Unwanted weight gain can be disappointing at any age. For women, menopause is an inevitable stage in their lives, and menopause may cause undesirable weight gain, especially around the abdomen.
As we age, metabolism slows down and this factor may contribute to the excess weight women gain during menopause. Women may not be able to escape these natural changes that occur in their bodies; however, one of the symptoms – weight gain – can be prevented in several ways.
Ways To Prevent Menopausal Weight Gain
1. Maintain A Healthy Diet
Whether you reach menopause or not, a healthy diet always promotes healthy living. This is applicable even when you get older.
According to a study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education and the Graduate School of Public Health, older women who increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables and decreased their intake of desserts, sweetened beverages, meat, and cheese were able to control their weight over time.1
There was also a study conducted to link self-monitoring (self-weighing and food journal completion) and eating-related behaviors (dietary intake, diet-related weight-control strategies, and meal patterns) with weight loss. The study was conducted on a sample of 123 postmenopausal overweight-to-obese women. These women enrolled in a 12-month weight-loss intervention. It was found that completing food journals was associated with a greater percent weight loss, whereas skipping meals and eating out were associated with a lower amount of weight loss.2
Avoid crash diets. A crash diet involves reducing the amount of food you eat in a short period of time. Due to the changes in your body, this will result in more weight gain when you start eating normally after following the crash diet.3
2. Engage In Physical Activities
Exercising is essential for all of us irrespective of our age. Exercise seems to have a more powerful influence on a woman’s total body fat during early menopause than hormone replacement therapy.
There are three major physical activities that will benefit an aging woman’s body.4
- Aerobic conditioning for heart health and calorie burning (like walking, cycling, swimming, and aerobics)
- Strength training for muscles, bones, and metabolism (like dumbbells, weight machines, and exercise bands)
- Stretching for flexible muscles and fluid movement (like stretching, yoga, and Pilates)
An important note to keep in mind is that a gradual warm up of at least ten minutes is essential before you begin any of the exercises.
There is a study that has established the benefits of strength training for older adults.5 If strength-training exercises are performed regularly, they can build muscle strength and muscle mass and maintain bone density. These exercises also have the ability to minimize the risk of osteoporosis.
3. Get A Good Night’s Sleep
It may be difficult for most women going through menopause to get a good, undisturbed sleep. Symptoms of menopause including hot flashes and excessive sweating may disturb sleep.
There is a relationship between sleep patterns and its effects on fat burning systems that regulate weight. There is evidence that sleep disorders have negative effects on eating habits like emotional eating and binge eating.6
Consider following these habits to improve your sleep at night during menopause.7
- Avoid nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol especially before bedtime.
- Avoid large meals before bedtime.
- Dress in lightweight clothes to improve your sleep efficiency. Also, avoid heavy, insulating blankets and either open windows or turn on the fan or air conditioner for air circulation.
In addition, sage – more familiarly known as a Thanksgiving seasoning – can help in calming sleep disturbances.8
While these practices may help reduce weight gain during menopause, always make sure you consult a doctor before you make any dietary changes or join a fitness program. If you have not been very physically active in the past, it is best to take things slow and follow the instructions of an experienced trainer.
|↑1||Pitt Researchers Identify Behaviors That May Lead to Successful Weight Control in Older Women. University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences.|
|↑2||Kong, Angela, Shirley AA Beresford, Catherine M. Alfano, Karen E. Foster-Schubert, Marian L. Neuhouser, Donna B. Johnson, Catherine Duggan et al. “Self-monitoring and eating-related behaviors are associated with 12-month weight loss in postmenopausal overweight-to-obese women.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 112, no. 9 (2012): 1428-1435.|
|↑3||Menopause and weight gain. BetterHealth Channel.|
|↑4||Exercise Your Way through Menopause. Hospital for Special Surgery.|
|↑5||Seguin, Rebecca, and Miriam E. Nelson. “The benefits of strength training for older adults.” American journal of preventive medicine 25, no. 3 (2003): 141-149.|
|↑6||How Sleep Patterns Affect Eating Habits. Ithaca College.|
|↑7||Menopause And Sleep. National Sleep Foundation.|
|↑8||Pelletier, Maureen Miller, and Deborah S. Romaine. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Menopause. Penguin, 2000.|