How do you lose the weight you gain in menopause?
This is the most commonly asked question I hear. You still eat healthily, in fact, you’re drowning under a mountain of kale and coconut water and religiously endure tucking yourself into exercise tights to endure the gym full of buff bods but you aren’t losing that extra weight that appeared out of nowhere? Read on my kale chomping friend.
How your body sheds, stores or makes fat comes mostly down to your metabolic rate which is affected by things such as your activity level, history of dieting, body composition, and what you eat.
You commonly experience lower energy levels, more digestive discomfort, weight gain, as well as aches and pains. Hormones begin to get out of balance as levels begin to drop.
helping to control nearly every physiological process in the body. Some of the important functions they contribute to in our body are energy, digestion, hunger, sleep and metabolism. If these delicate workhorses are out of balance our health can suffer.
Continual stress, poor sleep, no exercise, and an unhealthy diet can all contribute to hormonal imbalance.
Of all the lifestyle factors we need to consider when it comes to hormones I think our sugar intake is one of the most important considerations.
We know that if we eat too much sugar in the form of cakes, soda and sweets we are going to put on weight. But we also need to include here empty refined carbs such as white bread, white rice, pasta and potatoes. One of the major issues that can arise from a sugar ladened diet is insulin resistance.
means you have excess insulin in your body and your cells no longer react properly to its instructions. Insulin’s job is to give the cells glucose for energy.
When insulin is out of balance, other hormones go out of kilter too.
because our bodies can no longer deal with high amounts of carbohydrates we eat. Too much sugar builds up in our blood, and the result is hormone havoc: hot flashes, fatigue, difficulty concentrating weight gain, and other perimenopausal symptoms. Read more about hormonal balance here.
When insulin is not working properly, our body produces more and more to process the same amount of glucose to provide fuel for our muscles and brain. The difficult thing about this is that the more insulin you have circulating in the body, the harder it becomes to burn body fat.
So you could be eating a healthy diet and exercising yet unable to lose any weight. See this post for more on this.
other hormones go out of kilter too so insulin resistance will show up as fatigue, hot flushes and sugar cravings but perhaps the most obvious sign is where the fat is. Usually, insulin likes to deposit fat around our belly.
to cut out as much refined carbs from our diet as possible. These include:
Replace them with a small number of carbs that are high in fibre and nutrients such as:
A moderate amount of protein such as:
As well as lots of:
Protein will help you to feel full but in large amounts can also be stored as fat so no going overboard. I consider my meals to be vegetarian with a small side of protein which may or may not be meat.
And don’t forget healthy oils like olive, coconut and avocado.
is the master controller of your metabolism and can be a contribute greatly to not losing the weight you gain in menopause. There are several things that can affect it and throw it off course.
When your thyroid gets off course and produces fewer hormones your metabolism slows down. And when your metabolism slows down you can gain weight. Even though you’re eating the same way you always have.
Solution: Talk with your doctor about having your hormones tested.
Things you can eat to improve your thyroid function are:
Cruciferous vegetables, broccoli, cabbage, leafy greens, eat them raw or cooked
Brazil nuts. These are the richest dietary source of selenium, which is essential in converting thyroxine to its active form. Do not go crazy on these, too many can be toxic. I have two every morning as I head out for my walk.
NO soy protein isolate.
There is plenty of research to show the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate.
And as we age it can be more difficult to get a good night’s sleep.
The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night to help avoid weight gain.
Solution: Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. The best place to start is by implementing a calming before bedtime routine. Go to bed with time to read or journal. Turn off electronics an hour before turning out the light. Don’t eat for at least 2 hours n before retiring.
There are so many things that can trigger stress responses in your body. That stress response then triggers hormones that make us want to eat more and not know when to stop as well as hormones that make us crave bad foods.
While you can’t necessarily change your stressors, you can adjust your response to them.
Pro Tip: Regular meditation or yoga is a great place to start. For a quick way to calm stress try the 4-7-8 method of breathing.
can wreak havoc with our hormones making it difficult to lose the weight you gain in menopause but the body is very forgiving. Eating healthy whole foods and including more physical activity in your day can reverse insulin resistance and restore hormone balance. Only then will we find ourselves able to lose weight.
For more on balancing hormones in menopause check out this great article at Mind Body Green-
This is an updated post from September this year. I added information from a much older post to give you a bigger picture of why you might be finding it difficult to lose weight.