Weight Gain And Menopause
Weight gain and menopause is a very sensitive topic amongst women in their 50s.
Not only does it cause shear frustration in some but it has been
associated with an increase in the risk of heart disease compared to the
However, weight gain after menopause should
not be a cause for alarm or excessive anxiety. It is advisable for you
to learn a little more about weight gain and menopause so you can
comfortably take the simple and necessary steps required to face it.
women just get freaked out when they feel like some ‘special programs’
are required to mitigate this. Remember that menopause by itself is not a
disease and you are not going to spend the rest of your life after the
50s focusing on fighting menopause!
In this article, I will
discuss very clearly the question of weight gain and menopause and
present some simple things to know and do to minimize the weight gain
Is Weight Gain And Menopause A Normal Association?
One of the symptoms that accompany perimenopause and menopause is
weight gain. If you have discovered some weight increases in your 40s
or early 50s, you are not alone. Assuming that there is no medical
cause, research has shown that up to 90% of women will experience weight
gain between the ages of 35 and 55 related to perimopause and
menopause. That means for the vast majority of women, weight gain is
normal and should not be a major surprise and embarrassment. That also
leaves out a 10% who might not have this so if you don’t have weight
gain after menopause, you should not think you are also abnormal. You
may be the one of those who will not have it!
The weight gain is
usually gradual and therefore occurs over a long period of time,
averaging about 1 pound(about 0.5Kg) with a total gain of about 10 to 15
pounds( 4.5 to 6.8Kg) during the entire post-menopause years.
Not Only Weight, What About My Shape?
As though the weight gain and menopause association is not enough, these
extra pounds turn to be distributed differently from what most women
are familiar with. The obvious result is a change in your body shape
from that of your 20s or 30s. The extra weight often turns to be
distributed in the abdomen rather than the thighs, rear or hips as a
result of androgen in the blood. This produces a round tummy often
called the ‘apple’ shape. Note that this extra abdominal fat is what is
partly responsible for the increase in heart disease risk in women after
Why The Weight Gain And Menopause Association?
The essential feature of menopause is loss of activity of the ovaries
and consequent decrease in the amount of female sex hormones produced.
Weight gain is part of the myriad manifestation of this loss of hormone
activity especially estrogen. There are two main groups of causes
associated with the menopause weight gain-those that are menopause-
related and those that are age/lifestyle-related.
perimenopuase, there are major changes in the amount of female hormones
produced by the ovaries. These hormones affect the tappet, body
metabolism and the amount and distribution of fat. Hormones are the
major players linking weight gain and menopause.The lack of estrogen is
responsible for an increased body fat which is the body’s compensatory
mechanism to get extra estrogen from other sources. Androgens are male
hormones which are responsible for distributing the fat in the abdomen
causing the middle age spread. Note that even females have a low level
of male hormones being produced by the ovaries and adrenal glands.
are not everything in menopause weight gain.A variety of age and
lifestyle related factors also contribute to the gain in weight in some
women. Many postmenopausal women exercise less than they usually do in
their 30s or 40s and continue to eat the same as they did before. These
will go a long way to favoring increase in weight. Also, genetic factors
may also play a role. If any of your close relatives had the problem,
you are at an increased risk for it. Other lifestyle related issues
include stress may be a contributing factor.
Two very important
age-related causes of menopause weight gain are a decrease in you muscle
mass and maximum aerobic exercise activity. Muscle mass is replaced
with fat in aging which is not good for metabolism because fat cells do
not use up energy as much as muscles.
Should I Worry About It? What’s The Risk?
Weight issues are a sensitive one for women and this time around,
you should not only bother about the esthetic factors about your ‘looks’
but also the medical complications that might result from it.
Obviously, many women will worry about the menopause weight gain because
of the changes in their outlook.
Even more important is the
increase in heart disease and stroke that might result from this. The
increase abdominal fat will increase risk of high blood pressure,
diabetes and high cholesterol. It is therefore important to give a
little attention to this problem to optimize your overall health.
What should I do?
One of the first things to do is to realize that menopause weight
gain is normal and should not taken as a disease. Getting the proper
perspective will not only allay unnecessary stress but will help you
develop an appropriate response. Also, be sure it is menopause weight
gain and not some disease especially hypothyroidism. If you have any
doubts, please visit your doctor.
Remember that the basic
principles of weight control are the same after menopause. The weight
change will be a result of the calories you take in and burn. If you
burn more calories than you take in, you will loose weight. If you take
in more than you use, you will gain weight. Menopause weight gain
presents a special challenge. The hormonal factors at work turn to fight
against your efforts to cut down calories intake and use more. The
decrease in muscle mass and increase in fat decreases your metabolic
rate which burns calories and so efforts to use more calories by
exercise may not seem to be as effective as in your early years.
is really no magic treatment or means of preventing the weight gain
that comes with menopause. Give attention to the amount of calories you
take in( diet) and the amount you burn( exercise)
- Eat less calories. You
may need to decrease the amount of calories for you to prevent weight
gain or try to loose weight. Post-menopause women may need to decrease
their calories intake by about 200 compared to what they took in their
early years. Failure to make this little weight adjustment is partly
responsible for the weight gain after menopause. Choose more fruits,
vegetables and whole grains. Try to trade high sugar and fat snacks for
fruits! Be sure to avoid crash diets, starvation or skipping meals
because you will be more likely to catch up latter by eating too much.
Furthermore, you will not want to treat one problem and create another.
- Exercise more. Exercise
has proven benefits for overall health including post-menopausal women.
Aerobic exercises will increase your metabolism and calories
consumption as well as fat breakdown. Also, weight bearing exercises
such as walking will increase body muscle mass which is good to burn
- Beware. Beware of
excessive dieting or exercise to control weight. Everything in excess
will produce some unwanted effects. Avoid getting mixed up with multiple
dieting or weight loss programs that will make your life revolve around
controlling menopause weight gain. Also try not to stop exercise if
the results are not rapidly forthcoming as your earlier years. Fighting
menopause weight gain is challenging and exercise has other benefits
than just controlling your weight.
There is an
excellent resource written by Dr Pamela Peeke on this issue of weight
gain and menopause entitled “fighting fat after forty”. You can get this
from amazon using the links below, either as a paper copy or for your
Kindle books( second link).
You can get the Kindle Copy here Fight Fat After Forty