MENOPAUSE AND WEIGHT GAIN … THE HCG DIET CAN HELP!
Menopause in the literal meaning means the pause or end of menstruation. It is a shift in a women’s endocrine physiology that happens “mid-life.” Most women begin to experience menopause between the ages of 40 to 55 years old with the average age being 51.
For many women, menopause comes with some uncomfortable physical changes. The most common being hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, mood swings, brain fog and low energy. One of the biggest complaints we find in our menopausal women is unwelcome weight gain around the middle. This is often the very stubborn kind of weight gain that does not want to budge despite a stellar diet plan and great exercise regimen.
The HCG Diet has an incredible effect on menopausal weight gain and is a reliable way to help women shed the unwanted pounds and learn ways to keep them off.
THE PHYSIOLOGIC & METABOLIC SHIFTS OF MENOPAUSE
What exactly is happening during those menopausal years? … a lot! Peri-menopause is the time frame (usually several years) as women transition into menopause. Through the peri-menopausal years, the ovaries gradually reduce estrogen production. Hormones go through periods of fluctuation as the body adjusts to the ovaries slowing down their function. This is a great time to focus on tonifying the adrenal glands as the adrenals make a weak form estrogen known as estrone that can help the transition into menopause. Once a female has not had her menstrual cycle for a full 12 months, she can be considered by the textbooks to be menopausal! This officially ends the child-bearing years!
Menopause and Body Composition
Throughout menopause, there are significant physiological and metabolic changes that occur that have a strong impact on body composition. It is not your imagination if you are perimenopausal/menopausal and feel as if gaining weight is easy and losing weight is hard. It is the reality. Weight loss is far more of a hormonal game than it is “calories in” and “calories out.”
As the aging process sets in, there is a natural decrease in lean mass and in many cases an increase in body fat accumulation. We all love to here that one!! Aging is inevitable friends and we can’t argue with our genetic makeup! However, lifestyle is another important factor that we do have control over.
In general, women have a tendency to slow down their level of physical activity in their 40’s to 50’s. Less movement means less calories burned and lower muscle function. Muscle dictates metabolism … so, we want to keep them strong as we age! Also, lets be aware of the processed sugars and carbs and leave those out. As we age, our insulin also becomes less sensitive and we have a higher propensity to store fat.
Lower Estrogen Levels and Body Composition
Estrogen is responsible for sexual and reproductive development. The ovaries are responsible for the majority of our estrogen levels and when they take the plunge in menopause, so do our estrogen levels. Animal studies show that lower estrogen levels lead to an increase in appetite and lowers the sensitivity of our insulin to sugars making fat storage easier.
Higher Cortisol Levels and Weight Gain
Cortisol is a hormone that helps us adapt to stress. However, for many people living the modern, busy lifestyle cortisol levels are a bit too high! When a stressful situation is encountered, cortisol triggers the body to break down muscle tissue to release energy! For those who deal with chronic stress and chronically elevated cortisol levels. This. is. not. good. This actually results in abdominal fat which then leads to more cortisol production and the vicious cycle. In our HCG Diet program, we spend a lot of time with our patients discussing ways to keep cortisol levels lower.
Menopause and Fat Distribution
I hear this one all the time in my practice, “Ever since I hit menopause, I have this tire around my mid-section that I NEVER has before. I have tried everything and I cannot get it to change.” They come to me to help facilitate them through the HCG Diet which can be helpful for many women.
Recently, the International Journal of Obesity published a study where they looked at how menopause affects body composition and abdominal fat distribution. It was found that menopause did cause an increase in over all fat mass and specifically in the abdomen.
Leptin Levels and Menopause
Leptin is created by our fat cells and is known as the satiety hormone. Leptin levels are dependent on the amount of body fat a person has and the primary role is to protect us from starvation. When leptin is low, it signals hunger and we eat more and burn less energy (protective mechanism of the body if it senses hunger). In general, women have higher leptin levels than men. In menopause, we find that leptin levels decline significantly and can trigger hunger! This explains the hunger that can be experienced in some menopausal women.
SO, What Can we do about Menopause and Body Composition Changes!
It may seem like the odds are up against you but there is truly so much you can do to make positive changes on your body composition. Here are a few key action steps that you can take!
MOVE THAT BODY!
Schedule your exercise as you would any other appointment and make it happen nearly every day! This is really important. Do what you can and show up and make it a habit! Non-negotiable! Physical activity has a very strong impact on the weight gain that can occur with menopause. Make sure some of this sis strength training! More muscle mass means more metabolism and this is important. Set the bar to establish a strength training routine three times per week! Now more than ever, it is important to keep your muscles strong!
Be Mindful with your food intake
Pay attention and only eat when you feel hungry. So many of us eat when we are actually “full” and this does not serve our bodies! You also do not have the same metabolism that you had when you were 30! Don’t forget to roll with the times:)
Please be mindful and choose nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, clean proteins and healthy fats.
GET your SLEEP!
Menopause often goes hand in hand with the dreaded “I” word INSOMNIA! Practice good sleep habits and work with a practitioner to help you! Sleep affects hormones that impact body composition. Shoot for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
RELAX AND DESTRESS
Cortisol! Keeping that hormone in check can help you shed some fat mass. This means keeping stress managed. You can’t avoid it completely but you can handle it better. Meditation is a nice way to quiet the mind. Perhaps you enjoy a nice walk in nature, a gentle bike ride, a relaxing massage or some quiet time reading a book. find activities that nourish your soul and fill your cup!
MENOPAUSE AND WEIGHT GAIN … THE CONCLUSION
Menopause is loved by some and dreaded by others. Life happens and evolves and resisting the change is not gonna get you very far. If we can embrace it and stay tuned in to a healthy diet and lifestyle we can make menopause less of a dreadful time in life!
Learning about the hormonal changes that happen and how we can help them is very important. Knowledge is power! Stay tuned in to regular, physical activity, eat well, use your muscles, do what you love with your time, relax more, get good sleep and ENJOY!