Weight gain post menopause: What the heck is going on?
Over the years working as a nutritionist, I’ve worked with women of all ages who come in with weight-loss or weight gain concerns. But one of the most common ages brackets where I see weight concerns is those who have recently gone through menopause.
You may have noticed your body changing.
Despite not really doing anything differently with your diet or exercise regime.
For women this can be stressful and frustrating, especially when there is this expectation to remain the same size all of your life
But not just that, there is the pressure to continue competing with the bodies of women in their 20s and early 30s.
The thing is, we change, and it’s okay.
Let’s look into it a bit more so you understand why this is happening, and how to manage it.
Here’s what’s happening…
1. Estrogen has left the building. This means you no longer have the carbohydrate sensitising effect of estrogen.
In other words, you may not respond as well to the higher carb diet you’ve eaten most of your life.
This is normal.
It’s not about removing all carbohydrates, (in fact, that can make matters worse if it disrupts your thyroid).
**It’s just about finding out what level of carbohydrates your body responds best to in this new hormonal state**
2. You’re at a greater risk of thyroid dysfunction and may need thyroid support- Your thyroid controls things like temperature, growth, energy levels, and metabolic rate.
If you are not producing enough T3 hormone, you might find it harder to remain weight stable, or struggle with low energy.
***You can get these checked through your doctor, and discussed with a nutritionist to see if you need to add in specific nutrients or lifestyle changes to support your T3 production**** (Note: Remember carbs are needed for T3 production! – so with carbs please remember it’s not about having zero – don’t go for the extreme).
3. Your muscle mass decreases, and it becomes harder to build muscle.
Feel like your not seeing as much results from your gym training, or its just a very slow process?
Or have you noticed the muscle tone you seemed to maintain even without exercise is starting to go?
THIS IS NORMAL.
It’s much harder to gain muscle without your sex hormones, and it’s also harder to maintain it WITHOUT resistance training. This then has a flow-on effect as your muscle mass gives you more carbohydrate tolerance and a faster metabolism.
If this is something that’s important to you, getting in enough protein, adding in resistance training, and learning how to fuel yourself correctly around your training session can really help (which in TURN helps with your carbohydrate tolerance and metabolism – win win).
These things may take some time to figure out and adjust, and certainly something I can help you with.
But here is something you can do RIGHT NOW to feel a bit better about your body:
Start observing a wider range of bodies, and especially those in your age group. See how much body diversity there is? See how NORMAL you are.
Does this feel better or worse than comparing yourself to the younger bodies?
Hopefully better, (*providing you don’t just compare to that one friend your age who does 2 hours of exercise and eats like a mouse…).
It’s okay to want to feel better in your body, but It’s much nicer if you can do it from a place of kindness and when you accept your body for as it is right now.
So please please PLEASE – STOP. COMPARING. YOURSELF. TO . YOUNGER . WOMEN!
Key take homes:
- Experiment with a lower carbohydrate diet, ideally with a qualified professional who can ensure you don’t go too low to disrupt your thyroid function and show you how to make lower carb meals just as tasty and filling.
- Stop comparing yourself of younger women to remove the pressure
- Consider getting into strength training to support your metabolism.
If you are struggling with body image, or a feeling out of control with what’s happening either through peri-menopause or post-menopause, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
You don’t have to navigate it on your own .