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Five helpful tips to lose weight quickly during menopause

There are a multitude of symptoms as women reach perimenopause including hot flushes, night-time sweats, tiredness, and irregular menstruation. These symptoms are triggered by a change in hormone levels especially, estrogen and progesterone. Another side effect of this hormone change is weight gain, especially abdominal fat.

Why do we gain more weight during perimenopause? As our natural levels of estrogen drop, the body will adapt to increase fat stores. Fat produces a form of estrogen called estrone, which combats the natural decline in estrogen. To help achieve this, our metabolic rate drops during menopause meaning we burn less calories during the day. This is coupled with an increase in hunger. We are primed to move less and eat more – the perfect recipe to gain weight.

With the drop in estrogen and progesterone comes an increase in cortisol. Rising cortisol levels are associated with an increase in fat storage around the middle. This explains why we start to see a change in our body shape and increase in weight. It’s important to note here that cortisol can lead to an increase in water retention as well. While this will appear as weight gain, this isn’t an increase in body fat.

So what can you do to combat this weight gain and lose weight safely and quickly during perimenopause?

1. Lift weights – Lifting weights builds muscle, muscle increases your metabolic rate – a faster metabolism burns more fat. As we age, we naturally lose muscle which further affects your appearance. If you aren’t doing so already, start now. Exercises that target many muscles at once such as squats, lunges and deadlifts may give you the most bang for your buck.

2. Eat protein – protein is the building block for muscles, so increasing the amount of protein you eat will support your weight training. Protein also helps in controlling hunger. Great sources of protein are lean meats like chicken, fish, eggs, pulses and soy.

3. Daily activity – a large proportion of the calories you burn over the whole day is from activities like walking, not through exercise. Try to be as active as possible, by using stairs rather than lifts, having walk and talk meetings at work rather than sat down, parking slightly further away from the shops – all will contribute to the calorie burn needed to lose weight.

4. Find time to relax – To help reduce cortisol, find time to engage in stress-relieving activities. This could be meditation, Yoga, mindful breathing, even relaxing in a hot bath. Lowering cortisol will reduce water retention and can help to reduce belly fat.

5. Eat healthy – basing your diet around quality protein sources, fruit, vegetables and healthy fats like nuts, seeds, avocados are the best way to achieve a calorie deficit for most people. Food that is minimally processed tends to be more satiating, meaning you feel less hungry after the meal, and you’ll be less tempted to snack. This doesn’t mean that processed foods are off the table totally, aim for an 80/20 split to start and then adjust accordingly.

In summary, during perimenopause, a woman’s body will go through many changes and one of these is typical weight gain. The advice to lose weight during this time doesn’t differ from typical advice, however it may require a little more focus and consistency to see results.

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