Postmenopause is a time of life when weight gain is a common occurrence for a number of reasons. Hormonal, metabolic and lifestyle changes all raise the likelihood that you may gain weight. Hormonal changes affect the way your body stores fat. You may find that the fat is not evenly distributed in hips, limbs and other body parts. Instead, added fat settles in your abdomen.
Another factor in postmenopausal weight gain is a slow metabolism. You burn calories at a slower rate as you age. This may be frustrating if you are eating the same amount of food and taking in the same amount of calories that you always did, but still gain weight. If you had about 1900 calories a day when you were in your teens, for example, that same amount when you are 60 could lead to weight gain. You may need to revisit your calorie intake and reduce your daily totals by about 100 to 200 calories.
Next, weight gain may occur if you change your lifestyle. You may be less active than you were when you were younger. Finally, heredity may play a role. Doctors say that genetic factors cannot be ruled out. Do you have relatives with extra belly fat? Then you might have a tendency to see extra pounds settle around your stomach too.
A Different Workout
The good news is that you need not accept weight gain as a fact of life. There are steps you can take to prevent weight gain. The first key step is exercise.
Postmenopause is not the time to abandon exercise. Because your metabolism is slowed down, you need exercise to raise your energy and even out your metabolism. While you should continue with aerobics, doctors recommend that you add on some form of “resistance” or strength training to guard against the further loss of muscle mass as you age. Less muscle results in fewer calories burned and more stored fat.
Putting your muscles to work can really help burn those calories. The general recommendation is 30 minutes of exercise (which can be 15 minutes twice a day, depending on your needs) and strength (resistance) training at least twice a week.
Postmenopause is the time to pay close attention to your food choices. You need to bring in the right nutrients and avoid weight gain. Eating healthful foods promotes fullness so that overeating is not a temptation that is too difficult to overcome.
The culprits at this stage of life that cause extra pounds tend to be simple carbohydrates such as white bread, crackers, white rice and pastries. If you are cutting out the bad carbs, be sure to add enough protein into your daily meals.
Study your day’s worth of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Ask yourself the following questions: Did I eat food that offers vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein and calcium? Were my meals plentiful in fruits and vegetables? Did I make sure I didn’t skip meals, get very hungry and then overeat?
Remember that weight gain is not inevitable. You can live with a few extra pounds, but you can also beat the health consequences of serious weight gain.