Menopause is the time in a woman’s life that begins once she hasn’t had a menstrual period for 12 months. Her reproductive hormones decline and her ovaries no longer release an egg every month. Women may have mixed feelings about this time in their lives; on the one hand, they no longer have to experience menstrual periods each month, but on the other hand, it comes along with unwanted symptoms such as hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and the dreaded weight gain. Most menopausal women gain weight because of several factors:
- Hormone fluctuations lead to increased fat storage
- Increased insulin resistance makes losing weight hard
- Decreased muscle mass occurs with increasing age
However, with the right diet, women can fight the battle against weight gain and keep their bodies healthy.
The Importance of a Healthy Diet During Menopause
“Although it may seem tempting, eating a very low calorie diet in order to lose weight quickly is not recommended.”
A healthy menopause diet is crucial because many women do not receive all of the nutrients they need. Women’s diets are often low in iron and calcium, which can lead to conditions such as anemia or osteoporosis. Increasing the intake of calcium, iron, and fiber can help women receive adequate nutrients, which in turn gives them the energy and strength to exercise and lose weight.
Although it may seem tempting, eating a very low calorie diet in order to lose weight quickly is not recommended. Research shows that limiting calorie intake to a low amount can actually decrease a woman’s metabolic rate even more, making it harder to lose weight and keep it off in the future.
In addition, low calorie intake combined with decreased muscle mass can lead to bone loss, increasing a woman’s risk for osteoporosis. Instead, watching portion sizes and adopting a healthy lifestyle are the best tools for menopausal women to lose weight.
Here are the 5 Foods that Can Help You Lose Weight During Menopause
“Not only does dairy contain calcium to help prevent osteoporosis, but research has also shown that dairy can help menopausal women lose fat while retaining muscle mass.”
1. Soy: Plant-based foods that contain isoflavones (AKA plant estrogens) act like a weak form of estrogen in the body, which can help relieve menopausal symptoms, lower cholesterol levels, and reduce hot flashes and night sweats. Foods that contain isoflavones include tofu and soy.
2. Green tea: Green tea contains both caffeine and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a compound that has been proven to improve the health status of overweight individuals. The combination of caffeine and EGCG can help burn fat along with resistance training.
3. Dairy: Not only does dairy contain calcium to help prevent osteoporosis, but research has also shown that dairy can help menopausal women lose fat while retaining muscle mass. Low fat dairy products such as skim milk, reduced-fat cheese, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese are all good choices for a menopause diet.
4. Protein: Protein helps keep you full and satisfied longer, which makes you likely to eat less. It can also increase metabolic rate and reduce muscle loss during weight loss. High-protein, low-fat foods such as fish, beans, skinless white meat chicken, and lean beef are perfect options for the menopausal woman.
5. Soluble fiber: High fiber foods can reduce appetite, increase insulin sensitivity, and promote weight loss. Soluble fiber, specifically, attracts water and turns to gel during digestion, which helps to slow digestion. Some types of soluble fiber have been found to lower the risk of heart disease. Foods with soluble fiber include oats, nuts, seeds, broccoli, avocado, apples, and carrots.
“Although maintaining a healthy weight is important, it is more important to focus on overall health, rather than the number on a scale.”
Although this life change can cause weight gain in women, that doesn’t have to be the case. Sticking to a healthy diet full of vitamins and nutrients, and eating foods such as soy, green tea, dairy, protein, and soluble fiber can all help the menopausal woman lose weight and keep it off. This diet, along with exercises like resistance training and cardio, will help a woman not only feel and look healthy, but be truly healthy from the inside out during this new stage in her life. Although maintaining a healthy weight is important, it is more important to focus on overall health, rather than the number on a scale. Ladies, you got this!
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