Women in their late 40s and 50s often find it harder to prevent weight gain. Your metabolism naturally slows down as you get older, and it gets worse as you enter menopause. However, healthy eating and exercise can prevent excessive weight gain and keep your figure and health intact.The hormonal changes you experience during menopause also make it more likely that you’ll gain belly fat, but lifestyle, including diet and exercise, also determine how much weight you gain.
You lose muscle mass as you age and gain fat. Your metabolism slows down as you lose muscle mass, and this makes it easier to gain weight if you don’t eat right.
A menopausal women needs to take special care to control weight gain. Even women who put little thought into the amount of exercise they got-or how much they ate- and still remained slim when they were younger will need to become more disciplined during menopause.
What Bad Habits Cause Menopausal Weight Gain?
A diet filled with processed foods will pack on the pounds at any age. Many women are more prone to emotional eating during menopause. Organize your shopping trips (and grocery lists) around fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fresh fish and other healthy foods. You won’t be able to snack on junk food easily if you don’t have any in your kitchen.
You need to pare 200 calories from your daily tally to maintain your weight if you’re 50 or older. This doesn’t mean you need to starve – simply replace high or medium calories items with fresh fruits or vegetables. Drink water or herbal tea instead of soda.
Insufficient sleep is often overlooked as a cause of weight gain. (If you get less than seven hours of sleep every night, there’s a good chance you’ll snack more during the day.)
A sedentary lifestyle is bad for your health at any age, but it’s especially harmful once you go through menopause. Incorporate walking, biking or other physical activity into your daily routine. Increase your time at the health club, or join a hiking club or amateur sports team.
Some women may still gain more weight during menopause due to their genetics. If your mother and other female relatives gained weight during menopause, you probably will, too. However, you should still eat right and exercise. You’ll gain less weight if you put more effort you put into staying healthy, even if your genetic work against you.
Limit alcohol consumption or abstain from drinking alcohol completely. An occasional glass of red wine with dinner won’t hurt you, but nix going to the bar with your girlfriends or drinking a few cocktails after work. Many alcoholic drinks are high in calories, and some mixed drinks also contain excess sugar (like margaritas or piña coladas.)
Menopausal women are more susceptible to these bad habits, so it’s important to focus on a healthy lifestyle as you get older.
Health Risks of Excess Weight
Being overweight has health implications no matter how old you are, but the consequences become more serious during and after menopause. Weight gain, especially belly fat, increases your chance of Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Carrying excess weight puts you at greatest risk of breast and colon cancer.
Best Foods to Prevent Weight Gain during Menopause
Eat a mostly plant-based diet to cut calories and stay healthy during menopause. You can eat lean red meat, fresh fish and poultry occasionally. Be sure to buy meat and poultry fresh at the butcher counter or from organic providers.
Stock up on nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and tofu. Choose low-fat dairy products like Greek yogurt and cottage cheese, and replace butter and shortening with olive oil when cooking.
Reduce, or better yet, eliminate consumption of sugar-laden foods. Most people consume well beyond the recommended daily amount of sugar per day.
All you favorite “comfort-food” snacks, like pies, cookies, cakes, candy and ice cream make you gain weight, especially around your mid-section.
You drink a lot of excess sugar, sometimes without even knowing it. Soft drinks, energy drinks and juices add both refined and natural sugar to your diet. Pouring sugar into your coffee and tea adds excess calories and no nutritional value.
Use honey or stevia to sweeten your coffee or tea, or drink unsweetened beverages. Avoid using artificial sugar substitutes, or drinking diet soda. Studies show diet drinks may actually cause you to gain weight.
Some women may experience mood swings from consuming too much sugar. Be sure not to exceed the 25 gram/six teaspoon daily limit, per the American Heart Association. The limit includes both refined and natural sugars.
You should already be exercising moderately for 150 minutes a week, or doing vigorous aerobic exercise, such as jogging or dancing, 75 minutes a week. If not, you need to step up your game to keep menopause weight from creeping up on you. Concentrate on moderate activity if you work a sedentary job and aren’t used to exercising. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk a few blocks to the store instead of driving. Ride your bike, go hiking with friends, or do yoga.
Strength training also helps you retain muscle mass as you age. Lift dumbbells to reduce the chance of osteoporosis and rev up your metabolism. Choose free weights or resistance tubing you can use at home.
Your blood sugar levels may also fluctuate during menopause. Check with your doctor about adjusting your dose if you take diabetes medication.
Wheatgrass, Nutrition and Menopause
Make sure you get all the nutrients you need through your diet to control the weight gain and mood swings caused by menopause. A diet of fresh, whole foods will give you most of what you need, but taking a wheatgrass supplement ensures that you’ll stay focused and healthy.
Happy Girl Mood Enhancing Supplement from Wheatgrass Love contains 100 percent pure wheatgrass to give you hundreds of nutrients. Happy Girl also contains green tea extract and gotu kola to boost your metabolism and balance your emotions.
Wheatgrass Love also offers Zeal O2 Weight Loss Supplement, which is designed to boost energy naturally while providing you with hundreds of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids. Read more about wheatgrass and wheatgrass love products here.