It seems like women can't catch a break - the period in their lives when menopause occurs usually coincides with other life events that can cause anxiety and stress - changes in career, taking care of aging parents, the empty nest syndrome, and the sudden realization that they won't be young forever.
''The '50s is a kind of fulcrum decade, a turning point in the aging process during which people, more sharply than before, are made to feel their age”, says renowned sociologist David Karp, founder of Tumblr, who has spent years studying how hormonal and lifestyle transitions affect menopausal/middle-aged women.
What Is Menopause?
Menopause is a process that takes 4 to 7 years on average, and can even last as long as 12 - but it can still take women by surprise in many ways.
There are different stages to menopause - some women get their menopause as early as in their 30’s - known as Perimenopause. While some women can get it as late as in their 60s.
Regardless of the age - menopause takes all women by surprise. As it causes havoc in our hormones, our stress levels, and our mental health.
The worst part? Women need to go through 3 different stages!
What are the Stages of Menopause?
The symptoms women face are different depending on which of the three main stages of menopause they are in. For example, during the late stages of perimenopause, a woman can experience menopausal symptoms but still have her period. Some people continue experiencing hot flashes all the way up the post-menopausal period.
Also called the "menopausal transition", some women begin this "around menopause" period of their lives as early as their 30s. Estrogen levels begin to fluctuate and menstruation cycles become irregular.
Some women may experience a menstrual cycle without ovulation, or still, menstruate while having all the “typical” menopausal symptoms. But take note - you can still very much get pregnant during the perimenopause stage.
Symptoms of Perimenopause
Bone density loss
Muscle mass loss
Menopause weight gain
Loss of interest in sexual activity
These symptoms will most likely continue into the menopause part of this process, but there’s nothing that affects women both emotionally and mentally as much as… menopause weight gain.
While most symptoms start around the time of perimenopause, they get more intense as the menopause process progresses.
Symptoms like night sweats, hot flashes, and sleep problems intensify - but more problematically, so do the more permanent menopausal issues, such as menopause weight gain around the abdomen and thighs, and loss of bone mass. These things should be addressed and managed as early as perimenopause.
The average age for menopause in the United States is 51. When menopause starts in full, the body stops releasing eggs for twelve consecutive months.
Symptoms of Menopause
The symptoms of actual menopause are much the same as perimenopause - they deepen for many women as estrogen levels begin to drop even lower. Some additional symptoms to watch out for are:
Further bone density loss due to lower estrogen
Increase in UTIs
Fatigue that may result in less exercise, lost muscle mass
Menopause weight gain
The postmenopause stage refers to the period of time after the menstrual cycle has completely subsided - over a year since the last active period. Postmenopause is simply the period after menopause has occurred.
Some women continue to experience symptoms of perimenopause and menopause even in the postmenopause stage. There are health conditions that affect women that don't go away after menopause is over and your hormone level plateaus to a steady level.
Even if perimenopause and menopause hit hard, it's important to build a healthy relationship with your body in order to assuage the symptoms and adverse health effects like:
Weight gain or obesity
Development of insulin resistance or even type 2 diabetes
Constantly decreasing estrogen levels
Postmenopause isn't a phenomenon or an occurrence - it's simply a state of being where your hormonal changes become lasting and your estrogen levels drop permanently.
That said, no matter what stage of menopause we go through, it’s best to understand the causes so we can control them effectively.
What Is The Most Common Symptom Of Menopause? Weight Gain.
Due to these drastic physical, emotional & mental changes caused by hormonal imbalance - many women tend to experience a major storm in their lives, especially when it comes to the dreaded weight gain.
The truth is hormones are only one of the reasons for weight gain after menopause. Depression, anxiety, lack of mobility due to tiredness can also be contributing factors to weight gain for many women.
So, are you currently experiencing weight gain in menopause or perimenopause? Are you worried that this might become an issue for you in the future?
If you answered either of these questions with a “yes”, getting informed about how menopause can lead to changes in body composition is a great first step. The more you know, the easier it’ll be to avoid gaining weight during this stage of your life.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about weight gain with menopause.
What Causes Menopausal Weight Gain?
There are a lot of factors that can contribute to a woman experiencing increases in body fat as she goes through this transitory phase. Alterations in hormone levels play a major role, as do changes in physical activity and other behaviors.
Most women are "hit" by surprising jumps in weight during perimenopause. A good time to jumpstart on a healthy lifestyle, supplements, and self-care is before you even suspect you are going through perimenopause.
An important thing to remember is that menopause isn't just an event in your life - it is a permanent change. Your body's estrogen levels plummet, and as a result of these new hormone levels, your metabolic rate goes down and causes menopause weight gain.
The weight distribution can settle in particular "trouble areas" that tend to result in a pear shape:
Hips and thighs
There are many causes of menopausal weight gain:
A natural drop in activity causes muscle loss and a drop in metabolism, which leads to fewer calories being burned.
Drop-in estrogen levels cause bad bacteria growth and build-up in the gut. (This can also lead to “leaky gut” and gut inflammation). This causes digestive issues and weight gain.
A drop in estrogen levels causes joint pain resulting in less activity. The estrogen drop may also affect ligaments, tendons, and joints and cause painful swelling, stiffness, and “creaking”.
A drop in estrogen levels can also cause high inflammation. This causes increased fat absorption, and expanded fat cells, leading to weight gain.
As we deal with weight issues, there is one standout factor that may cripple your weight loss effort. This was something we’ve heard from many menopausal women.
Here are some facts behind these causes, explained in-depth:
Hormones, of course, are significant contributors to menopause weight fluctuations. We need to discuss the hormone estrogen, in particular when talking about why it’s common for the number on the scale to increase for women in this stage of life.
As women get older, their ovaries slowly begin to produce less estrogen. This decrease in estrogen production begins well before menstruation ceases. Symptoms often become noticeable in a woman’s early 40s, but they may start to occur even earlier in some cases.
Estrogen plays an important role in maintaining a healthy metabolism. When estrogen levels decrease, this can lead to a slower metabolic rate. This means you burn fewer calories both when exercising and at rest. If a woman’s metabolic rate decreases but her calorie intake does not, she will start to gain weight and may find that it’s harder to shed extra pounds.
Low estrogen can also lead to a slower metabolic rate because it can contribute to a loss of muscle mass. Research suggests that estrogen supports muscle stem cell activity. When estrogen is low, stem cell function diminishes, and faster rates of muscle loss may occur.
The body burns a lot of calories just to maintain muscle mass. When mass decreases, calorie burn decreases and the metabolism slows down. As a result, it can be harder to burn calories and lose body fat.
Hormones and Fat Storage
When a woman’s estrogen levels decrease, they also tend to store fat differently. This is why it’s common for older women to experience increases in abdominal fat (or belly fat). By contrast, younger women who aren’t going through these hormonal changes tend to store more fat in their hips and thighs.
The fat stored in the hips and thighs is also stored as subcutaneous fat, whereas belly fat associated with menopause is more likely to be stored as visceral fat. This is a type of fat that wraps around the organs.
Visceral fat is more harmful to one’s health than subcutaneous fat. It can contribute to an increased risk of certain health problems, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
We can’t talk about increases in body fat without also addressing behavior changes that tend to take place during this transition phase of life. When many women use search terms like “why gain weight menopause”, they often come across information about hormonal changes. What they don’t always realize, though, is that their behaviors play a role in their body size and composition.
As women age, it’s common for their physical activity to decrease. This might be due to increased discomfort that they feel due to symptoms like hot flashes or lower energy levels that result from poor sleep.
Regardless of the reason, lower levels of physical activity will often lead to a higher number on the scale. This is especially true if the changes in activity aren’t accompanied by adjustments to one’s diet.
Speaking of diet, differences in eating habits can contribute to increased body fat as well. Women who are feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed about their menopause symptoms might find themselves indulging more often in foods that are high in calories and that may worsen their symptoms (processed food, baked goods, alcohol, etc.).
Overconsuming these foods and beverages can make weight loss harder to achieve.
They won’t help in the long run with other symptoms (hot flushes/flashes, mood swings, etc.), either. In fact, they might even make symptoms worse.
These factors could then determine your actual experience at each stage of menopause.
So, Why Should You Worry About Weight Gain During Menopause?
Addressing weight gain isn’t just about aesthetics. Increases in body fat and abdominal fat, in particular, can lead to a greater likelihood that a woman will develop certain health problems, including the following:
Blood vessel disease
Type 2 diabetes
Cancer (especially breast, colon, and endometrial cancer)
Menopausal and postmenopausal women who have excess fat around the midsection may also be more prone to breathing problems. They may find that they have less stamina than they once did as well.
Menopausal Symptoms Also Cause Weight Gain: Joint Pain
Lack of exercise and a decline in movement is a big culprit for weight gain around menopause. While a lot of women lead busy professional lives and are often too busy to hit the gym regularly, could there be another reason for this than just “being busy”?
Joint pain and stiffness make exercise hard and painful. Joint pain occurs as a result of a drop in estrogen levels. Estrogen regulates fluid levels in the body.
Some ways you can regulate joint pain during menopause are:
Make anti-inflammatory foods a part of your diet - herbs and spices like ginger, turmeric and cinnamon are natural inflammation reducers. Fatty fish, nuts and other foods high in Omega 3 are also helpful when it comes to reducing inflammation.
Exercise - yes, exercise itself can help relieve stiff joints. Strength training in particular helps to support your joints by strengthening the surrounding muscles.
Hormone therapy - there are certain types of joint pain and musculoskeletal disorders caused by menopause that can be aided by carefully chosen hormone therapy. There are several small studies that have shown a reduction in chronic pain in women who get hormone therapy, and there are more studies being done.
There are certain conditions that may exacerbate any joint pain you may be experiencing during and after menopause:
Are you experiencing more joint pain in winter?
It’s the punchline of many jokes: “I feel the storm coming, my bad leg hurts!”. It doesn’t help that it’s often said by a stereotypically ancient person. But is this a myth or is it actually true? And do you have to be in your hundreds to feel the weather's effect on joints? The answer might surprise you.
A lot of people feel pain in the joints when the weather turns, especially in wintertime. What’s to blame?
Changes in air pressure - some people can tell the pressure is changing because of achy joints. This change causes joints to expand, making everything around them hurt. This can be especially painful in areas affected by arthritis.
Thickening of joint fluid - this makes joints stiff and not as flexible, but also more sensitive to pain.
How to protect yourself against weather-caused joint pain?
There are a few ways in which you can help yourself if you are experiencing specifically weather-related joint pain. The simplest way is to dress warm and not let the cold affect you.
Here are some other simple ways to better manage this:
Exercise is the cure for so many ailments that it’s not surprising that it’s on this list as well. Building up your muscle will relieve the stress on your joints and they will get the benefit of much-needed support.
Maintaining a healthy weight is also a great way to reduce stress on the joints.
Keep active throughout the winter period - go on walks, to the gym, or do some cardio at home. Make sure you stretch your joints before exercising.
Get a heating pad and apply it to painful areas.
How does all this joint pain lead to weight gain? The answer is simple: joint pain can lead directly to a lack of exercise. When it comes to skipping walks, yoga sessions, or letting your gym habit lapse, joint pain can be a serious cog in your gears - literally.
Menopausal Symptoms Also Cause Weight Gain: Muscle Loss Caused By Lack Of Exercise
eAs you have learned already, muscle loss can lead to several other problems, including increased joint pain and be the cause of a lack of motivation for going out and doing exercise. It’s also responsible for a lowered metabolism.
A drop in estrogen levels can snowball into joint pain, lack of exercise, muscle loss and more weight gain. What can you do about it?
What Is the Average Weight Gain During Menopause?
On average, women put on about five pounds during this stage of life. There are plenty of women who see more noticeable increases, though. For example, one study showed that 20 percent of women experience increases of 10 pounds or more.
It’s also not just the number of pounds a woman puts on that matter. Even if the number on the scale doesn’t go up in a dramatic way, differences in fat storage can also have negative effects on women’s self-esteem. They may impair her overall health, too.
So, is there a natural way to fight menopausal weight gain?
Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Weight Gain After Menopause
If “lifestyle change” sounds scary to you - don’t worry. Menopause doesn’t require you to set your bedtime at 9PM, quit coffee, wine, or conform to a strict diet of kale and protein shakes.
But - we understand - making sense of it all is hard on your own. This is why we’ve put it all in one place and created the “Meno-PAUSE List” of lifestyle recommendations - based on scientific studies, medical recommendations, and nutritionist advice.
Why is menopause weight management important?
There are a few important reasons for concentrating on weight management during menopause. While you could have “gotten by” having extra pounds in your younger years, it’s the post-menopausal years when you start seeing the effect of all that additional weight on your body.
What’s more, once the process of menopausal weight gain is out of control, it’s hard to stop. There are a lot of associated risks of being overweight or obese for post-menopausal women in particular.
Being overweight after menopause increases your chances of inflammation, and having inflammation-related problems with joint and ligament pain.
Cardiovascular disease caused by obesity is the leading cause of death in post-menopausal women.
Increased weight puts stress on a weakened skeletal system, making it more prone to fractures.
Skeletal muscle is the largest insulin-responsive tissue in the body. Its loss leads to insulin resistance and creates a cycle that’s extremely hard to stop - muscle loss and fat gain. In turn, further fat gain leads to more insulin resistance.
Accumulation in belly fat (a common menopause-caused problem) causes oxidative stress and an increase in proinflammatory adipokines - also leading to insulin resistance.
Read on about how to get started with weight gain management during menopause.
A Quick Guide to Menopausal Weight Gain Solutions:
We're going to admit it - it is harder to ward off weight gain after menopause. But it doesn’t mean it’s impossible!
You can approach post-menopausal weight loss just as you would any project at work - with some goal-setting and planning. There are some lifestyle changes you should consider and make permanent.
Make exercise a priority (and a habit)
There is a stigma around women and weight lifting, but thankfully, it's going away. Lots of women choose to lift weights in order to boost their strength - it won't give you a "boxy" look.
Female muscles react to weight lifting differently and you'll get a toned, strong physique instead of a bulky muscle mass like a man would.
Improving your muscle mass actually helps if you plan on practicing other sports, too. And it makes you better at it. Athletes go to lift weights and focus on specific areas of their bodies when they're not practicing their sport of choice.
If you want to try sports that focus on your strength and prevent loss of muscle mass, you can look at:
Rock climbing - this sport uses the weight of your own body and just about every muscle you have, not to mention your wits and cleverness.
It's perfect for couples, or people who aren't all that into team sports.
Swimming - this is another sport if you'd rather keep your exercise personal and away from team sports. A big benefit is that it works out your whole body, and is easier on your joints than jogging or even biking.
It's one of the best tools for weight management out there.
Yoga - this can be a personal or social weight loss and strength-building tool. Not only that, yoga is an amazing mind calmer that helps you to be mindful and focus on your body's needs.
If you're looking to communicate with your body and let go of stress, consider signing up for your local yoga class or getting a yoga app and trying it at home.
This is a great low-impact strength-training activity. Yoga is probably the most popular exercise done in the privacy of your own home.
There are yoga poses recommended especially for menopausal women, that help to relieve stress, depression, and other menopausal symptoms.
Weight lifting - and we're back to square one. We encourage you to try weight lifting with a professional trainer for weight management and getting your metabolism up.
Weight lifting is a perfect sport when you're about to go through the menopausal transition but also for postmenopausal women. Why? Studies show that postmenopausal women who practiced high-intensity strength training twice a week not only increased their muscle mass but also increased their bone density, helping them defend against osteoporosis! A result that's hard to ignore.
Exercise keeps loss of muscle mass at bay, which in turn helps you to burn more calories and keep mobile, fit, and mentally well. Take some time to consider which type of sport is right for you - what are you most likely to keep on doing like it's not a chore but a fun break?
Need a reminder or support to get your exercise habit off the ground? Everybody needs some positive reinforcement, inspiration and yes, some poking when it comes to keeping active, especially in the beginning.
You can sign up for our Monday Challenge and Wednesday Workout email support series, so you don’t feel like you’re doing it alone - you’ll also get some inspiration for working out your problem areas and a fun challenge too!
As you can see, we have you covered on the most tricky days - on Monday when all good plans get made, and on Wednesday, the “hump” day, when a lot of people tend to take out that wine cork to celebrate having made it to the second half of the week. Better to work out instead, and charge up on more positive energy to make it all the way to Friday!
Take care of your inner self - diet, and supplements
Your needed caloric intake really does change throughout your life. Probably more than you thought. In fact, this might shock you!
Here is how many calories you need as you age if you lead a sedentary lifestyle.
Of course, if you're active, somewhat active, or pregnant, these requirements will change. A pregnant woman needs about 300 extra good calories a day. Read on:
Age - calories needed
21 - 25
26 - 30
31 - 35
36 - 40
41 - 45
46 - 50
51 - onward
As you can see, your caloric intake needs to change by 400 calories from very young adulthood to mature adulthood that comes after you turn 50. That's more than in the course of a pregnancy!
It's like you're going from eating for two and a quarter to eating only for yourself over the period of just 25 years.
It would take a whole book to describe the exact nutritional requirements for healthy premenopausal and menopausal weight loss, but we're going to describe some great hacks that you should start off with.
"Let food be thy medicine." - Hippocrates
Vegetables and leafy greens
Cruciferous vegetables and leafy greens are your secret weapon in fighting the unwanted symptoms of menopause. Generally, the more fruits and vegetables the better - they are low in calories and their long-term higher intake will contribute to weight loss and significantly lower your menopause symptoms.
It might take some lifestyle changes, but try to get your hands on these:
Plants that contain phytoestrogen
Phytoestrogen is a naturally occurring estrogen that increases your body's estrogen levels responsible for menopause symptoms like night flashes, sweats, and menopausal weight gain. Try to increase your ingestion of phytoestrogen-containing fruits and vegetables.
A lot of research still needs to be done on phytoestrogens, as they are a relatively recent discovery. The group of phytoestrogens most researched up to date is isoflavones. Lignan is also a phytoestrogen, although it doesn't belong in the same group.
Although you may have already heard that soy is high in phytoestrogens you'll perhaps be surprised to know that flax seeds contain even more.
If you're looking for foods that are especially high in phytoestrogens, look at legume seeds. Beans and soy contain isoflavones whereas flax seeds contain lignans.
Here are the phytoestrogen containing foods that you need to know:
Many women experience beneficial effects after a regular intake of 45 mg of phytoestrogens - always seek medical advice before significantly changing your diet that may change your hormone levels.
There are many studies done on dairy consumption before, during, and after menopause. A study published in 2015 in Nutrition Journal shows no effect on dairy consumption and menopause weight gain, especially on belly fat.
There has also been a Harvard study that says that there is no significant connection between osteoporosis and dairy consumption - it would seem that strength training and exercise during menopause do a better job at keeping your bones strong.
Dairy products are also a significant source of fat which may cause weight gain, high cholesterol, and increase the risk of heart disease. While moderate consumption is good, it's not recommended to go overboard with your dairy intake.
All in all, everything is good when taken in moderation - and this goes for milk.
But when it comes to pre-menopausal women and menopausal women, an extra boost of calcium and vitamin D might give your diet a needed enhancement.
We are still waiting for clear studies on this subject, but we do know that menopausal women need more calcium and vitamin D (milk is often fortified with vitamin D) and that both are better absorbed by the body from food sources - not pills and supplements.
Did you know?
Although most Native Americans are lactose intolerant and don’t consume much milk, research demonstrated that postmenopausal Native American women had fewer hip fractures than Caucasian women. Studiesshowed that juniper ash, used in the traditional Navajo diet, is a source of calcium that is comparable to dairy.
Protein is important during menopause because of lost muscle mass that will contribute to weight gain and inactivity. The recommended protein intake for menopausal women is from 10 to 35% of their daily calories.
In other words, up to 35% of what you eat all day should consist of protein.
Here are the best sources of good protein - don't worry if you're vegetarian or vegan - it has been recently found that the diet of Roman gladiators around Pompeii has consisted largely of lentils - a protein-packed super legume!
Fish and seafood
Whole grains have been making a big entrance into the realm of "trendy foods" during the last decade - and many women have already developed the habit of consuming delicious grains instead of white rice and potatoes.
They help to prevent menopause weight gain and also keep your heart healthy. As women age, it's important to keep blood glucose steady, and whole grains help you do that.
In fact, whole grains help you target almost all problem areas caused by menopause. Don't panic when you hear "wheat berry" - this is not like eating white, bleached flour!
Whole grains are whole, unprocessed, and contain all the beneficial elements like B vitamins (whole grains can have fatty acids in them), iron, folate, selenium, magnesium, potassium and not to mention a ton of fiber!
Studies also show that people who consume whole grains can lose more belly fat than people who don't. Here are some delicious whole grains that will help you through menopause:
Menopause Weight Gain Supplements, Vitamins, and Minerals
There are some vitamins, minerals, and supplements that will make your life a lot easier. You can include them in your diet or buy them in supplement stores, where you can control the doses better.
These will help to give you a boost, especially if your body fat is stuck in one place and you're having trouble jumpstarting your weight loss.
Calcium - Calcium is an important supplement for premenopausal and should be taken by women of all ages. It's especially important in warding off osteoporosis when taken at the right dosage - 1,200 milligrams per day.
Turmeric - Turmeric is an herb that has powerful anti-inflammatory properties thanks to the presence of a compound known as curcumin. Curcumin acts as a phytoestrogen and can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. It may be helpful to women struggling with the effects of decreased estrogen production.
This has always been a wonder root used in Indian cuisine and gaining in popularity in the past decade. But what can it do for women going through menopause? It's actually a phytoestrogen - a naturally occurring substance that helps to naturally increase the estrogen in your body, making hormonal changes more bearable.
This means that it will help to fight the symptoms caused by low estrogen levels - like night sweats, hot flashes, and weight gain after menopause. If you have menopause-caused IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) turmeric will help fight that too.
Moringa - Moringa is a plant native to India, and it's becoming the new wonder herb in the West. It's perfect for women who are going through menopause because it improves metabolism, helping with weight management.
It also contains vitamins B, C, A, and other elements like potassium, manganese, and beta-carotene.
There is research showing it can improve blood sugar balance and promote healthy cholesterol levels as well. Managing both of these is important for women who want to feel their best and reduce their risk of developing certain chronic health conditions.
Probiotics - Probiotics are known for not what they contain, but how they convert vitamins and elements that you ingest. They work by interaction. They aid digestion and help to prevent menopause weight gain, and give you a boost when you're trying to get rid of unwanted pounds and bloating brought on by hormonal changes.
There are many studies that prove the benefits of probiotics in a regular diet - they might be especially beneficial to women going through menopause, as some strains actually convert soy daidzein into an even more powerful estrogen, and can become part of an alternative to hormone replacement therapy.
Probiotics are known to aid in getting rid of fat around the abdomen and studies have proven that your gut bacteria can have a direct effect on obesity. There are many strains of probiotics that are beneficial to women's health and help to keep the jiggle out of your hips and thighs - L. Gasseri, B.Breve, and B.Lactis (probably the most common one). All of these probiotic strains have been shown to promote fat loss and may help with blood sugar balance, too.
Poor gut health can exacerbate hormonal imbalances and make menopause symptoms, including increases in body fat, worse. Supplementing with probiotics can help to balance the bacteria in the gut and minimize the effects of fluctuating hormone levels. Probiotic supplementation can help with weight loss and improved digestion for many women, too.
Collagen - Collagen is an important supplement during menopause and even much before you even think about any hormonal changes - it helps to keep your skin elastic and helps to prevent sagging.
By the time your menopause goes into a few years, your type 3 collagen can actually decrease by as much as 50%. The right types of supplements can not only prevent collagen loss but help to replenish the collagen that was lost through menopause.
Curry Leaf- Curry Leaf is another healing plant that is widely used in Asian cooking. It contains many vitamins and minerals that menopausal women need, including vitamins A, B, C, and E, as well as phosphorus and iron.
Like Moringa Leaf, it can regulate blood sugar levels and promote healthy cholesterol levels. It can also improve digestion.
Bioperine - Bioperine is a patented form of piperine, which is a compound naturally present in black pepper. It helps to increase the bioavailability of curcumin. This, in turn, improves curcumin’s anti-inflammatory and estrogenic effects.
Valerian - Valerian can be a helpful aid to reduce hot flashes and night sweats - if you want to try natural solutions before diving into hormone therapy, valerian is for you. It also calms you down - a welcome "side effect".
Flax Seeds - Here is a hero of all seeds - flax seeds are incredibly healthy for anyone, but they can be a true lifesaver for menopausal women. 40 grams of ground flax seeds a day can improve symptoms like hot flashes or night sweats - in fact, it acts in a similar way to light hormone replacement therapy.
Red Clover - This is probably something your great great great grandmother used for "lady troubles" - red clover has been long thought to be a helper to menopausal women, especially when it comes to alleviating hot flashes and slowing bone loss.
Studies have been positive, but more needs to be done in order to have conclusive evidence. Red clover is high in isoflavone content which is the "active ingredient" in this common "weed".
Red Raspberry Leaf- it's a great source of antioxidants, and if you're into herbs, chances are that you sipped this tea in your third trimester. What does red raspberry do? It contains a ton of vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, B as well as potassium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, and iron.
Don't overdo this herbal supplement though - your need for iron decreases during menopause, and one cup of this tea contains your daily requirement.
You don’t have to sit back and accept every change that happens to your body composition as you get older. The right supplements, paired with a healthy diet and lifestyle, can help you to lose weight and maintain control over your body size, shape, and health as a whole.
PS: We Have Also Created The “Meno-PAUSE List” for Menopausal Women
We divided this list into specific assessments, actions, habits and inspirations.
Menopause is usually self-diagnosed, but can you take a “menopause test”? And should you? Some women opt for testing because they simply “aren’t sure” or want to make sure that their symptoms aren’t the cause of other underlying problems. If you’d like to know what’s available, here are some options:
A blood test to check estrogen levels - this test checks FSH (Follicle-stimulating hormone) levels. This is done after you haven’t had your period for a long time, and want to take an indicator test that excludes a reason other than the onset of menopause.
If your FSH level is over 40 mlU/mL it means that menopause is here, and it’s permanent. This test is recommended to be taken a few times over a period of time because hormone levels may fluctuate and it’s not unusual to have a high result one day and a very low result the next.
Results that are consistently high will indicate that you are menopausal, or post-menopausal.
Estradiol level test - this test checks the level of estradiol, the main hormone present in pre-menopausal women. The level of this hormone drops below 30 pg/mL after menopause.
There is one “but” to this test - if you are taking a SERM (Selective estrogen receptor modulator) medication, it may affect these results. People take SERMs for a variety of reasons, from suppressing the development of breast cancer to helping to prevent bone loss after menopause - and to lower cholesterol levels.
pH level test - your doctor may want to swab your vagina to see if your pH levels have changed. This is not a widely known fact, but your vaginal pH changes quite a bit during menopause. From 4.5 to about 6. This means that you may react differently to any cleansers and personal hygiene products you are using. What worked before might not work so well now!
Tests that may exclude menopause - if you are having menopausal symptoms it’s better to check that they actually are what you think they are. Some tests that your doctor will perform to make sure you’re not experiencing any other health problems might be:
A lipid profile
A kidney function test
A thyroid function test
A kidney function test
These tests are especially common if you’re experiencing menopause symptoms at an early age, particularly if you’re under 40.
There’s an easier way to check which hormones you are deficient in. You can check this based on your symptoms - different hormones are responsible for how your body behaves during menopause.
There are certain actions you can and should take when you start feeling menopause symptoms - and here is a secret: the earlier you start the better!
There are a few things to “tackle” - you’re not stopping menopause in its tracks, but you must aim to make it more manageable so that the symptoms, such as menopausal weight gain won’t affect you for years to come.
For example, exercise won’t cause your hormones to return to pre-menopause levels, but it will help you reduce the symptoms that these hormonal changes bring - like joint pain, weight gain, bone loss.
When mixed with actively choosing the right diet that contains phytoestrogens, calcium and protein, this can be a powerful tool for symptom reduction. Your actions can counteract menopause symptoms.
EXERCISE, EXERCISE, EXERCISE - the reason that this is written in capital letters is that it’s probably one of the most important things you can be doing.
Exercise isn’t only good for keeping your weight in check, it has a lot of corresponding benefits like:
Reducing the risk of fractures
Reducing the risk of osteoporosis
Aiding in balancing weight
Feeling strong and powerful
Reducing stress, anxiety and depression
Making you feel more flexible,
giving you more energy and keeping you active
As you can see, there are many indisputable reasons to start exercising - if you don’t have an exercise routine now, it’s time to make one.
Take a look at our Menopausal Weight Management Guide below if you want to see what kind of activities are an excellent choice for strength training and weight management.
Set a habit calendar - everything can be turned into a habit, from an exercise plan to other self-care routines. One of the most important things for beginners is to be forgiving - don’t set super strict parameters - when you fail, you won’t be as discouraged and you’ll move forward. Try setting weekly goals for your habits, and gradually honing them to be more specific. For example:
Tracking your progress- menopausal women need 2.5 hours of aerobic training per week. This means that if you exercise for 30 minutes, you’ll have to do it for 5 days out of the week in order to meet this quota.
Decide on what’s better for you - 5 days of 30-minute exercise, or 3 days of a bit under an hour?
A great way of keeping track of habits are bullet journals. Here is an example of how you can track habits in a fun and creative way using a bullet journal:
Creating a “Bujo” for habit tracking
Every new habit has to be cultivated with attention and care - humans might be creatures of habit, but getting into a habit might call for some coaxing, self-control, and inspiration. If you’re the type of person that gets inspired by artsy projects, maybe it’s time to look into starting a “Bujo” - or a bullet point journal.
You can customize your goals, habits, and rewards any way you want - and besides, investing your time and creativity into a creative habit tracker will motivate you to keep up your new habits, even though it’s hard at the beginning.
If you don’t get a kick out of doodling, keeping track of your data can still be very helpful. Download a habit tracker app, or use a simple Google Calendar to set daily habit reminders. You can do it!
This habit tracking calendar can be replaced with an app, or a pocket calendar if you prefer. The key is consistency!
In order to keep new habits, make your actions count and knock them out of the park, you need some inspiration, affirmation and positivity. No, we don’t mean the type of positivity that ignores the difficult and downright mean aspects of going through menopause.
It’s not all unicorns and rainbows - wisdom and experience are a hard cookie to crack. We mean giving yourself some positive fuel to make it through the tough challenges ahead.
These inspirations help you with the actions and habits that we have mentioned above.
Hire a personal trainer
Even if you have to splurge, there is nothing like a few sessions with a professional to set you right. You’ll gain new confidence when you go to the gym - or if you prefer to exercise at home, you will get great tips on how to do so to the fullest extent of at-home possibilities.
Quite a lot of trainers specialize in an exercise that helps with menopause symptoms and is aimed at women who experience menopause.
Make sure to see who the right person is in your area!
Schedule a recurring event
For a facial! Menopause can play some tricks with your skin. If you haven’t gotten into a routine of going in for a facial or some pampering at a spa, then you should. It’s all a part of focusing on yourself - this is to remind you and celebrate this new stage of your life. It will not only make you feel beautiful and taken care of, but it will give you time to decompress and make yourself an important priority.
Get a dietician
You might not want to hire someone who will make your meals for you, or prepare a monthly menu, but you at least want to get a professional to access what you’re putting in your body right now.
You may not realize that you have some habits that are dysfunctional or no longer serving you. If you get a professional to take a look at your eating habits, you’ll get the right information about what you should change - no need to rely on online sources that are often at odds with each other.
What if the symptoms simply didn't bother you anymore? While you may not be able to fully eliminate the symptoms, you could actually continue your normal life without realizing them.
One-fourth of the participants from a mindfulness study said that after 20 weeks of practicing meditation and mindfulness the fact that they were experiencing these symptoms didn't bother them anymore.
In other words, women who focused on these practices became settled, balanced, and accepting to the point of the symptoms not affecting them as much as others.
Do note though - these mindfulness studies done have shown that there is no actual reduction in the symptoms. They mainly help you cope better.
How do I practice mindfulness?
Mindfulness is simply the practice of being in the present moment. Why does that change us so much? Because we are mostly daydreaming, disconnected, on our devices, or in our own fantasy world.
Sometimes we're distracted by our daily tasks, our jobs, deadlines, appointments, and meetings.
We think of what others think of us, and when menopause hits, we can be distracted by thoughts of how quickly time passes and causes us to question our decisions - should we have had kids, should we not have had kids, did we have too little, too much, too late, too early? After all, menopause signifies that the time for certain life decisions has passed.
Mindfulness helps us put all of that aside and realize that the present moment is something beautiful that we have to appreciate - we live only in the present, no matter what age we are.
“It’s very exciting, knowing that mind-body techniques have worked for menopausal symptoms; I think it’s very exciting, building on what we already know,”
Says a Mayo Clinic researcher, Dr. Richa Sood, after conducting significant research on the effects of mindfulness on the symptoms of menopause.
Mindfulness for beginners
Here is how to get started:
Focus on breathing - this will help to bring your attention to the moment. You don't have to be in a perfect position or looking like a perfect meditation Instagram photo - simply stop what you are doing at the moment and focus on your breath, five breaths at a time.
Listen to your thoughts - see what you're thinking and where your flow of thoughts is taking you
Mindful eating - focus on every moment of your meal. Do you notice that you keep on eating after you're not hungry anymore? Do you take time to notice satiety?
Be mindful of what surrounds you - focus on everything around you - especially if you're out in nature. Every blade of grass, every gust of wind. Take them in and enjoy the moment.
Menopause is a tough process for women. It has physical symptoms that are difficult to overcome, as well as some mental ones - they can both be the cause of menopause weight gain.
The good news is that once you start on a healthy regimen of the right diet, supplements, exercise, and self-care, these symptoms can be alleviated. It doesn't mean that you can reverse the process of menopause - that is here to stay. But you don't have to surrender to it. You can surf the wave of changes and take control of your health.
Does being overweight cause menopause?
While being overweight or obese does not cause menopause, it can result in more severe symptoms.
Do you automatically gain weight during menopause?
The decreased need for calories, low estrogen, and less exercise causes weight gain - the causes happen automatically, but you don't have to give in!
Does menopause increase the chances of heart disease?
Yes, the risk becomes higher although menopause itself does not cause heart disease.
Is weight gain unavoidable?
It definitely is avoidable - but can be hard to overcome.
Do supplements for menopause work?
Supplements work and aid your weight loss and symptoms along with a good diet and exercise.