Menopause is a transitional time. It marks the end of your fertility and the beginning of a new chapter, but it’s no secret that the symptoms it brings are unpleasant.
If hot flashes and mood swings aren’t bad enough, many women struggle with weight gain in menopause and beyond. In fact, postmenopausal women are nearly five times more likely to develop abdominal obesity than premenopausal women — and that extra weight can seriously impact your overall health.
Our team at OB-GYN Associates of Marietta understands how frustrating menopause can be. We hope this blog answers some of your questions.
So why does menopause make weight gain more likely? The answer lies in your hormones.
The links between menopause and weight gain
Hormones are chemical messengers that control different bodily functions. You have more than 50 different hormones, and many of them naturally decline with age. Estrogen and progesterone are the two primary female hormones, and low levels trigger the shift to perimenopause and eventually, menopause.
Low estrogen has a range of implications across your body, and one of them is a slower metabolism. Your metabolism is the process that converts your consumed calories into energy. A slow metabolism means you don’t burn calories as fast, and losing weight becomes more challenging.
If you maintain the same exercise and eating habits during menopause, you’re more likely to gain weight because your metabolism isn’t as efficient. That weight is more likely to settle around your middle.
Hormonal changes also affect your body composition. You may start losing muscle mass and gaining fat without changing your habits, so your metabolism slows down and it’s easier to put on extra pounds.
These hormonal changes are a major contributor to menopausal weight gain, but other factors are at play too. Your level of physical activity, your diet, and even how much sleep you get each night can affect your body weight.
You may also be more likely to gain weight during menopause if you have a family history of obesity.
How to maintain a healthy weight in menopause and beyond
You experience hormonal changes, and your metabolism naturally slows down as you get older. Despite these facts, gaining weight doesn’t have to be inevitable.
Two of the best ways to fight menopausal weight gain are exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet. Since your metabolism is slower, you may need to eat about 200 calories less per day than you did in your 30s or 40s to maintain the same weight.
Our team at OB-GYN Associates of Marietta is here to help you navigate your evolving health needs. We can offer nutrition and exercise recommendations to help you avoid gaining weight or start losing those extra pounds.
It might be more difficult to lose weight during and after menopause, but the benefits can be immense. A healthy body weight lowers your risk of serious health issues, including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.
Along with healthy lifestyle choices, hormone replacement therapy may be an option for you as you navigate menopause.
We offer hormone management for women bothered by severe menopause symptoms. Treatment can help regulate hormone levels, and it’s available in oral pills, skin patches, creams or vaginal inserts.
Maintaining your weight in menopause and beyond might feel overwhelming, but it’s possible — and we can help. Schedule an appointment with our team in Marietta and Woodstock, Georgia, to get started.