How hard is it to lose weight during the menopause?Your diet may not have changed but as you hit the menopause you may find that your body has. Weight gain is another unwanted side effect of the menopause and it’s all the fault of those pesky hormones. Even if you’re not noticeably heavier you may find you’ve bulked out around the stomach, as fat migrates from hips and thighs. The bad news is that carrying weight around the abdomen increases the risk of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, so ‘letting yourself go’, however tempting, isn’t an option if you want to keep healthy. So how to lose weight? Well firstly, severely limiting your calorie intake on crash diets is a no-no because if you cut out essential fats you’ll be even more at risk of osteoporosis. Keep in mind too that what worked when you were younger may not work now because your metabolic rate slows down as you get older. The good news is that it is possible to lose weight and that is by cutting calories and increasing the intensity of the exercise you do. So although lying on the sofa clutching a packet of chocolate Hob Nobs and a bottle of wine might be appealing, it’s time to get moving. An intake of around 400-600 fewer calories, regular physical activity, low fat intake, and a diet filled with fruits and vegetables are all key to taking the weight off.
Best types of diet
Low carbStudies have shown that a low carb diet works. In one such study, postmenopausal women on a low carb diet lost 21.8 pounds (9.9 kilograms), 27.5% of their body fat, and 3.5 inches (8.9 centimeters) from their waists within 6 months One such diet that has been shown to be effective is the paleo diet which provides roughly 30% of calories from carbs. This produced a greater reduction in abdominal fat and weight after 2 years than a low fat diet. The low fat diet provided 55–60% of calories from carbs
The Mediterranean dietAlthough no tests have been done exclusively on menopausal women, the benefits of a Mediterranean diet filled with fresh fish olive oil and fresh fruits and vegetables has been proven to help you lose weight as well as retain a healthy heart.
Vegan or vegetarian dietA 2018 survey found that vegans in perimenopause experienced less severe vasomotor symptoms (such as hot flashes) and physical symptoms than omnivores. However, a more flexible vegetarian diet that includes dairy and eggs has also been shown to work well for women who are experiencing the menopause.
Best types of exerciseThe best type of exercise is the type you actually do. Signing up for the gym but never going is expensive and only makes you feel guilty, so choose exercise you will enjoy. You could learn to salsa, go wild swimming and walk, walk, walk. Strength training is important as it can help to rev up your metabolism and in turn burn fat, even while resting, while pilates and yoga will help with flexibility and better muscle function.
Emma is a multi-entrepreneur. She founded The Menopausal Godmother and Acupuncture That Works. She specialises in acupuncture for menopause & fertility and has delivered acupuncture to over 1000 women going through the menopause.