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The connection between Menopause & Weight Gain

Menopause can play a big part in weight gain with most women putting on between 2 and 5 pounds during this time.


Although hormones and slowing metabolism are the most common culprits, there are other factors which can be responsible for those extra pounds!


Let’s look at some other reasons which could be behind your weight gain and recommend simple things you can do to help manage it.


1. Stress

Many women find the time around menopause stressful. This may be partially due to hormonal changes and resulting bothersome symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats and disrupted sleep.


The changing hormones will put your nervous system into flight-or-fright and that can really cause havoc with your metabolism, with your appetite, and with your energy control, and energy output.

We also know that the more stressed you are, the more magnesium that you need as well, and low magnesium could actually trigger cravings, too.


2. Fatigue

Hormonal changes such as these often cause a range of symptoms including hot flushes and night sweats which will also have an impact on your energy levels, causing menopause fatigue. You may find it harder to sleep at night, which will make you feel more tired during the day.


3. Becoming more sedentary

Women who lead a Sedentary women lifestyle were shown to be more likely to experience severe menopausal symptoms than physically active women, and symptoms included vasomotor symptoms, depressive symptoms, anxiety and sleep disturbance


4. Joint pain

We have joint pain in the menopause. This is one of the more common symptoms that we found with the majority of women experiencing joint pain at some point, and if you have got joint pain, again, you're not going to be able to exercise even if you feel like it.


The joint pain, it's going to be a real stumbling block for you getting out there and having regular exercise, too.


5. The wrong diet

It can be the wrong diet as you know, let's face it, we all lead busy lives. We don't always have time to prepare fresh foods. We tend to eat a very high-carb diet in this day and age, and high carbs, unfortunately, in the menopause, can be a factor for weight gain, too.


6. Poor sleep

And poor sleep, who of us don't have bad nights these days going through the menopause? Falling oestrogen affects your sleep generally. If you're getting woken up with things like joint pain, with night sweats, with anxiety, then your sleep is going to be severely disrupted, and studies show, again and again, that poor sleep or not enough sleep can contribute to weight gain as well.


7. Cravings

We've also got cravings themselves, and we know that when we're stressed, we need more magnesium but as our oestrogen falls, then we can end up having problems with magnesium absorption, and we know that low magnesium can be a factor in cravings, too.


We've also got the fact, if we've got the wrong diet, if we're eating too many carbs, our blood sugars are going to go up and down like a yo-yo, and that will make you crave sweet things, or things like caffeine which just sets the whole cycle all over again.


What you can do to help yourself manage your weight gain


So what do you do in this situation? There's a few things that you can look at, certainly de- stress if you can.


De-stress

This is a really important one for all aspects of the menopause and again, for those of you that have been watching for a while, you know how much importance I put in that very important me time every day and to make sure that you get regular rest and relaxation generally. That can make a huge amount of difference to your cravings and to the sorts of food that you want to be eating as well, because let's face it, when we're stressed, we tend to comfort eat just because we feel so miserable, so if you can get rid of the stress, that's one whole aspect that we're much more able to control.


Eat better

Look at your diet, see where you might be going wrong. Are you eating regularly? And, you know, unfortunately, when we put weight on in the menopause, one of the things we say is, right, we'll go on a low-carb diet, we'll go on a low-fat diet, and we'll exercise like mad. And all that's going to do is make you put more weight on, so it's really important to go for diets that are low-carbohydrate but are really nice and high in loads of lovely vegetables, fresh foods, and healthy fats as well, because they will keep your blood sugar stable and that will reduce your cravings as well, so sometimes doing one thing can cover quite a lot of issues in this particular situation.


Sort out your cravings

If you're getting cravings, take some extra magnesium. If they're really severe, if you find that you're really craving chocolates a lot, then you can look at supplements such as chromium. if you find it's really hard to give up the chocolate biscuits in the afternoon. Look at what kind of exercise you're doing.


Stay active

If you are too tired and too fatigued to exercise, then just try and keep more active until your energy comes back. So maybe walk a few extra steps up the stairs, maybe not necessarily run, but try and go up the stairs a little bit quicker. If you go to work by bus, get off a couple of stops earlier.


Just do a little bit more walking and a little bit more activity. If you're okay, then look at the high-intensity exercises because these are known now to work really well at weight control. They are known to work really quickly at getting your muscle mass up which is going to burn more calories, and it's going to help your metabolism, too.


And it doesn't take long, you know, the studies now looking at fat, you only need to do really high-intensity exercise for four minutes, three times a week, and most of us could that into our daily life.


The other thing that happens is vary the exercises that you do. We get into a rut, if you go to the same exercise class every week, your body and your metabolism will get used to that and then instead of you really pushing our body and getting your metabolism working well, your body just goes into cruise mode, and you might end up burning less calories than what you think you do, so on a regular basis, do different types of exercises and that will keep your body on its toes as well.


Keep hydrated

Other thing, remember the water, really important here because that will help to keep your body nicely flushed. If you have a little glass of water maybe half an hour before you eat, you may well find that that helps to suppress your appetite. One really important thing here, fizzy water can make you put on the weight. There have been studies done showing that drinking a lot of fizzy water increases your hunger hormone, so don't rely on fizzy water for hydration, and it won't hydrate you as much as plain water anyway, so just save it for a little treat now and again, or for special occasions.


So hopefully these tips will help you. There's a huge amount of things that can happen with weight gain in the menopause and we're just sort of touching on it, and hopefully, at some other point in the future, we can look at some of the other issues that can cause weight gain as well.


Namita Bhatia

Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist