Have you gained weight after menopause, especially around the middle? You’re not alone. It hits us out of the blue!
Why does menopause suddenly make us gain weight even if we haven’t changed the way we eat?
One of the reasons is that the drop in hormones makes us lose muscle mass fast. Muscles burn calories, so when we have less of them our bodies don't need as much food as they used to. We store the unneeded calories as fat - belly fat usually. There are other causes, but they tend to come on more gradually.
How can we stop gaining weight at menopause?
Do anaerobic (note: not aerobic) or resistance training. It not only helps boost estrogen but also builds back muscle (and bone density). You’re not bulking up. You don't need a fancy gym membership or heavy weights – body weight exercises can work wonders.
Does cardio help with weight loss?
Gentle cardio can help by reducing excess cortisol levels, which tend to skyrocket during menopause and cause belly fat, but it’s really not the most time or energy effective way of increasing muscle mass, or bone density.
Now, I get it – menopause comes along with all kinds of awful symptoms that sap your motivation to exercise like lack of sleep, depression and joint pain, but here's the thing – exercise can actually help alleviate some of those symptoms. It should, at least, be your first port of call.
How often do I have to workout?
Start small. Do 2 simple resistance/anaerobic workouts a week. Less is more if you are just starting out. Try to make them SO easy that you don’t dread repeating them a week later or exhaust or injure yourself in the first week and give up!
The good news is, 2 training sessions a week is sufficient long term, plus daily activities like walking, gardening or taking the grand kids to the park.
FYI, If you are an endurance athlete or walker/cyclist/yoga enthusiast, you will need to cross train with resistance training to regain muscle mass.
If you're feeling overwhelmed, or just don’t feel like designing a workout for yourself, I can provide guidance, ensure you're using proper form, and keep you on track. Grab a free session
What else do I have to consider?
There is something else we need in order to regain muscle - and that is PROTEIN. Many of us (probably most of us) are protein-deficient. It’s hard to get enough in our diet, especially because we need a bare minimum of 50% of our body weight in pounds in grams daily (e.g., 180lbs = 90g). If you strength train, you'll need even more.
Women who work out often supplement with protein powder. I recommend unflavored pea isolate. I like to mix mine with chicory, coffee, cacao, maca, & a little sugar.
So, my friends, you've got the tools to fight menopause weight gain: anaerobic/resistance training, protein, and a little bit of cardio.
Let's show menopause who's boss!
Stay fit, stay fabulous,
Clara Depont CPT, CYT
Want to get these articles straight to your inbox each week? Sign up here
Clara Depont is a certified personal trainer at www.claradepont.com where she trains women in their 50s and 60s. When she’s not writing blogs on how to stay vibrant, fit and happy she’s traveling in search of a forest or a sexy coastline. You can get to know her best through Weekly Emails, Instagram or Facebook. She is British and lives in New Mexico.
Get These Posts Straight to Your Inbox in a Weekly Email