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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What can one do to combat the menopause weight gain?

    I am 49 years old, and went through menopause, and at age 44 I had not menstruated for a year. I am active, trail run (10-15 miles per week), hike (10-15 miles per week), weight training (3-4 times per week for 45 minutes), do ab work (2 times a week), and start my day with 15 minutes of yoga. My diet is mostly vegetarian with some lean meats. I am guessing that I eat between 1500-2000 calories a day of whole foods. I minimize sugar, sodium, and watch the amount of fat. I basically follow the guidelines of Dr. Furhman's nutritional information. I cannot lose weight no matter what, but more frustrating, I also seem to not be able to lose fat or change my body composition to look physically fit. I am 5'6", and go between 165-170. The number is not important to me, but why will my body not respond and get toned? I've been to a nutritionist and have worked with 2 personal trainers. I am committed, dedicated and will follow any plan that a professional thinks will work. Frustrated
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  • Eric Rosario

    Exercise Physiologist

    Master of Applied Science by Research into the Effects of Strength Training on Postmenopausal women. I have been involved in strength training for 67 years … View Profile

    Before Menopause women tend to collect fat on their thighs and buttock because this tends to help with the energy required during pregnancy and lactation. As they reach menopause and can no longer become pregnant or lactate their is no longer need for this type of fat, Instead the fat gathers on the Omentum where it would be more useful. You have done an unbelievable amount of work both strength training and aerobic. I am surprised that you have not changed your body composition, what tests have you done to measure this. Collection of Omental fat is often a result of stress and most women have plenty of that during menopause. To reduce Omental fat relaxation should be of some help. You speak of Yoga have you tried Aaanas like Uddivyan and Nauli? The internet has many articles on the performance of these two Asanas and their effect on the parasympathetic nervous system. These Asanas also work on the bowels and reduce waist size. Midful eating is also a means of reducing body fat. Of course as a strength trainer of 71 years experience I will not knock this form of exercise. High Intensity Interval may be a better form of training than Long Slow Distance

  • Arlene is a registered practising dietitian, with a private practice in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and has built a strong business over the last … View Profile

    Most women gain weight as they age, but excess kilos aren't inevitable. To minimize menopause weight gain, step up your activity level and enjoy a healthy diet.

    When you hit menopause your metabolism slows down. I have been through this myself so know how frustrated you feel. Your exercise is really great so please continue to do this. However you do need to reduce your calorie intake. You should be eating 6 small meals a day. Keep your portions small. The hormonal changes that menopause brings are an important factor in weight gain and make losing weight more difficult. In addition these hormonal changes make gaining muscle difficult and you also have to be careful of bone loss. As we start the change, production of our body’s two major hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, starts to fall. This in itself is entirely natural.

    The hormonal changes of menopause might make you more likely to gain weight around your abdomen than around your hips and thighs. Hormonal changes alone don't necessarily trigger menopause weight gain, however. Instead, the weight gain is usually related to aging, as well as lifestyle and genetic factors.

    For example, muscle mass typically diminishes with age, while fat increases. Loss of muscle mass decreases the rate at which your body uses calories, which can make it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight. If you continue to eat as you always have and don't increase your physical activity, you're likely to gain weight.

    Genetic factors also might play a role in menopause weight gain. If your parents or other close relatives carry extra weight around the abdomen, you're likely to do the same.

    Sometimes factors such as the stress of children leaving — or returning — home, divorce, the death of a spouse, or other life changes might change your diet or exercise habits and contribute to menopause weight gain. Increased stressed hormone Cortisol can cause fat deposition.

    There's no magic formula for preventing — or reversing — menopause weight gain. Simply stick to weight-control basics:

    • Move more. Aerobic activity can help you shed excess pounds and maintain a healthy weight. Strength training counts, too. As you gain muscle, your body burns calories more efficiently — which makes it easier to control your weight. It is recommended aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, for at least 60 minutes a each. In addition, strength training exercises are recommended at least twice a week. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you might need to exercise more.
    • Eat less. To maintain your current weight — let alone lose excess kilos— you might need about 300 fewer calories a day during your 50s than you did during your 30s and 40s. I would aim to eat 1200 calories a day. To reduce calories without skimping on nutrition, pay attention to what you're eating and drinking. Choose more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Opt for lean sources of protein.
    • Seek support. Surround yourself with friends and loved ones who'll support your efforts to eat a healthy diet and increase your physical activity. Better yet, team up and make the lifestyle changes together. Consult an accredited practising dietitian to review your food intake.Remember, successful weight loss at any stage of life requires permanent changes in diet and exercise habits. Take a brisk walk every day. Try a yoga class. Swap cookies for fresh fruit. Split restaurant meals with a friend. Commit to the changes and enjoy a healthier you!
  • Eric Rosario

    Exercise Physiologist

    Master of Applied Science by Research into the Effects of Strength Training on Postmenopausal women. I have been involved in strength training for 67 years … View Profile

    I would also like to avoid talking about weight but rather of body composition. In the normal state of affairs people lose muscle mass and gain fat as they age. This is why as a person ages it is more important for them to do strength training to increase muscle mass. In a study which I conducted with Postmenopausal women in 2000 I showed that in 12 months instead of losing muscle mass these women gained muscle and lost fat. Of course their loss of weight was not so dramatic. Eric

  • Kirsty Woods

    Exercise Physiologist

    Hi I’m Kirsty Woods,I would like to use my experience, expertise and passion to help you reach your weight, energy and health goalsI have been … View Profile

    Great question,

    Menopause impacts everyone differently, however with age and hormonal imbalance we tend to become insulin resistant (don’t process carbohydrates effectively, therefore many find a carbohydrate reduction strategy effective – more than just cutting out the sugar.

    You may find this website of interest

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