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Weight Gain Menopause - Why Do Women Gain Weight During Menopause?

causes of menopausal weight gain

Weight gain during menopause is a very common occurrence. Experts estimate that, on average, women gain 12-15 pounds during this transition in their life. The weight gain is triggered by a variety of causes, including shifts in hormone levels and lifestyle factors associated with aging. Weight gain during menopause is often more noticeable because it comes with a change in body type as well. During menopause, weight begins to accumulate around the belly area rather than on the hips and thighs. Though gaining some extra pounds during and after menopause is close to inevitable, there are some ways you can counteract menopausal weight gain.

Causes of Menopausal Weight Gain

Before talking about how to lose pounds gained during menopause, it is important to understand the causes of the extra weight gain. One reason women gain weight during this time is changes in levels of hormones like estrogen, testosterone, and androgen. During menopause, the ovaries cease to produce as much estrogen as they did before. To make up for this deficit, the body looks for other sources of estrogen. Fat cells actually produce more estrogen than muscle cells, so the body creates more fat cells to try to counteract losses in estrogen. Additionally, the drop in testosterone means that the body loses muscle mass. Since muscle cells burn calories at a much higher rate than fat cells, the body on the whole uses less energy. Finally, during menopause women often experience an increase in androgen levels. High androgen levels are the reason why fat accumulates around the belly as opposed to the hips and thighs.

While these hormonal changes are a significant reason why women gain weight, age is another factor. The simple fact that menopausal women are growing older is another reason for the weight gain. As a person ages, their body loses muscle mass and they need less calories each day. Women who do not adjust their calorie intake to meet these diminished energy needs will gain weight. Changes in lifestyle factors are another reason for weight gain during menopause. As people get older, their activity levels naturally decline, and this can lead to an increase in weight.

How to Fight Menopausal Weight Gain

Despite the fact that weight gain during menopause is natural, it is important not to allow weight gain to affect your health. Increased weight, especially around the abdomen, can lead to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other health complications. Because of the long-lasting negative health effects of being overweight, it is important for you to adjust your exercise and calorie intake levels during menopause to counteract this weight gain.

The first step to losing weight is to recognize that some weight gain is natural and expected. You can’t fight all of it and return to your former shape without being unhealthy. You can, however, keep off some of the extra weight by eating a healthy, balanced diet that is low in refined sugars and contains many fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition, you should increase your activity levels. Add a mile or two to your daily walk or run, and begin weight training exercises to make up for lost muscle mass. Experts recommend that you try to burn 200-400 more calories a day through exercise during menopause.

Ultimately, weight gain during menopause is a common occurrence that affects many women, and it is triggered by natural changes in the body. However, with the right diet and exercise, women can help keep off those extra pounds and maintain a healthy body.

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