Women often complain that losing weight after menopause is harder than ever. If you've found yourself the victim of "middle-age spread" and look in the mirror at that "matronly figure" and want to do something about it, take hope. It isn't impossible to lose weight after menopause.
Weight Gain and Menopause
When women reach that time in life known as menopause, it's not unusual to gain weight. In fact, weight gain usually starts in the span leading up to menopause known as perimenopause. Weight gain during this time averages about one pound a year. Not only does weight come on more easily during this time in life, but it doesn't come off like it once did, either. Weight related to menopause tends to collect around the middle, too, and can make you feel frumpy.
Why Woman Gain During Perimenopause
Hormones are one culprit that encourages weight gain during perimenopause, and another is a change in body composition. Aging encourages the loss of muscle which is then replaced with fat. As our bodies make this transition, our need for calories lessens. The problem is that most women don't tend to cut the number of calories eaten even though their bodies burn fewer calories. The result is weight gain.
Another factor women don't have control over is genetics. Take a look at your close relatives. Do they tend to gain weight around the middle? If that's the case, chances are good that you have a genetic pre-disposition to also gain weight around the middle.
Losing Weight After Menopause
If you're at this time in life and want to lose weight, it is not hopeless. You can make lifestyle changes that will help you shed unwanted weight.
Exercise is an important factor for good health no matter where you are in the journey of life, but in today's society, menopausal women seem to exercise less than other women. Along with weight loss, statistics show that menopausal women reap a number of other benefits, if they incorporate regular exercise into their lives. It may actually help relieve or prevent bothersome menopausal symptoms including:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Thinning of vagina
According to the American Journal of Public Health, regular exercise (four times a week) has also been shown to cut the likelihood of the development of diabetes by about half.
As stated earlier, along with changing body composition, caloric needs of the menopausal woman decreases. If you want to drop excess weight after menopause, you'll have to reduce calories. This can be accomplished in a number of ways from counting calories, to cutting out snacks or decreasing portion sizes. However, learning to make wise dietary choices helps. This means incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet along with healthy fats, lean protein and whole grains.
It's easy to get fed up with extra weight when the scale won't budge. As a result, you may be tempted to cut back too much on calorie intake. Don't do this, because too few calories over a period of time lowers metabolism, which in turn contributes to weight gain and makes it harder to lose weight.
Menopausal Weight Gain Risks
It also may be tempting to accept weight gain as part of growing older. It is easier to ignore being overweight and to go on with life than take steps to lose the weight. However, it's important to note that the extra weight may lead to health issues as well. These include:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Insulin resistance
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
How Much Should You Eat?
Like any other time in life, there is no magic bullet for losing weight after menopause. Instead, it takes practical steps. Accept the fact that metabolism slows as you grow older and adjust your diet to take in less calories. On average, most women in their 40s need about 200 less calories a day to maintain their weight. To lose weight, you'll want to cut back more. Check with your primary health care provider for dietary guidelines to help you achieve your ideal weight.