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How To Lose Menopausal Weight (And Keep It Off)

Putting on weight is a natural part of the menopause but it doesn’t have to be something we’re stuck with. Here Karen Newby, a registered nutritionist with over 10 years’ experience coaching women through this midlife stage, shares her tried and tested top tips.

For many of my clients, sudden weight gain is a real problem. Suddenly we lose our waist and we start to shift to what’s known as a male pattern of weight gain (around the middle) due to declining oestrogen levels. Our metabolic rate slows and our insulin sensitivity declines due to lower levels of oestrogen. Plus our stress levels are often super high as we’re spinning many plates, which leads to the worry waist – regardless of perimenopause! More stress leads to that frazzled feeling which means we reach for more stimulants and less helpful food to get us through the day. If this wasn’t enough, research into the hunger hormone ghrelin has shown that it can be hyper-stimulated at perimenopause, meaning we’re more hungry and susceptible to cravings. Leptin, our ‘we’re no longer hungry’ hormone can also be impaired according to published research, so we have no off switch!

The problem is that central weight gain at perimenopause increases inflammation and also affects our ability to control insulin. It also is a risk factor for breast cancer. So getting weight- gain in check is incredibly important and will help support your midlife vitality no end.

Why Is This Happening To Me?

We have to approach weight loss differently at midlife. No amount of calorie-counting or cardio exercise will shift that weight round the middle – it’s because of our hormones! These central fat cells start to interfere with our hormones and our immune system. They are not the same as other traditional fat storage cells found in the hips or butt or legs. This is why our weight-loss toolbox from our 30s and early 40s just doesn’t work any more!

Areas To Consider

Fat is your friend! Especially essential fatty acids like omega-3. Fat is essential for our satiety levels and for the absorption of certain vitamins (A, E, D and K), which need fat in order to be absorbed. Blood-sugar control is also so important.

No need for calorie counting, but portion control for carbohydrates such as white rice will help – aim for a handful of dried rice per portion. When you consume your calories is very important: eat with the path of the sun. Breakfast is key and has a positive effect on the number of calories consumed later in the day.

Therapeutic Foods

  • Include a source of protein in every meal to help maintain steady energy levels and reduce hunger and cravings.
  • Phytoestrogens: soya (tofu, tempeh, miso, natto, edamame beans), chickpeas, lentils, peas, ground linseed/flaxseed, sesame seeds, cashews, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers, cherries, garlic, apples, apricots, soybean sprouts, alfalfa, split peas, pinto beans and red clover.
  • Enjoy breakfast.
  • Start smoothie making and juicing to give your body a micronutrient hit to help with energy. Aim for more vegetables than fruit.
  • Eat a rainbow of colours from fruit and vegetables daily – aim for a 2:6 ratio of fruit to veg.
  • Remember that fat gain around the middle increases inflammation, which then increases cortisol. Increasing anti-inflammatory foods will help, such as omega-3 fats, linseed/flaxseed oil, nuts and seeds, as well as brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, which contain lots of antioxidants that help support our immune system.
  • Eat as much junk food as you like – if you cook it yourself! Be wary of processed energy-dense foods that are low in nutrients.
  • Avoid gluten-rich carbs, such as pasta and bread (do view pasta and rice as sugar), and opt for complex carbs, such as oats, brown rice, quinoa, pulses and brightly coloured vegetables.
  • Reduce refined carbs to stop those blood-sugar rollercoasters
  • Address any emotional-eating cues
  • Reduce stimulants and stress
  • Support hormone balance

Lifestyle Hacks

  • Ditch the diet fizzy drinks and fake sugar – they create more cravings.
  • Junk food is okay to eat occasionally, just don’t put these foods on a pedestal!
  • Don’t frame days as good or bad – consistency over perfection. If you’re hungry, drink a glass of water; you might be thirsty.
  • If you’re hungry and you don’t want to eat an apple…then you’re probably not hungry
  • Movement while fasting helps metabolic flexibility and fat burning.
  • Build lean muscle mass – muscles burn more energy.

Supplements To Consider

  • Menopause Multinutrient, BioCare
  • BioCare Acidophilus
  • Cyto-Zyme, Cytoplan (for digestive support)
  • Organic powdered spirulina / chlorella /maca (for additional boosts in smoothies)
  • Organic pea-protein powder, Pulsin (to pop into your smoothie)
  • Life & Soul Mini Capsules, Bare Biology
  • Evening Primrose Oil, BioCare

Cautionary supplement advice

If you are taking HRT or birth-control medication, or are on any other medication or under medical supervision, consult your healthcare practitioner before taking any food supplement. Please note that the supplement section is merely a selection of suggestions that might help a particular symptom – not all of them are to be taken at once. Do get in touch with a nutritional therapist registered with the British Association for Nutritional and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) for a tailored protocol, taking into account your unique health needs: bant.org.uk.

 

Extracted from The Natural Menopause Method by Karen Newby, published by Pavilion. For more information visit karennewby.com

 

Exercising, in conjunction with a healthy diet,  can really help shift those menopausal pounds. To understand why and for easy ways to get started head here

 

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