Are you struggling to lose weight as you age? Here are my TOP TIPS for losing weight and keeping it off during menopause.
Each day, my inbox is full of messages from women who are struggling to lose weight.
Most of us have been in this position at some point in our life, but as we age, losing weight seems to get harder and harder! Even when we eat healthy and exercise, that stubborn weight just won’t budge.
Why Is It So Hard To Lose Weight During Menopause?
When a woman hasn’t had a menstrual cycle in 12 months, she is officially in menopause. But let’s also consider perimenopause here because typically, women find it difficult to lose weight in perimenopause as well, which can take place several years in advance of menopause.
So what’s happening to a woman’s body during perimenopause and menopause:
Hormones are fluctuating: Our levels of estrogen and rising and falling, which can lead to more fat storage.
Muscle mass has decreased: Due to lack of activity, hormone fluctuations, and aging, we tend to lose muscle mass.
Increased insulin resistance: Women tend to become more insulin resistant as they age, making them more susceptible to gaining fat.
Lack of sleep: Women typically have a hard time sleeping during menopause, and lack of sleep leads to weight gain.
So many women complain to me of increased belly fat when they reach menopause. As women, our fat storage shifts from our hips and thighs to our belly. Increased belly fat leads to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease.
Nutrition and Menopause
When we gain weight, we often think that it’s best to decrease the number of calories we are consuming and increase the number of calories we are expending. But, this is just not true!
Restricting calories too much and for long periods of time is actually detrimental to your health. It slows your metabolism and causes you to lose muscle mass.
The more muscle you lose and less nutrients you take in, the higher your risk for things like osteoporosis!
So, what should you eat during perimenopause and menopause?
The low carb way of eating
Eating low carb has been shown to reduce belly fat significantly.
A low carb way of eating works best for women in perimenopause and menopause because menopause is associated with a decrease in insulin sensitivity. Insulin sensitivity is your body’s ability to use carbs for fuel, instead of storing them as fat. So reduced insulin sensitivity means that you’re more likely to stash those carbs in your belly.
One of the most effective ways to manage decreased insulin sensitivity and avoid the weight gain that comes with it is to re-evaluate your carb tolerance and adjust your meals accordingly.
Some women become less tolerant of carbohydrates after menopause. If you’re noticing telltale signs like energy highs and crashes after eating starchy food, an experiment with lowering carb intake might help.
Exercise and Menopause
Many women lose muscle as they age. I talk to so many women who think that cardio is the best exercise – the more they sweat, the better.
I’m here to tell you that as an aging woman, cardio is detrimental to your health.
I’m not saying ALL cardio is bad, but there are types of cardio that are better than others.
Incorporating high intensity interval training (HIIT) into your workouts just two times a week will have a tremendous benefit. This could be as simple as combining fast walking with intervals of running.
HIIT is a great way to fight back by boosting metabolism and burning more fat in a shorter period of time during the exercise and after.
We tend to lose more muscle after the age of 50. If we do nothing about our muscle loss, it takes us longer to burn calories at 60 than at 20.
Muscle burns more calories than fat every second of the day, so if we’re not using them, we need to add weight lifting to our weekly routines to help replace the muscle we’re losing.
It’s as simple as lifting weights just twice a week. Free weights or resistance bands are great options. If you need help getting started, please CONTACT me and I’m happy to help.
Weight training is also the best thing you can do for your bones. It improves bone strength much better than calcium chews or other supplements (you can get the full story on bone strength and how to avoid osteoporosis here). Since bone loss is such a serious concern for women after menopause, this is definitely a benefit we need!
Other Tips For Losing Weight During Menopause
Get adequate sleep
Getting enough high-quality sleep is important for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. But, menopause can sure mess up the joys of sleep due to hot flashes and estrogen deficiency.
But there are some things you can do to try and get a better sleep:
- Do HIIT exercise to help boost your metabolism and improve sleep.
- Go to bed earlier. A lot of research has shown that staying up late increases levels of the hormone ghrelin, which increases carb cravings and decreases leptin, which is our “fullness” hormone. Just what we don’t need.
- Turn off the electronics an hour before bed. Research has shown that getting away from the TV, cell phones, laptops, etc. an hour before going to bed improves sleep. The less artificial light we have on in the house near bedtime, the better.
In addition to increasing the risk of heart disease, stress leads to elevated cortisol levels, which are associated with increased abdominal fat. Practice yoga or other forms of self care to help alleviate stress.
Although losing weight may be your primary goal, it’s important that you make changes you can maintain over the long term. It’s best to focus on health, rather than the number on the scale.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help you look and feel your absolute best during menopause and beyond.