Weight loss: Doctor says ‘weight gain in menopause is common’ – ‘modify your diet’ to slim

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Dr Elizabeth Boaden, a Fellow of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, and Nina Gambling, the Director and Co-Founder of LRG Fitness, spoke to Express.co.uk about what middle-aged women can do to prevent weight gain, as well as lose it. Following a healthy diet and doing regular exercise will not only help 50-year-old women lose weight, but also contribute to their general overall health.

According to Dr Boaden and Nina, women over 50 are “more susceptible to increased health risks due to the ageing process and the menopause”.

They said: “Heart disease is more common over 50 years of age owing to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

“Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are two of the most common causes of type two diabetes, a common condition with increasing age.

“If not addressed it can lead to kidney, heart and blood vessel disease, and loss of vision.”

What can women do, therefore, to lead a healthy lifestyle and, in turn, lose weight?

“Exercise, diet and medication are all effective treatment options,” Dr Boaden said.

She went on to explain that weight gain “in the perimenopause and menopause is common, with an average weight gain of 10 to 15 pounds”.

And what are the reasons for this?

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“Reduced and fluctuating oestrogen levels affects regulation of the appetite, the number of calories burned, and the way in which women store fat,” Dr Boaden continued.

“Menopausal women need less calories, have decreased muscle mass, and increased amount of fat stored.

“The psychological impact of menopause can also lead to weight gain.

“Menopause, however, does not necessarily equate to weight gain – healthy eating and an active lifestyle are key factors in reducing weight gain.”

Dr Boaden and Nina advised a “exercise and a healthy diet” for menopausal women who want to lose weight.

They said: “Eating a variety of colourful and healthy foods has significant health benefits and provides your body with essential minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.

“We’re often told that eating three to five servings of fruit and vegetables daily will improve health, however, healthy eating is not just about how many servings you eat – it’s about the variety you choose too.”

The experts continued: “Menopausal women should modify their diet to ensure it is rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, protein, dairy products and omega three fatty acids from fish, which may reduce menopausal symptoms.

“Women should reduce or avoid sugar and processed foods that ultimately increase abdominal fat.”

Foods that are high in protein are also recommended, such as meat, chicken, eggs, oily fish, oats, Greek yogurt, broccoli, lentils, beans, nuts and seeds.

Dr Boaden and Nina stressed that exercise is just as important as diet, saying: “Muscle mass reduces in the menopause, significantly reducing the amount of calories burned.

“Exercise helps to regain muscle mass and strengthens bones.

“It also increases the metabolism resulting in burning more calories and fat to reverse the effects of weight gain.”

According to the NHS, women over 50 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity if they’re already active, or a combination of both.

But Nina noted that “finding an exercise you enjoy is the key”.

“This will help to give you consistency and commitment to your exercise routine, even on the days when you just don’t feel like it,” she added.

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