Unfortunately, most women over 45 struggle to maintain their usual weight.
When a women reach premenopausal or postmenopausal stages in their life the level of estrogen diminishes. At menopause the ovaries stop making estrogen and progesterone and the adrenal glands take over and produce a small but important quantity of estrogen and progesterone to maintain homeostasis.
The change in the hormonal milieu at menopause is associated with an increase in total body fat mainly abdominal fat.
Our hormones dictate where we store fat. With less estrogen women have a tendency to gain weight in the abdomen more like men do. Abdominal fat has been associated with a heightened risk of cardiovascular, metabolic disease and cancer.
Any hormone imbalance be insulin resistance, hypothyroid, low progesterone and estrogen and high or low cortisol leads to difficulty losing weight. Bringing your hormones back in balance is the key to achieve permanent weight loss.
Our modern lifestyle and poor diet don’t support a balance of hormones, and in fact, make us aging at a faster rate. We need to strive for balance in our lifestyle to harmonize our hormones which are responsible for many systems in our body.
With most of my clients, it comes down to two main imbalances: adrenals and insulin.
5 Tips to Balance Your Hormones After Menopause and Release Extra Weight.
- Eliminate Refined Starches and Sugar
As we get older, the impact from years of eating a poor diet containing refined carbohydrates, processed oils and too much animal protein are cumulative and our body has more difficulties regulating blood sugar as we become insulin resistant.
The buildup of glucose in the blood may lead to weight gain, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. It often leads to an accumulation of fat on the belly where it causes inflammation and health problems.
Insulin being a major hormone, any imbalance will impact the other minor hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Hot flashes can be related to insulin resistance.
Solutions: Eliminate refined starches, flour and sugar. Also, limit overall carbohydrate intake and favor leafy greens, vegetables, avocado, nuts, seeds and legumes. Starchy vegetables, oats, quinoa and wild rice are your healthy carbohydrates. The secret is to increase the fiber in your diet which is found in unrefined whole plant foods. You will be surprised how much these foods are effective to shed pounds, restore insulin sensitivity and harmonize your hormones conducing to weight loss.
Bonus: you taste buds will change and you’ll savor natural whole foods.
- Keep Your Stress Level Low
Women’s sex hormones are produced by the adrenal glands after menopause. If you’ve been burning the candle at both ends for years and your adrenals are not functioning optimally you will experience low estrogen and progesterone level.
Cortisol is the stress hormone that is secreted by the adrenals when you are under stress. When your cortisol levels are high it prevents estrogen and progesterone to function optimally. High cortisol is likely to develop fat around the middle.
When you have adrenal fatigue you will experience the effects of low estrogen and progesterone level.
Solutions: Eliminate caffeine and alcohol which are stressful to the adrenals, to the exception of green tea, which contains an amino acid L-theanine, which reduces stress and promotes relaxation. It works with caffeine in a synergistic way to calm the body without reducing caffeine alertness.
Be aware of your stress. Notice how tense you are now. Being stressed cause cravings for comfort foods which are most of the time for refined fiberless foods.
Find a quiet time every day to unwind and relax. Lie down, have a nap, take deep breaths, close your eyes, think positively and appreciate. Go for a walk is great also to manage stress.
Bonus: You’ll have more real energy throughout the day.
- Get Sufficient Sleep
Sleep is often the most neglected aspect of a healthy lifestyle. Who has time for sleeping and wasting 8 hours in bed? We find hundreds of excuses to stay up in front of electronic devices, turning night into day. Lack of sleep has been associated with increased cravings and weight gain. For a perimenopause or menopause women having a good night’s sleep is not as easy as going to bed. A big factor is that cortisol is high. When your cortisol is high melatonin is low. Melatonin is the hormone that put you to sleep. When people don’t get enough sleep, they tend to snack more and consume more calories.
Solutions: Turn electronic devices one hour before going to bed. It will help lowering cortisol and increasing melatonin. Melatonin doesn’t secrete well when exposed to blue light emitted from computer and TV.
Do something calming, take a bath, read a book, write in your journal. Try to hit the pillow by 10pm. The earlier the better. Keep the room cool and dark, open the window slightly depending on the temperature and put earplugs to block noise. These steps will ensure better quality sleep. A good night sleep is mandatory to balance your hormones and burn fat.
Bonus: you’ll have more clarity during the day and make healthier choices.
- Gain Muscles Mass
Exercise is the healthiest way to raise your metabolism naturally. As we age our metabolism slows down but not if you exercise regularly. Unused muscles atrophy and lost tissues are replaced with fat.
You need to keep a good muscles mass. Toned muscles burn more calories than fat, even at rest. We lose an average of 5 percent of our muscle mass every 10 years after the age of 35 or about 1 pound muscle mass per year with a sedentary lifestyle. This doesn’t happen when your muscles are exercised. Use it or lose it.
Loss of muscle mass decreases the rate at which your body uses calories, which can make it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight. If you continue to eat as you always have and don’t increase your physical activity, you’re likely to gain weight. If you don’t intentionally rebuild muscle through exercise, you’ll need to eat 150 to 200 fewer calories every day every 5 years to maintain your current weight.
Toned muscles burn more calories than fat, even at rest. Exercise also helps sleep better.
Solutions: To reverse muscle loss and weight gain exercise is mandatory. Regular aerobic and resistance exercise programs have been shown to counteract most aspects of muscle loss.
To build muscles you can use your own body or work out with dumbbells. Twenty minutes of body building 3 times a week is enough to build muscles and prevent osteoporosis. Take note to start an exercise program slowly otherwise you can be sore for days or risk causing an injury.
No time for exercise: run up and down the stairs, don’t take the elevator, park your car far away from work and from the store and walk briskly, always keep walking shoes in your car and stop to walk at nice places especially when you see a hill. Walk run walk. Take your bike to work. Do push up, squats and sit-ups twice a week.
Don’t forget to move throughout the day is imperative to weight loss as well. Everything count.
Bonus: Exercise is an anti-depressant, will improve your mood and will motivate you to live healthily, nourishing your cells with real food live and bring positive vibrations.
- No More Snacking
The theory of 6 mini meals a day keep your digestive track constantly busy, raise insulin level which may turn food into fat.
When the body is fed every 3 hours, it will burn fuel from those meals, rather than from its fat stores between meals. Also, you have a better chance to have a nutritious meal when eating at meal time.
In one study, folks that ate small meals or snacks throughout the day (instead of meals) consumed a significantly higher amount of sugar and fewer micronutrients. Sugar is a fast-burning, quick-energy meal that will leave you hungry for another sugary snack, in short order.
A 2-month study has shown that eating 3 meals a day with no snacks improves moods, cravings, sleep, fatigue, and weight loss.
Solutions: Stick to 3 meals a day. Eat enough at mealtime to carry you to the next meal. Eating breakfast, lunch and supper with no snacks in between will provide a natural fast in between meals that will encourage fat burning.
Bonus: you won’t need to think constantly about eating. More freedom.
Yes, diet and exercise are primordial, but so are getting enough sleep, limiting stress, lowering toxin exposure, optimizing digestion and liver functions.
The habits you adopt today will impact how you experience menopause and aging in general. Start now live a healthy lifestyle that will help harmonize your hormones and achieve permanent weight loss.