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Menopause weight gain

Menopause is a very special period of women life – as women approach menopause they endure many unpleasant symptoms which include menopausal weight gain. In most cases women in menopause continue eating the same amount but sometimes experience menopause weight gain. Fewer calories burned combined with the same intake means more weight. About 85%-90% of menopausal women experience different types of weight gain. In most cases the additional pounds ravage woman´s self-esteem and self-image. In addition, the weight gain can usher in a host of health concerns that put a woman at risk of developing life-threatening conditions.

In general weight gain takes place when a woman increases her body mass, whether as a result of fat deposits, additional muscle tissue, or excess fluid. But weight gain associated with menopause typically involves increased amounts of fat around the mid-section.

At menopause women gain about 12-15 pounds – the most weight usually accumulate around the abdomen and women often notice the shape of their bodies slowly lose their hour-glass figure and begin to take on a rounder shape.

This body transformation is a typical aspect of weight gain during menopause.

Menopause weight gain risks

The belly fat (abdominal fat) you put on does more than make you uncomfortable – it can also affect your health. The belly fat from the menopause weight gain can lead to many health conditions. The fat actively produces hormones that can affect your health. The excess they produce can promote resistance, one of the causes of diabetes or other problems that occur when there’s an imbalance or change in your hormone levels.

Menopause weight gain

Menopause weight gain

Weight gain during menopause is not only aesthetic problem but menopausal weight gain can lead to very serious health conditions including:

  • Heart disease and stroke;
  • High blood pressure;
  • Osteoarthritis;
  • Breast cancer;
  • High cholesterol;
  • Kidney disease;
  • Sleep apnea;
  • Insulin resistance (increasing diabetes risks);
  • More severe menopausal symptoms.

 

Weight gain and breast cancer

Women who gain in excess of 20 pounds after menopause increase their breast cancer risk by nearly 20 percent, but those who lose 20 pounds after menopause reduce their breast cancer risk by as much as 23 percent.

Menopause weight gain causes

It is well known that as years progress the metabolism slows – setting the physiological stage for weight gain. But in addition the several factors are also involved in menopausal weight gain.

Hormones

Hormonal fluctuations during menopause can be one of reasons for weight gain. Scientists discovered that estrogen could influence body fat distribution. During menopause ovaries produce less estrogen and women body attempts to find the hormone in places other than the ovaries. Fat cells can produce estrogen, so body works harder to convert calories into fat to increase estrogen levels. Unfortunately, fat cells don’t burn calories the way muscle cells do, which causes weight gain.

It is well known that young women (in reproductive age) tend to store fat in the lower body (‘pear-shaped’), while menopausal women store fat around the abdomen (‘apple-shaped’). Several studies demonstrated that lack of estrogens leads to excessive weight gain.

Water retention is often linked to menopause because water weight and bloating are caused by decreased progesterone levels. Though this doesn’t actually result in weight gain, clothes can feel a bit tighter and a woman may feel as though she´s heavier.

Androgens also could be responsible for weight gain during menopause. In most cases the level of androgens are increased during menopause and increased androgens are responsible for sending new weight to the mid-section instead of to the hips, which many women are accustomed to.

Insulin resistance can occur during the menopause – this is when a woman´s body mistakenly turns every calorie taken in into fat. Over time, processed and refined foods may make a woman´s body resistant to insulin produced in the blood stream.

Age

In general starting from 30-35 women’s physical abilities begin to decrease and continue deteriorating until about age 60-70. This decreasing physical ability affects weight because women become less able to engage in physical activities that help to maintain a stable weight by burning calories. To compound the potential for weight gain with age, the metabolic rate begins to slow after age 30, which also leads to weight gain.
It is well known that the rate of decline depends dramatically on women’s physical activities and on women’s lifestyle.

Lifestyle

Menopause weight gain depends very much from women lifestyles. Even though physical changes are an unavoidable part of getting older that leads to weight gain, women can make a huge change in their menopause weight gain by keeping healthy lifestyle (consuming less calories and burning more calories)

During menopause some lifestyle factors can lead to weight gain:

Menopause weight gain

Menopause weight gain

  • Stress,
  • Depression,
  • Decreased physical activities,
  • Calorie eating habits,
  • Medications used for aging diseases,
  • Drinking (alcohol) habits,
  • Quitting smoking (for health reasons).

Muscle tissue & metabolism

Always body changes at menopause. As we age, our muscles decrease in bulk and the metabolism slows down. These changes can contribute to weight gain around the time of menopause. Other physical changes associated with menopause may include skin changes (dryness and loss of elasticity), vaginal dryness and hair growth or loss. These changes could affect menopausal women’s body image and self-esteem.

Genetics

Genetic factors could play dramatic role in menopause weight gain – genetic predisposition dictate the amount of calories you’ll burn, weight that you will gain and it could also point out in which part weight is likely to accumulate. While some women manage to have adequate fat distribution of their recently gained pounds, most women find that it just sits squarely on their abdomen.

Menopause weight gain – what to do

Weight gain during menopause could be well managed if you follow few advices:

  • Change your eating habits – always choose the low fat food with high fibre. Switch to higher intake of vegetables and/or fruits while limiting meat, bread and refined sugar. Take smaller portions of food. Eat fruits and vegetables as much as possible and avoid the heavy sauces.
  • Regularly do physical activities – at least 30-40 minutes of moderate physical activity every day (exercises, aerobic, cardio, etc.). This will give your metabolism a boost.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator to burn a few extra calories; burn calories by parking far from your door; carry your own bags from the grocery rather than use a cart.
  • Strengthen your muscles – build up and maintain your muscle mass with strength training such as weight training or weight-bearing exercise like walking (regularly!).
  • Change your garderobe (cloths) according to your changed body shape.
  • Avoid crash diets because your body will respond to this reduced energy supply by using muscle tissue as fuel and if you lose muscle tissue, you will burn less calories. At the same time leptin (”fat hormone”) levels drop after a crash diet, which increases the appetite and slows the metabolism. It is well known that leptin contributes to appetite control and metabolic rate. As a result, after crash diet you are likely to put on more weight when you start eating normally again.

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