5 Proven Ways to Easily Lose Weight During Menopause
Of all the woes which can come with menopause, one of the most visible in the mirror may be weight gain.
With your waist size expanding and your old pairs of jeans no longer fitting, you may feel like your metabolism is out of control.
And with your hormones wreaking havoc and an array of physical and psychological symptoms disrupting your daily routine, that is an understandable feeling.
But that does not mean that you need to keep putting on weight during perimenopause or after the menopausal transition is complete.
Below are some powerful research-backed suggestions for losing weight during menopause and keeping it off.
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1. Switch to a low-carb diet.
The first thing you should do is address your diet. Your first instinct might be to start counting calories and eating a calorie-restricted diet. But that is not actually the most effective way to lose weight.
Actually, the number one diet you should consider is a low-carb diet.
A great deal of research has been conducted on low-carb diets. Substantial evidence supports low-carb diets both for weight loss and for overall health.
Here is what eating a low-carb diet can do for you:
- Increase your HDL cholesterol. This is what we refer to as "good" cholesterol which protects you from heart disease (view the research).
- Regulate LDL cholesterol levels and also increase the size of LDL particles (the research here and here). This is the type of cholesterol that we call "bad" cholesterol.
- Reduce your triglyceride levels (see research here).
- Rapidly lose excess water weight. This is accomplished through insulin regulation on a low-carb diet.
- Increased satiety, thereby decreasing the urge to overeat (see the research). The reason this works is that low-carb diets tend to be rich in protein. It is the protein which makes you feel full.
- Burn fat effectively and quickly (see research here).
- Get rid of abdominal fat (check out the research).
- Regulate your mood (take a look at the evidence). This is a great added benefit during menopause since depression and anxiety can flare during your transition, and you're under added stress for a variety of reasons.
- Build muscle mass. If you work out, you know that you need lots of protein to effectively build muscle. So if you are eating a low-carb diet which includes a great deal of protein, you are more likely to build muscle while burning fat as you exercise.
If you conduct additional research on your own, you'll discover that there are other potential benefits to eating a low-carb diet as well.
You probably noticed that a number of cardiovascular benefits can result from eating fewer carbohydrates.
Not only does this help to improve your metabolism, but it can also be essential in preventing heart disease, type II diabetes, and other conditions which become more likely as you age.
If it seems like I have given rather a hard sell on low-carb diets, take it from me—I love carbs.
But I also love staying healthy. And based on research I have been conducting for years on dietary matters, I have found no other diet which is as well researched or seems to be as efficacious as low-carb for weight loss and general health.
Tips for Going Low-Carb
You may find the idea of transitioning to a low-carb diet intimidating, but there are some rules of thumb which can help you to adjust quickly:
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- Low-carb does not mean “no carb.” You can still eat carbs, but you need to be sparing with them.
- Simply removing junk food and desserts from your diet or reducing them to a bare minimum eliminates a great deal of the carbs that you are eating. Aside from that, you need to avoid breads and pastas as well as rice and potatoes. Eat lots of meats and dairy products. Most vegetables are okay too.
- You do not necessarily need to throw away all of your old recipes and learn a whole new set. Many of your existing recipes can probably be modified so that you can continue to enjoy them.
- You can still eat out. You just need to ask that certain ingredients be left out of your meals (i.e. order a hamburger minus the bun).
- Letting yourself cheat every now and again is actually a good idea if it helps to recharge your willpower. But you do need to have very specific rules for doing this that you follow to the letter.
- Give yourself time to transition. Neither your body, your mind nor your kitchen are going to adapt overnight to an instant low-carb diet. Give yourself plenty of time to shift your habits and get used to your new lifestyle.
- Individualize your approach. Even though there are strict rules you can follow for a low-carb diet, you will have the most success sticking with it if it works for you, so if you need to bend certain rules or break them, do not be afraid to do so—especially if weight loss is your main reason for doing this (rather than something more urgent, like pre-diabetes).
Switching to a low-carb diet may not be easy, but making this one commitment alone will probably make more of a difference to help you lose weight or maintain weight during menopause than any other recommendation.
2. Treat symptoms which are disrupting your sleep.
Did you know that studies by the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center say if you do not get sufficient sleep to function at your best but this can lead to putting on weight?
Unfortunately, perimenopause has a way of making it very difficult to get a full night's restful sleep each night.
For starters, you might wake up frequently with hot flashes and night sweats, and need to spend time cooling down and mopping up your sweat.
For another thing, you might be experiencing other painful symptoms (i.e. headaches) which keep you up.
Finally, psychological symptoms like anxiety or depression may also disrupt your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep.
For all of these reasons, you may be almost used to feeling fatigued during the daytime by this point.
The best way to restore restful sleep during menopause is to treat whichever symptoms seem to be keeping you awake.
Here some recommendations:
- Try an herbal supplement for controlling menopause symptoms. Ingredients to look for include black cohosh, chaste tree berry, Ashwagandha extract, zinc, magnesium, Shatavari, hop, and Pueraria Mirifica.
- You might also want to think about taking a supplement to support restful sleep. Ingredients which may be helpful include valerian, chamomile, passionflower, L-theanine, zinc, and magnesium.
- You can also try herbal supplements which are tailored towards treating other symptoms which you may be experiencing.
- If anxiety or depression are keeping you awake, you may wish to consider seeking professional advice. Alternately, you can try treating yourself at home. Sometimes, all you need is a relaxing routine before bedtime which can help you to stop thinking too much about what bothers you when it is time to go to sleep.
- Of course, you could also be losing sleep because the problems which are on your mind are very real and need to be addressed. If that is the case, just taking steps to work out those issues could help you sleep better at night.
- You should also ask yourself whether you are following general best practices for sleep hygiene. Are you going to sleep and waking up at consistent times? Is your bedroom a comfortable temperature? Are light and noise keeping you awake (or even silence)? Are you drinking caffeine too close to bedtime? Improve what you can with respect to these and other factors which impact sleep, and you could see a big difference.
Once you are having better luck sleeping soundly through the night, you will be doing something to counteract weight gain during menopause.
Chances are good that you will find that the many other benefits of getting restful sleep make even more of a difference in how you feel and function every day.
3. Keep up with your exercising.
It can be a challenge to keep up with your workouts during menopause. When you wake up feeling fatigued and you are dealing with unpleasant symptoms throughout the day, you may feel too exhausted to stick with your old workout routines.
But that does not mean that you should give up on working out altogether. If you do, that will definitely work against you with respect to keeping the weight off. It will also be bad for your health in other respects as well.
Working out will do the following for you:
- First of all, burning more calories through exercise will help you to burn fat.
- Secondly, if you are eating a diet which is rich in protein (like the low-carb diet suggested earlier), you should be able to put on more muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the better your metabolism will be.
- Working out regularly also can speed up your metabolism overall.
- Did you know that exercise can help to increase bone density? This is vitally important as a woman transitioning through menopause or living life after menopause.
- Exercise can improve mood. When you work out, it can soothe both depression and anxiety.
- Working out can increase circulation, bringing important nutrients to tissues throughout your body.
- Even though exercise can tire you out in the moment, if you work out regularly, you should actually experience an overall reduction in your fatigue levels.
- By losing weight through exercise, you reduce your chances of cardiovascular disease.
- Working out can improve and protect brain function.
- The quality of your sleep could increase by as much as 65% if you do just 150 minutes of exercise a week according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
So you can see that there are a lot of benefits to exercising through menopause! Weight loss is really just the start. Working out can help you to feel better physically and psychologically, and can help to protect you from age-related diseases.
4. Find ways to cope with your stress.
Now let’s talk about stress and weight.
According to WebMD, stress can be associated with weight gain, because it makes us think we are hungry when we are not.
When you are stressed, that also can cause problems for your emotional and physical health.
Menopause, of course, can comes with a lot of stress.
It turns into a vicious cycle. Your menopause symptoms cause you physical stress, which causes you psychological stress. This in turn then feeds right back into those physical symptoms, and so on.
But because stress can lead to weight gain, it is something that is important to try and mitigate as best you can.
This also hopefully will have some helpful effect in alleviating some of your tedious symptoms.
What can you do about stress during perimenopause? Answers to this question could be as varied as individuals. Here are some simple ideas:
- First of all, be proactive about managing your symptoms using some of the ideas discussed previously involving diet, supplementation and exercise. If you are able to reduce your symptoms in any way, that should help to alleviate some of your stress at the source.
- Be conscious of your eating habits. This in itself will not reduce stress, but it may reduce some of the weight gain issues linked to stress. Try and eat portions which are appropriate to your weight and activity level. Again, a diet which is high in protein can help with this since overall satiety should improve.
- Slow down. During menopause, your energy levels are probably lower, and your stress is already higher. If you continue to push yourself at the same pace that you normally would, you should not be surprised if your stress gets much worse. Be kind to yourself and give yourself breaks when you need them.
- Avoid over-commitment. This is connected to the above. If you have a difficult time telling other people “no,” this is the perfect time in your life in which to learn how to do so.
- If you smoke, this is also the perfect time to stop. Because nicotine is a stimulant, it can heighten stress (however ironic that might sound). Smoking is also really bad for your lungs and general health, so you will be glad you quit.
- Try relaxation techniques. There are many different relaxation techniques that you can try. Yoga, meditation, tai chi, deep breathing, visualization exercises and more can all potentially help you to de-stress. The trick is to find the method or methods which work best for you.
- Learn something new. While maintaining a routine can be very helpful in managing stress, sometimes what you need is a break from the ordinary, especially if your stress seems to be suffusing everything you do each day. Try learning about a special interest or taking a class or visiting a destination which you have always wanted to see but have never gotten around to. Any of these can refresh your perspective and make you feel less stressed.
- Do something you enjoy, and make it a habit. While relaxation techniques can be very helpful, you do not necessarily need to do a stereotypical "relaxation" activity in order to feel relaxed. You can play a sport, watch TV, play video games, build models, paint, hang out with your friends, or do anything else that you enjoy to de-stress.
- Simplify your life. If your life involves a lot of complex decision-making every day, cutting back on some of those complicated responsibilities can help you to have less stress each day. Automate tasks when possible and consider delegating some responsibilities.
- Live authentically. Finally, the Cleveland Clinic makes the following brilliant suggestion: “Examine your values and live by them. The more your actions reflect your beliefs, the better you will feel, no matter how busy your life is. Use your values when choosing your activities.”
That last suggestion certainly isn’t one you can put into effect overnight—but if you do make lasting changes to your life over time, you should have lasting stress relief to go with them.
5. Find a way to make weight loss more enjoyable.
While many of the suggestions that I have shared for losing weight during menopause are relatively simple, that does not mean that making changes to your diet or workouts is easy to do on your own.
Staying committed to a new workout schedule or diet does take a lot of willpower.
One thing which can make it easier is finding ways to make it fun. Here are a few ideas to make that happen:
- Teach yourself new recipes if you enjoy cooking.
- Take a class to learn a new type of exercise.
- Disguise exercise as something else (i.e. go dancing).
- Make exercise and dieting social. Bring a friend onboard—especially one who is also going through perimenopause.
- Reward yourself when you accomplish a milestone (preferably not with a dessert binge).
If you are able to make exercising and dieting more enjoyable, not only will you stick with them, but you will also be de-stressing by having a good time. That is killing three birds with one stone.
Conclusion: Weight Loss During Menopause Is Possible If You Make Some Changes To Your Lifestyle
Going through perimenopause is stressful enough without having to worry every time you step onto your weight scale.
While weight gain is very common during perimenopause and after, it is possible to maintain your weight or even shed some extra pounds.
If you exercise more, eat a healthy low-carb diet, get a full night of sleep every night (to the best of your ability), combat stress, and look for ways to make the whole process as fun as possible, you may be surprised by what you can achieve.
You can improve your metabolism and general health, and chance are good you’ll be able to maintain or reach a healthier weight.
Good luck, and don’t forget to check out our archives for more posts on looking and feeling your best during and after menopause!