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The Change of Life Doesn’t Have to Mean a Change in Your Waistline

Menopause, or the change of life, certainly leads to changes. Ask anyone woman going through this transition right now and chances are they’ll wholeheartedly agree. Some good . . . some, not so much. But unwanted weight gain doesn’t have to be one of the changes.

While it’s true that menopause itself doesn’t automatically cause you to gain weight, there are hormonal shifts that come into play here. The shifts affect the way body fat is distributed. Rather than carrying extra weight in the hip and thigh region, the fat is redistributed to the belly. So if you’ve been a “pear” all of your life, menopause makes you an “apple.”

How much weight can you expect to gain? If you listen to averages, women put on 2-5 pounds during menopause. However, many women struggle with even more.

So what exactly causes the weight gain?

A lot of it has to do with simply getting older. As we age we need fewer calories. The reason for this is that there is a shift from muscle mass to fat. This slows down metabolism. So, if your goal is to maintain your weight as you transition through menopause, part of the solution is to reduce the amount of food you eat by about 200 calories a day.

Of course, there’s more.

If you haven’t been exercising up to this point, now is the time to get moving. There’s plenty of evidence pointing to the fact that consistent exercise keeps menopause weight gain at bay. But in addition at this phase of life, exercise is so important for many reasons. You have to consider your bones, your heart, and your risk of breast cancer. Exercise lowers your risk of problems in these areas.

Plus, staying active can reduce a lot of the other problems associated with menopause such as hot flashes, foggy thinking, depression, and trouble sleeping.

Supplements can help.

In addition to diet and exercise, study shows that calcium and vitamin D supplements can help you in your fight against menopausal weight gain. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine revealed that women who took both calcium and vitamin D gained less weight than those who shunned supplements. Further studies have shown that vitamin D and calcium also increase your chances of staying within two pounds of your initial weight.

It’s all about balance.

Diet and nutrition experts tell us changing your diet to fewer and healthier carbohydrates and incorporating more protein and healthy fats create the perfect balance of calories and nutrients in your body. When it comes to fat, Omega-3 fats found in coldwater fish and flax seed are particularly important.

And for battling the bulge, the Zone Diet could be a good solution for you. If you stay in “the zone,” you’re getting a 40/30/30 balance of carbs, proteins, and fats, respectively. This means that 40% of your calories at each meal come from carbohydrates, 30% comes from protein, and 30% comes from fat.

Interestingly enough, the Atkins diet may be one of the worst diets menopausal women can hitch their wagon to. That’s because the body of a menopausal woman does everything in its power to keep the weight ON.

Body fat fuels this notion. It’s like a third ovary in that it produces estrogen and hormones. In a nutshell, this is why women may gain weight during menopause. It’s your body’s desperate attempt to keep hormones balanced. And the Atkins diet is so high in fat that at this stage of your life, your weight simply isn’t going to budge.

The bottom line is to watch your carbs and make sure the carbs you do eat are healthy ones.

And take time to enjoy your food. The way you eat actually affects the way food is metabolized. And this contributes to either gaining weight or enjoying the body you had before menopause.

As with most good things in life, moderation is key during menopause.

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