Perimenopause Weight Gain: Is It Inevitable?
Menopause is a natural part of the aging process for women. However, as the body adapts to new hormone levels and maintains optimal functioning during this time, it's not uncommon to experience perimenopause weight gain.
That being said, an expanding waistline is not inevitable. Uncovering the truth about perimenopause weight gain is one of the best ways to counteract it.
The average woman's metabolism slows down by about 10% every decade due to the loss of muscle mass and hormone changes during perimenopause. As a result, this can lead to weight gain, leading to other health issues like diabetes and heart disease.
During perimenopause (which may last for 4 to 8 years leading up to menopause), estrogen levels start to decline. That hormonal shift slows your metabolism. So even if you eat the same (mostly) healthy diet you ate in your 30s, you may likely gain weight. If that's not frustrating enough, mid-life pounds tend to settle around your middle. It also makes it much harder to drop pounds you've already put on.
The good news: It's never too late! Whether you're just starting perimenopause or have already bid a fond farewell to your last period, it's never too late to get your nutrition and fitness back on track, along with other healthy lifestyle changes.
To combat the effects of menopause on your metabolism, plenty of natural ways are effective at reducing the slowing rate and even boosting it!
Your metabolic burn depends on many things. Of course, some are outside your control, like your genetics and gender. But the good news is that you have control over many other factors, such as your nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress levels, and mindset.
Here are six major factors that YOU can control to help improve your metabolism and balance your hormones naturally:
Maintain a Healthy Nutrient-Dense Diet
Did you know what, when, and how you eat can affect good health and fat loss? During perimenopause and as you age, you may see a decrease in lean muscle mass and an increase in fat.
What you eat and drink during perimenopause and beyond can help alleviate certain signs and symptoms to support your long-term health— for example, a healthy, varied diet of nutrient-dense foods.
For example, increasing your daily protein intake can help you manage your appetite and reduce body fat, help maintain lean muscle mass, and decrease risk factors for heart disease. Protein-rich sources include poultry, beans, eggs, nuts and seeds, fish, and legumes like chickpeas, soybeans, and lentils.
In addition, foods containing lots of fiber can help you feel fuller for longer, improve your cholesterol, and lower your risk of heart disease. Good sources of fiber include vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and legumes.
Prioritize Strength Training
Nearly all workouts can help you burn fat, but strength training and interval training workouts can give you some bonuses to burn after your workout. In addition, increasing your fitness levels by even a small amount can improve your mood, sleep quality, weight management, and muscle function.
Increase Your General Daily Movement
This is a secret weapon for metabolism! The more active you are OUTSIDE your workouts (HINT: avoid a sedentary lifestyle), the more calories you burn all day. It can add up fast, like walking outside with friends, riding a bike, swimming, or enjoying a yoga class.
Manage Your Stress
Stress can affect your body's hormones, storing fat, especially around the waistline. Identify activities you can do or habits you can adopt to lessen stress and its negative effects on your health immediately. These include deep breathing, meditation, exercising, sleeping well, eating healthfully, getting a massage, and even laughing.
Get Quality Sleep
Along with managing stress, ensuring you routinely get a good night's sleep is the most important factor for restoring hormonal balance. In addition, great quality sleep is vital for fat-loss success.
Embrace a Positive Mindset
Research suggests that menopause is a highly individualized experience, determined in part by the attitudes and beliefs a woman holds about this transition. Furthermore, many studies show that a woman can improve her experience and reduce symptoms by exploring a new, more positive menopause mindset to invest in her health and well-being with self-care.
The best thing that no one talks about regarding these six components is:
When you take a synergistic approach, you'll feel more energized and lighter on your feet, and you might even start to hear people comment on your healthy "glow!"
While perimenopause and postmenopause can change your body shape, hormones aren't the only reason for menopausal weight gain – aging, genetics, and lifestyle play a role too.
Another key point is that the focus is not simply eating less and moving more regarding menopausal weight gain. And it's certainly not about deprivation, which will backfire.
We live in body-positive times, which is a wonderful thing! But keep in mind that menopausal belly fat can increase health risks. Equally important is that abdominal fat, or visceral fat, is metabolically active. That is to say, it increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.
For this reason, changing your mindset to focus on being healthier and enjoying getting to that healthier lifestyle can make your nutrition and fitness shift more sustainable in the long term. Of course, if weight loss comes with this, that's a nice bonus. But, ultimately, you're healthier, which is important.
Please take a moment to think about what you value regarding your body, health, and fitness.
What means the most to you and why?
Remember, use these transitional months or years as an opportunity for self-discovery and personal growth. By working now to reshape your views and experience around menopause and aging, you also reshape the possibilities for this next chapter of your life to help reclaim vibrant, optimal, and long-lasting health.
With a little understanding of what's happening in your body, you can navigate menopausal weight gain and other symptoms you are experiencing.
If you need help getting started, let's chat. I'm here to help!