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Scott Keppel: How to Avoid Weight Gain Post Menopause

Posted Nov 03 2008 4:06pm

Whether you want it to happen or not, menopause is going to happen. I’m sure you have all heard horror stories from women that have gone through it and several of them stating how their body never went back to the way it used to be. How they gained weight and could not lose it. BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. I’m here to inform you on how you can at least slow down the weight gain post menopause if not avoid it completely.

You will see that there are several changes that do occur do to menopause that you can not control, but you will also see there are a number of which you can control. Sadly, many women do not get the ones they can change under control and the weight comes on. I suggest you become proactive rather than reactive and knowing you’re going to experience it prepare yourself so when it does occur you are as ready as you can be.

Menopause, which most women experience in their 40’s-50’s (the average age for women in the Western region of the world is 51) is “The time in a woman’s life when menstrual periods permanently stop”. During this time a number of women will put on unwanted pounds and unnecessary fat. There are several reasons this occurs, but do not get discouraged. You can control some of these factors which in turn will slow down or help you avoid all together gaining the unwanted fat and weight. The following are the changes that a woman can expect to go through and the necessary steps she should take to stay on track with her fitness goals.

*Hormone levels change while there is nothing you can do about this change, not every woman is affected the same. The hormones that change are Progesterone, Estrogen, Androgen, and Testosterone.

• Progesterone leads to water retention and bloating. Thus causing weight gain and the uncomfortable feeling of feeling thicker in the midsection.

• Estrogen declines rapidly and your body looks for other way s to produce estrogen since your ovaries will produce less. Because of this your body will turn to fat cells leading your body to try and create more fat cells. Obviously the increase of fat cells leads to an increase in body fat percentage and possible an increase in weight. Another important note about fats cell is that they burn only 8 calories a day, while muscle can burn 20-100 calories a day.• Androgen which is a male dominant hormone is responsible for sending a majority of the weight post menopause to a woman’s midsection.
• Testosterone which is another male dominant hormone that promotes muscle growth lowers thus causing the body to build less muscle thereby slowing down one’s metabolism.

*Stress is another factor to take into consideration during menopause. Stress is something we all need to deal with on a daily basis and it can lead to weight gain, specifically in the abdomen area. Studies show that chronic stress can convert any macronutrient into a sugar to use as fuel, thus spiking one’s insulin levels and forcing the body to store more fat. Stress can also cause the body to retain water thereby making one feel bloated and heavier.

*Eating more often post menopause is another contributing factor to weight gain. If you take in more calories then you burn, you will gain weight. For many post menopause women, they will turn to food for comfort and keep their activity level the same and/or decrease it. This means activity level stays equal or less while calories (normally not healthy foods) increase causing the body to gain weight. This is something you can control! Keep a food log and track your eating to see if you are indeed taking in too many calories.

Try and eat every 3-4 hours and think of what you’re going to do three hours after you eat. If you’re going to bed, try not to eat too many carbohydrates. If you’re going to workout or you’ll be active after a particular meal you can eat a little more. Try and get a lean source of protein and or fat in each meal. The protein will help to maintain muscle mass and both will slow down the Glycemic load of the carbohydrates.

*Less activity which goes hand and hand with the eating more is another reason for the unwanted gains. If you eat the same amount or most likely more as stated above while reducing your activity (caloric burn) you’ll have a surplus of calories and you will gain weight. Don’t be afraid to hit the weights and do resistance training. Not only will it help build more lean muscle (which burns more calories) it can also help with Osteoporosis.

Try to work each body part at least once a week and get 3-5 cardio sessions in a week (30-60 minutes in duration). If you feel the previously mentioned is too much activity for you, then just do something. I recommend getting a doctor’s ok first then having a professional trainer assesses your strengths and weaknesses.

*Genetics is another change that we can not prevent. Some women are predisposedTo carry more fat (in general) and in certain areas than others. While we can not prevent this, knowing your genetic predisposition to weight gain, you can slow down the process with proper diet and exercise. Keep in mind you can not spot reduce. Meaning, if you do not like your hips and butt and just want them to lose fat while maintain the rest, that will not happen. You can shape what you have with weights, but your body burns fat from within so the areas that have the most will be the last to go.
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