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The Middle-Age Spread: Weight Gain and Menopause

While the term 'middle-age spread' may conjure up visions of powdered donuts, chocolate bars, or buttery baguettes, it actually refers to the weight gain that occurs as a result of fluctuating hormone levels during menopause. 90% of women experiencing menopause can expect to fall prey to 'the spread', which on average adds about 12-15 pounds to a woman's figure.

How Hormones Affect Your Waistline

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During menopause, the production of hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone becomes erratic. In addition to regulating the menstrual cycle and fertility, these hormones play an important role in helping you maintain a healthy body weight. Low hormone levels may lead to increased appetite, fat storage, and water retention, all of which may cause you to gain weight.

Factors Contributing to Weight Gain

While hormones play a large role in menopausal weight gain, they are not solely responsible for those few extra pounds clinging to your waistline. Some other factors that contribute to menopausal weight gain include:

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  • Decreased physical abilities. Around the age of 30, physical abilities begin to steadily decrease. This decline makes it more difficult to continue engaging in high-intensity workouts, like cardiovascular activities, which burn the most calories. A lack of physical exercise results in a decrease in muscle mass and an increase in body fat.

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  • Eating habits. People who eat out or drink excessively are more susceptible to weight gain, especially after their metabolism begins to slow around the age of 30. Low estrogen and progesterone levels often lead to an increased appetite, so be sure to stock up on snacks that are full of vitamins, complex carbohydrates, and proteins, instead of sugars, salt, or fats.

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  • Depression. Those diagnosed with depression are less likely to live a healthy lifestyle, which includes regular exercise and a well-balanced diet. In addition, a common side effect of anti-depressants is weight gain.

Recommendation

You can fight menopausal weight gain by making simple lifestyle and dietary changes, like getting regular exercise, and avoiding unhealthy foods and alcohol. Click here to read more about lifestyle changes to help beat the menopausal weight gain.

5 Must-Have Habits to Avoid Weight Gain

Avoid crash diets and unrealistic goals; follow these healthy habits to keep those extra pounds from creeping on as you approach menopause.

Post Menopausal Weight Gain

Weight gain doesn't end when menopause does. Click here to learn more.

Can Power Yoga Help Me Lose Weight?

Yoga is commonly mistaken as just a mental workout that doesn't provide a physical challenge. Read on however, to learn about the physical benefits.

Sources:
  • Hutchinson, Susan M.D. "The Stages of a Woman's Life: Menstruation, Pregnancy, Nursing, Perimenopause, Menopause". November 2007.
  • Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
  • BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007