Are you a woman in your 50s? Are you gaining weight no matter what you do? Is your belly getting thicker and thicker despite all those dieting efforts and exercises?
Menopause has always been that one stage in a woman’s life that is feared the most. During this time of life, women are at greater risk of weight gain as a result of many factors. Stress, the aging process, and hormonal changes can all work against you.
Menopause and weight gain
Menopause can be stressful and confusing for women. From mood swings that make every day challenging to handle hot flashes that make a goodnight sleep a distant dream, women are exhausted during this period. Yet, another inevitable symptom is weight gain.
Almost all women go through weight gain. The extra fat that tends to collect around the belly area, hips, and thigh are usually due to hormonal changes. However, hormonal changes are not the only reason why menopause women gain weight. Instead, weight gain is also related to lifestyle, aging, and genetic factors.
As you age, it gets difficult to lose weight. Your lean muscle mass naturally decreases while your body fat accumulation increases. Your level of physical activity slows down, and you burn fewer calories. Fewer calories burned means lower muscle functions. Lower muscle function leads to a slowed metabolism. As you age, your insulin also becomes less sensitive. As a result, you have a higher tendency to store fat.
Declining hormones and weight gain
When your hormones fluctuate, so does your weight. Below are some hormones that most affect weight loss during menopause:
- Estrogen hormone: The estrogen hormone decreases during menopause. The decrease can lead to an increased appetite and lower insulin sensitivity to sugars, allowing easier fat storage.
- Progesterone hormone: Aside from estrogen, the progesterone level during menopause also changes. A drop in progesterone encourages weight gain by increasing the appetite by up to 67%. As a result, the metabolic rate slows down. If you continue to eat as you always do, you are likely to gain weight.
- Leptin and ghrelin hormones: Leptin hormone reduce your appetite and makes you feel full. During menopause, your leptin hormone decreases while the ghrelin hormone increases due to reduced estrogen levels. Lower leptin and ghrelin hormones will make it difficult for you to keep your hunger under control.
- Cortisol hormone: You may also find that your cortisol hormone “stress hormone” is affected by decreased estrogen levels. You will notice that your physical and psychological challenges are more stressful.
- Insulin hormone: Your insulin sensitivity decreases when you hit the menopausal stage. The decrease is due to reduced estrogen production by the ovary and muscle loss because of physical inactivity.
- Thyroid hormones: As a result of decreased estrogen production, your thyroid gland produces too low levels of the T3 hormone. A low level of this hormone decreases your metabolic rate and your body temperature. Low levels of thyroid hormone will make you tired, less active, and eventually gain weight.