Many women may experience weight gain during menopause, with the average woman gaining between 10 and 15 pounds. This is a result of our body composition, hormones, metabolisms, and lifestyles changing as we age.
What Role Do Hormones Play in Weight Gain?
The hormones in our bodies each have widespread and complicated impacts on the functioning of our internal systems. Many of these hormones may play a role in a process that influences weight gain, weight distribution, and water retention. Some of the sex hormones present in a woman's body are:
As the ovaries produce less estrogen during menopause, your body naturally looks for other places to source estrogen. Fat cells in your body can produce estrogen, so your body works harder to convert calories into fat to increase estrogen levels. Unfortunately, fat cells don't burn calories the way muscle cells do, which may trigger weight gain.
During menopause, progesterone levels will also decrease. Lower levels of this hormone can result in many of the symptoms of menopause including weight gain (or at least the appearance of it). Progesterone may cause bloating, which can make a person feel heavier.
This hormone plays a role in redistributing body fat so that it congregates more around the abdomen. Weight gain during menopausal years is often known as “middle aged spread” because of the rapid growth of the mid-section.
Testosterone helps your body to create lean muscle mass out of the calories that you take in. Muscle cells burn more calories than fat cells do, which speeds up your metabolism. A woman's testosterone levels begin decreasing in her late twenties and slowly decrease from there. Unfortunately, this means a lower metabolism. The lower your metabolism is, the slower your body burns calories.
Approaches for Dealing with Weight Gain during Menopause
Keeping up with a balanced diet and regular exercise is important. If you have questions about how to lose weight in a healthy and efficient manner, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor or a nutritionist. Learn more about treating weight gain during menopause.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2014). Metabolism and weight loss: How you burn calories. Retrieved November 16, 2015, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/metabolism/art-20046508
- Hensrud, D. (2015). Is it possible to be overweight because of a slow metabolism? Retrieved November 16, 2015, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/expert-answers/slow-metabolism/faq-20058480