By Alejandra Boker, MBA, RD, IFNCP
Women’s health is multifaceted. But one of the main issues consistently brought up by many women is the struggle with weight gain after menopause. Yes, aging has been associated with weight gain in both sexes however, controversy exists regarding the relative contributions of aging versus menopause to weight gain in midlife women.
Contrary to what many believe, weight gain in midlife women is actually the result of aging and lifestyle changes and not necessarily due to menopause. As illustrated in a Mayo Clinic article, although estrogen deprivation after menopause leads to an increase in total body fat, it also results in a decrease in lean body mass, such that there is little net effect on weight, related to menopause alone.”
Wow! Is it just me, or does this not make total sense? As we age and lose muscle mass, our metabolism slows down, which essentially can lead to weight gain.
I think I would be doing a disservice to every midlife woman out there if I said that weight maintenance is as simple as maintaining your lifestyle. The truth of the matter is, it’s not that simple. It has to be a personalized approach when it comes to
- weight maintenance
- weight loss, or
- weight gain.
Other changes also occur internally in our bodies, which we are not even aware of. For example, age-related changes in sleep can lead to changes in glucose and lipid metabolism, nutrient intake, and hormones, such as leptin and ghrelin, which regulate hunger and appetite.
As we age, our bodies also start producing less acid in the stomach, affecting how our bodies digest food and ultimately the nutrients we absorb.
Toxicity is also a contributor to inflammation in the body. When our bodies become overloaded, toxins build up in the liver and digestive system, leading to weight gain, hormone imbalances, and energy loss.
So what can we do in the meantime to maintain our weight? Well, let’s focus on the basics:
1) stick to a consistent eating routine where you eat at least 3 times during the day, not letting more than 5 hours pass in between each meal or snack;
2) focus more on the consumption of whole foods versus processed foods;
3) ensure daily bowel movements;
4) get at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night;
5) practice stress relief activities; and
6) minimize exposure to toxins.
If you struggle in any of these areas, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Getting the right kind of information from a professional, and not just blaming it on one factor, in this case, menopause can likely put you on the path to reaching your health goals.
QUOTE FOR THE WEEK
“Each new day is a new opportunity to improve yourself. Take it. And make the most of it.” ~Anonymous