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It’s no secret that weight gain is a common issue as we age. For both men and women, metabolism peaks around age 20 and begins to drop significantly after age 60.
But for women, menopause adds an extra challenge to the mix. Hormonal changes can compound the aging issue and make it even more difficult to maintain a healthy weight. Hormonal changes during perimenopause and menopause can promote the storage of visceral fat—fat that accumulates around the belly that has been linked to negative health outcomes such as insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and heart problems.
It can feel like a pretty rotten deal, but don’t despair – there are steps you can take to prevent menopausal weight gain and even shed some extra pounds if needed.
Many women find that a few simple adjustments to their lifestyle can make all the difference. By being mindful of your diet, increasing physical activity, and getting enough sleep, you can prevent any additional pounds from sneaking onboard. In fact, some women find that they’re able to lose weight and feel better than ever before.
So, don’t let menopause get you down! With a little bit of effort and a lot of self-care, you can maintain a healthy weight and feel your best during this phase of life.
Prioritize Muscle Mass
As we age, our bodies naturally lose muscle mass, which can lead to a slower metabolism. But here’s some good news: you can give your metabolism a boost by lifting weights. Weight training is one of the best ways to increase muscle mass and rev up your metabolism, which means you’ll burn more calories even while you’re resting.
But that’s not all: weight training also has another important benefit for women in menopause. It can help support bone density and prevent bone loss, which is a common issue as we age. So, by prioritizing weight training, you’re not just building muscle, you’re also protecting your bones and reducing your risk of osteoporosis.
You’re busy, and sometimes it can be tough to fit everything into your schedule. But if you have to choose between cardio and weights, choose the weights. Weight training is a time-efficient way to boost your metabolism, increase muscle mass, and protect your bones. So, grab those dumbbells and start pumping iron! Your body will thank you for it.
Get started with this medicine ball workout for strong, sculpted arms.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Did you know that getting plenty of high-quality sleep can help you maintain a healthy weight? It’s true! When you get enough sleep, your leptin and ghrelin hormones stay in balance, which helps your brain understand when you’re hungry and when you’re full. But if you don’t get enough sleep, these hormones can get thrown out of whack, leading to excessive hunger and trouble recognizing when you’re actually full.
Unfortunately, most women experience hot flashes during menopause, which can make it difficult to get a good night’s rest.
But fear not – there are steps you can take to improve your sleep quality and keep your hormones in check, even if you’re experiencing hot flashes or cold flashes.
- Swap out synthetic bedding and sleepwear fabrics for breathable material, such as linen, cotton, bamboo, or wool
- Take a hot bath or shower 2 hours before bed
- Go to bed at the same time each night
- Sleep in a dark room
- Turn on a fan or run your A/C
- Avoid caffeine and heavy meals in the hours before bedtime
- Avoid blue light from screens (no cellphones in bed!) for an hour or two before bed
So, don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep! By prioritizing restful sleep and making a few simple changes to your sleep environment, you can improve your hormonal balance and maintain a healthy weight during menopause.
Focus on Clean, Healthy Meals
If you want to maintain a healthy weight during menopause, one of the most important things you can do is adjust your diet and create healthy habits as soon as possible. The key is to focus on clean eating – but don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Clean eating is less about counting calories than choosing whole, nutritious foods. Aim for lean proteins, unrefined carbohydrates, and plenty of fresh, green veggies. Limit your sugar intake and avoid processed foods in favor of natural choices that are less refined. Eating whole, unprocessed foods such as vegetables, fruits, and legumes can also help balance hormones.
Cooking healthy meals can feel intimidating, especially if it’s an area where you’ve struggled in the past. But don’t stress! There are plenty of resources out there to help you get started. Consider taking a cooking class or watching a few YouTube videos to learn how to prepare and season delicious meals from scratch.
Not only will you end up with the know-how to create healthy meals at home, but you’ll also gain the confidence to host parties and entertain in a way that supports your waistline without sacrificing the valuable mental health benefits of a healthy social life. So, get creative in the kitchen and start fueling your body with clean, nutritious foods!
Dr. Michelle Sands also has a Me-NO-Pause Meal Plan that you can access right here for free. Grab yours!
If you’re trying to maintain a healthy weight during menopause, one factor that you might not have considered is stress. Whether you’re a stress eater or not, chronic stress can still lead to unexpected weight gain.
One of the main culprits is cortisol, a hormone that is released in response to stress. While cortisol is a normal response to stress, it can wreak havoc on your waistline over time. In addition, chronic stress can increase your risk of depression and anxiety, which can also contribute to weight gain and compound stress issues.
So, what can you do to control stress and minimize cortisol-related weight gain?
One powerful tool is meditation. By making meditation a habit and practicing mindful breathing for just a few minutes each day, you can reduce stress levels and cultivate a sense of calm and serenity.
For many, meditation can seem intimidating or difficult, but don’t be discouraged. There are plenty of resources out there to help you get started, whether it’s a guided meditation app or a local meditation group.
Another way you can mitigate stress-related weight gain is by supplementing with adaptogens—herbs used to help your body better withstand the physical effects of stress. Adaptogenic herbs such as Rhodiola (Rhodiola Rosea), Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera), and Ginseng may help you stress less over time.
By prioritizing stress reduction, utilizing adaptogens, and making meditation a part of your daily routine, you can support your mental and physical health during menopause and beyond.
If you’re worried about menopausal weight gain, here is some good news: you can get a head start on beating it by laying the groundwork well before you hit menopause.
Most women experience physical and hormonal changes 4-8 years before full-on menopause, so there’s no time like the present to start implementing healthy habits.
Even if you are experiencing hormonal imbalances in your 30’s there are resources available for you, such as this Hormone Harmony over 35 Free Download.
By watching your diet and exercising regularly in the years leading up to menopause, you’ll be way ahead of the game and prepared for an easy transition. But don’t wait until menopause to take charge of your health – start today and enjoy the benefits for years to come.
Remember, menopause is just another milestone on your journey to enlightened maturity. With all the living you’ve done and all the life lessons under your belt, you’re more than capable of creating a healthy lifestyle that keeps you lean, fit, and thriving. So, stay positive, treat your body right, and prioritize restful sleep. And most importantly, enjoy the process of creating a vibrant, healthy life during and after menopause.
Consult your medical provider before starting any diet, exercise, or supplement programs.