Metabolism is also affected by the decrease in hormones typical of menopause. The effects are manifested above all with the increase in fat mass, the loss of elasticity and muscle tone and the increase in water retention. Menopause in itself does not always compromise a healthy weight, but very often, if we add its effects to the lack of sporting activity and an unbalanced diet, weight gain, especially concentrated in the abdominal area, can become a reality.
This article was written in collaboration with our doctors
Gaining weight in menopause may be normal, but why is this happening? And what can you do to keep yourself fit and, above all, healthy?
If you have already begun to fear the scales and are worried about the image that the mirror gives you, do not worry and read this article.
Why do you get fat in menopause?
The main reasons are:
- Hormonal changes
- Slowing of the basal metabolism
- Reduction of lean muscle mass (in favor of fat)
- Change in the distribution of body fat
- Tendency to water retention
Let’s start by clarifying: already during the perimenopause, but also during the menopause might happen to gain weight .
“Could” we said, because not all women happen. Every woman is different and every menopause is different, which is why it is never possible to generalize. What makes you fat, however, is not in itself the end of the fertile age but the reduced production of hormones , responsible, among other things, for the slowdown of the metabolism (which already normally tends to decrease its activity over the years ).
Gaining weight in menopause: the role of hormones
The variations in the levels of estrogen and progesterone (absolutely physiological in this phase) affect the metabolism but could also have repercussions on the functionality of the thyroid .
In addition, there is also the reduction of muscle mass to the advantage, unfortunately, of the fat one on the scales (it should be said) .
A natural condition that occurs for everyone, in both sexes, as we age. To this it must be added that in menopause the distribution of body fat changes : adipose accumulations , like swelling, tend to settle mainly on the abdominal belt (a bit like it happens for men).
So if you have been battling the pads on your hips and thighs for a lifetime, now you start worrying about your waistline . This explains why even those who have always been slender could start to struggle to get into the usual skirts.
Does menopause make you fat?
Menopause is not a direct cause of weight gain . In fact, not all women gain weight after the definitive interruption of the menstrual cycle.
The first thing to do is a distinction between swelling or water retention and real weight gain (therefore fat mass).
The former can be caused by changes in hormone levels and menstrual irregularities , typical in the years of perimenopause, but with the final term of fertile life you should gradually “deflate”.
Real weight gain , on the other hand, must be kept under control : a few pounds in the transition phase to actual menopause can be normal but with the appropriate dietary precautions and constant but measured physical activity you can be able to limit it.
You don’t have to let go, especially if you already have a tendency to gain weight and have struggled all your life with diets and the mirror because – yes – gaining weight in menopause is easier and losing weight more difficult than before.
The risk is that a weight gain , added to the emotional changes , or to ‘ insomnia who famously makes you more hungry, can lead to sadness, anxiety, depression , and activate a mechanism of ” compensation” it is through the food worsening the situation.
Gaining fat in menopause: the health risks
Warning: weight gain in menopause is not just an aesthetic problem. It is a question of health . Being overweight, in fact, is a serious risk factor .
The most important dangers are reported when being overweight is associated with certain diseases, but it can also be a predisposing factor for some important ailments such as:
- diabetes and hypercholesterolemia
- cardiovascular diseases
- some types of cancer
Getting fat in menopause: the psychological risks
Last but not least, we must consider the psychological and emotional implications of a significant weight gain and the repercussions in social life and in the couple relationship .
Especially in the relationship with the partner , embarrassments and discomfort could weigh on the relationship in an already delicate phase due to very common disorders such as pain during intercourse or real pathological conditions such as Vulvo Vaginal Atrophy .
How to lose weight in menopause: the guidelines
To maintain your ideal weight and experience a peaceful menopause, you must not only take care of your diet but, more generally, your lifestyle .
Healthy nutrition, physical activity without excess , periodic checks by the gynecologist , relaxation and free time : there are many aspects to consider to pamper yourself and let yourself be pampered in this delicate phase. If you follow a correct diet during menopause , however, you can say that you are already half the battle.
If you need it because your overweight is over 5 kilos, it will be best to get help from a nutritionist to make a daily and specific meal plan for your situation. In any case you can start immediately to follow some small tricks:
- Avoid sugars and sweets : prefer a healthy breakfast based on cereals (preferably wholemeal), yogurt , fresh fruit and dried fruit (it is rich in calcium, magnesium and potassium , mineral salts that you particularly need, as well as omega 3 , the so-called “good fats”).
- It avoids the excessive condiments and fries : prefer Steaming, or to the plate and uses only extra virgin olive oil (preferably raw).
- Meat, fish, legumes : a varied diet is essential in every age of life. Prefer fish to the detriment of meat (especially moderate the consumption of red meat). Also watch out for eggs if you have high cholesterol.
- Consume 5 servings a day of fruit and vegetables (but more vegetables than fruit): prefer fresh products and, when possible, eat raw vegetables to avoid wasting nutrients in the
- Limit the consumption of dairy products : they are often associated with increased bloating and a more marked water retention. It is true that in menopause your bones are particularly in need of calcium , but you can also find valuable reserves in large leafy vegetables , almonds and oranges .
- Consume “white” bread and pasta in moderation : prefer wholemeal ones because less refined flours have a lower glycemic index and are richer than pasta with rice, spelled, barley and quinoa- based first courses : they contain fewer carbohydrates ( and less sugar) and more protein.
- Remember to drink at least 2 liters of water a day : water stimulates the metabolism , promotes the drainage of liquids and is also an ally of your beauty because it moisturizes the skin from the inside