Women go through different stages in life. Some of them are more pleasant and some are less pleasant. Every woman remembers her first period – the time when you were maybe not totally prepared for drastic changes in your body. After a woman gets used to her periods at one point later she will need to wave farewell to them because every woman will reach a time when she permanently stops having menstrual periods. This is the menopause stage. This stage indicates that a woman can no longer have children.
Perimenopause is the transition phase before menopause. During the transition period, the supply of mature eggs in a woman’s ovaries diminishes and the production of estrogen and progesterone decreases. The significant drop in estrogen levels causes most of the symptoms of menopause.
Unfortunately, most women suffer from different symptoms that affect their mood and their body. It is common that women gain weight during menopause. However, a proper diet and activities can increase the chances for maintaining a healthy weight. Read on and discover weight loss after menopause 5 surprise foods to avoid.
What It Means To Be In Menopause?
Menopause is when a woman has gone 12 months without a menstrual period and this means she has entered the menopause “stage”. Usually, menopause happens in your 40s or 50s (3).
Interestingly though, menopause can appear for reasons besides natural reasons. These include
- Premature menopause. Premature menopause might appear when a woman faces ovarian failure before the age of 40. It may be connected with smoking, chemotherapeutic drugs, radiation exposure, or surgery that damages the ovarian blood supply.
- Surgical menopause. Surgical menopause happens after the removal of one or both ovaries (8).
Even though menopause is a natural biological process, it often proceeds with quite unbearable symptoms:
- Vaginal dryness
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Mood swings
- Dry skin and thinning hair
- Loss of breast fullness
Weight gain and slowed metabolism are among the most unsatisfactory symptoms. The reason for that is simple: a woman continues eating the same amount of calories she had eaten before menopause but now she is more likely to gain weight.
Read More: Dyspareunia Menopause: Causes And Treatment
Why Did I Gain Weight After Menopause?
Menopause weight gain is associated partly with hormonal changes. Estrogen level changes contribute to weight gain.
Estrogen is one of the major sex hormones in females. This hormone:
- affects physical sex characteristics
- regulates the menstrual cycle
- maintains bone health
- regulates cholesterol levels (2).
Estrogen levels lower after menopause. While they don’t directly contribute to weight gain, they may lead to increases in abdominal and total body fat.
The second reason for weight gain after menopause lies in the natural aging process. Since older people are usually less physically active they double their chances to gain extra calories. Moreover, their metabolism naturally slows down as their muscle mass slowly declines.
Poor sleep is another major reason for weight gain. That is why it is desired to build a healthy sleeping schedule where you go to sleep and wake up at one time.
Besides poor sleep, hormonal changes, and natural aging processes, another reason for menopause belly fat are genetic and social factors. If your parents or close relatives carry extra weight you may be more likely to gain weight as you age as well.
What Foods Should You Avoid After Menopause?
Eating a healthy balanced diet during the perimenopausal and postmenopause period is especially important. There are certain types of foods that not only every woman during menopause should limit but also a healthy child or adult. Here is a list of 5 foods to limit or avoid during menopause:
- Added sugar. This is the top recommendation every doctor states when it goes to weight loss after menopause. Added sugars can be hidden in many of the foods we eat. They contribute excess calories with no nutritional value.Sugar consumption contributes to weight gain, which may lead to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. That is why it is important to minimize the consumption of added sugar on a daily basis.
- Ultra processed food. Who doesn’t enjoy deli, bacon, potato chips, or sausages? Everyone remembers crazy movie nights with favorite chips and other snacks. These snacks are high in sodium, calories, and sugar while being low in nutritional value and don’t make you feel very full after eating them, which can contribute to weight gain.
- Caffeine. A moderate amount of caffeine is not usually seen as harmful, but excessive caffeine intake, especially later in the day, can interfere with our sleep quality. Sleep deprivation increases cortisol (stress hormone) and ghrelin (hunger hormone) levels. Simultaneously it decreases the amount of leptin in our body. This hormone helps us know when to stop eating. A sleep-deprived person tends to eat larger portions and finds it much more complicated to stick to their eating regime.
- Fatty products. No, we are not talking here about healthy fats that come from fish or nuts. Here we touch upon the unhealthy fats that you can find in fried food, cakes, or pastries.
- Alcohol. Overconsumption of alcohol leads to unpleasant consequences. Alcohol consumption during the menopause period may raise your internal body temperature. That doesn’t help when you already suffer from hot flashes and night sweats. Most importantly, alcoholic beverages are high in calories. Moreover, a lot of people consume more food after a few glasses of drinks which again affects their total energy intake.
If you avoid or at least reduce the intake of these products you will probably feel better and healthier. Plus, menopause will be less intimidating.
If you tend to let yourself off the hook, raise the white flag when things get tougher than you expected, send yourself on an unconscious binge-eating trip – BetterMe app is here to help you leave all of these sabotaging habits in the past!
What Is The Secret To Losing Weight After Menopause?
The secret to losing weight after menopause coincides with a healthy lifestyle strategy. But what does this healthy lifestyle plan look like? It is simpler you might think. Remember, a menopause weight loss diet is comprised of five primary deeds you can do to lose weight. There are some more and in a moment you are going to disclose them for yourself.
- Stay more active. As people age, they lose muscle tone which is often replaced by body fat. Through exercise, you can maintain more of that muscle. One study found that resistance training three times per week can reduce body fat and improve muscle strength in postmenopausal women (6). Don’t get frustrated if you can’t do resistance training – they are milder ways to stay active when you are older: walk your dog around the park, do yoga, take the stairs instead of the elevator, etc.
- Consume nutrient-rich food. Another secret to losing weight post menopause is to consume fewer calories than you burn during the day. Your healthy balanced diet should include a variety of fruits and vegetables, fish, poultry, whole grains in bread and cereals, healthy fats, such as olive oil or avocados, and legumes (8).
- Control portion sizes. There are a few key points that can help you with this process: avoid eating in front of your laptop or smartphone, use fewer appetizers when eating out, and maybe even measure your portions on the kitchen scale. Some people use their palms to measure the proper sizes, or simply use the plate method: fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, a quarter with whole grains or starchy vegetables, and a quarter with lean protein.
- Sleep better. Yeah, healthy sleep again. But it is important. High-quality sleep is vital for maintaining a healthy weight and overall health. According to research, sleep disturbances are linked to metabolic disruption (7). Low-quality sleep can affect energy outlay, appetite hormones, and body fat composition.
- Plan your days ahead. With the proper diet and activity planning, you can build a healthy regime with nutritious food, exercise, and better sleep.
What Foods Help With Menopausal Belly Fat?
Losing a menopause belly during and after menopause might seem impossible since hormone changes and the aging process are working against you. However, your belly fat is not only determined by the menopause stage but also the number of calories you take in and burn during the day.
If you exercise too little and eat too much you can end up with an expanding waistline. When women get older, they notice an increase in belly fat even if they don’t gain weight. This is due to a decreasing level of estrogen, which influences where fat is distributed in the body (1).
Women should pay closer attention to their diet since it is harder to sustain a healthy weight during the postmenopause period. Besides caloric deficit and physical exercises which contribute to weight loss, women should focus on a healthy balanced diet.
The following 5 types of foods can help you sustain a healthier weight and maybe even trim the fat around your waistline.
- Products that are rich in fiber. Whole-grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables promote digestive health, and weight control, and help you feel satiated for a long time. Most adult women need to have at least 21 g of fiber per day (4).
- Fatty fish. Such fish, as salmon, sardines, and tuna are rich in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. These may help fight night sweats, improve mood, and decrease inflammation, not to mention being heart-healthy.
- Water. It is present in any diet because water is essential for life. Being adequately hydrated can make you feel more focused and energetic if you weren’t drinking enough water before. Plus, when we consume enough water we may feel less hunger and thus reduce our caloric intake.
- Berries. These sweet delicious products are loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients that may benefit us in a number of ways.
- Protein. Like high-fiber food, protein products help us feel full for long periods of time without any need to snack. Eggs, lean meats, and tofu reduce hunger and can help curb cravings. Protein also helps maintain our muscles which is vital to a healthy metabolism.
Your menopause weight loss diet should include food rich in vitamins and minerals as well as lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.. Remember to include physical activity as well.. Whether it’s a Mediterranean or vegan diet you won’t get the needed results if you stick to a sedentary lifestyle.
Read More: Life After Menopause: What To Expect?
How Can I Speed Up Weight-Loss During Menopause?
So you have changed your eating habits and started controlling your food portions. You look at yourself in the mirror but fat around your waist and other parts of your body seems to be eternal and impossible to diminish.
The problem is that though you might have completely changed your diet, your body needs some moving. Exactly – moving! Therefore, if you desire to speed up weight-loss during menopause then remember this: physical activities + healthy food = a healthy body.
You might confirm that your caloric intake is lower but it means little if you spend your whole day on the couch or in a chair.
Exercises after menopause are very important for women who are eager to burn calories.
Active training has many other benefits besides weight loss because it may also:
- Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
- Lower risks of heart attack, metabolic syndrome, and other cardiovascular diseases
- Improve insulin resistance
- Keep healthy muscles and joints.
- Assist bowels to work well
- Relieve depression and anxiety (5).
There are three types of exercises that help lose and maintain a healthy weight:
- Strength training. This weight-resistance exercise program builds muscle mass and promotes metabolism. Examples of strength training are weight machines and dumbbells, resistance bands, yoga, and gardening.
- Low-impact aerobics benefits your heart and lungs. The best aerobic routine includes simple walking, swimming, cycling, or dancing.
- Other daily activities. Even washing the car, cleaning your house, and playing active games – all these things keep you energized and allow you to lose weight (5).
People are advised to talk to their doctor before they begin any workout activity. Besides this, find a person with the same goal and start your healthy diet and physical exercise routine together. This allows you to stay even more motivated.
Make sure you do warm-ups before any exercise and gradually boost the intensity of your workout. If you feel any pain during exercises, stop and let your doctor know about them.
Most importantly, don’t hesitate to start. It might be tough, especially for women postmenopause but once you start and get the desired results you will regret not doing this earlier. You won’t only end up with a healthier weight but also your attitude to yourself and others will change.
Start. Keep going. Don’t stop.
BetterMe app is a foolproof way to go from zero to a weight loss hero in a safe and sustainable way! What are you waiting for? Start transforming your body now!
The Bottom Line
The menopause period leads to changes in the woman’s body and mood. Most women tend to gain weight even without altering their eating habits. This is associated with a decrease in estrogen levels, an aging process, and a more sedentary lifestyle.
You can defeat weight gain in menopause when you combine physical activities with healthier food. Weight loss after menopause 5 surprise foods to limit or avoid are alcohol, ultra processed food, added sugar, caffeine, and fatty products.
Menopausal diet for weight loss should include fruits and vegetables, food rich in fiber and protein, fat from fish and nuts, and legumes. On top of this, keeping yourself hydrated will enhance energy.
Women are advised to see a doctor before getting into any new intensive workouts or if they experience discomfort during physical activities.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Belly fat in women: Taking — and keeping — it off (2021, mayoclinic.org)
- Best ways to lose weight during menopause (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Menopause (2022, mayoclinic.org)
- Menopause and Good Nutrition (2022, webmd.com)
- Menopause, Weight Gain, and Exercise Tips (2021, webmd.com)
- Sixteen weeks of resistance training can decrease the risk of metabolic syndrome in healthy postmenopausal women (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Sleep, Health, and Metabolism in Midlife Women and Menopause: Food for Thought (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- What is menopause? (2022, hopkinsmedicine.org)