Menopause Dr shares reasons women put on weight – ‘Huge impact’

Davina McCall opens up on menopause and brain fog struggles

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Many women put on weight before, during and after menopause for several reasons – some attributed to the hormonal changes they experience. spoke to Dr Shahzadi Harper from the menopause platform Issviva about the best ways to lose weight. 

Dr Shahzadi explained: “Weight gain tends to creep up in midlife and our body composition starts to change especially around the stomach area as our hormones oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone begin to decline during perimenopause and menopause. 

“Weight gain is often the result of one or more of the following reasons; slowing metabolism, hormonal imbalance, loss of muscle mass, underactive thyroid, insulin resistance, poor sleep quality, stress or not moving enough.

The expert expanded on poor sleep quality and the impact it can have on someone’s weight. 

she said: “Not enough or broken sleep is one of the most common symptoms of menopause and perimenopause and it has a huge impact on our weight. It’s one of the most frequent symptoms I hear from women in my menopause clinic.

“The decline in our female hormones also affects melatonin production which throws off our normal sleep regulation cycle. I’m sure this sound familiar to many and can still be the case even when most of your other symptoms may have been settled on HRT.” 

For anyone wondering how to improve their sleep, the doctor advised: “I would recommend limiting coffee and alcohol, putting your phones and computers away, and trialling a supplement or CBD oil.” 

She added: “Weight is a complicated issue and there is never a quick fix solution. 

“I see many women at my clinic frustrated with their weight which then has an effect on their mental health.

“I’ve realised that managing menopause and perimenopause isn’t just about hormone balance but also helping women achieve a healthy weight and it’s not as simple as just eating less and moving more.”

As for how someone can go about losing weight during menopause, the expert said: “If you’ve gained weight during the menopause it could be due to a drop in your oestrogen levels as well as testosterone levels. 

“During the menopause, our metabolism slows and as a result, our bodies tend to store more calories than we burn – this can lead to a build-up of fat.” 

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Dr Shahzadi shared her top 10 tips for weight loss during menopause:

1. Don’t be too hard on yourself. 

 2. Keep it real and set realistic expectations- some acceptance that our bodies have changed doesn’t mean we are still not attractive sexy beings!

 3. However, if weight is tipping into the unhealthy ranges and increasing health risks then start by trying to reduce your calorie intake – some women find it easy just to write down everything they eat and drink 

 4. Also try intermittent fasting as time-restricted eating can be beneficial and help improve insulin sensitivity

 5. Rebalance your hormones – HRT can be a great way to do this

 6. Eat low Glycaemic Index (GI) foods. These are foods that don’t spike your blood sugar and can be useful to help you manage weight loss. I recommend eating lower GI foods like whole grains, fruit, vegetables, beans and lentils.

 7. Eat more protein, as it keeps you fuller for longer – a diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon will also help with brain fog

8. Supplements like magnesium can help you with sleep and stress, both of which contribute to weight gain

9. Look into stress management tools

10. Move your body! Cardiovascular activity will help speed up your metabolism, which slows as we get older. If you haven’t exercised for a while, I recommend starting with just ten minutes a day of brisk walking (ensure your heart rate increases and you become slightly out of breath) and then introduce some strength training- this doesn’t mean rushing out to buy a set of dumbbells – you can use your own body weight. This often helps you reduce body fat, and strengthen and build muscles which in turn burn more calories. 

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