Let's Talk About Menopause
I’m not a 50 year old woman, but I can safely say that I’ve heard from many women as they pass through this time of life. Here is how I see it. A lot of women experiencing perimenopause or menopause find it more challenging to maintain and, especially, lose weight than before menopause. This can be frustrating and stressful. Here are the reasons why it’s so hard to lose or even maintain weight during and after menopause:
Metabolism slows down as does energy expenditure. This means that you don’t burn as many calories at rest or overall, thus your body wants to slow down and not train in order to conserve calories. This is a lousy cycle!
Estrogen begins to drop and this means an increase in appetite and decrease in satiety.
Hot flashes and a lack of sleep lead to cravings, specifically junk food cravings, that are highly palatable. Sweet, crunchy, salty, creamy... None of these combinations are ever found in nature.
There is hope! Going back to some of the basics and having an understanding about why some of these simple practices can work if you commit to them and develop healthy habits around these remedies can be helpful. It might not be the ideal solution, but I’m confident that we can make things a little bit better.
Glycemic Load: This is a way of measuring how fast a certain food makes your blood sugar spike. The more sugary, the higher the spike. White bread has a score of about 75 on a scale of 0 to 100, while broccoli, cabbage, and kale are between a 10 and 2 on the same scale. You can do the math! Trying to eat mostly whole foods that are minimally processed while trying to avoid too many processed grains will go a long way for you.
Protein: Eating protein with each meal might help some of you. Several studies show that menopausal women who are eating more protein had the least body fat and were more active. We all lose muscle the older we get, but during menopause not only does estrogen and testosterone drop, lean muscle drops as well.
Working Out: This is one of the key factors in balancing hormones and making sure that muscle loss doesn’t happen at an accelerated rate. In some cases, when training is high enough, we can see stabilization of muscle loss or even lean muscle gains. Remember, lean muscle is what increases metabolism and stokes the fire. Without the exercise, we see a sharp decline in hormone, lean muscle, metabolism, and bone density.
All of these are possible solutions that can help with weight maintenance or weight loss during menopause. No one solution can be isolated to work, rather it’s important to strike a balance and find what works for you individually. The best way to do this is to work with a coach who can help guide you through the right starting points and tracking progress along the way.