The 5 Pillars Of Menopause Weight Loss

Menopause Weight Loss

I cant lose the weight I gained since the start of menopause

Linda began her appointment by saying

The weight gain is what upsets me most about menopause. I feel my clothes get tighter each and every day– it’s driving me crazy. I eat plenty of salads, fish, veg, rice and fruit. I eat no junk food. I exercise daily. Not only am I not losing weight, I keep gaining it. Why is this happening to me?

If I had just $10 dollars for each time a women has said a similar thing, I could retire in comfort.

Permanent menopause weight loss is achievable. I have helped hundreds of patients to achieve it.

Weight loss during menopause is unlike weight loss during any other time in your life. There are 2 unique factors present during menopause … that affect weight loss … that are not present during any other time in your life. They need to be understood and addressed to achieve menopause weight loss.

You may not be as aware of these two factors, as you are of the other factors involved in achieving menopause weight loss.

There are 5 factors that must be addressed to achieve menopause weight loss. Each of the 5 factors must be addressed. Most women address just 2 of the 5 factors …. maybe 3. Therefor they do not lose weight. Some women even continue to gain weight.

The 5 pillars of menopause weight loss

  1. You must re-balance your hormones to lose weight during menopause.

    This is first and foremost. If this is not done, it is probable that you will not lose weight. It is not done by a majority of women trying to lose weight during menopause.

    Menopause is a time of the biggest hormonal changes in your body. It results in hormonal imbalance.

    It is the cause of all menopause symptoms.

    It is the biggest cause of weight gain during menopause.

    Your body functions like a full sized symphony orchestra. In such an orchestra, all players are finely attuned to one another. The various parts of your body are like the musicians and your hormones are like the conductor of the orchestra.

    Prior to perimenopause, your hormones work in harmony by co-existing with one another in a certain ratio. They are said to be in balance. This keeps your body healthy and functioning.

    With the onset of perimenopause, the ratios of your hormones change. This creates imbalance between them. The changing ratios are kick started by the a change in the ratio between estrogen and progesterone. This is the trigger that causes menopause weight gain …. and all the other perimenopause symptoms.

    Estrogen becomes dominant and stays dominant throughout perimenopause. It creates a condition in which your body does not have enough progesterone to balance out estrogen levels. Your body has

    • too much estrogen
    • not enough progesterone

    Estrogen dominance disturbs the balance between all the other hormones in your body. As your hormones collectively control all of the processes in your body, the processes behave erratically. This causes menopause weight gain and the other symptoms that you are experiencing.

    The changing levels of these hormones also prevent weight loss. This is the reason why you can follow a stringent diet and exercise regularly and not lose weight.

    To learn which hormones prevent menopause weight loss, as a result of estrogen dominance, click here.

    There are 2 ways to re-balance your hormones. Click here and here to learn how to re-balance your hormones

  2. You must do a stress reduction technique regularly to lose weight during menopause. High levels of stress prevents menopause weight loss.

    During menopause, stress levels are particularly high … especially for women who experience moderate to severe menopause symptoms. The hormonal imbalance brings with it, mental, emotional and physical stress.

    When you are under stress, your body produces cortisol ….known as the stress hormone. Protracted stress results in high levels of cortisol in your body. High levels of cortisol in your body causes your body to store more fat. It also prevents your body from burning fat.

    In the presence of high levels of cortisol, regular exercise will not burn fat and following a healthy diet will not result in weight loss.

    Do yoga, meditation, relaxation therapy or some other stress reduction technique regularly if you want to achieve menopause weight loss

  3. Speed up your metabolism – This is the most difficult pillar to confront … and do something about. To speed up your metabolism, you need to do regular strength training. Most women do not do this.

    Your metabolism slows down as you get older. Your metabolism determines the rate your body uses calories from the food that you eat.

    By metabolism, I am referring to your basal metabolic rate (BMR). BMR is the rate your body burns calories just to keep your heart pumping, your lungs breathing, and your organs functioning.

    Your basal metabolism accounts for between 60 percent and 75 percent of the total calories you use daily, and there’s no physical activity required for this.

    BMR is determined by the muscle mass in your body. Muscle mass burns calories.

    Your body begin to lose muscle mass in your 30s. You continue to lose muscle mass for the rest of your life, unless you take steps to increase your muscle mass. Strength training is the only way you can build muscle mass and increase your BMR

  4. Your diet must consist of eating real food in order to lose weight during menopause. Real food does not need labels – ie – unprocessed meat, fish, milk, eggs, legumes, fruits, grains and vegetables.

    To achieve menopause weight loss you must stay away from processed food and junk food. These foods contain added sugars, which will cause you to gain weight.

    You also need to reduce the size of the portions you eat at each meal, especially if you do not engage in strength training to speed up your metabolism

  5. You need to do at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise/physical activity every day.

    While BMR accounts for the majority of the calories your body uses in a day, aerobic activities still uses a significant number of calories.

    If you do not do strength training, it is particularly important to do at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise/physical activity every day….probably more than 30 minutes will be required

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Menopause Weight Gain – Meet Your Calorie Critters

Menopause Weight Gain

I cant stop the weight gain

A calorie critter is a creature that resides in your closet. It shrinks your clothing … makes them smaller.

You may notice that every day an article of clothing feels tighter and every month another article of clothing no longer fits you. This is caused by your calorie critters.

Try as you may to eat healthier food and smaller quantities of food, it doesnt prevent the calorie critters from carrying out their duties during menopause.

In regard to menopause weight gain, you may ask

what has happened to the calories in versus calories out datum?

Calories in versus calories out remains a valid datum. However, during menopause, there are other factors that contribute to menopause weight gain.

Countless patients have told me that even though they follow a stringent diet and exercise daily, they have not been able to lose the weight gained during menopause. Some even continue to gain weight.

Why does this happen?

To answer this question, you need to understand that there are more factors involved in menopause weight gain than there are in weight gain prior to menopause.

5 calorie critters that cause menopause weight gain

  1. hormone imbalance – while hormone imbalance occurs at different points in a woman’s life, it has its biggest impact on a woman’s life during menopause.

    It is the cause of all menopause symptoms.

    It is the biggest cause of weight gain during menopause.

    Your body functions like a full sized symphony orchestra. In such an orchestra, all players are finely attuned to one another. The various parts of your body are like the musicians and your hormones are like the conductor of the orchestra.

    Prior to perimenopause, your hormones work in harmony by co-existing with one another in a certain ratio. They are said to be in balance. This keeps your body healthy and functioning.

    With the onset of perimenopause, the ratios of your hormones change. This creates imbalance between them. The changing ratios are kick started by the a change in the ratio between estrogen and progesterone. This is the trigger that causes menopause weight gain …. and all the other perimenopause symptoms.

    Estrogen becomes dominant and stays dominant throughout perimenopause. It creates a condition in which your body does not have enough progesterone to balance out estrogen levels. Your body has

    • too much estrogen
    • not enough progesterone

    Estrogen dominance disturbs the balance between all the other hormones in your body. As your hormones collectively control all of the processes in your body, the processes behave erratically. This causes menopause weight gain and the other symptoms that you are experiencing.

    The changing levels of these hormones also prevent weight loss. This is the reason why you can follow a stringent diet and exercise regularly and not lose weight.

    To learn which hormones cause you to gain weight during menopause, click here

  2. .

  3. stress – Of course we we experience stress at various points in our lives and for various reasons.

    However during menopause, stress levels are particularly high … especially for women who experience moderate to severe menopause symptoms. The hormonal imbalance brings with it, mental, emotional and physical stress.

    When you are under stress, your body produces cortisol ….known as the stress hormone. Protracted stress results in high levels of cortisol in your body. High levels of cortisol in your body causes your body to store more fat. It also prevents your body from burning fat. In the presence of high levels of cortisol, regular exercise will not burn fat and you will not lose weight

  4. aging – Your metabolism slows down as you get older. Your metabolism determines the rate your body uses (calorie output) the food that you eat (calorie input).

    The rate of your metabolism is determined by your basal metabolism … which is measured by your basal metabolic rate (BMR) … and the level of your physical activity.

    BMR is the rate your body burns calories just to keep your heart pumping, your lungs breathing, and your organs functioning. Your basal metabolism accounts for between 60 percent and 75 percent of the total calories you use daily, and there’s no physical activity required for this.

    Your BMR declines as you age. To learn more about this, click here

  5. diet – junk food and fast food causes menopause weight gain. They are laden with added sugar, which causes weight gain.

    The size of the meals you consume has a bearing on your weight during menopause. If you continue to consume the same portion size, as you did prior to perimenopause, you will gain weight because your metabolism is slower

  6. lack of physical activity/exercise – exercise is one of the components of your metabolic rate. If you do not engage in physical activity/exercise daily, your metabolic rate will be lower. You will use fewer calories
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How Menopause Makes You Fat – Part 2

Menopause Weight Gain

Why am I like this? My diet is good and I exercise

While some “men in white coats” would have you believe that menopause weight gain is due solely to aging, my experience tells me that menopause itself also is a cause of weight gain. I would bet that your experience tells you the same thing.

There is no denying that aging causes menopause weight gain …. and weight gain beyond menopause …. because as you age your metabolism slows down. If you do not reduce your caloric intake and increase your caloric output (physical activity/exercise) as you get older, you will gain weight.

However, it is folly to deny that menopause causes weight gain. Hundreds of patients in my practice have followed stringent dietary recommendations and also exercised daily to lose weight during menopause. Not only did many of them not lose weight, but a significant number of them continued to gain weight. Some did lose weight.

The trigger that causes menopause weight gain

Your body functions like a full sized symphony orchestra. In such an orchestra, all players are finely attuned to one another. The various parts of your body are like the musicians and your hormones are like the conductor of the orchestra.

Prior to perimenopause, your hormones work in harmony by co-existing with one another in a certain ratio. They are said to be in balance. This keeps your body healthy and functioning.

With the onset of perimenopause, the ratios of your hormones change. This creates imbalance between them. The changing ratios are kick started by the a change in the ratio between estrogen and progesterone. This is the trigger that causes menopause weight gain …. and all the other perimenopause symptoms.

Contrary to what you may have been led to believe, all perimenopause symptoms … including menopause weight gain … are caused by too much estrogen in your body and not enough progesterone. Estrogen levels are actually higher during early perimenopause than they are in pre-perimenopausal women.

While estrogen levels rise in early perimenopause, progesterone levels fall. Progesterone levels continue to fall throughout late perimenopause. Estrogen levels fall later in perimenopause, but not as much as progesterone.

Estrogen becomes dominant and stays dominant throughout perimenopause. It creates a condition in which your body does not have enough progesterone to balance out estrogen levels. Your body has

  1. too much estrogen
  2. not enough progesterone

Estrogen dominance disturbs the balance between all the other hormones in your body. As your hormones collectively control all of the processes in your body, the processes behave erratically. This causes menopause weight gain and the other symptoms that you are experiencing.

Which hormones cause menopause weight gain

The hormones that play a role in weight gain during menopause are estrogen, thyroid, insulin, and cortisol

  • estrogen – excess estrogen is associated with weight gain.

    When estrogen levels are elevated, women tend to retain more water than usual. This is why bloating is common in the days leading up to a woman’s menstrual cycle – more estrogen means water retention. Water retention = weight gain.

    Water retention is common during perimenopause, because estrogen is dominant. Not only does estrogen retain water, but progesterone … which acts as a diuretic … is in diminished supply.

    In younger women, estrogen causes fat to be stored around the hips, thighs and buttocks. In perimenopause, and thereafter, estrogen causes fat to be stored around the mid-section. This in itself does not cause weight gain. It represents a re-distribution of fat

  • Thyroid hormones regulate your metabolism. Think of your metabolism as the “boiler room” of your body.

    Your metabolism slows down as you age. It is a cause of menopause weight gain. While this is happening, estrogen dominance causes your thyroid levels to be erratic. This causes your metabolism to slow down even further.

    When thyroid functioning diminishes, it brings about the condition known as hypothyroidism. It is estimated that 25% of menopausal women experience hypothyroidism.

    Hypothyroidism increases insulin resistance

  • Insulin is a hormone produced and released by your body, when you eat. It breaks down the food you eat into glucose, which is commonly called blood sugar. Glucose provides your body with energy, without which it could not function. Think of the relationship between glucose and your body, as being similar to gasoline and your car.

    Your body can be either insulin sensitive or in insulin resistance. If it is insulin sensitive, insulin is doing the job it is intended to do. If there is insulin resistance, your body will not be getting the “fuel” it needs. The body then produces increasing amounts of insulin, to try to give it the energy that it needs.

    High levels of insulin in your body causes fat to be stored on your body. It also prevents fat burning from occurring. In other words, you cant lose weight.

    Almost all menopausal women have insulin resistance to some degree

  • Cortisol is the stress hormone. When you experience stress, your body automatically goes into a hardwired inbuilt survival mechanism called “fight or flight”. Your body produces increased amounts of cortisol, to help you deal with a threat.

    Estrogen dominance causes cortisol levels to be erratic during menopause.

    When stress is continuously present, as it often is during menopause, your body reacts as if you are constantly under attack. The fight or flight response stays turned on. The long term activation of the stress response system results in excessive production of cortisol.

    When your body produces too much cortisol, you get fat. It causes fat to be stored around your waist. High levels of cortisol also prevents weight loss

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How Menopause Makes You Fat – Part 1

Menopause Weight Gain

I havnt changed my diet … but I keep gaining weight

Some “men in white coats” would have you believe that menopause weight gain is due solely to aging.

It is a medical fact that your metabolism slows as you age. You therefor, burn fewer calories than before. If you continue to intake the amount of food you consumed before menopause …. and exercise as you had done before …. you will experience menopause weight gain.

The solution recommended for menopause weight loss, by adherents to the aging school of thought, is to reduce your intake of food and increase the amount of exercise/physical activity that you do. This makes sense, but only a minority of women are able to achieve menopause weight loss in this way.

A majority of women struggling with menopause weight gain, and who have tried to lose weight by following a good diet and doing regular exercise, have not lost weight. In fact some of them say that they have continued to gain weight.

Perhaps those women who have achieved menopause weight loss through diet and exercise, followed exceptionally stringent nutritional advice and more vigorous exercise routines … than those women who have not succeeded to lose weight in this way.

Also, it can be daunting for many women to accept that their menopause weight gain is caused solely by their slower metabolism because of the following facts

  • the reason for the decrease in your metabolism is a decrease in your muscle mass
  • you tend to lose a 1/2 pound of muscle a year after the age of 30. Between the ages of 30 and 70, you are likely to experience a 40 to 50% reduction in your muscle mass
  • loss of muscle mass decreases the rate at which your body uses calories

This means that to lose weight now and maintain a healthy weight from now on, not only do you need to eat less with every passing year, but you also need to build your muscle mass. If you delve into how to build muscle mass, you learn that it requires strength training to build muscle mass. The prospect of engaging in strength training for the rest of your life is not appealing to many women.

There is another school of thought about achieving menopause weight loss, that is not based exclusively on food intake and exercise.

Menopause … itself … causes weight gain

Your body functions like a full sized symphony orchestra. In such an orchestra, all players are finely attuned to one another. The various parts of your body are like the musicians and your hormones are like the conductor of the orchestra.

Prior to perimenopause, hormones work in harmony by co-existing with one another in a certain ratio. They are said to be in balance. This keeps your body healthy and functioning.

With the onset of perimenopause, the ratios of your hormones change. This creates imbalance between them. The changing ratios are kick started by the a change in the ratio between estrogen and progesterone.

In the early perimenopause, estrogen levels are generally higher than they were prior to perimenopause. Progesterone levels fall at the onset of perimenopause and continue to fall throughout perimenopause. Estrogen levels fall later in perimenopause, but not as much as progesterone. The ratio between these two hormones change. Estrogen becomes dominant.

Estrogen dominance is a condition in which your body does not have enough progesterone to balance out estrogen levels. This kick starts a hormonal cascade in your body. The changing ratios between estrogen and progesterone, gives rise to changing levels of other hormones, which in turn sets off changes to the levels of still other hormones….and so on. This is what is called hormonal cascade.

Estrogen dominance leads to erratic production of thyroid, insulin, and cortisol hormones. Each of these hormones control major processes in your body that have a significant impact on your weight.

The changes in the levels of all of these hormones is the cause of menopause weight gain … and all other menopause symptoms.

The solution to menopause weight gain, adhered to by proponents of the school of thought that menopause causes weight gain, is to begin by decreasing the level of estrogen in your body and increasing the level of progesterone. This will begin a process to bring thyroid, insulin, and cortisol hormones into balance.

The most effective way to achieve menopause weight loss is to get the levels of your hormones tested and then re-balanced. However, this is a costly option and may be beyond the financial means of many women. There will be lab fees (hundreds of dollars) to test your hormone levels, plus physician fees to help you re-balance them. Often, this is not covered by health insurance policies.

A safe, effective and inexpensive way to reverse menopause weight gain is to use progesterone therapy – self administered natural progesterone cream.

I recommend Natural Woman Progesterone Cream to my patients. Click on the image below to learn more about it.

naturalwoman

Natural progesterone cream will increase your progesterone level and help to reduce your estrogen levels. This will begin the process of regulating your other hormones.

I suspect that many women will find this path to menopause weight loss more appealing than the path of trying to slow down the aging process. However I want to emphasize that when you follow this path, you still need to manage your intake of food and engage in regular exercise to achieve significant menopause weight loss. It is also important to do so, for your long term health and well being.

In future posts I will provide you with more detail about the effects that estrogen dominance has on your thyroid, insulin and cortisol levels … and how it causes menopause weight gain. After that I will provide you with a comprehensive menopause weight loss plan.

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Menopause Weight Loss – Understanding The Cause Of Your Weight Gain Is Your 1st Step

Menopause Weight Loss

I cant shift it despite exercise and a good diet

So you are overweight …. maybe 10 pounds overweight, 20 pounds overweight or 30 pounds or more overweight.

You may be desperately trying to lose this weight. You may be following all the usual advice to lose this weight

  • Your diet is good
  • You are exercising regularly
  • You are doing a stress reduction technique regularly to keep stress at bay

Still no weight loss …. or worse …. the pounds keep piling on.

Or … you may have given up on menopause weight loss. Perhaps you tried all of the above and they didnt work for you. Perhaps you are unable to exercise because of a physical condition. Or maybe the menopause symptoms you are experiencing are so severe that you lack the motivation or energy to do anything about your weight.

There is another path to menopause weight loss …. besides the path of the usual advice. Before I discuss it, it may be helpful review the school of thought behind the usual advice.

The predominant school of thought: menopause weight gain is caused by aging

This school of thought says that menopause does not cause a woman to gain weight. It suggests that two events — menopause and the natural aging process – coincide at the same time. Menopause merely becomes the suspect because it happens, as many women notice weight gain. It claims that the actual cause of weight gain during menopause is aging.

According to this school of thought, the way to achieve menopause weight loss is to slow down the aging process. Aging is associated with a slowing of the body’s metabolism

  • your metabolism actually starts to slow down sometime in your 30s
  • the reason for this decrease in your metabolism is a decrease in your muscle mass
  • you tend to lose a 1/2 pound of muscle a year after the age of 30. Between the ages of 30 and 70, you are likely to experience a 40 to 50% reduction in your muscle mass
  • loss of muscle mass decreases the rate at which your body uses calories
  • as you lose muscle mass, you gain weight in fat. If you do not change your eating routines, the same caloric intake is not going to burn off. Those unburned calories will be stored as fat

If you continue to eat as you always have and don’t increase your physical activity, you’re not likely to experience weight loss during menopause.

Therefore, according to this school of thought, the path to menopause weight loss requires that you eat less and less and exercise more and more as you age.

There is no doubt that your metabolism slows down as you age. There is also no doubt that eating less and exercising more has helped some women achieve menopause weight loss. But it has not worked for many women. Perhaps those that have made it work, followed exceptionally stringent nutritional advice and more vigorous exercise routines than you have followed.

Another school of thought says that menopause does cause weight gain

According to this school of thought, you gain weight during perimenopause because there is more estrogen in your body during perimenopause, relative to progesterone, than there was prior to perimenopause. Estrogen stimulates weight gain. Progesterone fights weight gain.

Contrary to what you may have been led to believe, estrogen levels are higher during perimenopause than they are in younger women.

Dr Steven R. Goldstein, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at New York University’s Langone Medical Center says

It’s the paradox of perimenopause. Estrogen levels go up before they go down

Progesterone levels are consistently falling throughout perimenopause.

According to this school of thought, the changing ratio between estrogen and progesterone is the cause of menopause weight gain …. as well as all of the other symptoms of perimenopause. Therefor the path to menopause weight loss is to reduce the level of estrogen in your body and increase the level of progesterone.

I suspect that many women will find this path to menopause weight loss more appealing than the path of trying to slow down the aging process. However I want to emphasize that when you follow this path, you still need to manage your intake of food and engage in regular exercise to achieve significant menopause weight loss. It is also important to do so, for your long term health and well being.

In my next few posts I will provide you with much more detail about how estrogen dominance causes weight gain, because it is important for you to have a good understanding of this to reverse the weight gain. I will also tell you how to reduce the level of estrogen in your body … while increasing the level of progesterone.

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The Other Side Of Forty – Coming To Grips With Aging

Aging

Is there a way to slow down aging?

According to one study youth ends at 35 and old age begins at 58. In between – all 23 years – is your middle age.

We’ve known all along that getting older means heading down a path of graying hair, a couple of wrinkles here and there, and a change in the shape of the youthful body we once had. The once perky parts slope downwards. There are stretch marks and cesarean scars, droopy tummies and thighs that move at their own pace.

Despite the efforts of the $249 billion dollar a year anti-aging industry to convince us otherwise, aging is inevitable. This industry does not prevent aging. It just plays to your vanity.

What is aging?

Aging is that which happens to your body over time. It is the progressive decline in the efficiency of your body’s physiological functions over time.

Aging is inevitable. Changes occur, over time, in all of the cells of your body. These changes affect the functioning of all of the organs and systems of your body. The following systems of your body will change and/or slow down as you age

  • cardiovascular system
  • respiratory system
  • brain and nervous system
  • immune system
  • excretory system
  • endocrine system
  • reproductive system
  • digestive system
  • metabolic system

Please note that the anti-aging industry does not offer a single product or service that reverses or slows down the changes in these body systems that occur over time. In effect, their products and services just “paint over the rust”.

There is no way to prevent aging. Mankind has been searching for “the fountain of youth” for aeons.

However, there is a way to slow down aging.

What slows down aging?

There is one system in your body that affects most of the other systems. It is your metabolic system….your metabolism. Metabolism is the process the body uses to convert food into energy.

Most of us think of metabolism as the rate at which we burn calories. That’s only part of the story. Metabolism is not just about burning up the calories from the food we eat, but it is also about how the various nutrients from that food help us to maintain a body that functions efficiently.

Your body acts like an engine that is constantly in operation. Food is its fuel. It burns the fuel to keep going. But your body’s engine actually consists of millions of living cells, which are themselves tiny engines. Each cell in your body requires energy to stay alive. Food provides the energy.

Your metabolism consists of three components

  1. Basal metabolism – You burn most of your daily calories with little to no conscious effort. Whether you’re talking on the phone, working at a keyboard, or just watching television, your body is burning calories just to keep your heart pumping, your lungs breathing, and your organs functioning. The process that provides the calories used to maintain these basic bodily functions is known as basal metabolism.

    Basal metabolism is measured by something called BMR – basal metabolic rate.

    Your basal metabolism accounts for between 60 percent and 75 percent of the total calories you use daily, and there’s no physical activity required for this

  2. Physical activity – physical activity uses between 15-30 percent of the calories you consume on a daily basis
  3. Thermic effect of food – about 10 percent of calories you consume are spent processing the food you eat

Your metabolism feeds the other systems of your body with the energy, oxygen and nutrients they need to function effectively.

What happens to your metabolism as you get older?

Your metabolism slows by 5 percent each decade. Compared to age 25, you’ll burn about 100 fewer calories a day at 35 and 200 fewer at 45. As an aside, if you do nothing about adjusting your intake of food and your activity (exercise) level you could gain eight to 12 pounds a year.

Your metabolism slows as you age thanks to a loss of muscle mass — you lose as much as 50% of your muscle mass between the ages of 20 and 90, and the rate of loss is especially pronounced from ages 50–70.

Why is your muscle mass so important to your metabolism? The less muscle you have, the fewer calories you burn.

For women, menopause slows metabolism even more.

Increases or decreases in metabolism lead to increases or decreases in the flow of blood through your body. Your blood carries energy, oxygen and nutrients to all of the cells and organs of your body. As your metabolism decreases, so does the supply of blood throughout your body. This diminishes the efficiency of all of the systems of your body.

How to slow down your aging

The rate at which you age will be determined largely by

  • what you do to relieve the effects that menopause has on your body
  • the rate at which your metabolism slows down

You need only to look at yourself in a mirror to see the effect that menopause has had on your aging. As menopause is a condition characterized by changing levels of hormones in your body and hormonal imbalance, if you re-balance your hormones you will relieve symptoms that have been taking their toll on your body.

Getting your hormones tested and re-balanced is step 1.

Step 2 is to increase your metabolism. When you increase your metabolism, you will increase the supply of oxygen, energy and nutrients to all the cells and organs of your body. This will allow all of the systems of your body to function more efficiently.

There are 3 factors involved in increasing your metabolism. I will discuss them in detail … and what you need to do about each of them … in my next post.

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Menopause Weight Gain: How Menstrual Changes Affect Your Weight

Menopause Weight Gain

I havnt changed my diet … but I keep gaining weight

Prior to perimenopause, you may have dreaded your period …. and the monthly symptoms you experienced with it. But …. did you know that a woman’s normal menstrual cycle helps her to keep her weight down prior to perimenopause?

Perimenopause brings changes to the normal menstrual cycle, culminating in the cessation of periods at the end of perimenopause. This contributes to the menopause weight gain that most women experience.

Throughout a woman’s reproductive years, for two weeks before a period, her body burns an extra 200 calories per day…on average…in preparation for menstruation. Given that the average daily calorie intake for a female is 2,000, this represents burning off 10% of her daily calorie intake — without having to do any extra physical activity! That’s a lot of free calorie burn.

Once your periods become irregular during perimenopause … and then stop altogether at menopause and in postmenopause, you no longer get that “freebie” for two weeks every month.

To understand the ramifications of losing that “freebie” on menopause weight gain, it is helpful to review the menstrual cycle.

A synopsis of what happens during the menstrual cycle

There are two distinct phases of the menstrual cycle – the follicular phase and the luteal phase.

The follicular phase is the first half of the menstrual cycle. It is marked by the beginning of your period (day 1 of the cycle) and ends at ovulation (day 14 of the cycle). It is called the follicular phase because the follicle, (which contains the female egg), is maturing during this phase mainly under the influence of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).

The luteal phase is the second half of a woman’s menstrual cycle. It begins after ovulation and continues until menstruation occurs. It is marked by ovulation and the subsequent transformation of the follicle (sack containing an egg) into the corpus luteum once the egg is released.

Your metabolism during the menstrual cycle

Your metabolism is a collection of chemical reactions that takes place in the cells of your body. It converts the fuel in the food you eat into the energy needed to power everything you do.

The efficiency of your metabolism is measured by your metabolic rate. Metabolic rate is the rate at which your body uses energy to perform all the different types of work necessary for maintenance, growth, repair, etc.

Your body operates at a different metabolic rate during each phase of the menstrual cycle. Your body burns more calories during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. This is because there is more hormonal and cellular activity during this phase than during the follicular phase.

How menstrual cycle changes cause menopause weight gain

You will gain weight if you consume more calories than you burn. One pound of body weight is roughly equivalent to 3500 calories, so eating an extra 500 calories per day will cause you to gain 1 pound a week. You will also gain 1 pound per week if you burn off 500 fewer pounds per day or 3,500 fewer pounds per week.

Let’s assume that you have reached menopause – no more periods. Let’s also assume that your caloric intake remains as it was prior to menopause. Let’s also assume that the calories you burn from your activity level remains as it was prior to menopause.

You will no longer burn off 200 calories a day during the 2 weeks that previously led up to menstruation. This means that over the course of 1 month you will not burn off 2,800 calories (14 days x 200) … that you had been burning off when you had your normal menstrual cycle.

In a year, you will have burned off 33,600 (12 months X 2,800) fewer calories. As one pound of body weight is roughly equivalent to 3500 calories, you will gain 9.6 pounds (33,600 divided by 3500) …. just as result of no longer having your period. Over 5 years, your menopause weight gain would be almost 50 pounds!

This is what will happen if you continue to eat and continue to engage in the same level of physical activity … as you did prior to menopause.

Menopause weight gain, due to changes in your menstrual cycle, is not inevitable. It can be avoided by decreasing your caloric intake and increasing your activity level (burning more calories).

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Menopause Weight Loss: Count Your Hormones, Not Your Calories

Menopause Weight Gain

My belly just keeps growing

Sorry ladies……you cant blame menopause weight gain on hormonal changes. Men can gain as much weight as you do at your age. The main cause of your menopause weight gain is a slowing down of your metabolism.

However …. the hormone changes in your body during menopause do contribute significantly to weight gain during menopause. There are 7 hormones that contribute to menopause weight gain

  1. estrogen
  2. progesterone
  3. cortisol
  4. thyroid
  5. insulin
  6. ghrelin
  7. leptin

If you want to stop the menopause weight gain and start to lose weight, it is vital for you to understand how each of these hormones contribute to your weight gain. They also prevent you from losing weight.

It begins with changes in your levels of estrogen and progesterone

Your body functions like a full sized symphony orchestra. In such an orchestra, all players are finely attuned to one another. The various parts of your body are like the musicians and your hormones are like the conductor of the orchestra.

Hormones are chemical messengers that direct your body to perform specific tasks. A balanced hormonal state is essential to all functions of your body, including growth and development of the cells and tissues of your body, how your body uses food for energy, your mood, and your sleep.

Prior to perimenopause, your hormones worked in harmony by co-existing with one another in a certain ratio. This keeps your body healthy and functioning.

During perimenopause, your ovaries produce less estrogen and less progesterone. While estrogen levels fall from their premenopausal levels during perimenopause, progesterone levels fall further. In terms of the ratio between them, there is greater percentage of estrogen in your body, relative to progesterone.

Estrogen dominance is a condition in which your body does not have enough progesterone to balance out estrogen levels. Estrogen becomes dominant. Estrogen dominance disturbs the balance between all the hormones in your body.

The falling levels of estrogen and progesterone, and the changing ratios between them, kick starts a hormonal cascade in your body. The changing ratios between estrogen and progesterone, gives rise to changing levels of other hormones, which in turn sets off changes to the levels of still other hormones….and so on. This is what is called hormonal cascade.

The end result is erratic production of all of the hormones needed by your body to manage all its processes normally. This effects your weight management.

How changes in cortisol levels contributes to menopause weight gain

Estrogen dominance causes cortisol levels to be erratic during menopause.

In addition that, menopause is a time of increased physical, mental and emotional stress. When you experience stress, your body automatically goes into a hardwired inbuilt survival mechanism called “fight or flight”, to help you deal with a threat. It produces increased amounts of cortisol, which is known as the stress hormone.

But when stress is continuously present, as it often is during menopause, your body reacts as if you are constantly under attack. The fight or flight response stays turned on. The long term activation of the stress response system results in an overexposure to cortisol.

When your body produces too much cortisol, you get fat. It causes fat to be stored around your waist. High levels of cortisol also prevents weight loss.

How changes in thyroid levels contributes to menopause weight gain

Thyroid hormones regulate your metabolism. Think of your metabolism as the “boiler room” of your body.

Your metabolism slows down as you age. It is the cause of menopause weight gain. While this is happening, estrogen dominance causes your thyroid levels to be erratic during menopause.

The changing ratio between estrogen and progesterone affects the functioning of thyroid. It causes it to be less effective and your metabolism slows down even further. Slower metabolism = weight gain and fat gain. It also makes it more difficult to lose weight.

When thyroid functioning diminishes, it brings about the condition known as hypothyroidism. It is estimated that 25% of menopausal women experience hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism increases insulin resistance.

How changes in insulin levels contributes to menopause weight gain

Estrogen dominance causes insulin levels to be erratic during menopause.

Insulin is a hormone produced and released by your body, when you eat. It breaks the food you eat down into glucose, which is commonly called blood sugar. Glucose provides your body with energy, without which it could not function. Think of the relationship between glucose and your body, as being similar to gasoline and your car.

Your body can be either insulin sensitive or in insulin resistance. If it is insulin sensitive, insulin is doing the job it is intended to do. If there is insulin resistance, your body will not be getting the “fuel” it needs. The body then produces increasing amounts of insulin, to try to give it the energy that it needs.

High levels of insulin in your body causes fat to be stored on your body. It also prevents fat burning from occurring. In other words, you cant lose fat.

Almost all menopausal women have insulin resistance to some degree.

How changes in ghrelin and leptin levels contributes to menopause weight gain

Ghrelin and leptin are known as the hunger hormones. They manage your appetite.

When you havnt eaten for a certain amount of time, your stomach secretes increasing amounts of Ghrelin. Ghrelin makes you feel hungry. It is the cause of your stomach growls and hunger pangs.

Leptin is your appetite suppressor. After a meal, leptin signals to the brain that the body has had enough to eat. Increased amounts of it are secreted from the fat cells of your body, telling your brain that you have enough energy stored in your fat cells to engage in normal metabolic processes. It tells your brain when you are full and that you do not need to eat any more food.

Ghrelin and leptin levels are indirectly affected by estrogen dominance. They have relationships with cortisol, thyroid and insulin.

In the presence of stress, your body produces increasing amounts of ghrelin, as well as cortisol. Higher levels of ghrelin stimulate your appetite. You will eat more to provide you body with energy it needs to deal with the threat. Ghrelin, like cortisol, causes your body to store fat.

A study has found that high levels of ghrelin slows your metabolism. This means that ghrelin interferes with the functioning of your thyroid hormone. A less than optimum functioning thyroid is associated with weight gain.

Both hunger hormones have a significant influence on the functioning of insulin. Ghrelin levels are high during times when your body is getting a reduced amount of food, like when you are dieting to lose weight. The decreased amount of food, brings about a drop in insulin levels, because the amount of insulin released depends on the amount of food you have eaten. The low insulin level causes a rise in ghrelin, which makes you hungry and it makes you want to eat.

Suffice it to say that if you get your hormone levels tested and then re-balanced, it will help you to curtail menopause weight gain and it will help you to lose weight.

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6 Factors That Contribute To Menopause Weight Gain

Menopause Weight Gain

I havnt changed what I eat…yet I am piling on weight!

One of the most common concerns expressed by menopausal women is how easy it is to gain weight and how hard it is to lose weight.

On average, women gain 12-15 pounds during menopause. Many women gain much more than that. 90% of menopausal women gain some weight between the ages of 35 and 55 and around 30% of women aged 50 to 59 are not just overweight, but obese.

Is menopause really the cause of this weight gain? Its easy to blame your weight gain on menopause because it happens at the same time that women experience menopause symptoms.

Two events — menopause and the natural aging process – coincide at the same time. Both of these events contribute to menopause weight gain. One of them is the real cause of weight gain during menopause

How menopause contributes to weight gain

There are 3 factors associated with menopause that contribute to your weight gain

  1. changing levels of your hormones during menopause
  2. stress
  3. changes in your menstrual cycle

Prior to perimenopause, your hormones worked in harmony by co-existing with one another in a certain ratio. This keeps your body healthy and functioning.

During perimenopause, your ovaries produce less estrogen and less progesterone. While estrogen levels fall from their premenopausal levels during perimenopause, progesterone levels fall further. In terms of the ratio between them, there is greater percentage of estrogen in your body, relative to progesterone.

Estrogen becomes dominant. It creates a condition in which your body does not have enough progesterone to balance out estrogen levels. Estrogen dominance disturbs the balance between all the hormones in your body. Your hormones collectively control all of the processes in your body.

Estrogen dominance leads to erratic production of insulin, cortisol, and thyroid hormones. Each of these hormones control major processes in your body that have a significant impact on your weight.

A majority of women experience protracted periods of stress during menopause. When you are under stress, your body produces cortisol ….known as the stress hormone. Protracted stress results in high levels of cortisol in your body. High levels of cortisol in your body causes your body to store more fat. It also prevents your body from burning fat.

During perimenopause your periods become irregular and permanently disappear at menopause and thereafter. The cessation of menstrual periods is a major factor contributing to weight gain after menopause.

Throughout your reproductive years, for two weeks before a period, your body burns an extra 200 to 300 calories per day in preparation for menstruation. That’s a lot of free calorie burn — without having to do any extra physical activity! Once those periods stop, you no longer get that “freebie” for two weeks every month.

How aging contributes to weight gain

There are 3 factors associated with aging that contribute to your menopause weight gain

  1. your metabolism
  2. your diet
  3. the amount of exercise that you do

The actual cause of menopause weight gain is aging. You gain weight during menopause because your metabolism slows considerably during the years of menopause

  • your metabolism actually starts to slow down sometime in your 30s
  • the reason for this decrease in your metabolism is a decrease in your muscle mass
  • you tend to lose a 1/2 pound of muscle a year after the age of 30. Between the ages of 30 and 70, you are likely to experience a 40 to 50% reduction in your muscle mass
  • loss of muscle mass decreases the rate at which your body uses calories
  • as you lose muscle mass, you gain weight in fat

Your diet … and the amount of exercise that you do … become even more important in fighting menopause weight gain than they were prior to perimenopause.

Because your metabolism is continually slowing during the menopause years

If you continue to eat as you had done prior to perimenopause (even if you adhere to a healthy diet) and you continue to exercise as much (or as little) as you had done prior to menopause, the same caloric intake is not going to burn off. Those unburned calories will be stored as fat, resulting in menopause weight gain.

Based on a large study of more than 100,000 men and women reported in the prestigious New England Journal Of Medicine, you can expect to gain weight every year of your life from now on, unless you make lifestyle changes.

Menopause weight gain, and weight gain thereafter, is not inevitable. Many women have prevented it and many others have lost the weight they gained during menopause

In subsequent posts, I will provide you will more detail about each of the factors that contribute to menopause weight gain. I will also reveal how to deal with these factors … to enable you to lose the weight that you have gained and to maintain a healthy weight for the rest of your life.

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Will You Be Fat For Life …. After Menopause?

Weight Loss During Menopause

I cant seem to lose this ….. no matter how much exercise I do

Maybe you will be fat for the rest of your life …. after menopause …. and maybe you wont. It will be determined by the choices that you make …. and not by menopause.

On average, women gain 12 – 15 pounds during menopause. Many woman gain much more.

However, weight gain during menopause is not inevitable. Menopause does not cause weight gain, despite what you may think. See below.

Whats more, many woman have achieved weight loss during menopause … and they keep it off. These woman lost weight by changing their diet and exercise routines….in addition to doing one other thing.

I have heard so many of my patients say something to this effect

I have not changed my diet or exercise routines during menopause…but I have gained weight

The reason they have gained weight during menopause is precisely because they have not changed their diet and exercise routines. You need to change your diet and exercise routines … not keep them the same … to achieve weight loss during menopause. If you keep them the same, you will continue to gain weight.

There is one other factor that, that you probably are not aware of, that contributes to weight gain during menopause …. stress. It needs to be reduced, or you will not lose weight ….even if you exercise for an hour every day and eat well.

If menopause does not cause weight gain, what does?

Most women think that menopause causes weight gain. It does not. A comprehensive review by the International Menopause Society has found that going through the menopause does not cause a woman to gain weight. However, the hormonal changes at menopause are associated with a change in the way that fat is distributed, leading to more belly fat. Prior to perimenopause, women tend to store fat on their hips and thighs. During perimenopause, and after it, women tend to store fat around their mid-section.

Two events — menopause and the natural aging process – coincide at this time. Menopause merely becomes the suspect because it happens, as many women notice weight gain. The actual cause of weight gain during menopause is aging. However, the symptoms of menopause do contribute to it.

Aging is associated with a slowing of the body’s metabolism

  • your metabolism actually starts to slow down sometime in your 30s
  • the reason for this decrease in your metabolism is a decrease in your muscle mass
  • you tend to lose a 1/2 pound of muscle a year after the age of 30. Between the ages of 30 and 70, you are likely to experience a 40 to 50% reduction in your muscle mass
  • loss of muscle mass decreases the rate at which your body uses calories
  • as you lose muscle mass, you gain weight in fat. If you do not change your eating routines, the same caloric intake is not going to burn off. Those unburned calories will be stored as fat

If you continue to eat as you always have and don’t increase your physical activity, you’re not likely to experience weight loss during menopause.

How do your menopause symptoms contribute to weight gain?

A majority of women experience protracted periods of stress and disturbed sleep during menopause. Stress and disturbed sleep have a significant impact on your weight.

When you are under stress, your body produces cortisol ….known as the stress hormone. Protracted stress results in high levels of cortisol in your body. High levels of cortisol in your body causes your body to store more fat. It also prevents your body from burning fat. In the presence of high levels of cortisol, regular exercise will not burn fat and you will not achieve weight loss during menopause.

Protracted disturbed sleep leads to insulin resistance. It also leads to high levels of cortisol. High levels of cortisol brings about insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance, is a condition where the cells of your body become insensitive to insulin. Insulin is the key that unlocks body cells to allow glucose inside. Glucose provides your cells with energy. Your body makes glucose from the food that you eat. When your cells won’t ‘open’ for glucose, the glucose gets stored…..as fat. Insulin resistance also prevents fat loss. Even if you exercise daily, you will not lose weight.

How to achieve weight loss during menopause

At the risk of sounding trite, weight loss during menopause does come down to diet and exercise, plus stress reduction. However…….you have to know HOW to diet and HOW to exercise. While diet does involve what you eat, another major component of diet is HOW you eat

  1. include a stress reduction technique in your life. Do yoga or meditation, or some other stress reduction technique, regularly. This will help to modulate the cortisol level in your body. It will also help you to sleep better
  2. eliminate all processed food from your diet. They contain sugar, which exacerbates insulin resistance. Eat only real food. Real food does not need labels – ie – unprocessed meat, fish, milk, eggs, legumes, fruits, grains and vegetables. You will find real food in the outer aisles of your supermarket. Stay away from foods in the inner aisles. They are the processed foods. Try to eat organic as much as possible
  3. time management of eating – do not eat 3 meals per day. You should be eating something every 2-3 hours, during waking hours. Eat a smaller breakfast, lunch and supper, than you have been accustomed to eating. In between each meal, and also after supper, eat a healthy snack…ie a piece of fruit, nuts, yogurt etc
  4. do not eat double carbohydrates in any meal. Do not eat bread with meals containing potatoes or rice or pasta. Eat just 1 of those carbs per meal. Another no – no is cereal and toast for breakfast. Just have one or the other
  5. reduce your consumption of alcohol. Keep it to a minimum
  6. do at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity/exercise every day. It is best to do it in the morning, if your schedule permits it. To achieve weight loss, the intensity level MUST be moderate. Do not do high intensity exercise for weight loss. You will lose more weight faster, if you can fit in 2 daily sessions of aerobic activity/exercise …. even if the second session is only for 15 minutes

You must adhere to each of the 6 points above, to achieve weight loss during menopause. If you only implement 1 or 2 of them, you will not lose weight.

Good luck!

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