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5 expert tips to help you lose weight during menopause

Menopause and Weight Loss: 5 Tips to Help Boost your Metabolism

tips for weight loss Mar 31, 2023

I remember being in my mid-30’s when I finished my post-graduate studies and started working as a nutritionist at Results Nutrition Centre in Ponsonby.  In the clinic there was another nutritionist who was in her late 40’s, going through menopause.  Many of her clients were at the same stage of life.

“If you think weight loss is hard now,” she would say to me, “just wait until you hit menopause - it is truly HIDEOUS!”

Now I'm approaching this stage myself and have many clients in the same boat, I get it.

This morning, a client in my office said exactly the same thing.  Prior to menopause, she found it fairly easy to keep her weight stable, whereas now she feels like it's a hormone rodeo and a constant struggle to stop the scales creeping upwards.  

The frustration is real!

Why is menopause so challenging?

Hormones play a significant role in weight loss, and the hormonal changes that occur during menopause can make weight management a whole lot more challenging.  When estrogen and testosterone levels decrease it can lead to weight gain, especially around the abdominal area.  Estrogen plays a role in regulating body weight, and when estrogen levels decrease, the body may become more efficient at storing fat.  In addition, a decrease in testosterone levels can lead to a loss of muscle mass, which can slow down your metabolism and make weight loss more difficult.

While this phase of life brings extra challenges, there are always actions we can take to boost our metabolism and get results.  However, to see changes, we need to apply a different set of actions than perhaps we’ve been willing to do in the past, if we want to see a result. 

I have helped lots of menopausal women achieve weight loss and here are my top 5 tips of key changes to make to boost your metabolism during menopause. 

Cut back on alcohol…as much as you possibly can!

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but if you asked me what the most important thing would be to change during menopause, it’s your alcohol intake.

One glass of alcohol will instantly slow your metabolism down.  Many studies have shown this and I see it time and time again in my practice.  If you want a good fat burning engine, alcohol is not your friend.

The liver is the primary organ involved with fat burning so if you want it to do its job, it can’t be busy detoxing that glass of wine (or more)  you had with dinner the day before.  

Your liver is also trying to process hormones, so during menopause it has a lot to deal with.

Cut right back on alcohol, or - even better - replace it with alcohol-free and low-sugar alternatives.  Your liver will thank you for it.

Eat more protein during menopause

As estrogen and testosterone levels decline, this can lead to decreased muscle mass and bone strength.  If your muscle mass decreases, your metabolism will slow down, making it more difficult to lose weight.  Getting enough protein will help you maintain muscle mass and keep your metabolism strong.  Protein can also help reduce appetite and keep you feeling full for longer.

Aim to get 25-30g of protein per meal.  This is equivalent to a 100-120g serving of meat.  A meal like these chicken kebabs is ideal.  Adding in a protein shake is a great way to boost your daily protein intake, especially if you follow a vegetarian diet.

Exercise, but not TOO intensely

Exercise is very important for both mental and physical health and regular strength training will help to maintain muscle mass and prevent bone loss, but you may need to change your level of intensity if you want consistent fat loss.  What I’ve noticed with clients is that high intensity exercise works well when we are in our 20's, but once hit the late 30's and 40's, it all changes.  This is due to the functioning of stress hormone cortisol.  If intense exercise is causing your cortisol to rise, this can turn off your body’s ability to burn fat.

If you are doing intense exercise and not seeing results, cut back to a more moderate pace and see if this helps.

Make sleep your top priority

This is tricky because sleep can be challenging with hormonal fluctuations, but you really do need to make it your top priority  as adequate sleep is crucial for weight management. Lack of sleep can disrupt hormones that regulate appetite and metabolism, leading to increased cravings for sugary and fatty foods. Additionally, when we don't get enough sleep, our bodies produce more cortisol, which can cause weight gain and make it harder to lose weight. Getting enough sleep is also essential for maintaining energy levels.

If you are struggling with sleep I recommend establishing a firm bed time routine and sticking to it.  Don’t watch screens at night – read a book instead. 

A good magnesium supplement might also help.  Metagenics have a brilliant magnesium powder product called Sleep-X.  The Metagenics range is practitioner-only so book in a call with me if you want to find out more about this product. 

Cortisol reduction is key

When cortisol is high, your body will not prioritise fat burning.  Excess cortisol encourages your body to store fat, not burn it.  What increases cortisol?  Lack of sleep, intense exercise, alcohol, balancing family life, excessive caffeine, work pressures….the list goes on!

When we consider the standard stresses of everyday life and then throw in the added hormonal stress of the major changes going on within your body, it can be a very challenging mix. 

If your cortisol is high, these everyday actions can help:

  • Go to bed earlier
  • Eat a low carb food plan to get your blood sugars balanced
  • Reduce caffeine
  • Drink at least two litres of water daily
  • Do mindset work in the morning (eg gratitude, meditation) to help calm your mind
  • Supplementation.  There are some great stress supplements that work well. Book in a phone call if you want to discuss the best option for you. 

In conclusion, menopause can be a challenging time for weight maintenance, but you can boost your metabolism if you are willing to take action. 

By cutting back on alcohol, increasing protein intake, exercising at a moderate pace, prioritizing sleep, and reducing cortisol levels through lifestyle changes and supplementation, you will be able to make progress in your journey and see results. 

It might not be as easy as when we were in our 20's, but it’s certainly not impossible.

Where there is a will, there is always a way!

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