Women tend to suffer from a difficulty in losing weight and some begin to gain weight after menopause.
30% of women ages 50 to 59 are not just overweight, but obese.
Risks of weight gain are well documented and include, high blood pressure, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, just to name a few. Increased weight around the waist poses even more risks and belly fat is more likely to increase after menopause, any measurement over 35 inches is of great concern.
Reasons For Post-Menopausal Weight Gain
- Some women tend to exercise less as they age, in fact, 60% of all adults are not getting enough exercise, and this is more prevalent among the senior population. Aging women are also at a greater risk for hypothyroidism, which negatively affects their metabolism. The rate at which the body uses up energy during exercise declines with age, this means that an increase in both time of workouts and their intensity is required to achieve similar results.
- Age-related muscle mass loss also lowers resting metabolism that contributes to weight gain.
- Reduced estrogen may also lower metabolic rate, the lack of estrogen may play a role in the body using starches, and the body uses blood sugar less effectively that increases fat storage in the body, and makes weight loss more difficult.
All of these factors play a role in the difficulties post-menopausal women face when trying to lose weight or preventing weight gain from happening in the first place.
How To Overcome These Issues And Maintain A Healthy Weight
The trick is to override the body’s slow metabolism and to watch the caloric intake and exercise output. The more active you are, the less weight you’re likely to gain.
A National Institutes of Health review showed that people who did aerobic activities every day for 10 or more minutes had 6 fewer inches around the waistline compared to people who didn’t exercise.
After menopause, women may need to beef up their exercise in order to improve metabolism. This means getting out for a brisk walk every day for a half hour at a time, bicycling or taking up a low impact aerobic activity such as swim aerobics or simply swimming. Low impact aerobic exercises will be easier on arthritic joints and won’t add to the wear and tear on joints.
Another good exercise for women in the post-menopausal years is to start weight lifting or using weight machines. These are anaerobic exercises that build and tone muscles, exchanging fatty tissue for muscle tissue. Muscle has a higher metabolic rate when compared to fat so you burn calories faster and easier. Weight lifting is also good for bone health and can prevent osteoporosis.
Eating after menopause should include the fact that women over menopause have a naturally lower metabolic rate (metabolic rate is directly related to age). The caloric content of the diet should therefore be lower in postmenopausal women.
A diet rich in whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy and lean meats, avoiding processed foods and high fat, high sugar foods, is the diet of choice when trying to lose weight after menopause.
The caloric content should be between 1500 and 2000 calories per day. This quantity of calories along with exercise is usually enough to help a person lose weight, even after menopause.
Women should be screened for hypothyroidism after they go through menopause. Hypothyroidism can often have few symptoms, such as low mood, dry skin, dry hair, and weight gain. Women with subclinical hypothyroidism have a particularly difficult time losing weight.
Only when identifying the low thyroid hormone content and elevated TSH on laboratory studies can a woman begin to receive the hormone supplementation necessary in order to begin to improve their metabolism and have an easier time losing weight. Usually, the thyroid hormone supplementation is necessary for life although adjustments in dosage may need to happen over time.
Health Risks And Concerns
Postmenopausal women need to keep a normal body mass index/weight because they are at a greater risk for things like diabetes and heart disease after menopause. Premenopausal women have a protected cardiovascular system by virtue of having estrogen and progesterone around to help prevent heart disease; however, when this is lost at the time of menopause, the risk of heart disease increases.
This is why other risk factors, such as obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol need to be treated and managed to the fullest degree in postmenopausal women. Even if a woman has not attempted to lose weight or exercise before menopause, it is not too late to start exercising and eating for a low cardiovascular risk profile. This is especially true in a woman who has a family history of heart disease, including heart attacks, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.
This added exercise and reduced caloric intake can reduce the incidence of obesity, therefore reducing the risk of heart disease in postmenopausal women.