Say goodbye to your youthful body. Weight gain is inevitable. Bye bye abs.
Your life is over – you’ve hit MENOPAUSE!
It’s undeniable…your body is going to change with menopause.
But this doesn’t have to mean the end of your aesthetic goals.
It doesn’t have to mean accepting gaining weight and belly fat.
So how can you avoid the dreaded weight gain that often happens with menopause, especially when it feels like no matter what you try the fat continues to creep on?
How can you prevent your waist from growing when everything you’ve done doesn’t work and often even seems to make things worse?
First it’s key we understand the changes that our bodies go through during menopause and why it can feel like we gain weight if we even look at a cookie.
Then I’ll explain why your previous dieting and workout practices that always worked in the past will no longer cut it before we dive into what we CAN do to still get results!
So…Why do we gain weight with menopause?
As we enter menopause, our hormone levels are fluctuating dramatically and levels of the hormone estrogen drop.
These lower levels of estrogen can increase appetite and reduce satiety. (1)
So if you’ve been feeing like you’re hungrier than you used to be eating the same amount? It isn’t your mind playing tricks with you. It is actually that drop in estrogen impacting how fun you feel.
Lower levels of estrogen also reduce activation of brown fat, which is the metabolically-active body fat that burns energy. (2) So if we have a lower energy expenditure, we simply don’t need to consume as many calories as we used to in order to maintain our weight.
Not to mention as we get older in general, it becomes harder to build and retain lean muscle, which is key to a higher metabolic rate.
Basically our energy expenditure and basal metabolic rate both drop with menopause.
And that’s a bad combo. We FEEL hungrier yet our body actually needs LESS energy consumed to survive. It’s a recipe for weight gain.
Not to mention some of the side affects from menopause like mood swings and sleeping problems don’t lend themselves to us wanting to stay on track with our eating or always being motivated to workout when we should.
Sleep deprivation has actually been shown to make our brain’s reward system more susceptible to the appeal of junk food even. (3)
Basically, there are lots of things now working against us.
Not to mention even our PREVIOUS dieting and training practices may actually be making things WORSE.
And while this all sucks, recognizing it is the first step in finding a way to still move forward and achieve amazing results.
Now…how have your previous dieting and workout habits potentially made the issues worse?
We need to STOP the fad dieting, the trying to out exercise our diet cycle as early on as we can if we want to set ourselves up for success during menopause.
Otherwise our previous dieting practices often come back to haunt us.
Too often we’ve lost weight in the past by slashing our calories super low. Cutting out whole food groups. Doing a ton of steady state cardio. Or training extra to burn more calories.
We’ve focused on DOING MORE.
But these dieting and exercise practices may not only have been unsustainable long-term, they could now be compounding some of the issues we see with menopause.
Basically…Just because you “could” get away with something when you were younger, doesn’t mean you should have.
Too often the improper practices we implemented may have “worked” at the time, but they were creating a crack in our foundation we didn’t recognize. One that over time will lead to huge issues for the entire house.
Now you may be thinking, “Ok well I can’t go back in time.” And that’s true, but this is incentive to change how we train and fuel as soon as we can.
We need to stop focusing on simply eating less and training more if we want to set ourselves up for long term success.
Drop those old habits, even if they used to work, and get ready to train your body based on what it needs now with long-term success in mind.
And that’s why I want to share these 4 tips to help you avoid, or even reverse, the dreaded weight gain often associated with MENOPAUSE!
4 Tips To Help You Avoid The Dreaded Menopausal Weight Gain:
Tip #1: Don’t overdo the deficit.
With menopause, our metabolic rate and energy expenditure drops.
With getting older, we struggle more to build and retain lean muscle, which means we burn fewer calories during the day outside of our workouts.
As we get older, we also tend to become less active. And a more sedentary lifestyle also means fewer calories burned during the day.
So all of this means we technically need to consume fewer calories to survive.
Now you may be questioning why I mention not “overdoing” the deficit.
And this is because it perpetuates many of the metabolic adaptions we already see occurring with menopause and with getting older.
When you eat less, you train your body to need less. Your metabolism adapts.
It’s why previous dieting practices come into play. If you’ve always lost weight through extreme calorie deficits, you’ve essentially taught your body to function off of fewer calories.
It’s why, for longer term success, you want to create less of a calorie deficit even if it means technically seeing slower losses on the scale.
This smaller deficit will also help you focus more on FAT LOSS without as much risk for muscle loss.
And that’s essential as we get older since we already struggle to build and retain lean muscle. We want to make sure we’re fueling properly to preserve that muscle mass and keep our metabolic rate as high as possible.
So if you want to lose weight and you’re struggling, don’t jump to slashing calories lower. Instead try to even create less of a deficit than you may have in the past and get ready to stick with those habits long term!
Instead of slashing calories super low, track your food and focus on those macros…and one macro in particular…
Tip #2: Focus on protein.
As we get older, we can develop anabolic resistance – we are less able to utilize protein as efficiently. And this makes consuming enough protein even more important.
We want to do everything we can to promote muscle growth and retention. Not only does more muscle mean a higher resting metabolic rate, but it also means we’ll look leaner as we lose body fat.
It also simply helps us stay functionally stronger as we get older!
And while I’m talking about increasing protein to help with weight loss during menopause, it is truly key at every age because a high protein diet has been the only diet shown to help you build and retain lean muscle even while eating in a deficit. Not to mention high protein diets have been shown to prevent unwanted fat gain if you do even eat in a surplus.
By increasing your protein intake, you give yourself a bit more wiggle room on those calories and can help yourself create an appropriate deficit to lose fat without putting your hard earned muscle at risk. Muscle you want to do everything you can to maintain as you go through menopause.
And when I’m talking about increasing protein here, I’m not only talking about eating more animal protein. Actually including some SOY protein may be beneficially, especially during menopause.
Even just increasing your tofu portion at a meal by an ounce or two can go a long way in increasing your daily protein intake.
Not to mention a number of studies have shown that soy can reduce some of the symptoms associated with menopause.
So if you’re plant-based, or even an omnivore, you can increase your protein intake to improve your body composition while even potentially helping lessen some of those menopausal symptoms! (4)
Another great way to increase protein, that can have a positive benefit for weight loss while also helping improve your bone mineral density is collagen.
Now note, all supplements should always be supplemental, and the focus should be on whole, natural foods to hit those macros, but it’s never bad to have other tools at our disposal.
I also think it’s key to note that, while I am talking about tips to avoid menopausal weight gain, high protein diets can also help improve bone density and prevent osteoporosis, two things we are more at risk for after we go through menopause.
The amino acids in protein are used to build bone and because protein increases muscles mass, there is also an increase in bone strength!
Studies have even started looking at whether or not we need to INCREASE our protein recommendations for older adults to help prevent an increased occurrence of fractures.
And protein not only makes up all of our tissues, making it important for our bone and muscle health, but helps carry the oxygen that reddens our blood, combines with sterols to form hormones and even is need to “carry” fat and cholesterol throughout our bodies.
This means that getting more protein can even help prevent increased skin fragility and decreased immune function, improve brain functioning, and quality of sleep AND even lower blood pressure!
And if you’re going through menopause you’ve probably felt at times you’ve suffered from “menopause brain” and a lack of sleep so better brain functioning and improved quality of sleep are key and even more reason to increase that protein!
Tip #3: Don’t fear FATS!
Fat does not make you fat. So you should not fear consuming fat when trying to lose weight and especially if you’re going through menopause (5)
While carbs are NOT evil and you may need more carbs if you’re extremely active or an endurance athlete, lower carb ratios during menopause may be more helpful for weight loss.
And especially if you’re finding yourself more sedentary recently, you don’t need the immediate fuel of a higher carb diet so lowering your carb intake can aid in that weight loss process if you aren’t able to increase your activity level right away.
Increasing your fat intake, especially your omega-3 intake will also help reduce inflammation, which often increases during menopause, and therefore aid in the weight loss process as well.
Consider consuming more fish or shellfish to increase your omega-3, not to mention your protein, intake.
If you can’t, there are always fish oil supplements and plant-based forms of omega-3s (macadamia nuts are great!).
And on top of reducing inflammation to help expedite the fat loss process, increasing your omega-3 intake, can also reduce hot flash occurrences while improving bone mineral density at the hips and spine! (6) (7)
Tip #4: Include strength training in your routine.
Building and retaining muscle is key. Period.
And while you could technically not workout and lose weight, you need to train to build muscle.
However, strength training doesn’t have to mean lifting weights.
If it challenges you, it will change you.
You can build muscle using bodyweight training.
The key is progressing moves as you adapt by using harder variations or by increasing instability or range of motion or more time under tension or a greater training density….just to name a few ways you can create progression without loads.
But you do not want to just default to doing more cardio because that worked in the past. Especially steady-state cardio which can be catabolic to muscle tissue.
As we go through menopause, we need to do everything in our power to fight against the metabolic slow down and that means BUILDING muscle.
If you enjoy cardio activities, you do not need to cut them out. But as you enter menopause, find ways to include even short strength workouts a few times a week.
Menopause presents us with new challenges when it comes to weight maintenance, and the sooner we can implement key lifestyle habits, the more we can even avoid gaining weight at all.
Do not feel like menopause means you have to accept belly fat and a sluggish metabolism.
Using these 4 tips you can reverse the menopausal weight gain, reduce some of the symptoms of menopause and set yourself up to look fabulous until the day you die!
Ready to make the changes you need to avoid that dreaded menopausal weight gain?
Check out my 3-Part RS Formula!
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(4) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24273218/, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26806546/