Menopause refers to the change in a woman’s life when her menstrual cycles cease, and she is no longer “fertile” (producing eggs). As normal hormone production continues to decline during perimenopause and menopause, a variety of troublesome symptoms may start to occur, including hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and more.
But no side-effect of menopause is more frustrating than weight gain. Eventually the hot flashes and mood fluctuations will go away – but most women are stuck for the rest of their lives with the unwanted weight gain that accompanies menopause.
And weight gain is much more than just a cosmetic issue! Weight gain not only dramatically decreases a woman’s self-esteem, it also can significantly increase her risk for virtually every major chronic disease, including: heart disease, stroke, Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, and even cancer.
In this article Austin, TX menopause and hormone expert Dr. Ruthie Harper explains what causes weight gain during menopause – and how you can effectively prevent new weight gain and lose those unwanted pounds.
Hormonal Causes of Weight Gain After Menopause
Menopause results in rapid changes in a woman’s reproductive / sex hormone levels, including estrogen and testosterone. And these hormones play a key role in how the body both burns “calories” and stores fat.
During menopause estrogen levels decline, which decreases the rate with which the body “burns” and converts stored energy (fat). Simply put, low estrogen levels slow down the metabolism, which increases fat storage on the body.
Additionally, lower estrogen levels result in less fat breakdown, which results in further fat accumulation and weight gain. And, if the balance between estrogen and testosterone gets out of balance, an excess of androgens (male hormones) can increase the risk of obesity.
Finally, to compound the problem, the levels of the hormone leptin – which signal the brain to feel “full” after eating – also drop. So, women actually do feel hungrier as a result of menopause, which leads to eating more.
Frustratingly, in addition to weight gain, fat distribution also shifts in the perimenopausal woman as well. So, waist circumference (“belly fat”) also increases disproportionately in women after menopause at a greater rate.
How to Lose Weight After Menopause
The good news is that Austin, TX medical weight loss expert Dr. Ruthie Harper offers several safe, effective and 100% natural methods of improving weight loss after menopause. Even better, every weight loss plan is customized to each woman’s individual lifestyle, body metabolism, hormone levels and fat loss needs.
#1. Modify Exercise to Lose Weight After Menopause
One way to avoid weight gain after menopause is to modify the type of physical activity you perform, in order to maintain or build lean body mass and optimize hormones. Dr. Harper has designed specific exercise regimens specifically for post-menopausal woman to help offset the increase of fat and decrease of muscle mass that accompanies aging.
Certain non-impact exercises such as spinning, cycling and rowing can help reduce total fat mass, and decrease waist circumference, belly fat, and BMI. And, adding a form of training called HIIT (high intensity interval training) has been shown to be more beneficial than aerobic exercise in the post-menopausal woman.
Resistance training and twice-weekly yoga have also been shown to help menopausal women increase metabolism, decrease belly fat and gain muscle mass.
#2. Sleep Support to Lose Weight After Menopause
Menopause is linked to insomnia, which studies have shown leads to increased hunger, a bigger appetite and lower fat burning. Dr. Harper can prescribe natural supplements including melatonin, 5-HTP, and GABA that are customized in our office, to ensure you get the quality and quantity of sleep you need to prevent post-menopausal weight gain.
#3. Macronutrient Rebalancing to Lose Weight After Menopause
Decreases in female hormones can cause increased insulin levels as well as insulin resistance – which can increase body fat and make losing weight more difficult. Dr. Harper can test your blood to identify your dietary deficiencies – and then rebalance your macronutrients (the amount of carbohydrate, fat and protein) to help you take off weight and keep it off.
An eating program (not a diet) will be recommended and customized for each woman, that is carefully designed after measuring the patient’s unique individual blood chemistry and hormone levels.
#4. Hormone Treatment to Lose Weight After Menopause
Hormonal imbalance is one of the main reasons for weight gain and fat accumulation after menopause. So, to be truly effective, a fully personalized and integrative postmenopausal weight management program also needs to include diagnosis, replacement and balancing of any hormone deficiencies or imbalances.
Dr. Harper offers 100% natural bio-identical hormone replacement at her Austin, TX practice. Unlike synthetic lab-created hormones, these are 100% naturally derived and identical in structure to human hormones. As a result, the body will recognize, use and metabolize them properly – without the dangerous side-effects of synthetic hormones.
After thorough and comprehensive blood testing, Dr. Harper will customize a bioidentical hormone regimen designed just for you, based on your unique hormone levels and deficiencies. Unlike one-size-fits-all prescription hormones (with standard dosages that may not fit your needs), BHRT therapy is specifically formulated and compounded in dosages that are tailored to each patient on an individual basis.
Lose Weight After Menopause – Austin, TX
Dr. Harper’s is nationally recognized as one of the most experienced bioidentical hormone replacement doctors in the country. She specializes in treating women during all stages of life, with a special focus on women in perimenopause and menopause – having helped more than 10,000 patients in her 20 plus years of integrative and holistic medical practice.
If you live in the greater Austin, TX area and are frustrated and discouraged by the weight gain of menopause, Dr. Harper can help you get your body and your life back – with a caring, comprehensive, natural, and integrative approach to wellness and weight loss that is personalized just for you.