Menopause and Weight Gain
Menopause and Weight Gain - Is it inevitable or can it be prevented?
Stop the Middle Age Spread!
Menopause occurs when a woman stops ovulating and her monthly period (menstruation) ceases. Menopause actually means the last menstrual period. The average age of the natural menopause is 51 years, but can occur much earlier or later. Menopause that occurs before the age of 45 is called early menopause and before the age of 40 is premature menopause.
After menopause and over a span of years (usually 10 or more), you may also see changes in your skin, such as increased dryness and wrinkling, and a change in hair texture. The vagina’s lining may become thinner, less pliable and drier. Your breasts lose some of their fullness, and your nipples become less pronounced. Bone loss also rapidly speeds up in women at menopause (even though bone loss is a natural part of aging). At this stage, women may become more susceptible to osteoporosis.
Remember, menopause is a highly individual experience; therefore, every women must approach it differently. You may recognize many of the changes described when menopause takes hold, or you may not experience any at all. It’s always a good idea, when experiencing these symptoms, to consult your health care provider.
At this time, most women (around 2/3 of women) experience weight gain or difficulty maintaining their usual weight. Most women will gain about 10 to 15 pounds during their menopausal years. You also discover that the weight gain tends to accumulate around the abdomen, rather than the hips and thighs as before menopause. People commonly refer to this as an "apple" shape, because the stomach area becomes rounder. An extra pound before menopause will settle evenly over hips, bottom, thighs, and arms. After menopause, it all goes round the middle! Most of this weight will come on gradually – generally about a pound a year.
As you enter the early stages of menopause, maintaining weight becomes more and more difficult, and losing weight becomes almost impossible. This is because of the fluctuation in your hormones. Your body’s hormones have a direct impact on your appetite, metabolism, and fat storage. At this stage, women develop "insulin resistance" making their bodies store fat, rather than burn calories. This "insulin resistance" changes how our bodies handle the foods we eat. For example, if you ate 1,000 calories before menopause, you would burn 700 of them and store around 300. After menopause, your body will store 700 and burn only 300! This is a big difference, and the result is weight gain! Even a modest weight gain can result in a change of dress size.
weight gain could also be a sign that something is wrong with your hormone levels, blood sugars, or eating
habits. Visit your doctor if your weight gain is out of control.
Excessive fat stored around the abdomen can lead to an increased risk
for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, breast cancer, and