Menopause Weight Gain - Creating a Long Term Change
During the menopause our bodies go through huge changes driven by a change in the hormone oestrogen which is truly felt top to bottom with uncomfortable symptoms. Lack of oestrogen slows down our metabolism and changes the chemistry in our body and the way we distribute fat. This means we can’t continue treating our bodies the same way we did during our 20s and 30s as the very basis of chemistry within our bodies has fundamentally changed. Our diet and exercise needs to reflect this change.
Changing our weight and the way our body distributes fat does not include fad diets, trendy diets, & special ingredients but with long-term changes to diet and exercise that are consistent, healthy and in line with changes in our bodies.
Work on Your Diet - Small changes drive big results!
We don’t advocate calorie counting but it’s important to have a think about where we can cut out a few calories on a daily basis. Women need to cut out about 500 calories a day during menopause due to changes in the body, body fat distribution and metabolism. Trim away food from your diet that doesn’t add much nutritional value such as pasta, white bread, rice, cereals and other carbs.
Also watch out for snacking in-between meals especially whilst on the go or watching TV: Eating a bag full of nuts whilst streaming a series on Netflix will over time add some serious calories to your diet and you will put weight on. The same goes for wine, crisps, sweets, beer etc.
During lockdown alcohol consumption has also increased, that moment you tell yourself “just one more glass of wine” can actually add 160 calories to your daily intake and doing that regularly will add a few kilos of weight gradually over a few months. Think of it this way: one glass of wine equals a slice of cake, that’s a lot of extra calories!
Take notes daily in a food diary of any food and drinks that don’t include water, tea and coffee and have a think about how you can remove 500 calories a day. This has to be a long-term sustainable change rather than something you think you can only do for a few weeks: the yo-yo effect (weight going up and down quickly) is what we are trying to avoid here!
Avoid: Big portion sizes, long gaps of no eating (skipping meals), snacking in between meals, alcohol consumption more than 1-2 times/week.
Make sure you: Eat healthily (Lots of vegetables with some meat & fish, nuts, low-sugar fruits such as blue-berries etc.), eat smaller portions, eat regularly (3-4 meals/day).
Work-out - Create a baseline!
Working out during the menopause can be difficult as we feel exhausted and not ourselves! The average weight gain for women in menopause is 10kg which equates to about a dress-size.
Going to the gym is one aspect and the obvious one but we really need to implement daily routines and exercises. We recommend walking 10,000 steps a day. It sounds a lot but really this is the base-line for healthy weight. It doesn’t need to be all in one go too, you can start your morning off with 6,000 steps, then do 2,000 steps in your lunch hours and then another few in the evening, that way it doesn’t look too daunting. The key thing is to aim for this every day. If you’re doing ca. 4,000-5,000/day increasing it to 10,000 will really change your weight in the coming months.
The Final Recipe
The recipe is simple: Make a few simple changes to your diet to cut a few calories and increase your exercise!
It’s tempting to want to follow more complicated ways to regain control over menopause weight gain but the reality is a very simple way: Eat less and healthy, exercise more. Make sure the things you cut out of your diet are just excess calories from snacking and drinking rather than skipping meals which we don’t recommend and is not a long-term solution.
Instead of fighting it, we need to accept this natural change and make positive long-term changes. Our bodies are changing and so we must change our habits with it. Stay healthy, safe and always be true to yourself by not being too hard on yourself about the changes you are going through right now.
Your body is changing for the rest of your life during menopause, so do your best to prepare and go through the menopause as best as you can. Remember that small changes make a big difference and we are re-learning what our bodies need and don’t need. It’s hard to put to rest habits we created over 45-50 years so be patient and embrace the next months as you get back into shape and feel better in yourself again.
The Feminapause Team xx