Especially for Women :: Menopause Weight Gain
Menopause Weight Gain?
Menopause weight gain is a problem for many women between the ages of 40 through 55. It is extremely likely that, unless certain steps are taken, the average woman will put on 12-15 pounds of weight at this time. Why is that? And what can we do about it?
Causes of menopause
Body Composition Changes: During the natural process of aging, some of the muscle in the body is replaced by fat. The trouble is that fat burns less energy than muscle does. The "excess energy" is therefore stored - as fat.
Reduced Physical Activity: As we get older (this applies to both men and women), the natural tendency is to slow down. Generally speaking, most of us simply don't remain as active as we were when we were younger. We tend to settle down. Our lifestyles become much different - less hectic - as they once were. It's not just a question of exercising less - we just MOVE less!
Then there are the hormones . . .
Estrogen: Estrogen has a direct effect on menopause weight gain. During menopause, since a woman is no longer ovulating, estrogen production dips dramatically. Yet a woman's body still needs estrogen for other functions. Therefore, it seeks the hormone where it can find it - in body fat. To keep a ready supply of estrogen, the body is all too willing to make more body fat. Isn't that just wonderful?
Androgen: Unlike other hormones, the levels of androgen actually INCREASE during menopause. This causes fat to accumulate around your middle section. Even if you haven't been prone to storing fat around your tummy before, it is quite possible that increased androgen levels will cause you to do so now.
Testosterone: Yep, women's bodies produce testosterone, just as men's bodies produce estrogen (the big difference, of course, is the amounts!). But during menopause the level of testosterone in a woman's body drops suddenly. The result is a loss of muscle mass (the same thing happens to men). With more fat and less muscle, the metabolism slows and - voilà! - you have menopause weight gain.
So what can we do?
Move it! Get up, get the heart pumping! If you must watch Oprah, "Tivo" her and watch her later - when you're getting ready for bed. Or download her show onto your iPod and take her with you while you walk around the neighborhood!
Exercise: There's no getting around it - regular exercise is necessary to fight off the weight gain from menopause. One of the best exercises is a modest amount of light weight lifting. This type of anaerobic exercise will slow down the loss of muscle mass, which will curb the production and storage of fat.
Although nature seems to set us up for gaining weight, we don't have to sit back and let it happen. We can take charge by eating less, eating healthier foods, and increasing our activity levels. We have control! So say "NO!" to menopause weight gain!