7 nutrition and lifestyle tips to fight menopausal weight gain
Author: Helen Morton | Posted on Thursday January 11, 2018
It can be a struggle to keep off the pounds when you hit peri-menopause. But you don’t need to resign yourself to the fact that it’s just the way it is. In this article, registered nutritional therapist Helen Morton shares her top nutrition and lifestyle tips to help you fight weight gain during menopause.
Going through the menopause means changes in hormone levels which can lead to slow subtle gains in weight and a shift in weight distribution from lower body to more central areas. Oestrogen production reduces while androgen production, the sex hormone naturally more dominant in men, increases. It is this shift in hormone production which is associated with mid-region weight gain post menopause (1).
Weight gain is also a normal part of ageing, due to the natural slowing down of your metabolism, and you may find it more difficult to maintain the same weight as in your younger years. However, by following good, basic nutrition principles and habit techniques you can effectively moderate weight gain during menopause and support weight loss after menopause. Healthy habits really do make a difference.
7 nutrition and lifestyle tips to fight weight gain during menopause
1. Meal planning
Plan what you are going to eat. It may seem a little boring but meal planning really can help to keep you eating better. If your kitchen is stocked with just the right ingredients for a healthy meal, the need to order a take away or grab unhealthy snacks is eliminated.
2. Keep a food diary
Another simple yet powerful idea. By keeping a record of what you eat, as well as when and how you feel, you become more aware and more honest. A food diary allows you to identify unhealthy eating patterns and, importantly, address them.
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3. Metabolism boosting foods
Some foods can help to boost your metabolism and get it fired up, helping with weight loss. Foods to focus on include:
Berries – include a variety of types and colours for maximum nutrients and antioxidants.
Green tea – contains a group of antioxidants called catechins which have been shown to improve metabolism (2).
Leafy green vegetables – such as spinach, broccoli, cabbage, kale.
Raw cacao – found in very dark chocolate, just a square or two is enough, not the whole bar!
Spices – such as cinnamon, turmeric and ginger. Effective at boosting metabolism (3), but do be mindful of hot flushes if this is something you experience as they can be a trigger in some cases.
Almonds – just a small handful as they are very calorific.
4. The right fats
Focus on healthy fats, such as olive oil, small quantities of butter, avocados, nuts and seeds in moderation. Choose organic grass-fed meat and dairy where possible. Avoid hydrogenated and trans fats which are manmade and found in most processed foods including margarine, baked goods and jars of sauces.
5. The right sugar
We all eat some sugar in our diets, it is just not realistic to expect to eat none at all. However, the type of sugar is very important. When aiming to maintain a health weight you need to focus on natural sugars and cut out refined sugars as much as possible. Whole fruits are natural sugars; shop bought cakes and biscuits contain refined sugars. Think natural whole foods and you will be along the right lines.
6. Colour and variety
Go for as many different brightly and deeply coloured vegetables and fruits as possible for their wide range of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, which play a significant role in glucose metabolism and detoxification, important for maintaining a healthy weight (4).
7. Increase the activity you do
Good nutrition goes hand in hand with exercise. Together they are a powerful way of reducing weight and maintaining weight loss during menopause. Menopausal women benefit especially from strength training to increase muscle mass and help to define body shape. Increasing your daily activity, by walking a little further or taking the stairs instead of the lift, will also help with weight loss. Be sure to keep it achievable and enjoyable so it becomes a lifelong habit not a chore.
1. Janssen I, Powell LH, Kazlauskaite R, Dugan SA (2010) Testosterone and Visceral Fat in Midlife Women: The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) Fat Patterning Study. Obesity, 18: 604-610.
2. Westerterp-Plantenga MS (2010) Green tea catechins, caffeine and body-weight regulation. Physiology and behaviour, 100: 42-46.
3. Mansour MS, Yu-Ming Ni, Roberts AL, Kelleman M, RoyChoudhury A, St-Onge M-P (2012) Ginger consumption enhances the thermic effect of food and promotes feelings of satiety without affecting metabolic and hormonal parameters in overweight men: A pilot study. Metabolism, 61: 1347-1352.
4. Knecht P, Kumpulainen J, Jarvinen R, Rissanen H et al., (2002) Flavonoid Intake and Risk of Chronic Diseases. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 76: 560-568.
About the Author
Helen Morton (DipION) is a qualified, registered Nutritional Therapist. She is a member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and Complimentary and Natural Health Care Council (CNHC). Helen has a special interest in nutrition for mental health, stress management, overall women’s health including menopause, and sports and running performance. If you would like to book a free 20-minute consultation with Helen to discuss your individual nutritional requirements, please visit her website at: www.helenmortonnutrition.com