8 Tips For Losing Weight During Menopause
Menopause and perimenopause are times of transition for women, when hormonal fluctuations result in many changes—some welcome and others not so desirable. Among the latter is weight gain, which drives countless numbers of women to seek ways to lose weight during menopause.
Why do many women gain weight before and during menopause? A combination of factors are the culprits, including:
- Hormone changes. Menopause is marked by a dramatic decline in estrogen levels. Low estrogen is associated with an increased risk of obesity. In fact, menopausal women are three times more likely to become obese and develop metabolic syndrome (which often leads to type 2 diabetes) than premenopausal women. Lower estrogen levels also can reduce metabolic rate, which contributes to weight gain.
- Poor sleep. One of the most common features of menopause is poor or insufficient sleep. Numerous studies have linked insufficient sleep with weight gain.
- Depression. Mood swings and depression are common in perimenopausal and menopausal women. When you’re depressed, you can lose your motivation to exercise, eat right, and take initiative.
- Poor insulin resistance. During perimenopause and menopause, women often experience insulin resistance, which means although the body produces insulin, the cells do not absorb it effectively. The result is a build up of sugar (glucose) in the blood since the insulin is not doing its job. Weight gain and development of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes can result.
- Loss of lean muscle mass. We all tend to lose muscle mass as we age, and with it comes a lower metabolism rate, which then makes it easier to gain weight.
How to lose weight associated with menopause
1. Don’t adopt a very-low-calorie diet. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but if you dramatically reduce calories, you will send starvation signals to your body. It will respond by going into survival mode. That means your metabolic rate will drop even more, making it even harder to lose pounds, plus you will lose more muscle mass.
2. Think Mediterranean. The Mediterranean diet is one of two dietary programs that can help menopausal women not only lose weight, but enjoy an eating plan they can live with for the rest of their lives.
In a new study (April 2016) published in the American Journal of Medicine, researchers reported on a comparison of the Mediterranean diet with a low-fat diet, a low-carb diet, and the American Diabetes Association diet.
They found that those who followed the Mediterranean diet experienced greater weight loss than the low-fat diet at 12 months or longer. The Mediterranean diet produced similar weight loss with the other two diets.
Other advantages of the Mediterranean diet is that it is also associated with improvement in cardiovascular risk factors and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Another plus of the Mediterranean diet: it’s easy to follow because it includes a wide variety of readily available foods, which makes it convenient when eating at home or away.
3. Go veggie. Another option is a vegan diet, which has been shown to promote and support weight loss, as well as be associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and other health issues. In a study of postmenopausal women, 62 overweight volunteers followed either a low-fat vegan diet or the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) diet for 14 weeks.
Researchers checked weight and adherence to the diet at 1 and 2 years. Women in the vegan group lost more weight at both 1 and 2 years than did the women in the NCEP group. In another study that compared the same two types of diets, women who followed the vegan diet lost more weight, even though they had no restrictions on portion size or calories consumed.