Nearly 80% of the 6,000 women per day who enter menopause report weight gain as one of their most dreaded symptoms.
So what do they do? They go to the gym and exercise more…they eat less cutting out fat and go low calorie. They go on the Keto, Paleo, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Slimfast, or the one meal a day, and ‘you name it’ diet.
For decades we’ve been told that weight gain is caused by too many calories and too little exercise. So, our main solution to the weight gain that comes with menopause is to eat less and hope it burns more calories…
But guess what it doesn’t work.
The good news is, it’s not your fault and here is why:
Your body values fat as an estrogen source.
Falling estrogen levels naturally occur when a woman enters perimenopause, the transition phase before menopause. Our ovaries naturally produce less estrogen during this phase, and our body searches for other sources of it. Since fat cells actually produce estrogen, your body starts to rely on fat to produce the estrogen that you need as a way to make up for what can no longer be produced by your ovaries. This makes fat a prized source of estrogen which your body will do anything to keep.
Belly fat produces more belly fat.
As you reach 40, you will notice the ratio of body weight to fat increases. That’s because you burn less and store more of what you eat. Second, you will see this new fat mostly accumulate around your midsection. We all agree that we hate belly fat. This abdominal fat feels and looks like it’s just sitting there doing nothing but this is wrong! They are like little endocrine organs – (remember the endocrine system controls your hormones), and they are especially active, setting off inflammation and increasing insulin resistance.
Belly fat produces estrogen and even more belly fat. This vicious cycle is fueled by stress, high cortisol levels, and blood sugar imbalances which are all a common part of the menopause journey. Lifestyle issues, like moodiness, depression and stress, poor sleep, smoking (which is proven to increase belly fat) and eating a diet high in simple carbohydrates including sugar…exacerbates this vicious cycle.
The third reason it’s not your fault is that eating patterns change and diets don’t work
What’s the first thing you do when you feel like you are gaining weight? Go on a diet? Exercise more? Every tiny change in how and when you eat can add extra pounds or shut down the weight loss process. Did you start the latest diet fad, Keto, Paleo, Atkins? Did you try to cut out all sugar, only to binge on sweets later? Are you eating too many dairy foods to get extra calcium for bone health? Whenever you change your diet or take in fewer calories, your endocrine system (which is always on the move) takes note of it.
Are you over-exercising? These stressors all exacerbate hormone imbalance because your body is designed to sense the danger caused by any stressors, and it slows down your metabolic rate to conserve energy. So, calories are burned more efficiently and your body works to maintain your weight even with lower calory intake. And your hormone system is so interconnected and continually rebalancing itself related to physical and emotional events in your life, that once you hit 40 and perimenopause or menopause starts, the up and down cycles which causes your hormones to shift, erratically increase.
For women over 40 and hitting the perimenopause/menopause cycle these are the reasons why it’s super difficult to lose weight until you restore hormonal balance and health.
Maybe that sounds like a lot to handle alone, but we are here to help.