Menopausal Weight Gain

Effective weight management is more than just eating well and exercising, especially for women in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s which are usually the perimenopause and menopause years. During the perimenopause and menopause years, a woman’s body undergoes many hormonal changes. Certain hormones are responsible for weight gain, particularly around the midsection, where there are more fat cells than in other areas of the body. 

 Adrenaline and cortisol are the hormones released by the adrenals whenever you are stressed. Adrenaline tells your body that there is a threat or imminent danger; when your body perceives imminent danger, it goes on defense to protect itself from the perceived threat. With this defense, blood flow ceases its usual function of supporting the digestive and reproductive systems and is redirected to safeguard the body. Cortisol shuts down many bodily functions to protect your body. Your brain thinks it’s time for an energy boost and stores some for later. Muscles break down to get glucose for energy the brain thinks the body needs, creating less muscle mass to store the excess glucose. 

 Progesterone, a female sex hormone released by the ovary, plays a key role during menstruation. A decrease in progesterone levels causes an increase in body fat and fluid retention. Estrogen is a reproductive hormone responsible for managing blood sugar and metabolism. Therefore, it is critical in weight gain and weight loss resistance. If blood sugar is off balance, your body can become resistant to insulin, your cells cannot absorb the glucose from the food, and your liver converts the glucose into fat. 

The thyroid is responsible for metabolism and regulates several body functions. The thyroid produces two main hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These two hormones affect every cell in your body. Thyroid malfunction can lead to weight gain. 

To lose weight, most people increase their exercise and eat less. However, intense training and restrictive diets could make the problem worse instead of better. Eating less and strenuous exercising signal your body that food is scarce, which leads to stress, increased weight gain, fat deposits, and overeating because your body does not know that food is not lacking. 

Instead, here are a few things you can do: 

Reduce and manage stress levels. Incorporate different modalities such as spending time with friends, meditation, and long walks. Incorporate the proper exercise to boost metabolism, shrink fat cells and build muscles, such as weight training which helps to increase muscle mass and speeds up metabolism. 

Increase consumption of foods that will rev up your metabolism, like healthy fats (e.g., salmon, coconut oil, walnuts). Avoid carb-free diets. Instead, choose slow carbs like most fruits and vegetables.

 Check the health of your thyroid. If your thyroid gland is not working well, you will continue to experience weight gain and difficulty losing weight. Incorporate iodine-rich foods (seaweed, shrimp, tuna, eggs, etc.).

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