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You may have noticed that as you get older, it is harder to maintain your usual weight. Many women gain weight when they cross over the threshold of menopause, especially around their waistline. On average, weight gain can be 0.5 kg (1 lb) per year, up to 2 to 4 kg (4.5 to 9 lbs) in total. But did you know that this weight gain can be avoided? Here’s how to prevent weight gain during menopause.
Menopause is defined as the permanent cessation of menstruation for a period of 12 months, thereby marking the end of the reproductive period for a woman. This is a stage of life during which there are significant hormonal changes. Among other things, there is a cessation of estrogen and progesterone production. These hormonal changes may be partly responsible for changes in body composition observed during menopause. Indeed, before menopause, a woman typically has more fat in her hips and buttocks, whereas after menopause, the weight is redistributed more around the abdomen, as it often is with men. In addition, the amount of visceral fat, i.e. abdominal fat that is stored deep within the belly, increases as compared to fat elsewhere on the body. Remember that an excess of visceral fat is dangerous for health because it increases the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. We also observe a loss of bone mass in adults aged 50 years and older. Menopausal women are, therefore, at an increased risk of osteoporosis.
The weight gain often seen during menopause is not only related to hormonal changes, but also to age and lifestyle changes. In effect, muscle mass and basal metabolism decrease with age. This means that menopausal women burn fewer calories at rest than before. It has also been observed that women tend to decrease their amount of physical activity when they reach the age of menopause. In addition, menopause can cause sleep problems in some women. A lack of sleep is associated with an increase in calorie intake and weight gain.
It is recommended to reduce your caloric intake by about 200 calories per day when you reach perimenopause. To do this, it can be helpful to incorporate high fiber and protein snacks. This will help you feel full until your next meal and thus reduce the size of your portions at meals.
Here are some examples of satiating snacks:
Whether it’s going for a walk, signing up for a group class or something else, find a way to be more active. Experts recommend a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity physical activity (such as brisk walking) or a minimum of 75 minutes of high intensity physical activity (such as jogging or interval training). It is also recommended to do weight training at least twice a week to help maintain muscle mass. Also, be sure to perform weight-bearing activities such as walking, dancing, or climbing stairs at least three times a week to preserve your bone mass.
Pay attention to alcohol and sugary beverages that provide extra calories which can easily contribute to weight gain.
Are you the last person on your list? Prioritize your health and dedicate time for yourself to participate in activities that you love. Spend time with family and friends who can support you. Try to better manage your stress, sleep better and work on feeling good.