I’m frequently asked if it is it normal to start gaining weight during menopause. By weight I mean anywhere from 10 to 35 plus pounds in a matter of months, without changing eating habits significantly.
Many women notice weight gain (average of 1 pound per year), especially around the waist at midlife. Unfortunately we cannot put all the blame on our diminishing hormones.
While our metabolism does slow with age and decreasing muscle mass, the main culprits appear to be diminishing physical activity and eating more than our bodies require.
Does genetics play a role? Well, sort of. We can be predisposed to waistline weight gain, but basically it only means we have to work harder to keep it off.
Will hormones help? In a word, no.
The concern about weight gain is that it puts you at risk for high cholesterol levels, elevated blood pressure, and insulin resistance/diabetes. All of this increases your risk for heart disease, which is a serious issue for women.
What can you do to prevent or reverse the weight gain? The simple, yet difficult answer is to increase your exercise and reduce your calories.
Increasing your exercise has a multitude of benefits. Not only does it help you pump up your metabolism and burn fat, but that muscle mass also strengthens your bones (not to mention the cardiovascular benefits and the prevention/control of diabetes). Most of all, you just feel good.
A healthy diet is essential. With a lower metabolism rate, we don’t require loads of calories; however, no one says you should starve yourself either.
Eat smaller portions (measure them), lots of fruits and vegetables and eat only when hungry. If you need to lose weight, you will need to have a deficit of about 500 calories daily for one week to lose 1 pound.