Most women gain weight once they enter menopause, often in the abdomen. The reason for this is not entirely known, but it is thought that declining estrogen levels contributes to weight gain. Estrogen plays a role in how a woman’s body distributes body fat and may play a role in how the body uses insulin or blood sugar. Estrogen is thought to lower a woman’s metabolism or how fast she burns calories. Genetics may also play a role but just how much is unknown.
Although most women do not gain weight when on hormone replacement therapy, some can experience bloating of the belly and breasts which will certainly lead to a temporary tightening of clothes. But bloating does not lead to more layers of fat being added to her body.
The Aging Body
Another cause of weight gain in menopausal women is that their bodies just aren’t as active as they used to be. Many women tire more easily after they reach middle age. This means they are not burning off their usual amount of calories. If they continue to eat the same diet during menopause as they did in their youth, their bodies will certainly gain substantial weight.
Aging women’s bodies also lose lean muscle mass that helps them with everyday tasks. This means that doing everyday tasks becomes harder and leads to the woman tiring quicker than usual. Estrogen also plays a role in keeping bones strong. When estrogen levels begin to fall, the bones weaken. Fear of breaking bones can certainly make even the bravest woman afraid of exercise.
Preventing Menopausal Weight Gain
The Mayo Clinic states that menopausal weight gain can be prevented. Women approaching age 40 should start eating fewer calories. This does not mean skipping meals, but making wiser food choices. Women need to pay attention to everything they eat, choosing low-fat, high-fiber foods over junk food and overly processed foods. They also need to eat foods rich in calcium to help keep their bones strong. Although calcium nutritional supplements are available, doctors and nutritionists believe that the body best absorbs calcium from food and not from pills.
Women also need to stay active as they approach menopause. This will not only help them keep off extra fat, but keep the bones healthy. Women need to stop smoking or keep away from second hand smoke because tobacco smoke can slow down the body’s metabolism.