Weight gain is one of the unfortunate challenges during perimenopause/menopause. It is particularly baffling for women who have been generally fit and exercising when they find they are gaining weight despite keeping up their normal levels of exercise and eating as they have normally done. I was exactly the same. While I didn’t put on a huge amount of weight, I found that I struggled to get into my jeans and regular clothes and yet, I was training as well and as regularly and pretty much eating the same meals I had always eaten.
What I and countless women had not realised that when perimenopause/menopause hits, the fluctuating hormones, bloating and the slowing down of our metabolism can actually cause most women to gain up to a stone over a period of a year perhaps more, what this means literally is a change in dress size for most women and unfortunately for us, the weight is all in the same area, around the belly, around the thighs or on the face and neck.
While weight gain by itself is not the end all or be all, for most women the weight gain coupled with various other symptoms and alien feelings in one’s body can cause one to feel pretty fed up.
So what can we do? How do we beat this and can it be combated with exercise alone?
First of all, let me say we can definitely work with exercise to help us mitigate the weight gain but we also need another weapon in this fight and that is our diet. Without looking at what you eat and how much you are eating, this fight is going to be so much harder. It is hard to put all of the suggestions in one article, so I am going to list a few pointers down below; Remember this is targeted at those who are tackling weight gain, if you just want to maintain or you want to gain then the points listed below won’t be relevant
Remember your body has slowed down its metabolism and therefore you don’t need the same amount of food that you have been eating. So e.g. if you have been taking in 2000 calories as your daily intake, your body probably needs a little less than that now, you can check your current TDEE (your total daily energy expenditure) on a number of online websites ( e.g. bodybuilding.com) but I have to say these numbers are rarely accurate and generally just good as a guideline as the only way we can measure your body’s metabolic needs is on very expensive machines.
I found that my TDEE dropped by about 400 calories, from 2000 to 1600. Now that may not sound a lot but if I am still eating 2000 calories daily as I used to then of course over time, I will put on weight which is exactly what happened. When I adjusted my calories to around 1600 I stopped gaining but to maintain I also still need to exercise regularly.
Exercise will stoke your metabolism so you need to exercise regularly, I try to do 10,000 steps 5 days a week and have 3 hourly sessions of resistance training,
This combination will help to keep your weight in check. There are also some other points to note;
- Reduce stress
- Get good quality sleep
- Drink enough water, at least 2 litres daily
- Avoid processed foods and trans fats
- Reduce your sugar intake
- Eat plenty of and a mixture of fruits and vegetables