Meno Health. Clinical Evidence.

TWC #022: What can I do if I gain weight during the menopause?

Losing weight can be a challenge at different stages of life.

The older we get, the more important it becomes to maintain a healthy weight, but this is not always easy. The post-menopausal period in particular poses special challenges for weight management, as our bodies change during this transitional phase.

What is meant by the menopause?
The menopause describes the phase of a woman’s life in which she experiences symptoms associated with fluctuating and declining hormone levels, and in which monthly periods eventually cease.

The menopause is divided into three phases:

  1. perimenopause
    This is the time when hormone levels begin to fluctuate and menopausal symptoms such as anxiety, mood swings, hot flushes, light-headedness and vaginal dryness can occur. Menstrual periods can change, become heavier or lighter, closer together or further apart. The phase lasts an average of 4 years
  2. menopause
    It is characterised by the permanent cessation of menstruation due to hormonal changes and is often accompanied by symptoms such as hot flushes and mood swings. From a medical point of view, the start of the menopause is the day following 12 consecutive months without menstruation.
  3. postmenopause.
    The postmenopause follows the menopause and is the phase in which a woman has not had a period for at least 12 months. Hormone levels stabilise, but some menopausal symptoms may still occur. The postmenopause is the last reproductive phase of a woman’s life.
What do I need to understand about weight gain during the menopause?

As we age, the pattern of weight gain in the body changes. While weight gain in younger years often occurs around the hips and thighs, menopausal weight gain tends to be concentrated around the centre of the body. This change can be emotionally challenging as you have to adapt to a different body shape.

The hormonal changes during the menopause not only affect weight distribution, but also make it more difficult to shed excess pounds. This can be emotionally stressful and bring with it additional health risks, such as an increased risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

What can I do to prevent weight gain during the menopause?

Weight gain during the menopause can be countered with hormone therapy. If this type of therapy is not an option, pragmatic measures should be prioritised.

Pursue a long-term, gradual approach

Weight loss should be seen as a long-term goal that requires healthy lifestyle changes. Favour a healthy diet over temporary diets with little or no alcohol and smoking.

Keep it simple

Avoid complex diet plans and grandiose promises. Losing weight sustainably means eating fewer calories and exercising more. Occasional feasting is fine, but focus on a consistent healthy diet.

Sleep is very important

We almost all sleep too little. It should be 7-8 hours. Unfortunately, the menopause doesn’t help – sleep quality is often affected and weight increases. Implement a sleep routine. This will help you get the sleep you need.

Strength training is becoming increasingly important

Muscles tend to decrease with age. However, muscles are important for body stability and they burn more calories than fat. Strength training helps you to keep your weight under control in the long term.

Prioritise activities that challenge the cardiovascular system

Exercise is good for the heart and general wellbeing. The goal should be to exercise 30 minutes a day. Take the stairs instead of the lift, go for a 10 to 15 minute walk in the morning before work or cycle to work instead of driving. This all helps to burn calories and reduce weight.

Be aware of the effect of medication

Medication has side effects. Weight gain is one of them. Read the package leaflet and discuss with your doctor whether there are alternatives.

Be kind to yourself

Accept that your body changes after the menopause and that you may not be as efficient as you were when you were younger. Focus on how you feel and appreciate your body for all it has done for you.

Remember that weight management is a journey and that small but consistent changes can make a big difference. With a sustainable approach to your health and wellbeing, you can face the challenges of the menopause with confidence.

If you need personalised advice and support on your journey through the menopause, contact The Women Circle here.

If you would like to get in touch with us, please get in touch.

We are here for you.

Joëlle & Adrian

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