Menopause brings about many changes for women; some of these changes, like the end of the menstrual cycle are welcomed and others, such as hot flashes and weight gain are not.
There are various supplements and strategies that can help manage those troublesome hot flashes and night sweats. But for many women, it is much more challenging to keep body weight under control.
There are many factors that can contribute to weight gain in menopause. Hormones are partly to blame. A lowering of estrogen and testosterone can cause women to store fat. Lifestyle and genetic factors are also involved.
Stress also tends to become more prevalent in menopause. Whether triggered by personal, financial, or health reasons, stress impacts weight in a number of ways. Rising levels of the stress hormone cortisol make it easier to pack on weight, particularly around the mid-section.
Stress may also trigger unhealthy habits, such as overeating and eating unhealthy foods (comfort foods). It also has a negative effect on sleep, and lack of sleep is a recently recognized factor that can lead to weight gain, along with many other health problems.
Muscle mass also declines with age and since muscle helps drive metabolism and calorie burning, if you have less muscle you will burn fewer calories.
Despite all these factors that seem to be stacked against you, it is possible to keep weight under control by making some simple lifestyle modifications.
- Boost muscle mass. Do weight training or resistance exercises to help build and maintain muscle mass. Increasing your muscle mass will raise your metabolism, so you will burn more calories and you will develop a leaner physique. Joining a gym is great, but if you are pressed for time/money, there are plenty of exercises that you can do at home, such as push-ups, squats, lunges, and chest presses.
- Make better dietary choices. You don’t have to count calories or follow a restrictive diet, just make better choices and limit portion sizes. For example, start your day with oatmeal and berries, a large salad with chickpeas or grilled chicken for lunch and baked fish with mixed veggies for dinner. Choose healthy snacks between meals such as nuts/seeds, yogurt, dark chocolate and healthy energy bars, such as Luna Bar or Larabar.
- Use supplements to complement your diet. Supplements that provide soluble fibre, such as femMED Weight Management, can help to reduce appetite and cravings and promote better blood sugar control – all factors that are helpful for managing weight.
These strategies will not only benefit your waistline, but they promote better heart health and improve your overall well-being.
Consumption of soy foods such as tofu is not associated with weight gain. In fact, many studies have found that vegetarian or plant-based diets, which include soy foods, are more effective for weight management. Soy does contain phytoestrogens, which are plant-based estrogen-like compounds that can exert weak estrogenic effects. Most research has found that soy foods do not raise estrogen levels in the body.
Simple Weight Loss Tips
It’s easier than you think to make good food choices part of your lifestyle. For starters, check out these simple tips.
- Make a satisfying protein-rich drink or smoothie by blending 2 cups (473 ml) of low-fat yogurt with 1 cup (237 ml) of crushed seasonal fruit, a banana, and a dash of soy powder.
- Eat a salad or broth-based soup as a first course so you’ll feel full, but take in fewer calories.
- Pack healthy “on the go” snacks such as unsalted nuts, carrot sticks, pears, and apples so you’re not tempted by chips or candy bars.
- Change to a lifestyle mindset
- Stop thinking about the word “diet” as an unsatisfying set of restrictions and instead think about long-term changes that lead to slow, steady weight loss. Create a healthy lifestyle that includes daily exercise and eat right by making smart choices.
- Choose nutrient-packed foods: Ensure balance and give your body a full range of protein, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
- Pay attention to portion sizes: Share a dish when eating out or keep some for later if the portions are too large. At home, serve reasonable portions on small dishes (so they look bigger) and avoid second helpings.
- Take a walk: Get 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five to six days per week to use up the calories you take in and prevent weight gain. Aim for 60 to 90 minutes a day for substantial weight loss.
- Get started: Begin healthful habits today to manage your weight for the rest of your life. Small steps count, so look for opportunities: take the stairs, park farther away, walk to shops.
- Eat at least three meals a day, preferably four to five small meals to keep your metabolism and energy level optimized. Do not skip meals as this can raise your appetite, deplete your energy levels and lead to binge eating. When you are hungry between meals, snack on healthful foods, such as fruit, yogurt, raw vegetables, nuts and seeds.
- Focus on fresh, unprocessed foods. Low-fat, nutrient dense foods are your best dietary choices. These include fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans, peas and lentils) and whole grains. Eating foods as close to their natural state as possible will give you the most benefits in terms of nutrients and fiber.
- Eat a variety of wholesome foods. This is the best way to ensure you get the optimum amount of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals you need to support lifelong health. We have a tendency to eat our favorite foods over and over. By doing this we miss out on some of the nutrients provided by eating different foods.
- Incorporate more fat-fighting foods into your diet: Cayenne pepper —helps suppress appetite and may also increase calorie burning.
- Cinnamon—helps balance blood sugar and lower cholesterol and triglycerides. Try adding 1⁄2 teaspoonful to your oatmeal or cereal. Or sprinkle it on your morning coffee for a delicious-smelling treat.
- Vinegar contains acetic acid, which may slow the passage of food from the stomach into the small intestine, so your tummy stays full longer. Vinegar can also delay the rise in blood sugar that occurs after you eat a starchy meal such as pasta.
- Flaxseed provides soluble fiber and also contains lignans (plant compounds that act as phytoestrogens and help to balance hormones).
- Soybeans are rich in protein and also contain phytoestrogens. Choose whole soybeans or fermented soy products, like tempeh.