‘Fat is your friend’: Nutritionist shares how to get your waist back during perimenopause

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Perimenopause is a huge proponent of weight gain in women, but not enough people know about it. Due to an imbalance of hormones, many women experience unexpected weight gain that they simply cannot shift. Nutritionist Karen Newby told Express.co.uk how women can crackdown on this and lose weight through perimenopause and beyond.

Karen began: “Perimenopause is the term used for the years leading up to menopause. It’s the time where we all have that heightened PMS, hot flushes, irregular periods and mood swings, and can start in your early 40s.

“Then you’re suddenly like, ‘Why have I got this weight around my middle?’ or ‘my waist is gone’.”

She explained the reason for this unwanted weight gain: “It’s often the first sign of hormonal changes.

“And the reason it goes to around the middle is to do with changes in our oestrogen and testosterone”.

Men have 10 times the amount of testosterone than women do, but as a woman’s oestrogen levels dip, “those ratios change and we start to get what’s called a male pattern of weight gain, which is around the middle”.

“We lose our waists because oestrogen is everything that makes us female.”

But if this weight gain is down to hormones and is out of women’s control, how can perimenopausal take charge of this and lose fat fast?

Karen’s first top tip is to reduce stress, as the more cortisol (stress hormone) a person has, “the more likely you are to put on weight”.

Admittedly, “the problem is that menopause happens at a time when women are incredibly stressed”, with having children older and working until later, but trying to reduce stress is a sure-fire way to lose weight.

Karen continued: “The other big reason for weight gain in perimenopause is that oestrogen is related to blood sugar handling.

“We become more insulin resistant because of our insulin dropping, which means we have to produce more insulin to get the blood glucose out of the blood and into our fat cells.”

Therefore, one of Karen’s “biggest tips” is that women manage their blood sugar.

Unfortunately, eating a “balanced diet” will no longer cut it, and perimenopausal women should instead opt for a “therapeutic diet”.

“The biggest way to lose weight at this age is to increase protein – it’s like putting coal onto your energy fire.”

Not only does protein make us feel more satisfied after eating it than processed carbs, it keeps the body fuller for longer, giving women a “drip-feed of energy, which means we need less sugar and caffeine”, according to the expert.

But while the expert champions protein, she warns women not to undertake restrictive diets.

“For me, it’s all about nutrient dense foods and not about calorie counting.

“And no matter how much cardio and calorie counting you do, this isn’t going to get your body out of stress mode, whereas blood sugar handling will.”

This is a catalyst for major benefits such as relaxing the body, improving mood, and reducing cravings for unhealthy treats.

Perimenopausal women can increase their protein intake with “low bandwidth” meals such as chicken and vegetable tray bakes, “nutrient dense” lentils and pulses, as well as Karen’s personal favourite, salmon and ramen.

For chicken lovers, Karen recommends cooking a roast chicken before boiling the chicken bones for a “wonderful protein-rich collagenous broth that can be used for soups”.

Karen also revealed that for those undertaking a weight loss journey, “fat is your friend”.

Omega-3s, oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocado, and linseed all as a dressing are “healthy fats that will really help you lose weight because they satisfy you”.

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