Why You Gain Weight During Perimenopause and Menopause
Women typically experience weight gain in a few different ways during menopause. If you’re experiencing excess fat stores around your abdomen, the hormonal fluctuations from menopause may be the culprit.
Studies show that women store more visceral fat — fat deep in the belly that sits close to the organs — during and after menopause than before. This may give a rounded appearance and increase your waistline without adding any extra pounds to the scale.
Though the exact reason hasn’t been pinpointed, researchers believe the issue has four leading causes:
- A slower metabolic rate
- Disrupted sleep patterns
- Changes in fat cell type
- Lower levels of activity
Other causes may include genetics, poor diet quality, an overall increase in stress levels. Fat stores that increase around the hips, buttocks, and thighs are more likely related to lifestyle than hormonal changes.
What You Can Do to Support Healthy Weight During Menopause
When it comes to supporting a healthy weight during menopause, several factors come into play:
- Focus on movement. Physical activity doesn’t need to be structured or happen in a gym. Move throughout the day and move often. This includes movement between long bouts of sitting, physical tasks around the house such as housework or home projects. Plus, added activities that get your heart rate up and muscles working. Strength training is also important to support healthy bones and prevent muscle loss during menopause.
- Reduce your caloric intake. As your metabolism slows down, you need to consume fewer calories to maintain your current weight. The best way to reduce calories is to bulk up on low-calorie, high-nutrient foods. This includes ample fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins. Also, consume a good amount of healthy fats, and drink plenty of water throughout the day. Avoid consuming liquid calories such as sugary drinks and alcohol.
- Talk with your provider about HRT. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) helps ease several menopause-related symptoms and maintain intimate care, including excess weight gain and unwanted fat stores. Studies have shown that women who undergo hormone treatment have fewer fat stores, especially belly fat, than women who do not get hormone support.
- Get regular health screenings. As we age, we are more prone to developing specific issues such as diabetes and high cholesterol. Regular health screening can detect health problems early and allow your providers to get you on the right regimen to support your overall wellness.
The success of your weight loss may require lifestyle adjustments, but they are well worth the effort. Get support and find a way to build consistent habits that work for your daily life.
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