Menopause is a time of change in a woman’s life. Much as the start of menstruation is accompanied by great fluctuations in hormones that can cause different symptoms, so, too, is the end of menstruation.
During menopause, many women experience weight gain and have trouble shedding pounds. Researchers are not quite sure why women gain weight during menopause. However, the health and wellness site Healthline advises that both elevated and low levels of estrogen can lead to increased fat storage. This is compounded by a loss of muscle mass that occurs due to age, hormonal changes and decreased physical activity.
According to Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of the North American Menopause Society, most women will gain about five pounds during the menopause transition. Women who do not gain weight may notice that fat is being repositioned around their midsections. Other factors also may contribute to this weight gain.
Losing weight during the menopause transition can be challenging, but it is not impossible.
Cut down on calories. Post-menopausal women can cut back on calories because they likely do not need as much as they did when they were younger. Eating may be out of habit, not necessity.
Increase exercise. While mature women may not have the endurance of younger women, they can make up for it by scheduling shorter, more frequent exercise sessions. The general recommendation is 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days per week. But this can be split up into different sessions per day. Incorporate resistance training to help combat muscle mass lost from aging. The more muscle one has, the more calories burned, even at rest.
Cut out sweetened beverages and desserts. Cutting back on sugary items can trigger weight loss. Researcher Bethany Barone Gibbs, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh, noted that participants in a school-sponsored weight-loss study who were able to decrease their consumption of desserts and sugar-sweetened beverages tended to have more success losing weight and keeping it off than those who did not.
Talk about medications. Speak with a doctor about medications, some of which can contribute to weight gain. Many women are prescribed antidepressants in midlife to combat, among other things, symptoms of menopause. Side effects of such medications can include weight gain.
Women gaining weight during menopause can discuss their concerns with their doctors, trainers and dieticians and work toward healthy goals for postmenopausal weight loss.