Menopause marks the end of our reproductive years.
When we reach our late 40’s and early 50’s we enter the menopause phase. We notice our periods to become lighter, irregular and eventually non-existent.
As our ovaries stop producing eggs, so do our hormones. Our levels of female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone begin to decrease. And because of this we run into a whole world of symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain and sleep disturbances.
Menopause weight gain occurs because our bodies slowly ease up on the production of estrogen and progesterone, which play a part in regulating our appetite and our energy levels.
The shift in our hormone levels brings on a host of other physical changes that causes menopausal weight gain, such as:
Insulin Resistance: Estrogen helps to optimize insulin. Typically, premenopausal women have increased insulin sensitivity (meaning their bodies use insulin effectively). After menopause, this advantage disappears due in part to the decrease of estrogen in the body. Reduced estrogen levels can lead to insulin resistance, which is when your body does not respond to insulin well and blood sugar increases which eventually leads to excessive weight gain.
Decreased Muscle Mass: As you get older, your muscle mass decreases while your body fat increases. As your metabolism slows down, fewer calories are expended, where cardio alone is no longer enough to help excessive weight gain.
Sleep Deprivation: Sleep deprivation can contribute to hormonal shifts and increased appetite.
Remember that regular physical activity can help reduce symptoms and improve overall health during menopause. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, most days of the week. Exercise can also help you fall asleep faster, sleep more soundly, and improve your mood.
Getting enough sleep is also crucial. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night and create a relaxing bedtime routine to help you wind down before bed. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and screens before bedtime as they can interfere with sleep quality. If you're still having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about safe and effective treatments for insomnia.
In addition to exercise and sleep, other healthy habits such as eating a balanced diet, reducing stress, and maintaining a healthy weight can also help you manage menopausal symptoms and promote overall well-being.