with age, losing weight can get more and more complicated. This is particularly true of women aged 50 and over. It is also a period of life during which children leave the nest, and is therefore normal to want to take time for yourself and take care of your health.
The causes of weight gain during menopause
A perimenopause phase precedes menopause. It is made up of physical signs such as hot flashes, fatigue, irritability, or even sleep disorders. It is also accompanied by psychic and emotional signs such as change in libido, etc. In addition, menopause causes many women to gain weight.
The drop in estrogen is one of the reasons particularly pointed out for weight gain during menopause. However, it is also due to a change in the functioning of the body which will slow down due to the change in hormones such as the decline of estrogen and progesterone levels. These hormones will go down and can cause major changes in metabolism.
When do women enter menopause?
When a woman enters menopause is related to both her genetic makeup and hormones. Menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 60. As a new study shows, diet can also play a role in when that point occurs.
15,000 Test subjects research
As a basis for the study, researchers at the University of Leeds took the data from 14,150 British women who first took part in a survey about their general health, reproductive history and diet.
A follow-up examination took place four years later. The information gathered in this way led the scientists to their results.
These foods affect menopause
As these results, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, show, there are different factors that either slow or accelerate the onset of menopause.
According to the researchers, those who want to start their menopause later should rely primarily on omega-3 fatty acids from high-fat fish and antioxidants , such as those found in many legumes.
These have a positive effect on fertility and the production of egg cells. Menopause can even be postponed by three years by eating fresh legumes or high-fat fish.
Eat less carbohydrates
In return, it is more advisable to avoid refined carbohydrates as much as possible. These are found in white bread, pasta or rice, and ensure that insulin resistance increases.
This influences blood sugar regulation, which has an effect on the concentration of the sex hormone estrogen in the blood. This shortens the interval between the monthly cycles, which means that the egg cells are used up more quickly and menopause can start earlier.
How to lose weight during menopause?
Weight loss strategies for women and men are very similar: reduce calories and if possible increase your level of physical activity.
However, at the hormonal level, there are several differences. A woman who’ve reached menopaused must adopt a diet rich in nutrients, fiber and quality protein. Eating rhythm is also important.
So including foods that help the production and activation of this hormone, such as phytoestrogens and foods with fiber is important.
1. Give up sweets, and sugar
During menopause there is an increased risk of disorders related to insulin production such as type 2 diabetes mellitus. To avoid weight gain, good nutrition should start by leaving aside sugar, sweet foods and refined flours.
Excess sugar is stored as fat. It is therefore important to limit its consumption to lose weight during menopause. In addition, concentrated sugars cause a rapid rise in the level of glucose in the blood. Then, this is followed by a drop in blood sugar which can then cause hot flashes.
It is good to know that on the list of ingredients of industrial products, sugars can be indicated by the following mentions: maltose, dextrose, fructose, glucose or syrup.
2. Slight calorie reduction
Controlling calories is important to lose weight. However, nutritionists do not recommend reducing your daily caloric intake by more than 15-20%.
This is because an excess of calorie cutting can unbalance the levels of the hunger hormones: leptin and ghrelin. On average, women need 2000 kcal per day, so to lose weight, the diet must contain 1600-1800 kcal.
3. Check the quality of fats
Replacing animal fats with healthy plant oils (olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil) is essential during menopause. If you also limit sunflower oil and margarine, you ensure a balance of omega-3 – omega-6 in the body and avoid the negative effects of trans fats.
Trans and saturated fats are not ideal for weight loss during menopause. Indeed, they promote overweight and abdominal obesity. It is preferable for a woman to reduce the consumption of these fats in favor of monounsaturated fats as well as Omega-3. In addition, they adversely affect cardiovascular health by promoting the deposits of atherosclerosis.
4. Eat more magnesium
According to the WHO, only 25% of people get enough magnesium in their daily diet. A deficiency of this mineral in menopause can lead to disruptions in the body’s energy metabolism, which can indirectly contribute to weight gain.
5. More dietary fibers
At menopause, a woman should consume 30 grams of dietary fiber daily. Fiber regulates blood glucose levels and lowers levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite, by up to 25%. Thus, by consuming more fiber, a postmenopausal woman’s ghrelin levels will stay low for longer. This will help delay the feeling of hunger.
In general, fiber foods are not only a good source of phytoestrogens but also help to activate female sex hormones. For this, doctors recommend increasing the consumption of whole grains and seeds: flax, chia, quinoa.
6. Protein, protein, protein
Protein helps maintain a healthy weight because it stabilizes blood sugar and increases feelings of fullness.
During menopause, hormone production declines. If the protein intake is insufficient, the body will have difficulty producing the sex hormones that ensure balance. Protein also helps digestion.
However, during menopause, digestion is affected by the drop in estrogen levels. This makes it more difficult for a woman to break down and absorb food. This is because estrogen, like all hormones, needs protein.
A postmenopausal woman therefore requires a lot of protein in order to facilitate her digestion and control cholesterol.
Soy is the ideal food to prevent hot flashes. This would be due to the plant hormones that it naturally possesses. According to several studies, soy would reduce the frequency of hot flashes by 24 to 31% thanks to the consumption of 30 to 80 mg of isoflavones daily.
To have the necessary amount, it is recommended to consume 15 mg of genistein per day, namely:
- 1/2 cup of soy beans;
- 100 grams of tofu;
- 1 soy yogurt:
- 150 grams of rehydrated textured soy protein;
- 250 ml of soy milk.
8. Healthy snacks
In order to lose weight during menopause, a woman can get into the habit of dividing her diet. Indeed, she can make satiating and balanced snacks to avoid hypoglycemia. It is recommended to eat one to two snacks distributed throughout the day. They should be made from a source of fiber and protein.
Here are some examples of snacks that a postmenopausal woman can include in her diet:
- 1 fruit and 1 yogurt;
- 1 fruit and a handful of oilseeds such as walnuts, or almonds;
- 2 whole wheat cookies and 1 natural yogurt;
- 1 slice of wholemeal bread and 1 teaspoon of peanut or almond butter;
- 30 grams of whole grains and 1 bowl of soy or cow’s milk.
Some fruits like berries are high in phytoestrogens and polyphenols content. These two compounds are helpful in regulating your hormone levels and reducing aging.
9. Avoid alcohol, and soft drinks
To lose weight during menopause, a woman should avoid consuming drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine. Among these drinks are coffee, sodas, or energy drinks.
On an empty stomach and between meals, softs drinks can cause a drop in the level of glucose in the blood. This can cause hot flashes and cause nutritional deficiencies.
10. Stay away from sodium foods
Foods rich in sodium ought to be avoided. The latter promotes water retention and high blood pressure. A woman who wants to lose weight during menopause should avoid consuming processed foods, broths, cheese, smoked fish, canned food or even vegetable juices.
Sample menu for menopause
Proper nutrition to lose weight after 50 should include healthy whole foods and avoid processed ones. In turn, the menu should be based on the foods that you can eat every day, and not just on a set of monotonous foods.
Here is an example of a menu for the menopause of 1800 – 2000 Kcal:
|Monday||Yogurt with strawberries and whole wheat toast||Legume, vegetable and chia seed salad||Eggplant mussaka|
|Tuesday||Oatmeal pancake with fruits||Chicken and Vegetable Wraps||Pumpkin souffle with quinoa salad|
|Wednesday||Oatmeal porridge with blueberries||Avocado, carrots and soy protein salad||Tuna with potatoes, corn and watercress|
|Thursday||Yogurt with strawberries and whole wheat toast||Buckwheat with Parmesan, Tomatoes and Flax Seeds||Lentil casserole|
|Friday||Oatmeal pancake with fruits||Panzanella salad||Baked chicken with Greek salad|
|Saturday||Oatmeal porridge with blueberries||Quinoa salad with cherries||Bell peppers stuffed with zucchini|
|Sunday||Banana protein smoothie||Vegetable soup|
Brown rice with chicken
11. Advice to adopt on a daily basis
In order to lose weight during menopause, a woman must adopt good eating habits, for example:
- split and eat small meals to avoid cravings
- do not skip meals
- eat small protein and fiber snacks between meals
- listen to and respect the signals of satiety
- do not add salt to dishes and avoid products containing sodium
- eat fatty fish twice a week
- consume olive oil rather than butter for cooking
- avoid drinking alcohol
- eat fruits on a daily basis
- cook instead of eating ready-made meals
Sports activities during menopause
Most postmenopausal women gain approximately 4 to 5 kilograms. The decrease in energy expenditure has a role in this fat gain.
Muscle mass decreases while fat mass increases. Indeed, from the age of 50, muscles, physical form as well as aptitudes decline and are not the same at age 20. Thus, starting a sports activity to lose weight during menopause is more difficult.
It is essential for a woman to start slow, listen to her body and increase the pace only when she feels able to. By practicing a sporting activity regularly and for several weeks, the efforts will be felt. The ideal goal is to do 30-50 minutes of sport activity three times a week.
To lose weight during menopause, doing 3 walking sessions per week is ideal. In addition, it promotes physical and mental well-being. Moreover, an American study shows that taking 6,000 steps per day allows postmenopausal women to prevent the risks that may arise in the face of this hormonal upheaval.
Cycling has many benefits. Indeed, regular cycling allows an individual to produce endorphins and therefore has anti-stress effects. It is a relaxing activity.
In addition, the bike is excellent for developing cardio. It allows a woman to improve her stamina and cardiovascular strength.
Cycling is less traumatic for the joints than running because of the lack of impact on them. Cycling is a complete sport that allows you to lose weight during menopause. In order to lose weight during menopause and burn as many calories as possible, it is advisable to pedal at least 3 times a week for an hour. The ideal is to practice on an empty stomach and at moderate speed.
The production of endorphin through jogging or running allows each individual to reduce their stress. This feeling of well-being is ideal at the time of menopause.
Running on a treadmill effectively burns a lot of calories. Indeed, running refines the silhouette and strengthens all parts of the body. Losing weight relieves the joints, and running will strengthen the cartilage by flushing out toxins and strengthening the ligaments around the joints.
15. Don’t let stress derail your progress
The decrease in estrogen levels is one of the key changes that occur in the female body after menopause. Low estrogen can cause changes in behavior and lead to a reduction in physical activity.
This is associated with a lower metabolic rate and therefore increasing the fat stored per day. If this is combined with high levels of cortisol this can induce a greater accumulation of fat in the abdomen and sides.
In order for a woman to lose weight after 50-55 years, it is necessary to control the level of stress, for example, with the help of yoga, meditation or exercise.
Research shows that regular exercise not only helps you lose weight, it also normalizes hormone levels for a comprehensive effect on weight loss.
A weight loss strategy for women after menopause is based on eating whole foods that are high in phytonutrients.
Restricting the intake of refined carbohydrates and supplementing with moderate aerobic training is essential to lose weight in a healthy way.
Also, after 50 years, women are advised to practice yoga, and cardiovascular exercises to normalize cortisol levels.