Reducing weight throughout menopause: The ‘essential time’ to keep away from gaining weight – what to do
When it comes to menopause, weight gain can be a common factor that many women over 50 share. It usually tends to cluster around a woman’s abdomen, but excess weight in this region can pose other health risks.
Visceral fat, the internal fat, causes a person’s abdomen to protrude and wrap around internal organs, including the liver and intestines.
To avoid gaining those extra unwanted pounds, experts have found that women should start preparing before they make the midlife change.
A new study published in the journal Menopause has suggested that the best way for women to avoid weight gain during menopause is to start early.
They can do this by making significant changes in their calorie intake and exercise regimen before the transition itself.
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This period is called perimenopause and it usually starts when a woman is between 30 and 44 years old.
According to the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), in addition to weight gain, other symptoms such as hot flashes, trouble sleeping and mood swings are the result of a drop in estrogen levels.
The number of calories a woman needs to maintain her body weight also decreases significantly during menopause along with lean muscle mass.
Abbie Smith-Ryan, study co-author and associate professor of exercise physiology at the University of North Carolina, said: “Our key findings underscore some existing evidence that perimenopause is a crucial time to initiate lifestyle changes [that have] the potential to dramatically improve postmenopausal health and quality of life.”
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The results also showed that the perimenopause group experienced the greatest changes in fat and lower lean body mass.
This made it clear to the researchers that this period is “the best window” to start implementing new lifestyle interventions.
Commenting on the results, Samar R. El Khoudary, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health in Pennsylvania, said: “The results suggest that there are differences in metabolism associated with physical activity depending on the menopause status related .
“The results are consistent with data from longitudinal studies showing that perimenopause is a critical window for body composition changes compared to postmenopausal women.”
Although she was not involved in the research, Dr. Stephanie Faubion, MD, MD, MD, Mayo Clinic and Medical Director of NAMS: “The classic scenario is that women come to us at this time and say, ‘I haven’t changed anything.’
“‘I’m eating and exercising as usual, but I’m gaining weight.’
“And the answer is, ‘Exactly! If you don’t change anything during this time, you will gain weight.'”
She added, “These changes in metabolism and fat distribution are important in part because they contribute to the increase in cardiovascular risk associated with menopause.”