2 Food-Focused Steps to Alleviate Menopausal Weight Gain
Author: Mary Doube
Menopause and weight gain are real, and most women are led to believe that fluctuating hormones are the major contributor as we go through the menopausal transition. The truth is, hormones are only one of the reasons for weight gain after menopause. Depression, anxiety, and lack of activity can also be contributing factors to weight gain for many women. (Also read: Weight Gain and Menopause: Is Menopause Causing Weight Gain?)
Let’s look at the facts
Here are some of the scientific reasons why women gain weight during the menopause phase:
- Drop in estrogen levels causes bad bacteria growth and build up in the gut (can also lead to “leaky gut” and gut inflammation). This causes digestive issues and increases the inflammation in the body as a whole, hence the weight gain. Increased fat absorption occurs as fat cells expand which adds to weight gain particularly around the abdomen.
- Reduced muscle mass. A natural drop in activity makes it harder to build or maintain the muscle you already have. Losing muscle mass can slow the rate at which your body uses calories.
- Insulin resistance and/or carb sensitivity. For some, insulin may begin to not function as well as it should, potentially resulting in more stored fat.
- High cortisol (stress) levels decrease progesterone’s impact on our bodies, resulting in added food cravings, digestive problems like bloating, low energy, insomnia, and low mood.
- Poor sleep. Ongoing fatigue affects the functioning of our hunger hormones Gherkin and Leptin, which are responsible for appetite stimulation and suppression.
But guess what?
We are NOT victims to our hormones. I know I am ready to kick menopause out the door! We can help our bodies manage weight gain by understanding what to eat. Of course, other lifestyle factors such as resistance training, improving sleep quality, and managing stress are just as important, but in addition to those, here are my top two tips for managing weight with food:
1. Eat adequate amounts of protein (like, SERIOUSLY)
If you need to change nothing else in your diet, please consider increasing your intake of protein. It’s a massive needle mover when it comes to weight management because it slows digestion, so you’ll feel fuller for longer without the “bloat”. Adequate protein helps hugely with insulin response; your body is better able to manage blood sugar levels, effectively allowing for less fat storage.
A protein-rich diet also allows us to build muscle. In fact, we cannot build any muscle tissue without it. We must get the essential amino acids from the food we eat or drink. The more muscle fibers we have, the more calories our body uses to maintain them. Rather than strong calories, we can become strong calorie-burning machines.
Consider using a protein powder supplement to boost your intake — I’d recommend trying my absolute favourite green smoothie recipe included in Strong Formula’s FREE Recipe E-book!
2. Be choosy with your carbs
Are you holding off on your toast at breakfast only to be craving biscuits by 10AM? Wouldn’t it make more sense to eat appropriate amounts of whole food carbohydrates throughout your day and be satisfied? Satisfaction is the name of the game when it comes to carbs — deprivation can lead to ’stuff-it style’ binge cycles down the road.
If you are experiencing menopausal weight gain or are worried that this might become an issue for you in the future, it’s time to get informed. Check us out at strongformula.com to get access to more menopause-related information, ongoing support and more!