This happens especially with menopausal women. It is highly common for middle-aged women to gain weight as their body transitions from a reproductive stage to a perimenopause and menopause stage. Weight gain can lead to several health hazards like high blood pressure, stress, diabetes, heart disease, etc. Some easy tips can be followed to keep the weight in check and not let it increase abnormally.
Why do menopausal women gain weight?
The combination of menopausal changes and aging factor play a combined role in weight gain during this period of a woman’s life. This weight gain mostly happens in the areas around the abdomen, thighs, and hips. This is owing to hormonal changes that a body goes through during the menopausal period. Due to the low estrogen levels, the metabolic rate falls, leading to weight gain.
Also, with advancing age, the muscle mass in the body tends to fall while the fat ratio increases. If an individual continues to eat the same diet as earlier without increasing physical activity, the body tends to put on weight. This happens because the body is no longer as equipped to burn down fat naturally. Lack of adequate sleep, exercise, and an unhealthy diet can all combine to play a vital role in weight gain or preventing it depending on what you choose to adopt.
How can you prevent weight gain during menopause?
- Exercise is the key – The more active your body is, the less weight it is likely to gain. Aerobic exercises for a minimum of ten minutes every day have known to be an efficient way of keeping the weight in check. With exercise, you tend to gain muscles that lead the body to burn fat hence ensuring you do not gain any fat deposits in the body that lead to weight gain. In addition to aerobic exercises, a workout that helps in increasing your strength should also be practiced at least three times a week.
- Strength training or a weight-resistance exercise program, helps build muscle mass and improve metabolism. Strength training also helps you maintain bone mass. Because you lose muscle mass as you age, add strength training to your workouts, if you haven’t before. Aim for two or three times a week. Examples of strength training include weight machines, dumbbells, exercise bands, yoga, and gardening.
- Low-impact aerobics are good for your heart and lungs. Walking, for example, is one of the best choices, because you can do it anywhere, anytime. Other examples of aerobic exercises include swimming, cycling, aerobics, tennis, and dance. Exercise moderately for at least 30 minutes most, if not all, days of the week.
- Diet plays an important role – At this age, your body needs fewer calories than it needed when you were younger. That does not mean compromising on nutrition but taking more care of what you consume. This will ensure that the body is not deprived of any essential nutrients but is also not provided with things that it may find difficult to breakdown. Few important tips for god nutrition are –
- Choose whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein.
- Stay away from processed foods.
- Keep a food diary, or explore programs for your computer or apps on your cell phone, to help you watch how many calories you consume.
- Don’t eat too late in the evening.
- When you eat out, take half the serving home.
- Eat smaller amounts but more often.
- Reduce your alcohol intake – It may seem like an unnecessary precautionary measure, but alcohol does more harm than good, more so, at this age. It not only adds a lot of calories to your diet but also increases fat in the body, especially in the stomach and abdominal area.
- Socialize with people who eat well and indulge in physical activity – At this age, social life may seem redundant, but it can help you in more ways than one. Surrounding yourself with people who take care of their diet and indulge in physical activities helps you to stay motivated and follow suit.
- Some evidence suggests that estrogen replacement therapy increases body metabolic rate and helps in reducing weight gain.
The only thing to remember is that keeping your weight in check at this stage of life involves making permanent dietary and lifestyle changes. It may be difficult to avoid weight gain, but it is not impossible. By following the easy tips mentioned above, you will have one less concern to worry about during menopause.
Special Thanks to Dr. Uma Singh (MBBS, MS) for the expert advice.