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So you’ve been eating a low carbohydrate diet and you’ve been doing well sheding a few pounds but your menopause weight loss has stalled. In fact you’re gaining weight.
You’re not sure what the heck happened. You were losing weight and feeling great. But this week when you jumped on the scales you’d put on weight. “Whaaat?” “Oh well,” you say “Just a glitch. I’ll give it a week and see what happens.”
A week later you try again and you’ve put on more weight. “Roll me in sugar substitute and call me a low-carb doughnut. Now it’s serious.”
Here are my top 11 reasons why your menopause weight loss has stalled.
Before we dive in it’s important to remember that menopause makes losing weight difficult and can often promote weight gain. Not impossible, just difficult.
You are up against, loss of muscle mass as well as possible insulin resistance, high cortisol levels and changing estrogen levels.
If you would like to see and amazing list of The Best Lifestyle Changes For Weight Loss Shared By 80 Fitness And Nutrition Experts in which I have a segment talking about small incremental changes that you will find easy and stick with.
Before we dive in I do want to tell you that low carb diets like many other diets have pitfalls. As most low carb diets only allow for a small amount of carbohydrates it’s important to make sure your carbs are made up of high-nutrient ingredients. I’m talking, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, nuts seeds, olive oil, avocado, raspberries and plenty more.
1. Beware of sneaking in too many carbs
Be aware of your carbohydrate intake.
You may have started well, checking how many carbs there were in everything you ate. You easily knew when you were eating too many calories and corrected it.
You may have become complacent. A piece of fruit here a square of dark chocolate there, one more wine. Don’t ask me how I know! We’re talking about you not me.
Those little bits all add up to too another layer of belly fat and more menopausal weight gain.
Through perimenopause and into menopause as your body adjusts to the change in hormones and decreasing muscle mass it needs less carbohydrates for fuel.
Everyone is different. This is the link to a macro-nutrient calculator. Use it to get an idea of how much fat/carbs/protein you should be eating. As a general rule you should be eating mostly plant food with some good quality protein plenty of healthy fats and a few carbs.
The protein will reduce your appetite, increase you metabolism and promote fat burning. But beware too much protein can also lead to weight gain and stall any chance of losing weight. More than your body requires will be tuned into glucose and stored as body fat.
A good amount of protein to aim for is 1.5 – 2 grams per kilo of body weight and that depends also on how much activity you have in a day.
Also when I say plenty of fat it doesn’t mean you can go crazy eating pork crackling and chicken skin all day long and not gain weight. What were you thinking!
If you want to lose weight you need to be burning the body fat you currently have not the stuff going in your mouth.
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2. Too Many MCTs
MCTs are medium chain triglycerides and are found in: coconut products, and full fat dairy. These cannot be stored and are used by the body as fuel before any stored fat. MCT’s are a great form of energy and are easily digested by the body but too many will prevent your body burning any fat storage that you have.
Many who try to follow a very low carb diet often increase their fat intake which can be detrimental. A low carb diet can also deprive you of the nutrients you need.
3. Lack of Good Sleep
When menopause symptoms are in full swing sleeping for 7-8 hours may seem like a a fantasy tale similar to the one when your lying on a desserted beach with some steamy movie star.
Thanks to your estrogen levels decreasing, stress, night sweats, hot flashes and decreased melatonin levels can keep you tossing and turning in the wee small hours. With loss of sleep comes higher levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, and lower levels of leptin, which helps you feel full.
This makes it difficult to control cravings and when your tired the food you crave is of course everything you shouldn’t be eating if your trying to maintain or lose weight.
Make sure to have a good bedtime routine. Switch of all electronics 1 – 2 hours before bed and do quiet activities such as journaling or restorative yoga.
4. Stress Is My Top Of My List For Why Your Menopause Weight Loss Has Stalled
Women going through perimenopause and menopause often find that stress levels increase. This can be for many reasons including changing family circumstances, changing horomones, niggling health issues and menopause symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats which can cause poor sleep quality.
The stress hormone cortisol increases with stress is the hormone that keeps your blood sugar levels high. It is closely associated with extra belly fat.
If you are frequently frazzled, then perhaps think about including some mindful practices into your day such as yoga and meditation.
Further reading: How To Reduce Stress During A Pandemic
5. A Lax Approach To Exercise
Exercise is imperative if you plan on losing your menopause weight. However, it can be difficult to find the motivation or energy as you approach and move into your 50’s.
Not just any exercise either. Long walks every day is not going to give you the results you need although you would certainly be ahead of anyone still sitting on the couch.
For optimum results short bursts of aerobic exercise interspersed with strength training works best.
For the strenuous exercise high intensity interval training works well. There are many of these on the internet from beginner to advanced level.
Muscle mass burns more energy at rest than fat keeping your metabolism up. Because we lose muscle as we age we burn fewer calories so it is important to build lean body mass. Resistance training works best for building muscle mass as well as improving bone health. You can use your body weight or dumb bells.
You can still go for long walks, just include a few hills that you walk up very fast and you’ll be on your way to wearing those gorgeous deigner jeans you relegated to the back of the wardrobe once more.
Further reading: The Most Important Exercise For Women Over 50
6. Track What You Eat
Our minds can be sneaky and you can truly believe your not eating that much but somehow the weight isn’t budging.
Tracking what you eat over even a short period of time can give your a more solid idea of how many calories you are consuming so that you can make better choices.
Do this every few months or so to check in to make sure you haven’t snuck in a few more calories here and there.
Using a tool like My Fitnes Pal can help you break down your calories into macro nutrients, so carbs, protein and fats. Know for your body what ratio of each of these macronutrients you should be eating so you can keep with in your optimal limits. To do this go over to my post
Going throught this post will give you an idea of the ration of carbs, protein and fats you should be eating for your particular body type.
7. Make Sure Your Eating Enough Protein
Your body uses more energy when it is digesting protein. In fact your body burns nearly twice as many calories digesting protein than it does fats or carbs.
Protein also increased the production of the hormone that tell you your satisfied so you are more likely to eat less.
8. Try Intermittent Fasting
This way of eating has been shown to boost fat loss and is no fuss and easy. It is particularly good for menopausal and post menopausal women.
Intermittent fasting is not about deprivation but narrowing the window in which you eat. Generally women choose to go 12, 14 or 16 hours each day without eating and some of that would be during the night when you are asleep.
For example if you have your last meal at 7pm at night then you wouldn’t eat again till 7am, 9am or 11am in the morning.
For a more detailed look at intermittent fasting and how it works go to my blog posts:
9. Eat More Fibre
Especially soluble fibre.
Fibre takes longer to digest so you feel fuller for longer and are less likely to be raiding the fridge again for a while. It can also reduce the number of calories you absorb from food.
Examples you can include in your diet are dried beans, brussel sprouts, avocados, sweet potatoes, broccoli, pears, apples, flax seeds and sunflower seeds.
10. Drink Your Water
Water can help boost your metabolism. Additionally drinking a glass of water before a meal can dull your appetite.
The good news is that beverages containing caffeine have also been found to increase the fat burning effects of exercise. So a coffee before exercise is truly beneficial.
Eat Protein At Every Meal
Eating protein at regular intervals during the day helps keep you feeling full throughout the day.
It is also shown to increase you metabolic rate as well a promote the growth of muscle.
The types of protein you can be including are nuts, seeds, legumes, eggs, good quality lean meat, turkey, greek yoghurt and lentils.
So if the scales are not playing nice and you’ve hit a menopause weight loss plateau, break things down. Go back to basics and check each of these areas above to see if there are any diet and lifestyle changes you can make that will help. Some women may prefer to rely on hormone therapy which uses estrogen to change your body composition and reduce abdominal fat. Which ever way you go it is important to reduce your abdominal fat to lower the risk of health issues as you age.