Menopause officially starts when a woman hasn't had a menstrual cycle for 12 months.
Around this time, she may find it very hard to lose weight.
In fact, many women notice that they actually start putting on weight during Pre-menopause, which can begin a decade prior to menopause.
Several factors play a role in weight gain around menopause, including:
Hormone fluctuations: Both elevated and very low levels of estrogen can lead to increased fat storage
Loss of muscle mass: This occurs due to age, hormonal changes and decreased physical activity
Inadequate sleep: Many women have trouble sleeping during menopause, and poor sleep is linked to weight gain
- Increased insulin resistance: Women often become insulin resistant as they age, which can make losing weight more difficult
What's more, fat storage shifts from the hips and thighs to the abdomen during menopause. This increases the risk of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and heart disease
Therefore, strategies that promote the loss of belly fat are particularly important at this stage of a woman's life.
Here are several ways to improve your quality of life and make weight loss easier during menopause.
Get Restful, Quality Sleep
Getting enough high-quality sleep is important for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
People who sleep too little have higher levels of the "hunger hormone" ghrelin, lower levels of the "fullness hormone" leptin and are more likely to be overweight
Unfortunately, many women in menopause have trouble sleeping due to hot flashes, night sweats, stress and other physical effects of estrogen deficiency
Psychotherapy and Acupuncture
Cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of psychotherapy shown to help with insomnia, may benefit women experiencing symptoms of low estrogen. However, no studies have been conducted on menopausal women specifically
Acupuncture may also be helpful. In one study, it reduced hot flashes by an average of 33%. A review of several studies found that acupuncture may increase estrogen levels, which can reduce symptoms and promote better sleep
Find a Way to Relieve Stress
Stress relief is also important during the menopausal transition.
In addition to increasing the risk of heart disease, stress leads to elevated cortisol levels, which are associated with increased abdominal fat
Fortunately, several studies have found that yoga can reduce stress and relieve symptoms in women going through menopause
Here are a few other tips that can help with weight loss during menopause or at any age.
Eat plenty of protein. Protein keeps you full and satisfied, increases metabolic rate and reduces muscle loss during weight loss
Include dairy in your diet. Research suggests that dairy products can help you lose fat while retaining muscle mass
Eat foods high in soluble fiber. Consuming high-fiber foods like flaxseeds, Brussels sprouts, avocados and broccoli can increase insulin sensitivity, reduce appetite and promote weight loss
Drink green tea. The caffeine and EGCG in green tea may help burn fat, particularly when combined with resistance training
Practice mindful eating. Mindful eating may help reduce stress and improve your relationship with food, so you end up eating less