In honour of Women’s Health Month we’re aiming to shed some light on how menopause can contribute to abdominal weight gain. Although we cannot prevent the onset of menopause nor the side effects that come with it, we can take positive control over how things play out.
Most of us know what menopause is — or at least we think we do. We picture the stereotypical woman standing outside on a cold winter’s night dressed in only a tank top as she seeks relief from a hot flash. But for those of us going through this natural period of hormonal shifts, menopause can also mean a significant change in how our body’s size and shape.
Weight gain, particularly in the abdominal area, is common leading up to and after menopause. In fact obesity rates increase to 65% in women between the ages of 40 and 59 years, climbing to 73% in women over 60 years of age.
Menopausal weight gain is a lot of things, but mostly it’s frustrating — especially for women who haven’t changed anything in their dietary habits or lifestyle. So why does this happen?
Two common hormones come into play, specifically estrogen and progesterone. Both these hormones regulate our metabolic rate, which defines how fast we burn calories. And during menopause, their levels drop significantly.
They also determine where our body stores fat. In our pre-menopausal body, extra weight is usually carried on the hips and thighs. When these hormones shift, we see a move towards storing weight in the abdomen.
Cortisol, a stress hormone, also plays a role in slowing metabolism and increasing abdominal weight.
In addition to the disheartening aspect of menopausal weight gain, there are also very real negative health impacts. Research shows that an increase in weight in the abdominal area increases a woman’s risk for diabetes and heart disease.
So it’s important to learn how to manage your body weight before menopause sets in. Fortunately, certain dietary and lifestyle interventions can help, especially during this hormone transition to help boost our metabolism and keep you healthy.
If this resonates with you, we encourage you to take an active role the the management of your health to reduce the risk of chronic conditions. Book a free meet-and-greet with Dr Cheryl Allen to discuss how we can help you explore your options.