Do you think it is possible to lose weight during menopause, or even after it? Well, sorry to burst your bubbles, but very many people think that it is impossible.
Several factors can work against you, including the aging process, stress, and hormone changes.
But then, there are a couple of things you can do to enhance weight loss during menopause. This article discusses these steps, and more.
Why is it hard to lose weight during menopause?
A woman officially enters menopause after she’s been without a menstrual cycle for at least 12 months.
Around this time, weight loss may seem a very difficult thing to achieve. Frankly, many women notice an increase in their weight during perimenopause. Perimenopause begins a decade to menopause.
Many factors can contribute to weight gain during menopause. These include:
- Hormonal fluctuations: Extremely high or very low levels of estrogen can cause high-fat storage (1, 2).
- Loss of muscle mass: Loss of muscle mass may be due to hormonal changes, age, and a decrease in physical activity levels (3, 4, 5).
- Insufficient sleep: Do you know that many women find it hard to sleep during menopause? Well, that’s the truth, and lack of sleep is a major cause of weight gain (6, 7, 8).
- Increased resistance to insulin: Insulin resistance is common among aging women. Insulin resistance can make the weight loss process more difficult (9, 10).
Also, during menopause, more fat is stored in the abdomen rather than the hips and the thighs. Abdominal fat increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome (10).
So, key strategies that may facilitate the loss of belly fat are very important to a woman in menopause.
Calorie deficits are helpful but not in the long-term
A calorie deficit helps with weight loss.
While a low-calorie diet may seem the easy way out, in reality, this is the unhealthiest thing you can do.
Calorie restriction may cause short-term weight loss, but their effects on metabolic rate and muscle mass will counter the weight loss.
Also, decreased muscle mass and calorie restriction may cause bone loss. This puts you at risk of osteoporosis (17).
Results from several studies suggest that “dietary restraint measures” like reducing portion sizes may be better for weight loss compared with a drastic slashing of calories (18).
Living a healthy lifestyle also helps with weight loss, preserves your metabolic rate, and reduces the amount of muscle loss with age.
Healthy diets for menopause
Here are some important diets that can promote weight loss during and after menopause.
The low-carb diet
While most studies have involved postmenopausal and peri-menopausal women, just a couple of studies have examined this population exclusively.
In one of the studies, postmenopausal women who were placed on a low-carb diet for 6 months lost over 21 lbs. (9.5kg), 3.7 inches of their waistline, and 7% of body fat (24).
It is also worth knowing that there’s no need to cut down drastically on your carb intake in a bid to lose weight.
Another study found that a paleo diet furnished with over 30% of carb-based calories caused a greater belly fat reduction and weight loss compared to a low-fat diet (25).
The Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet is known for reducing the risk of heart disease and also giving one’s general health a boost. However, some studies have shown that it may play a role or two in weight loss.
Studies involving the Mediterranean diet have examined the effect of this diet on both males and females in general rather than just focusing on perimenopausal and postmenopausal women.
In a particular study involving both men and women above the age of 55, participants who followed the Mediterranean diet experienced drastic reductions in their amount of abdominal fat (26).
Studies have shown that the vegetarian diet is helpful in weight loss (27).
Other studies have shown that weight loss can equally be achieved with a flexible vegan diet that includes eggs and dairy (30).
Best exercises for weight loss during menopause
Many people tend to lead a sedentary life as they age.
However, it is important to note that exercise is very vital during and after menopause.
Exercise improves the mood, promotes a healthy weight, and also safeguards your bones and muscles (31).
While resistance training has immense benefits, recent research suggests that repetitions are better and more effective at reducing abdominal fat (36).
However, you should combine aerobic exercise with strength training (40).
Weight loss tips for menopause
The following tips can promote weight loss and also improve your quality of life during menopause.
- Get quality, restful sleep
A high-quality, restful sleep helps you to achieve a healthy weight. It also helps to maintain a healthy weight.
Depriving yourself of sleep increases the level of ghrelin in your blood. Ghrelin is also known as the “hunger hormone.” On the other hand, the level of leptin, the “satiety or fullness hormone” decreases when you deprive yourself of sleep. Therefore, people who don’t sleep well are more likely to gain weight (41).
- Psychotherapy & acupuncture
Studies have shown that psychotherapy helps with insomnia. More specifically, cognitive behavioral therapy benefits women with low estrogen levels. However, the effect of psychotherapy on menopausal women is yet to be studied (43).
Studies have also shown that acupuncture reduces hot flashes by 33%. Several studies have found that acupuncture also has an increasing effect on estrogen levels, which can promote better sleep (44, 45).
Other tips include:
- Eat plenty of protein
- Get adequate rest
- Add dairies to your diet
- Drink green tea
- Eat foods that contain soluble fiber