Weight gain during menopause is a big concern for women. The menopausal phase triggers changes in body shape resulting on an average weight gain of about 5-10 kg. This weight is primarily hormone related and has a direct impact on appetite, metabolism, and fat storage. Therefore controlling weight during this time becomes extremely difficult due to fluctuating estrogen, testosterone, and androgen levels. These added kilos further aggravate depression and anxiety which in turns can bring on the hot flashes and disturbed sleep.
Estrogen plays a big role in menopausal weight gain especially as the estrogen levels decline with age as the body stops ovulating. Due to the decrease in estrogen levels produced by the ovaries, body searches for other sources to substitute the shortage of estrogen in the body. Meanwhile fat cells in our body have the natural capability to produce estrogen, hence the body starts restoring to these cells to convert calories into fat to increase estrogen levels. Unfortunately fat cells don't burn calories the way muscle cells do, which causes this unwanted weight gain.
Insulin resistance caused by reduced tendency of naturally processing simple carbohydrates in the body is another cause of weight gain during menopause. Simple carbohydrates like those found in white bread, pasta, processed snack foods, beer and wine, which raise blood-sugar levels. Over time, eating a high-carb diet can lead a person into becoming insulin resistant. When a person is insulin resistant, a much higher proportion of consumed calories are turned into fat.
Stress causes the body to release the hormone cortisol which in turn blocks weight loss. When stressed, the body goes into survival mode and holds onto fat. It is also due to high sugar levels and the presence of toxins in the body which gets accumulated in the body overtime.
Losing weight during menopause isn’t impossible and understanding why weight gain occurs during menopause is the first step in starting a weight loss program. Eating healthy and eliminating certain foods is the key to maintaining a healthy weight during, and after, menopause.
Adding foods to your diet that contain plant-based estrogen can help to balance the hormones. Eating soy, as well as fruits and vegetables that contain phyto-estrogens, can help the body function normally so fat is not as difficult to lose. Plums, grapes, strawberries, apples, beets, carrots, cucumbers and lettuce are just some of the foods that can help balance estrogen during menopause. Eating a diet rich in fiber, antioxidants and nutrients is the best way to slowly lose weight during menopause in order to reduce the risk of toxins, and inflammation, being released into the body.