Menopause—it’s something all women go through, and something most women dread. It comes with those uncomfortable hot flashes, and it notorious for causing weight gain, but why? We’re diving deep into the science behind menopausal weight gain and some hacks to help prevent and or reverse that stubborn weight gain from happening in the first place.
So, What Causes Menopausal Weight Gain Anyway?
Ok, so let’s get right to it. Why do we tend to gain weight during this phase of life? It really all comes down to hormonal changes, aging, lifestyle factors, and genetics.
Another big cause is that our muscle mass tends to decrease with age. And, when you start to lose muscle mass, your metabolism may slow along with it. The double whammy here is that while muscle mass decreases, fat tends to increase with age.
As we age, we may also slow down a bit and may not be as physically active as we used to be. Between the slower metabolism, lower muscle mass, hormonal changes, and a more sedentary lifestyle, these can all lead to that unwanted weight gain.
But, all of this doesn’t mean menopausal weight gain had to be your reality! These are just some of the most common reasons why women tend to gain weight during menopause.
But, get this—we have the power to prevent this from becoming an inevitable thing. While we can’t do much about genetics, there is so much we can do in the nutrition and lifestyle department.
Here’s How to Prevent That Stubborn Weight Gain During Menopause
#1 Get Your Body Moving
Physical activity is super important for all phases of life. Exercise can become even more important as we age to help prevent menopausal weight gain and to keep our muscles, bones, and heart healthy.
Exercising regularly, and mixing in some cardio (like walking and cycling) with some strength training is going to help maintain muscle mass, and thus keep your body burning calories. This is huge when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight.
#2 Focus on Whole Foods
We all know that a whole foods diet is the way to go when it comes to supporting overall health. You’ll want to munch on plenty of whole and nutrient-dense foods (like fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, organic poultry, and wild-caught fish), while limiting refined, sugary, and processed foods to help maintain a healthy weight.
#3 Focus on Getting Enough Z’s
Women going through menopause often have a hard time sleeping (thanks, hot flashes). And, not only does a lack of sleep lead to us feeling groggy and irritable, but not getting enough sleep has also been linked to weight gain.
Making sleep a priority can be incredibly beneficial for your mood, and may also be that missing link in helping maintain a healthy weight.
So, if sleep is a struggle right now, try implementing a calming evening routine. Maybe try some yoga, meditation, and a mug of chamomile tea before bed. And, if hot flashes have you up all night, lowering the temperature in your room, or even sleeping on a cooling pillow at night may be helpful!
#4 Combat Stress
Trust me—I know that lowering stress is easier said than done. But, if you can even manage to squeeze in ten minutes of stress reduction per day, it may do wonders for your hormone balance. Stress can lead to a spike in cortisol, which can lead to abdominal fat.
If you’re feeling stressed as you go through menopause, pause and take some time to take care of you! It may really help balance those hormones just a bit and help prevent that stubborn belly fat that comes right along with high cortisol levels.
Don’t Let Menopause Get You Down
Menopause is a huge time of transition, and if you’re feeling stressed about the body changes that tend to come with this period of life, I totally hear you.
Menopause comes with a whole slew of hormonal changes, and it can take some adjusting to really lean into how we can support our bodies and get them balanced to prevent and or reverse that weight gain.
Try using these hacks to help prevent menopausal weight gain, and to support an overall healthy lifestyle, no matter what phase of life you are in.
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