Weight gain is a notable physical change experienced by women during menopause
It is commonly observed that several women around the menopause transition gain weight.
1. Weight gain occurs when the body mass increases in a woman. However, the menopausal weight gain generally involves increased amounts of fat around the mid-section.
2. Menopause related weight gain fails to happen suddenly. The weight gain is more gradual.
3. According to a research, it is stated that women may gain an average 5 pounds during menopause.
4. Women who are already obese have more chances of gaining weight during menopause.
5. Weight gain during menopause is usually unavoidable. Though, it can be reversed by healthy-eating habits and leading an active lifestyle.
Causes of Menopausal Weight Gain
There are various causes linked with weight gain during menopause. Some of them are as stated below:
1. Hormonal changes occurring during menopause.
Effect of estrogen – Estrogen helps in controlling the body weight. Reduced estrogen lowers the metabolic rate thus resulting in weight gain.
Effect of progesterone – Decreased progesterone level leads to water retention.
Decreased estrogen and progesterone increases the appetite. Increased appetite coupled with slower metabolism leads to menopausal weight gain.
2. Loss of muscle mass due to aging, hormonal fluctuation and reduced physical activity.
3. Weight gain is also linked to aging where resting metabolism and ability to consume energy during exercise is reduced.
4. Increased insulin resistance occurs as women age. Insulin resistance converts every calorie taken into fat.
5. Genetic factors also may play a vital role.
6. Other factors contributing to menopausal weight gain are:
(i) Lack of exercise;
(ii) Unhealthy eating;
(iii) Inadequate sleep.
Risks of Weight Gain after Menopause
Menopause weight gain can have several serious implications on the health. Excess weight gain can accelerate the risk of:
- Heart disease.
- High blood pressure.
- High cholesterol.
- Type 2 diabetes.
- Kidney disease.
- Breathing problems.
- Sleep apnea.
- Several types of cancer, including breast, colon and endometrial cancer.
How to Prevent Weight Gain after Menopause?
Weight gain after menopause is not inevitable. It can be prevented by abiding certain lifestyle modifications. Lifestyle modifications in diet & exercise should be encouraged to prevent weight gain after menopause.
Some of the lifestyle modifications recommended to prevent weight gain during menopause are as follows:-
- Perform aerobic activities. Increase physical activities.
- Consume fewer calories.
- Take a healthy balanced diet including abundant protein, low starch vegetables and fruits.
- Increase intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains,
- Consume proteins such as legumes, nuts, soy, fish or chicken.
- Consume foods high in soluble fiber.
- Avoid soft drinks, juices, and sweetened coffee & tea.
- Manage blood sugar.
- Limit alcoholic beverages.
- Avoid smoking.
- Establish regular eating habits.
- Avoid skipping of meals.
- Keep your muscles toned as during menopause, the muscle mass decreases, causing weight gain.
- Take quality sleep.
- Manage stress & practice stress relieving techniques.