One of the most common questions I get asked as a nutritionist specialising in menopause hormones, is “Why am I gaining weight during menopause that I can’t lose whatever I seem to do”?
This weight gain is evident especially around the stomach area, and many women will add an extra ten to fifteen pounds as they go through the menopause years even if there has been no change to either their diet or exercise regime. It can be so very frustrating!
And with metabolism decreasing by 5% per decade during menopause, so it’s no surprise that so many women find it so easy to put on the weight, yet so much harder to lose.
You don’t have to let that happen of course, a simple menopause nutrition plan and lifestyle changes can break the trend and will help you achieve an appropriate amount of weight loss that won’t cause stress and distress to your body. You’ll then gain a healthy, lean and strong vibrant body and mind from peri-menopause through to post-menopause.
Blame the hormones! We’ve blamed the hormones for many ills over the years, and it’s totally justified to continue doing so. The hormones oestrogen, insulin and leptin are the main culprits, this is how they contribute towards the menopause weight gain.
Oestrogen: Oestrogen is the name of a group of hormones that we produce in the ovaries. These hormones are oestrodial which are the strongest and the main source of oestrogen until the menopause years; oestrone which is less potent and finally oestriol which is weak and you have in abundance particularly in pregnancy.
So you now know oestradiol is the primary source of oestrogen until menopause, then what happens?
The body switches to oestrone as its source and oestrone is produced in the adrenal glands and your FAT cells.
Here’s what happens:
So when you hit menopause there’s almost an inevitability that you’ll gain fat. Sadly you are fighting against your body’s own physiology when you try to lose this fat
Insulin: The hormone insulin also rises when oestrone rises. Too much insulin in the system leads to insulin sensitivity and potentially type 2 diabetes and all the associated health risks. Insulin resistance means your body cannot deal with excess sugars in your blood (carbohydrates) and the body will store these excess sugars as fat. The more fat you have, the more oestrone you produce, and so the vicious fat/weight gain cycle continues.
Leptin: Ever wondered why going on a diet, reducing calories, can lead to weight gain? Blame Leptin! Leptin is a powerful hormone released from your fat cells. It communicates directly with the hypothalamus gland in the brain and its purpose is to let the brain know if it needs to ‘rev’ the body up or turn it down. The brain responds to a strong leptin message at times of feast and abundance, by turning down your appetite and turning up your thyroid function. This results in a reduced drive to eat and a feeling of satisfaction following a meal, plus higher energy levels so you can go out and hunt hairy mammoth. Dieting weakens the leptin message and your brain down regulates thyroid function and increases your appetite so you feel like eating more while feeling less inclined to exercise.
Plus food actually tastes more appealing, rendering willpower useless!
Stress: To add further to the problem you need to consider what causes stress to the body. Your body perceives any stress on the body as a stressor, not just the ‘I feel stressed at work’ stress. For example, your body sees the reaction caused by irritants to the body, like processed food, cosmetics, toiletries, as a stress. Any stress causes cortisol (a stress hormone) to rise and high cortisol levels will also add to the fat bank, not helped by the fact that raised cortisol has an effect on appetite and cravings for high calorie foods.
Cortisol also increases the activity of an enzyme called aromatase causing the body to convert male hormones into oestrogen, which further encourages fat gain around the middle. (Have you noticed how men hold their fat out front?)
All in all it can feel like fighting a losing battle. Very frustrating and stressful!
(A definite argument to justify a visit to a spa or a retreat and have some ‘me time’ luxuriating in beautiful natural products).
All is not lost!
In addition to the above, you should always:
So much information! So much to do!
I know! Just do your best to find what works for you.
Living in a modern society is a double-edged sword. You have all of the comfort and convenience of technology and advancements. But the downside is that you are also exposed to contaminants and invisible poisons, which not only make you sick, but can make you fat as well. It can be incredibly overwhelming and confusing trying to do all of the things you are told to do to stay healthy.
Sometimes, “one small step for (wo)man” is the best you can do, and those steps may never rise to the level of “one giant leap for (wo)mankind.” And that’s absolutely fine.
At YourNewLifePlan I provide the strategies and tools to help you on your personal journey, I know and love the fact that you are unique!
A full hysterectomy in her 30’s led nutritional therapist and health coach Clare on an amazing adventure exploring the many opportunities available to manage her enforced menopause and create long-term health.
Clare prefers the natural approach, and qualifying in nutritional therapy gave her the confidence to come off HRT, take back control of her life and health, and look forward to living the best half of her life free of prescription drugs. Understanding the importance of creating harmony of health of both body and mind through menopause and beyond, she’s now on a mission to inspire, educate and empower other women, too.
Click HERE to find out more about how Clare shares her years of exploring, experience and knowledge through 1:1 consultations and online programmes, and where you can request a FREE 30 minute consultation with Clare to discuss any personal menopause/health concerns you may have.
Your invitation to your FREE 9 day guide to Staying Slim, Strong & Sane through Menopause & Beyond