Weight gain and the menopause

Menopause can cause you to gain weight. Find out why this is and what you can do about it

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Eileen talks about: Weight gain

An introduction to weight gain and menopause

After the age of 40, the human body is susceptible to gaining, on average, one pound a year. When women reach the menopause, this average weight gain is likely to increase because of hormonal and physical changes which take place at this time. Many women feel self-conscious about this and attempt to crash diet to counteract the effect. However, these actions do not tend to be effective as eating too much is not usually the cause of weight gain during the menopause. 

Many people feel that the weight they gain during the menopause is more noticeable because it tends to accumulate in one area of the body rather than be distributed evenly across the body. The most common place for weight to accumulate is around the tummy and this can be difficult to shift once there.

Why does menopause cause weight gain?

The hormonal fluctuations you encounter as you enter the menopause means that your body deals with the food you consume in a different way, all too often resulting in weight gain. Your metabolism (the rate at which you burn off calories) reduces, which means that you store more calories than you will burn. This is only made worse if you are spending less and less time on the go or exercising.

When you go through the menopause, particularly if you are feeling somewhat stressed, the production of the hormone cortisol will increase. When your cortisol levels are high you are more likely to develop fat around the middle. 

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What home remedies are there for weight gain?

Most women try to counteract the weight gain at home, and if this is done correctly can be the most effective means of preventing the weight from building up.

  • Be careful with your diet – what you eat is going to have a significant impact on your weight. Eat a healthy balanced diet containing plenty of protein, low starch vegetables and fruit which don’t have a high quantity of sugar, such as pears and berries. Drastic dieting is unlikely to get you anywhere, as the chances of putting the weight you lost and more back on are fairly high. It is not good for your body. Maintaining a healthy diet is a more effective and healthier option
  • Keep your muscles toned - muscle is more effective at burning calories than fat. When you go through the menopause, your muscle mass naturally decreases, causing you to gain weight. Keeping your muscles toned is more effective at keeping the weight off than crash dieting
  • Exercise – be honest with yourself about how much exercise you are really doing each day, especially in comparison with when you were 20 or 30 years younger. Exercise is the most effective way of burning calories with swimming, cycling or walking being among the most beneficial.

Are there herbal remedies to help me?

It is important to remember that any remedy cannot remove weight for you – it can only be an aid together with a calorie controlled diet.

Kelp has been used for many years to help improve the metabolism and as an aid to weight loss. It is rich in minerals, especially iodine, which is important for normal production of thyroid hormones in your body. This in turn encourages your body to burn up the food you eat, giving you more energy.

TIP: If you suffer from thyroid problems, speak to your doctor before you use any kelp supplement as it may not be suitable for you.

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What about conventional medicine?

If you are really struggling to control your weight and have not found that home and herbal remedies are helping, it is important to seek medical attention. While your doctor may be reluctant to prescribe diet pills on the basis that it is the menopause causing you to put on weight, he will be able to work with you to find a solution.

It is important to remember that weight gain can have a serious impact on your lifestyle and health. Weight gain or difficulty losing weight are also symptoms of an underlying health condition such as low thyroid function, which will need to be treated by a doctor.

If you are worried about your condition or fear that it is causing you to have further health problems such as heart disease, then it is vital to seek medical attention. 

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Did you know?

You won’t get the menopause the minute you turn 50! The average starting age is actually between 45 and 55 and it can often depend on a number of factors including hereditary, weight and health, however every single woman will have an individual menopause.

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