Menopause and Weight Gain
Menopause and weight gain tend to be closely associated and there are several reasons for this.
In this article we will cover the main reasons why women tend to put on weight when they go through menopause. There are a variety of causes of this 'middle-age spread' and we will address each cause of why menopause and weight gain tend to occur together.
The main reason why women tend to put on weight during and post menopause (after menopause) is due to changes in hormones. Firstly, the levels of the female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone, decrease substantially.
EstrogenLower estrogen levels alter the distribution of fat in the body. Estrogen is responsible for giving women their 'pear' or 'hourglass' body shape because it promotes fat storage in breast tissue and around the hips and thighs.
It is theorised that when the levels of estrogen fall during and after menopause, as a result of reduced estrogen production from the ovaries, a woman's body tries to boost the level of estrogen through other means.
Since fat cells produce small amounts of estrogen, the body tends to store more fat in the fat cells in an attempt to boost estrogen levels.
ProgesteroneLower levels of progesterone tend to result in the body retaining more fluid. This of course, contributes to menopause and weight gain in women. Also, progesterone is a 'thermogenic' hormone so a drop in the level of progesterone ion the body leads to a reduction in the woman's metabolism.
InsulinAs we age our body tends to become more insulin resistant. This makes losing weight during menopause as well as post menopause, extremely difficult. This condition is made worse by following conventional nutritional recommendations, which suggest a high carbohydrate, low fat diet.
If insulin resistance is a problem for you and you want to follow a suitable nutritional plan, please read this Menu For Diabetics. Even though it is designed specifically for people with type 2 diabetes, it is also suitable for helping women avoid the weight gain associated with menopause.
StressStress causes the production of the stress hormones in the body, particularly cortisol. Not only does cortisol cause the breakdown of muscle tissue (which then slows the metabolism down), but it also exacerbates the insulin resistance problem because it increases blood sugar levels.
Cortisol is also made from the same basic precursor hormone that many other hormones are made from, pregnenolone. When cortisol levels rise in the body less pregnenolone is available to be used for production of the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone.
This again, makes weight loss post menopause very difficult.
Lifestyle FactorsOther lifestyle factors may also play a role in menopause and weight gain. For example, a loss of muscle as we age tends to slow the metabolism down because muscle is one of the most metabolically-active tissues in the body.
A reduction of physical activity as we age because other things take priority in our lives also contributes to menopause and weight gain. This reduction in physical activity reduces our body's daily energy expenditure.
If losing weight during menopause as well as post menopause is important to you, then you must become more active as you age. This helps to prevent the middle age spread that often occurs as we get older.
Certain lifestyle habits like eating out more often because you have more time and money freedom later in life can also contribute to menopause and weight gain and make This again, makes post menopausal weight loss very difficult.
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