Why Women Gain Weight During Menopause
During menopause, there is a natural hormone decline for women in their 40s and 50s.
The production of oestrogen and progesterone begins to decline, which can cause major effects.
Many women experience uncomfortable symptoms, which can affect many areas of their lives.
In this article, I am going to focus on the 5 main ways I see menopause contribute to weight gain.
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Lowering of Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
Your BMR is the number of calories you burn at rest.
People often call it your “coma calories”.
If you were in a coma, lying down all day, you would still burn calories to survive.
Your BMR decreases as you age.
The decrease accelerates during menopause.
What does this mean?
It means that you need to eat less food to maintain your weight.
The measures that you used to take to lose weight, will likely not work anymore.
Fatigue, low energy, and lethargy.
This can happen for a variety of reasons.
The menopausal effect of lower Estrogen levels can lead to disrupted sleep.
It’s well documented that people with low sleep quality struggle with fat loss.
Lack of sleep makes calorie control harder and moving more of a struggle.
The combination of the two leads to weight gain.
The hormonal changes can also cause low energy, fatigue, and extreme tiredness.
You could have a perfect night’s sleep.
Yet, feel extreme fatigue during the day.
Which again, will have an impact on activity throughout the day.
Less activity can contribute to gradual weight gain.
Reduction in Muscle Mass
Both men and women experience muscle loss as they age.
Menopause accelerates muscle loss.
The more muscle you have, the higher your Basal Metabolic Rate will be.
This is one of many reasons why fat loss is usually easier for men.
A reduction in BMR can lead to gradual weight gain during menopause.
Change in lifestyle habits
For many women, menopause coincides with other life events.
Less dependent children and retirement mean that activity levels drop.
No more running after the kids, school runs or commutes to work.
Again, the reduction in daily activity can lead to weight gain.
The hormonal changes during menopause can lead to water retention and bloating.
Your weighing scales do not tell you whether the weight you are putting on is fat or water.
Many women see the number on the scale go up.
A lot of the time this is water, not fat.
Menopause weight gain isn’t complicated
Going through the menopause does not mean automatic weight gain.
But it can indirectly contribute to gradual weight gain, because of the reasons above.
It is still a matter of calories in vs calories out.
If you are able to manage that equation, you can prevent menopausal weight gain.
The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Menopausal Women
Intermittent fasting has become a popular way to lose weight, improve energy levels and reduce hunger.
Best of all, it can become a sustainable way of life, rather than a short-term, fad diet.
As long as you don’t make these mistakes.
Here is how intermittent fasting can prevent menopausal weight gain.
A reduction in calories – It’s well documented that intermittent fasting causes a reduction in calories consumed.
It makes sense.
When you fast, you restrict eating to specific times.
Which makes it harder to eat more.
A calorie deficit becomes much easier to achieve.
You cannot lose weight without being in a calorie deficit.
The beauty of fasting is that you feel satisfied, even though you eat less.
You can eat big meals and lose weight.
Best of all, it’s sustainable in the long term.
Improved energy levels – Many people report that fasting can give them, stable energy levels.
This happens for a variety of reasons.
Firstly, digestion takes up a lot of energy.
When you reduce meal frequency, you free up that energy for other purposes.
Secondly, intermittent fasting improves metabolic flexibility.
This means that you get better at utilising stored energy reserves (like fat and glycogen) to fuel your day.
Most people are dependent on a constant stream of food.
This boost in energy can lead to more activity and motivation to exercise.
Canceling out the symptom of fatigue caused by menopause.
Reduced Hunger – Intermittent fasting can reduce hunger.
Improved metabolic flexibility and less dependence on food for fuel, means less hunger.
Plus, fasting teaches you to understand the difference between “real” hunger and “perceived” hunger.
Real hunger occurs every 12-24 hours.
Perceived hunger can come and go every few hours.
It’s driven by habit, boredom, routine, emotions, and stress.
Understanding the difference can give you control over your calorie intake.
Eliminating the habit of stress and emotional eating is a powerful way to lose weight
This is a key focus with my one-on-one coaching clients.
Improved Insulin Sensitivity – Your body becomes better at processing sugars and refined carbs when you are intermittent fasting.
You can also reduce the risk of metabolic diseases and reverse diabetes.
My Tips to Lose Weight During and After the Menopause
I have helped hundreds of women lose weight and sustain the results during menopause.
Below are my tips to help you lose weight during menopause.
1. Eat nutrient-dense foods (most of the time).
Nourish your body with nutrients, and you will improve your health and reduce hunger.
Cook from scratch, from fresh ingredients.
Try and avoid highly processed foods, which are easy to over-consume.
- Fill up on protein
Protein is the most filling macronutrient.
Eat a protein source at each meal, and you will feel fuller for longer
It can also slow down menopausal muscle wastage.
Remember the more muscle you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate will be.
- Eliminate mindless snacking
Once you eat nutrient-dense meals and fill up on protein at each meal, you will realise you don’t need to snack.
For me, as a fat loss expert, snacking is a big problem.
You are giving yourself many opportunities to overconsume calories.
Sticking to 2-3 square meals per day is a great way to reduce calorie intake and not feel deprived.
- Choose Your Intermittent Fasting Plan
When it comes to choosing an intermittent fasting plan, there’s no one size fits all.
You want to choose one that fits your needs and schedule best.
16:8 Plan – The 16:8 intermittent fasting plan is a time-focused fasting window.
With this plan, you fast daily for 16 hours, restricting your eating window to 8 hours.
This fasting plan is best for people with previous fasting periods, and no issues skipping meals.
The 2 Meal Day Plan – My own method of intermittent fasting.
With the 2 meal Day fasting plan, you choose to drop a meal.
Either breakfast or dinner.
The great thing about the 2 Meal Day is that you learn to listen to your body and eat intuitively.
The 2 Meal Day is great for beginners to intermittent fasting.
I made a 30 Day Reset to ease people into the process of fasting so that they don’t get negative side effects.
- Get 7000-1000 steps per day.
Did you know that getting your steps in can burn more calories than a structured exercise session?
Even better, upping your steps won’t raise your hunger levels as hard exercise will.
All my clients aim to get a decent amount of daily activity.
This is how they can lose weight, without having to spend hours in the gym or being hungry all the time.
Walking also reduces stress and anxiety, so there are many reasons to walk more.
Is fasting safe for women?
The long answer is detailed in this article.
The short answer is, yes, but flexibility is necessary.
There will be some days when you won’t fast.
This is meant to be a sustainable way of life, not a short-term crash diet.
Learn to listen to your body and give it what it needs.
Incorporate the above, consistently.
You will prevent weight gain during menopause.