Most women gain weight as they age, especially during menopause.
But menopause and weight gain don’t have to go hand in hand. You can reverse the course by paying attention to healthy-eating habits and leading an active lifestyle.
The hormonal changes of menopause might make you more likely to gain weight around your abdomen than around your hips and thighs.
Hormonal changes alone don’t necessarily trigger menopausal weight gain, however. Instead, the weight gain is usually related to aging, as well as lifestyle and genetic factors.
For example, muscle mass typically diminishes with age, while fat increases. Loss of muscle mass decreases the rate at which your body uses calories, which can make it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight.
If you continue to eat as you always have and don’t increase your physical activity, you’re likely to gain weight.
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Genetic factors also might play a role in weight gain. If your parents or other close relatives carry extra weight around the abdomen, you’re likely to do the same.
Sometimes factors such as the stress of children leaving – or returning – home, divorce, the death of a spouse, or other life changes might change your diet or exercise habits and contribute to gaining weight.
Menopausal weight gain can have serious implications for your health. Excess weight increases the risk of heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes and various types of cancer, including colorectal cancer and breast cancer.
There’s no magic formula for preventing — or reversing — weight gain “caused by” menopause. Simply stick to weight-control basics:
Aerobic activity can help you shed excess pounds and maintain a healthy weight. Strength training counts, too. As you gain muscle, your body burns calories more efficiently — making it easier to control your weight.
To maintain your current weight — let alone lose excess pounds — you might need about 200 fewer calories a day during your 50’s than you did during your 30’s and 40’s.
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Surround yourself with friends and loved ones who’ll support your efforts to eat a healthy diet and increase your physical activity. Better yet, team up and make the lifestyle changes together.