Menopause and Weight Gain
Many women experience weight gain after menopause. While there may seem to be a direct correlation, weight gain at this time of life is usually due to a combination of factors related to aging. Hormonal changes, including lower estrogen levels, may make women more susceptible to weight gain around the abdomen. However, our metabolism naturally slows down as we age. Genetic factors may also play a part in weight gain later in life.
Weight gain during the menopausal years is gradual, but can add up over time. Women gain an average of five pounds during menopause, but the amount can easily creep up to 15-25 pounds if not monitored closely. Unchecked weight gain can lead to obesity and increases the risk of developing significant health issues including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some kinds of cancer.
Women need to maintain healthy eating habits as they age. According to the Mayo Clinic, women need 200 fewer calories per day after age 50. They may want to eat smaller meals, but more often. This keeps insulin levels more stable and avoids high and low blood sugar cycles. It also tends to reduce food cravings.
Women should eat lean meats, more fruits and vegetables, and more fiber. As we age, our bodies are less able to break down white sugar, so processed carbohydrates should be limited. Whole grains are healthier than white flour. Women should cut out unhealthy snacking and limit their alcoholic intake to further reduce their daily calories.
It is important to stay active after menopause. A combination of aerobic exercise to burn calories and strength training to maintain muscle helps women stay at a healthy weight. An additional advantage of strength training is that it helps prevent osteoporosis. Brisk walking is a great way to exercise without having to join a gym.
If a woman is still having trouble controlling her weight after making these lifestyle changes, it may be time to see her health care provider. This could be a sign of an underlying health issue that needs to be addressed.