A woman's transition into menopause is time when the body is changing. This time period ranges between end 40s to early 50s. Some women may experience symptoms while others may not and the symptoms are different for every woman. The common symptoms include night sweats, hot flashes, and mood changes, sleep changes, and weight gain around the belly.
Hormone Changes and Weight Gain
With the increase in age, the levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone go down (produced by the ovaries). Due to this decreased hormone levels the body’s metabolism slows down. This means your body doesn’t burn as much as it used to. Some women may find it hard to maintain their weight, and may start gaining fat and losing muscle. During this time some women may start being less active then before and may eat more calories than needed.
How to avoid weight gain
Although this change is a natural transition that comes with aging, it doesn’t mean that weight gain is a must! Planning and preparing for the body’s change can help maintain your weight or even lose weight. Here’s how:
Adjust the calories: Remember, your body’s metabolism is less than it was therefore, it is important to adjust your calorie intake to avoid weight gain. That means you will need to eat less than what you used to eat. A dietitian can help guide you with the appropriate intake and diet plan needed for your body at this time.
Choose nutritious foods: Adjusting your food and eating less means choosing foods that contain the nutrients your body needs to maintain health without adding too many calories. Choose:
1. Vegetables, fruits and whole grains filled with fiber
2. Low fat dairy products and lean protein (fish, chicken and beans/legumes…)
3. Grilled, baked, boiled foods and cook with minimal oil instead of butter and cream.
4. Keep it heart healthy and choose healthy fats such as oily fish, raw nuts, olive oil, and avocados to reduce health risks such as cholesterol, instead of saturated fats like butter, cream and fried and packaged foods.
5. Limit oversized portions by using smaller plates or measuring your portion sizes
Exercise: Continuing activity can help increase your metabolism, maintain your muscles, and balance your calorie levels. Adults should aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise most days of the week. This can be reached through daily activities such as walking while doing errands or taking the stairs. Adding some strength training twice a week helps avoid muscle loss.