Understanding Menopause's Effect on Weight

Weight gain during menopause seems to characterize the majority of women. This is noticed especially in the abdominal area. Since it is both unaesthetic and unhealthy, you need to understand the factors that contribute to weight gain, and the measures you can take in order to minimize the effects.   

Hormone Levels during Menopause

Menopause represents a turning point for the production of hormones. Estrogen and progesterone are particularly at fault for the extra pounds that are gained during menopause. At this time, the ovaries produce less estrogen. This hormone is involved in the ovulation process, but also seems to play an important role in weight gain. Since the ovaries decrease the estrogen production, the body will concentrate on finding other sources. As the fat cells are able to synthesize this hormone, your body will focus on turning calories into fat, in order to increase estrogen levels. Because fat cells and muscles cells do not burn calories in the same manner, your body will start accumulating extra pounds.

Progesterone, the other hormone involved in weight gain during menopause, causes water retention and bloating. In some situations, you may not gain weight as a result of the progesterone levels dropping, but you will still feel heavier. Fortunately, water retention and bloating are noticed only for a few months, after which they disappear on their own.

Insulin Resistance and Weight Gain

During menopause, women also develop insulin resistance, which causes the body to start storing fat. In other words, each calorie that you consume is turned into fat. Insulin resistance represents one of the main causes of weight gain in menopausal women, and one of the factors that causes the body to become resistant to insulin is a low-fat, high carb diet. Processed and refined foods may lead to this problem, especially after a prolonged use.

Stress as a Cause of Weight Gain

Stress levels increase considerably during menopause, fact that also contributes to the weight gain. Weight loss is prevented when the levels of the stress hormones get higher than usual. As a result, the body enters a storage mode that is also known as the famine effect. Under stress, the body is tricked into thinking that there will be no food for a long period of time, so it stores any calorie it can get.

Measures to Take

One of the first measures you can take when you notice weight gain during menopause is to eat a balanced diet. Refined sugars should be avoided at all costs. On the other hand, you should focus on eating more fruits and vegetables. This way, you reduce considerably the amount of calories consumed. Decreasing dietary fat should also be one of your main goals. During menopause, fat should not exceed 20 to 35 percent of your daily calories. If any fat needs to be consume, make sure it comes from healthier sources, such as canola, peanut and olive oil.

Also, it is a known fact that women tend to do less physical exercises during menopause, fact that also affects their weight. Continuing to go to the gym or at least doing regular physical activities will help you stay in shape for a longer time.

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