GP talks about the impact of the menopause on weight gain
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The menopause is known to increase weight gain, especially around a woman’s midsection. Researchers across the globe believe could be related to the loss of estrogen, although this has not been proven.
But while there are numerous weight loss diets out there marketed towards menopausal women and promising fast results, experts warn that while they are “appealing”, they’re not “evidence-based”.
Nanette Santoro, the chair of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora and a longtime menopause researcher explained: “There are a lot of compelling theories and good science being done around his question, but there are currently few answers.
“Mid-body weight gain is almost universal among menopausal women.”
She noted that weight gain will differ from person to person, with a percentage of women experiencing “more rapid weight gain and more fat accumulating around the abdomen during the menopausal transition”.
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“Still, little is known about why these women seem to have to work much harder on maintaining their body weight during this time,” she added.
Instead, she noted that sufferers should focus on one thing, and one thing only.
“What women should take from this is that they should be focusing on eating food – real food, not processed,” she said, referencing Michael Pollan’s advice from In Defence of Food.
“Mostly from plants and not too much.”
Dr Lynn Pattimakiel, a certified menopause practitioner, suggests a selection of strategies to help people avoid weight gain during and after menopause.
She noted that intermittent fasting could aid weight loss, adding: “This type of eating pattern can help you burn calories more efficiently.”
She made it clear that skipping meals is a “no-go”, but revealed some people have success by consuming their healthy goal calories within an eight-hour window. This is commonly known as intermittent fasting.
While many diets need further research and scientific approval, there is evidence supporting the idea that intermittent fasting can help some people lose weight.
In a 2021 review published in JAMA Network Open, found there was “moderate to high quality” evidence of weight loss benefits for those suffering with the menopause.
By not focusing on “healthy calories” in food and drink, a sufferer can trigger uncomfortable symptoms.
“It can be harder to burn starchy carbs like bread, pasta and baked goods, so be mindful of cutting back or avoiding those,” Dr Pattimakiel acknowledged.
“Beverages, too, are often a source of sneaky calories. To cut back, reach for sparkling water in place of wine or soda. Add a splash of milk to brewed coffee instead of ordering a latte.”
The benefits of exercising and avoiding sugar, processed foods and other unhealthy items, are widely accepted in many healthy eating plans.
By having a good strategy to follow when it comes to your lifestyle, people wanting to lose a bit of weight could find it decreases dramatically.
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