Weight Gain in Menopause
Welcome To Menopause
Now that you have entered that glorious place in womanhood where you don't have to worry about pregnancy, otherwise known as menopause, you are likely noticing all kinds of interesting changes in your body. Of course, there are the trademark "hot flashes," and trouble staying asleep once you finally get there. You also may be filling out in places where you used to be very trim. No matter how hard you try, the fluffy middle will not deflate. What's going on?
No, You're Not Overeating: Menopause Weight Gain
Well, you may find some comfort in the fact that more than 90% of women in menopause tend to gain a few extra pounds and research will support you when you say that you're not overeating. In fact, what research does indicate is that a shift in your hormones (wouldn't you know it?) are to blame, and not overeating at the buffet-although that would not be helpful to your health or weight, anyway. Most of the weight creeps onto the body beginning at perimenopause and continues at the rate of about a pound a year until you've gained close to ten or 15 extra pounds.
To top it all off, the weight seems to settle in places you would rather it didn't. You may notice your tummy becoming rounder while your hips and thighs remain the same size. It becomes more difficult as menopause progresses to distribute the weight more evenly. Since your hormones are in a state of chaos during this period in your life, you will notice that even though you exercise as always and eat exactly as you always have, your shape is taking on a personality of its own. Since your hormones have a direct impact on your appetite, metabolism, and fat storage, the constant upheaval of testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen, make controlling your weight a real battle.
Blame It On Those Menopause Hormones
Estrogen has a wonderful job to perform when women are younger and in their childbearing years. It is estrogen, produced by the ovaries, that causes ovulation. In menopause, estrogen levels decrease as the ovaries slow and eventually stop production. The body then looks for it in other places and, Eureka! It finds it in fat. The fat cells in your body can produce estrogen, so your body packs on fat to keep estrogen levels up. Since fat does not burn calories quite the way muscle does, the body ends up carrying more of it to satisfy the estrogen demand.
Another hormone that decreases during menopause is progesterone. Progesterone is key to a number of menopausal symptoms, including weight gain and/or water retention and bloating. As the body holds onto fluids, clothing feels tighter and the bloating is very uncomfortable. You may not gain any serious weight, but you may certainly look as though you did.
The Cause Of Middle Age Weight Gain
Androgen is the culprit behind "middle age spread," that thickening of the middle that comes with menopause. The increase of androgens causes the abdominal weight gain. The other male hormone is testosterone. The drop in production of this hormone, which is responsible for muscle building, means loss of muscle and a slower metabolism. The result-your body takes longer to burn fat.