It all starts with your pants getting a little tight, prompting you to switch to stretchy yoga pants as your staple outfit, then before you know it, your weight has crept beyond “just a few pounds”.
This menopausal weight gain seems to appear suddenly, despite your healthy eating and exercise habits. In fact, nothing has really changed, besides your age. This leaves you second-guessing your dietary and exercise choices, and heading down a journey of food restriction and overexercise, until you just give it. Nothing seems to work.
It all takes a physical and emotional toll.
You look at old pics of yourself and just sigh… lamenting about your lost youth… ‘The good old days”, when you could go out to eat and order whatever you wanted, without worry about weight gain and bloating.
Now, you carefully scrutinize every bite you take, but no matter how ‘good’ you are, you can’t lose a single pound.
You put them on so easily you’d win an olympic gold at weight gaining!
From Hourglass Figure to Rounded Apple
The “menopause middle” is a term used to refer to the weight gain that women experience, particularly around your abdomen.
You know, the dreaded belly fat that spills over your jeans! The “pooch”, “menobelly”, whatever you call it; that stubborn fat around the midsection is so common for women going through the transition.
“Where did this belly fat come from and how can I get rid of it?”
Those are two of the top questions I get in my practice.
It’s estimated that women gain between 5 to 10 lbs during the perimenopause/menopause transition.
However, some end up gaining up to 15 pounds or more.
The Fear of Menopause Weight Gain
While no two women go through exactly the same menopause symptoms, one common and frustrating effect of hormonal decline is weight gain.
Carrying around menopausal weight that will not budge can be very frustrating.
Many women find that the conventional methods of diet and exercise that worked for them in the past have very little effect or none at all – no matter how hard they try.
You may have even tried to overhaul your whole diet and lifestyle in an effort to lose belly fat. But the fat loss is often super slow and hardly measurable, which causes frustration, leaving even the most committed women to give up.
The doctor may tell you that you need to simply eat less and exercise more, but there is only so much food you can cut out and time you can spend in the gym. Proper diet and appropriate exercise are definitely encouraged, but thankfully, starving yourself and spending all your free time in the gym is not the answer. And it may even do more harm than good to your metabolism and your hormones.
So, what is the solution?
Menopause Weight Gain: Where Did This Weight Come From?
There’s no doubt that menopause is a high-risk time for weight gain in women.
Although the average woman gains 5-10 pounds during the menopausal transition, some women are at risk for greater weight gain. Let’s talk about where this weight comes from in the first place.
As I’ve mentioned, the hormonal ups and downs of menopause can make you more likely to pack on the extra pounds, especially around your abdomen.
But of all the body parts, why is the weight gain focused around the waist?
This is because the drop in estrogen levels promotes the higher accumulation of fat around your waist or abdominal region.
Low estrogen levels along with high levels of other hormones, such as androgens, lead to redistribution of fat present in your hips and thighs to the area around your waist, favoring the surge of the stubborn belly fat.
But that’s not all.
Estrogen influences the action of your hunger signals from preventing you from taking in more calories than what you actually need.
When estrogen drops, cortisol tends to increase, which creates an affinity for fat storage around the waist.
Additionally, as estrogen drops during menopause, many women experience more intense hunger signals encouraging them to increase their food intake (more snacking), which results in weight gain.
What are Other Hormones Cause of Menopause Weight Gain?
Estrogen and cortisol are not the only hormones responsible for menopause weight gain. Androgens, Testosterone, and DHEA also play a role.
Loss of muscle mass and less active lifestyle
Aside from declining estrogen levels, another contributor to weight gain includes age-related loss of muscle tissue.
As our testosterone and DHEA drop, our lean body mass typically decreases.
Losing muscle mass slows down your metabolism rate or how your body burns calories.
This makes it more challenging to maintain a toned and trim figure, even when doing exercise.
What does this mean?
This basically means that if you continue to eat the same kind and amount of food as you always have and do the same amount and type of physical activity, then you’re likely headed to gaining more weight. (It can be maddening!)
…as older adults, we tend to sit more and become less active compared to our younger days, which in turn negatively affects our weight..
DHEA is responsible for energy and stamina in addition to making it easier to maintain muscle tone. So, it is no wonder that when this hormone declines, we feel less like going for a run and more like taking nap.
Couple that with the fact that as we age, we tend to spend less time playing and doing physically demanding activities and more time sitting or lying down while engaged in an activity like socializing, watching television, reading or using a mobile phone/computer for much of the day.
And if you add a more sedentary lifestyle of having little or no physical activity to a body with a lower metabolic rate due to less muscle mass, we have a recipe for weight gain.
Don’t worry, there is a simple solution that I will share below.
Menopause-Related Sleep Disturbance and Weight Gain
Apart from age-related reductions in your metabolism rate and muscle tone, a low-quality shut-eye also impacts your weight gain.
Night sweats and hot flashes associated with your menopause can all make falling asleep or staying asleep more difficult.
That’s because lack of sleep can also affect your appetite by messing with your ‘hunger signaling hormones’ by making you crave food and overeat.
When you’re sleep-deprived, you feel like you’re hungry all of the time.
In addition to that, deep sleep also plays a huge role in keeping your hormones balanced.
As you know, when your hormones are out of whack, one of the many consequences is making you pack on unwanted pounds around your abdominal area.
Diet, Insulin Resistance, and Weight Gain
The uncontrollable cravings brought about by sleep disturbances due to menopause bring a domino effect on your other hormones.
When you eat more carbohydrates than your body actually needs, your hormone insulin will increase to move the blood sugars, or glucose, (broken down from carbohydrates) into your cells so they can be used as a source of energy.
In this way, insulin helps in keeping your blood sugar levels in check.
But here’s the problem.
Your insulin also acts as your “fat-storing hormone“. In fact, insulin is also referred to as the primary hormone responsible for weight gain.
When your cells absorb too much sugar, your body converts this into fat through the instruction coming from the insulin.
Insulin tells your fat cells to store excess sugar into fat, and NOT to burn this stored fat for energy because there’s a lot of sugar available in your bloodstream for energy.
Storing this excess glucose in fat cells leads to insulin resistance, whereby all the cells of your body start to resist insulin.
With plenty of glucose floating around after consuming a lot of carbohydrates, they have to go somewhere.
In response to this, your body pumps out more insulin to help move this glucose inside the cells and maintain normal blood sugar levels.
But with insulin resistance, your cells become consistently unresponsive.
Your cells won’t listen to the signals given by the insulin and won’t take up glucose.
So when insulin levels are elevated, the body will be in fat storage mode.
As a result, glucose is converted to fat, paving the way to… you guessed it, weight gain. And if you aren’t careful… prediabetes and diabetes can be right around the corner.
Why Middle-Age Spread Can Be Very Risky—The Hidden Secrets Behind The Belly Fat
Dealing with stubborn belly fat during menopause is not only frustrating, but can be riskier than you think.
This hormonally driven shift in body fat distribution during menopause — from hips and thighs to abdominal — may increase your health risks.
The fat accumulation in the area around your abdomen is largely visceral fat — the kind of body fat that lies deep within your abdominal cavity and wraps around your body’s organs.
This is in contrast to another kind of fat that lies in a layer just beneath your skin known as subcutaneous body fat.
Unlike fat parked on your hips and thighs when you were younger, the visceral fat around your waist is of health concern because it produces substances that can create serious health risks.
In fact, researchers have identified a host of chemicals that link visceral fat to a surprisingly wide variety of diseases.
For instance, visceral fat makes more of the proteins called cytokines, which can trigger low-level inflammation, a risk factor for heart disease and other chronic conditions.
Visceral fat also produces a precursor to angiotensin, a protein that causes blood vessels to constrict and blood pressure to rise.
Therefore, that middle waist fat does have to be watched because of the risks of disease, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and other chronic diseases.
Menopause Belly Fat: Inevitable or Can it Be Avoided?
You may find yourself carrying around menopausal weight that will not budge, no matter how hard you tried or what diet you chose.
Keeping the weight off during menopause or losing the weight that has accumulated can be very challenging, but is not impossible.
With the right interventions, including lifestyle, diet, and bio-identical hormone replacement, menopause, weight gain, and belly fat can actually be prevented and/or reversed.
You Are What You Eat
In addition, eating a high-fiber diet that includes flaxseeds, may also improve insulin sensitivity.
The key is to eat hormone-healthy foods that include protein, healthy fats, and fiber at every meal and not to restrict entire macronutrients.
Getting into an active lifestyle rather than settling into a sedentary lifestyle of sitting and relaxing most of the time is one great way of keeping yourself in shape.
By being physically active you’ll be able to burn more calories instead of storing them as fat.
Getting at least 150 minutes into a week of moderately intense aerobic activity — such as walking, bicycling, dancing, or gardening— would go a long way in order to avoid the threat of weight gain.
Remember, too much exercise will cause a spike in your stress hormone, cortisol, and that could backfire on your efforts to eliminate your menopause belly. So, exercise smart.
Get Enough Sleep
There’s no question that getting enough quality shut-eye provides everything that you need to be at your best, but especially in helping you get into your best shape.
That’s why sleep-promoting supplements such as GLOW PM works to boost your serotonin, melatonin, and GABA levels — all of which are necessary to not only help you fall asleep, but stay asleep longer.
Best of all, it also helps promote fat burning at night while getting your deepest, rejuvenating sleep.
Daily GLOW is packed with unique healing powers of herbs ancient healers have used for thousands of years. This powerful combination of herbs works together to help your body produce hormones at the right amount.
Daily GLOW supports healthy adrenals with adaptogenic herbs, to keep fat-storing cortisol and fat burning DHEA at appropriate levels. Daily GLOW also provides a crucial nutrient to support thyroid hormone production and conversion – which impact our ability to burn fat and calories.
…it also helps to promote better sleep, curb cravings, balance blood sugar, make you more resilient to stress, and give you more energy and endurance – all while keeping your mind calm and balanced.
Love Your Liver
Your liver is your largest internal organ. Most people are aware of its detoxifying role, but unaware of its belly-fat-burning capabilities. The liver can either burn fat or create it–depending on how we take care of it. When the liver is running efficiently, it burns fat, breaks down and excretes excess hormones, and activates metabolic hormones. When it becomes overburdened, metabolism is slowed, toxins build up, and the switch is flipped from fat burning to fat storage.
Unless we are living in a bubble, we are surrounded day in and day out by environmental toxins, both inside and outside our homes. In addition, if we have slipped into poor eating and lifestyle habits, our toxic burden is further increased. It is estimated that the average American ingests about a gallon of chemicals a year, and that approximately 75 percent of weight issues are due, in part, to toxicity in the body.
Here are the factors that lead to a sluggish liver, contributing to a buildup of toxins and excess hormones. This results in the accumulation of deep, visceral belly fat (fatty liver):
Poor diet: Refined and processed foods, sugar, bad fats, and fried foods, hormone and antibiotic-laden meats, poultry, and dairy products, GMOs (genetically modified foods), artificial additives, sweeteners, preservatives, excess alcohol, non-organic foods, tap water, and coffee (especially non-organic) are toxic to the liver and contribute to visceral fat.
Environmental toxins: Harmful chemicals (xeno-estrogens–Xeno comes from the Greek word Xenos, meaning stranger) found in air pollution, pesticides, herbicides, plastics, nonstick cookware, household cleaners, mattresses, and many personal care products act as hormone disruptors by mimicking our own hormones, resulting in hormonal havoc and deposition of visceral belly fat.
Prescription and OTC drugs: All prescription and over-the-counter drugs have toxic side effects if used in excess.
Excess alcohol: Excess alcohol consumption is toxic to the liver. Women are twice as susceptible to alcoholic liver disease as men.
I created a 21 Day Program to quickly detoxify the liver, rehabilitate the metabolism and help eliminate hormonal belly fat and bloating in a very short time. Click here to learn more about the 21 Day Metabolic Rehab.
Consider Restoring Hormone Levels
Since the lack of estrogen, testosterone and DHEA are crucial to the development of menopause weight gain, an effective way to reverse this deficit is to replace the hormones your body is missing.
The safest and most effective way to do this is with Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT), which is a fast and simple way to beat the middle-age spread.
There is a wealth of evidence that menopausal hormonal replacement therapy reduces obesity, decreases abdominal fat mass (redistributes body fat), lowers fasting glucose and insulin levels, reduces cholesterol levels, and, as a result, reduces your health risks.
Additionally, hormone replacement therapy provides relief from hot flashes, insomnia, low libido, brain fog, fatigue, mood disturbances, joint pains, vaginal dryness and so many other frustrating symptoms of menopause.
Summing It Up
As you age, whether you like it or not, your body doesn’t function quite as well as when you were younger.
Hormone fluctuations and slowing metabolism contribute to weight gain, especially around your waist.
Weight gain during menopause is undoubtedly common and is largely due to hormonal changes that take place at this time.
Estrogen, Testosterone, and DHEA levels drop and cortisol increases… the waist gets thicker. Metabolism tanks. And our energy depletes.
However, aside from hormonal changes, there are also other factors that come into play when it comes to menopause weight gain.
Weight excess at midlife is not only associated with a heightened risk of chronic diseases but can also negatively impact your health-related quality of life and sexual function.
While it may seem impossible to avoid or reverse menopause weight gain… I promise you that it is absolutely possible to have a flat tummy through menopause and beyond.
Consider getting help with a hormone-specific daily nutrient formula like Daily GLOW, a nighttime calming sleep support formula like GLOW PM, and consider replacing the hormones that have declined with Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy.
With the right knowledge about making the right choices and lifestyle changes, you’re set to overcome what others may regard as inevitable simply by deciding to take control of your health.