weight gain

Losing the added weight is more than a matter of vanity. Research has show that women who have gained more than 20 pounds are at risk for breast cancer. You are also eligible for heart disease, diabetes and high-blood pressure. There is no need to run for the hills yet. You can lose the extra weight but you need patience and the willpower to do so.

There is no easy solution to weight loss but there is a magic formula that remains the same at whatever age you are: diet and physical exercise. Here are the most effective methods of losing weight after menopause:

  • Increase your physical activity. Just be active. Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week. Try weight-bearing exercises, like walking, running, or dancing. If you are bored with a strict exercise regimen, then just spend more time doing the things you love to do. Do more biking or gardening. Clean the house more instead of just once every spring. Increased physical activity is the single most important thing to help you lose those added pounds.
  • Eat healthy foods. Eat a variety of fruits and dark green veggies, such as broccoli, kale, and other dark leafy greens; get calcium-rich foods; eat whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice, or pasta; choose lean meats and poultry; and limit saturated fats and salt.
  • Watch your calories. If you haven’t been watching your calories before menopause, now is a good time as any to start. Because your metabolism is slower, you need fewer calories every day. Specifically you need 200 fewer calories a day to maintain your weight. Eat only when you are hungry.
  • Eat a bowl of soup before every meal. Hot soups will make you feel more sated and you’ll eat less.
  • Get over the blues. Depression is another symptom of menopause. It is usually associated with specific cravings for certain foods. You can get over the blues by not indulging in the cravings for starchy foods. Instead satisfy your cravings by eating mineral-rich foods. The depression will dissipate.