With each season of life comes a variety of biological changes that require us to adjust how we manage both our health and our weight. One such change is the hormonal fluctuations that occur during menopause. If you don’t learn how to properly manage these fluctuations they can lead to weight gain. Here’s what you need to know.
The average woman will begin perimenopause between the ages of 45 and 55. If you can, ask women on both sides of your family when they started menopause as it may give you a ballpark range of when to begin looking for symptoms. Perimenopause lasts an average of 4 years but can last as long as 10 years. During the last 2 years of perimenopause, you will experience a massive drop in estrogen levels. This hormonal change increases glucose, which often leads to abdominal weight gain averaging between 10 and 15 pounds.
Environmental changes can increase the level of the stress and weight gain-inducing hormone cortisol. Cortisol itself does not lead to weight gain but increases sugar cravings and your overall appetite. Life changes and environmental factors that can contribute to stress-related weight gain include divorce, career changes, family stress, the loss of a friend, a child heading off to college, or the death of a loved one. While you may not be able to eliminate your source of stress you can proactively minimize your stress response.
While you might be tempted to eat less, studies show that restricted caloric intake leads to a loss of muscle mass. Less muscle means fewer calories burned, and an increase in fat storage. By all means, if your caloric intake is high, it can be reduced—but perimenopause is not the time for a deprivation diet. Instead, it’s time to rethink what you eat. Most women will benefit from increasing their daily protein intake around menopause and offsetting their insulin spike by eating more foods with a lower glycemic index.
While nutritional intake will always be 90 percent of the weight loss and weight maintenance equation, now is the time to maximize your fitness routine by increasing strength training to minimize the rate at which you lose muscle mass. Strength training doesn’t have to be full on bodybuilding as any type of fitness routine that includes resistance training is enough—such as Pilates or core yoga. Unfortunately, this busy and stressful time in life is when many women decrease their workout frequency, so it’s time to get back on track.
Whether you are in peri or post-menopause you can utilize nutrition to take back your pre-menopause body. This approach must be personalized for your fluctuating hormone levels, as well as your individual nutrient needs. To learn more about taking a personalized approach to nutrition reach out to the team at Personalized Nutrition Concepts today!