Menopausal weight gain is inevitable and troubling for majority of the women. It is one of the Menopause symptoms that often pushes women to seek natural remedies and adopt a healthy lifestyle.
While majority of the women start eating right, they still find it hard to lose the belly fat and menopausal weight gain that starts accumulating in the mid life years.
Some questions definitely may be coming to your mind. In this post, we are going to address all of them and more.
We will talk about whether it is normal to gain weight at menopause? Or does menopausal weight gain denote something is wrong with your body?
Why it is so hard to lose menopausal weight gain? The best Ayurvedic tips to lose stubborn belly fat and get back in shape.
Let’s get started!
4 Different Stages of Menopause and Your Weight
Menopause is defined as the permanent end of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Most of the time, it is natural, and happens as part of the aging process.
Sometimes however, menopause can also be induced by surgery, chemotherapy, or by radiation. All of these treatments stop the ovaries from producing eggs, or in other ways artificially stop the menstrual cycle.
1. Pre menopause
This is actually the fertile phase. or reproductive years of life. It is the period of active menstruation. Pre menopause phase lasts between the first and last menstrual cycle, a period of 30-40 years in the life of a woman.
During the reproductive years, there are generally higher levels of estrogen in the body as compared to any other phase of life. This encourages deposition of fat around the hips and thighs as subcutaneous fat.
This is not a problem. It contributes to having that womanly figure. If your periods are regular, then mostly your weight will be stable.
However, if you have hormone imbalance problems, then you may struggle with belly fat and excess weight during pre menopause.
The prefix ‘peri’ means around. It is the period close to menopause. This is a 4-11 year period that mostly takes place around 40 years of age.
Perimenopause is marked by fluctuating estrogen levels and declining levels of progesterone. Both of these hormones are involved in the regulation of the menstrual cycle.
This estrogen issue now encourages storage of fat around the abdomen. Also known as visceral fat, this belly fat is metabolically active. It leads to further hormone imbalances and weight gain.
That’s why, a woman often experiences the health symptoms of Estrogen dominance (high Estrogen levels compared to Progesterone). And one of these is belly fat or menopausal weight gain.
This type of fat is not good because it increases the risk of type-2 diabetes, heart diseases, and other overweight complications.
Menopause is said to have set in if a woman does not see her period for 12 consecutive months. This happens around 51 years. It is kind of one point event in the life of a woman.
4. Post menopause
After these 12 months are over, then the woman has really entered into post menopause. The term is used interchangeably with menopause however.
During post menopausal years, a woman naturally has lower metabolism as compared to what it was during her youth. That’s why, she naturally gains weight during post menopause.
However, some hormone imbalances such as insulin resistance and high Estrogen may predispose her to obesity and other weight related problems.
As we saw, hormone fluctuations during menopause and perimenopause often lead to menopausal weight gain and change in body shape. However, if that was all, it perhaps may not have been so difficult.
Menopause often brings hormone imbalance symptoms and health troubles for many. Some of these symptoms are:
- Hot flashes and sweating
- Hair loss
- Problems with digestion
- Anxiety and palpitations
What Triggers Menopausal Weight Gain?
Weight gain is a rapid increase in weight (usually more than 3 Kg) of a person. It may be due to an accumulation of excess calories or living a sedentary lifestyle, or even a metabolic problem.
The basic point of it is, fat gets deposited in the body, leading to an increase in weight.
Now, this cycle of weight gain can happen in anybody. But, why does menopause predisposes you to weight gain and what should you do about it?
Let’s check out the specific triggers of menopausal weight gain.
1. Hormone Imbalances
Remember that hormonal imbalances can lead to weight gain?
Well, if there’s one period of life where your hormones are in confusion, then it is menopause. Of course, menopause isn’t the only one. The hormones that could trouble you here are:
Estrogen levels often become high relative to Progesterone in the body. This causes typical symptoms of Estrogen dominance during perimenopause. High estrogen further disturbs other hormones in the body.
Also, high estrogen affects your fat metabolism. It makes you gain fat around your belly and slows down your metabolism through thyroid hormone.
It is higher in perimenopause. This is the hunger hormone. With high levels of ghrelin, you always feel hungry and want to eat. Of course, overeating causes overweight.
The satiety hormone, is affected by high estrogen levels. As a result, you don’t feel satisfied even after eating enough. So, you eat more and more and the cycle continues.
Menopause comes with age. With age, your activity levels decrease. What’s more likely to lead to weight gain if not being sedentary? With less physical activity, excess calories begin to accumulate.
The stress of children leaving, losing a spouse, life and diet habit changes that come with age can also get to you. Due to this, the stress hormone, cortisol, is produced in abundance so as to cope. Eventually, weight gain results.
What is the Average Weight Gain during Menopause?
Women have been seen to gain 2.2 kg plus or minus 4.41 kg in perimenopause. That’s a wide range, because, again, it depends on nature and nurture.
Excess Weight at Menopause?
Here’s why you should be concerned!
Now, excess weight gain at Menopause really indicates metabolism that is too slow. And also, it is a sign of underlying hormone imbalances, which triggered menopausal weight gain int he first place.
So, weight gain is really a symptom.
What often goes unnoticed by many menopausal women is the peripheral health complications of menopausal weight gain.
Health issues of Excess Menopausal Weight Gain
Poor metabolism and hormone imbalances, when not controlled in time can lead to high cholesterol levels and (silent) heart problems for many women in the age group 45 years plus.
- Kidney problems
- Adrenal fatigue, depression and excess stress
- Liver problems
- Dry and flaky skin
- Respiratory problems
- Increased risk of colon and endometrial cancers
- Weak bones and Osteoporosis
Ayurvedic View of Menopausal Weight Gain
According to Ayurveda, excess body weight and fat is a sign of Kapha Imbalance. Besides weight gain, Kapha also leads to sluggishness in the body and mind.
That’s why women, who experience excess menopausal weight gain are also prone to health symptoms related to lethargy, depression, hypothyroidism, heaviness and water retention.
While Menopause is essentially a Vata and Pitta dosha dominant phase of life, we are seeing more and more cases of menopausal kapha imbalance these days.
This trend also follows unusually high numbers of other kapha imbalance health problems in men and women of all age groups. Not to mention, it is fueled by the usual suspects:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Excess empty calories and poor nutrition
- Too much stress
- Lack of quality sleep
Ayurvedic Tips to Lose Belly Fat and Menopausal Weight Gain
Now that you know the real reason of menopausal weight gain, it is much easier to understand and adopt the change to lose it all.
Let’s check out what Ayurveda guides us to lose belly fat and stubborn weight at Menopause. We will cover the guidelines in 4 parts:
Lifestyle Tips to Lose Belly Fat and Menopausal Weight Gain
1. Get Active
- Try as much as possible to not live a sedentary lifestyle. Engage in physical activities and exercise on regular basis.
- Perform activities to gain muscle as it helps burn calories faster.
- Walking briskly for 30 mins a day is an achievable target that you can begin with.
- Take up volunteering activities in the neighborhood to keep yourself moving. Exercise lightly after each meal.
- Do not engage in overtly stressful activities. More stress means more cortisol. More cortisol leads to weight gain.
2. Sound Sleep
Sleep and sleep well. Good sleep naturally balances the hormones and relaxes your mind.
Sleep also enables you to detox naturally, hence get rid of the excess belly fat and prevent it from depositing further. With sleep, quantity is not quality. Learn how to sleep well here.
3. Get Rid of the Toxins
Remove environmental toxins and body toxins by practicing a healthy lifestyle.
- Remove all plastics and processed foods, which lead to buildup of toxins in the body.
- Get rid of chemicals based personal care and household products that deposit extra Estrogen in your system.
- Practice Ayurvedic detox or Panchakarma to clear off the toxins with Ayurvedic herbs and therapies.
- Remove stimulants such as alcohol and smoking that load your body’s detox pathways.
4. Manage Stress
Excess stress build up high cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol suppresses metabolism as it prepares the body for the fight and flight response. It also pushes in excess glucose in the blood, raising blood sugar levels.
Thus, high stress makes you prone to gain excess weight and health complications. It is same for all age groups, just that at Menopause your body is a bit more sensitive to it.
Manage and lower stress by:
- Deep breathing exercises and yogic breathing
- Spending time in nature and with your loved ones
- Remove and reduce stress triggers
- Take time off and invest in self care measures
- Deep body massage
Herbs to Detox and Lose Weight Naturally
Many natural herbs are used to treat health issues due to their healing properties. Ayurvedic herbs are a way to cleanse excess toxins from your body.
And the best part is they also support nutrition by providing micro nutrients that your body is perhaps deficient in.
Amla is recommended to cleanse excess toxins from the GI tract and help keep the colon clean. Regular consumption helps to reduce cholesterol levels. It also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
This gentle detoxifying herb supports regular bowel function and is also rich in antioxidants, supporting immune function.
Shatavari root is an excellent adaptogen and hormone balancing herb. It has immuno-modulatory and antioxidant properties.
Shatavari enhances resilience to physical and mental stress. It is used for general debility, hyperacidity, urinary problems.
Shatavari is excellent to balance female hormones, for PMS and menopausal symptoms.
Triphala is a powerful Ayurvedic Rasayana (Herbal elixir known to promote longevity and rejuvenation).
It deeply cleanses our body and helps to flush out wastes and toxins. Triphala has powerful antioxidants to rejuvenate, inhibit inflammation, promote healthy build of body cells, and blood purification.
It reduces stress and increases our body’s strength. Regular consumption of Ashwagandha elevates the brain chemicals, helps to relax, and establishes hormone balance.
Guduchi or Giloy is one of the most powerful herbs for eliminating toxins from the blood and liver. Traditionally Guduchi is used for inflammation of the skin and cooling fevers.
It is detoxifying, antiparasitic, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial. Guduchi is indicated whenever a cooling and reducing therapy is needed.
10. Dandelion Greens
It helps in weight loss by limiting calorie intake through suppression of hunger. Dandelion also stimulates secretion of gastric enzymes and induces satiation.
It promotes the breakdown of fat and cholesterol in the body. Dandelion is also a diuretic, which helps the body get rid of excess water weight.
11. Yoga Poses to Lose Belly Fat
Yoga goes much deeper than just the physical movement of the body. Regular practice of suitable yoga asana help to tone the muscles thus increase strength, relax the mind to reduce stress levels and also increase bone density.
That’s why yoga is one of the best ways to naturally support your metabolism and weight loss during menopause.
Here are some yoga asana that you can practice to find relief from Menopause symptoms and to lose belly fat.
- Setu Bandhasana (Bridge)
- Bhujangasana (Cobra)
- Dhanurasana (Bow)
- Ardha Matsyendrasana (Seated Half Spinal Twist)
- Natarajasana (Supine Dancing Shiva)
- Chakki Chalanasana (Churning Mill Pose)
- Janu Sirsasana (One Legged Seated Forward Bend)
- Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutations)
12. Ayurvedic Diet and Best Foods to Lose Belly Fat and Menopausal Weight Gain
- Fruits and vegetables are part of a well-balanced weight loss plan. They are lower in calories, provide essential micronutrients such as Vitamins, Minerals, and Antioxidants.
- Consumption of more fruits and vegetables along with whole grains and lean meats, nuts, and beans is a safe and healthy start to lose menopausal weight gain.
- Plants such as Bitter Gourd, Moringa, Amla provide essential micronutrients and fiber to help lose weight.
- Additionally, cruciferous vegetables such as Cabbage, Cauliflower, and Broccoli are great to include as they are rich in proteins and antioxidants. These vegetable inhibit the conversion of sugar and other carbohydrates into fat and provide body with ample fibre and nutrients to stay healthy.
- Your largest meal should be taken about mid-day. This is when the digestive fire is highest, and you have a good chance of digesting the food completely.
- Manage and reduce your calorie intake if you are taking in too much processed foods and simple carbohydrates.
13. Worst Foods for Menopausal Weight Gain
- Avoid snacking in between meals.
- Remove sugar in the form of white sugar, artificial sugar and all sugary processed foods.
- Avoid fruit juices and sweetened beverages.
- Reduce and remove caffeine. It leads to quick spike in your activity level, but eventually causes energy crashes. This makes you eat more sugary foods.
- Remove alcohol and smoking altogether. Both of these have similar stimulating effect as caffeine on the body, a quick energy boost and then crash. Also, alcohol and smoking cause and make hormone imbalance worse.
- Avoid excess and table salt. It causes water retention in the body and thus may contribute to increasing weight.
- Remove carbonated beverages and flavored waters. All of these contain lots of sugar which cause weight gain.
- Avoid processed foods and quick meals. They push in empty calories and devoid you of essential nutrients from your meals.
With proper management, you can get through menopause with minimal or no hassles. So, get started today!
Weight gain during Menopause should not be among your top worries with the Ayurvedic guidelines that we shared with you today.
Now we want to hear from you. Do write to us for any queries and feedback. If you have tried any of the above weight loss approaches, then do share your experience with us. We will get back to you the soonest.
Wishing you vibrant health!