How to lose those extra kilos after menopause
You are in your 40s or 50s. One fine day — or night — you begin to get hot flashes and night sweats. Menopause is around the corner. On the upside, there will be no more periods and no more period pain. On the downside, you realise that you’re putting on a few extra kilos around your tummy. Now you’re unsure about whether menopause is something to celebrate or sulk about.
Happily, there’s a way to tame the weighing machine.
When the ovaries no longer produce estrogen and lactogen, it spells the end of a woman’s reproductive years - aka menopause. You know that menopause is here for good when you don’t get a period for one whole year.
The Bad News
Menopause is the most common reason for low levels of estrogen in the female body - a real bummer because estrogen protects the heart, too.
Other reproductive hormones quickly follow this downward-trend: estradiol, a hormone which helps to regulate the metabolism, also decreases after menopause. Lower levels of estradiol lead to — wait for it — weight gain.
There’s more. Before menopause, the extra kilos found their way to your hips and thighs. Post-menopause, they make a beeline for your midsection and abdomen.
Of course, low estrogen levels alone are not responsible. Ageing, as well as lifestyle factors, can lead to weight gain. Both men and women become less active and have less muscle mass after their 40s. They burn fewer calories as they age. Lack of exercise, unhealthy eating and irregular and insufficient sleep contribute to post-menopause weight gain.
There’s More Bad News
Living with those extra kilos around your belly comes with its own health hazards. The added weight can lead to breathing problems, heart and blood vessel diseases and type 2 diabetes.
Research has also linked abdominal obesity to breast, colon or endometrial cancer.
The Good News
We know that menopause strikes around the 46-year mark in Indian women - women in urban centres typically experience menopause later in life than women in rural settings. And as the cliche goes, forewarned is forearmed. This knowledge can help us to prepare.
Pump up the volume
There’s no other way to say this: get up, get moving. An active lifestyle gets results. Even if weren’t working out before, start now. Put on your running shoes and jog for at least 75 minutes a week. You can also opt for a brisk walk, to energize you and improve your metabolism - just be sure to walk faster than 6 km per hour for at least 35 minutes, for five or six days a week.
As you age, you lose muscle mass. Strength-training and weight-training can help you gain more muscle - and muscle burns more calories than body fat even when you’re resting.
A mix of aerobic exercise and strength training is a good strategy to shed extra fat.
Think before you eat:
You will have to pull the reins on your taste buds, just to maintain your current body weight. Losing the extra weight will demand even more dietary discipline and restraint. To reduce the intake of calories, choose vegetables and whole grains over simple sugars. Legumes, nuts, soy, fish and low-fat dairy products are low in calories and high in protein, so they also help in building muscles.
Don’t get bowled out by stress:
Prolonged stress is harmful at any stage in life. After menopause, though, it becomes even more important to keep anxiety and stress at bay. Stress increases the levels of cortisol hormone in the body. This, in turn, increases abdominal weight. Yoga or meditation can help to keep you calm and fit.
Sleep - and sleep enough:
Menopause can be a difficult transition - both physically and psychologically. It can affect a woman’s self-confidence - a little bit of stress is natural in this phase. Getting a decent amount of sleep can help you stay relaxed, and keep the weight in check.
Studies show that when you don’t sleep enough, it affects your appetite. You have higher levels of the 'hunger hormone' ghrelin, lower levels of the 'fullness hormone' leptin and are more likely to binge on foods that are high in calories and carbohydrates. People who don’t sleep at night, tend to snack more and consume more calories. The insulin resistance after menopause also leads to weight gain.
Unfortunately, hot flashes and night sweats can make quality sleep a pipe dream during menopause.
The best you can do is concentrate on being happy, calm and healthy. The night sweat will pass. In the meantime, try to sleep for seven to eight hours, if you can.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. To know more on this topic, please visit https://www.myupchar.com/en/women-health/menopause-ke-lakshan-in-hindi
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Updated Date: Aug 21, 2019 13:59:40 IST
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