How Menopause Slows Your Metabolism
Menopause happens in three stages – perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause. During these three stages, hormone levels drop and/or fluctuate, and symptoms including hot flashes, insomnia, mood swings, and weight gain can happen. On average, menopause can last anywhere from 2-10 years – with symptoms prevalent throughout.
In several animal studies, estrogen is linked to helping control body weight. Lab animals tend to eat more and be less physically active when they have lower estrogen. This reduced estrogen may lower the resting metabolic rate – or the rate at which the body converts energy when it is at rest and not exercising. It’s possible that the same thing happens in humans during menopause, when estrogen levels drop.
When women are younger, the body tends to collect weight around the hips and thighs, called gynoid fat distribution. As menopause hits, women begin to gain weight around their midsection – weight that can be stubborn to shed. This redistribution can also affect pulmonary and cardiovascular health, increasing risk of strokes, heart attacks, and more. More truncal fat than gynoid fat is thought to be worse for overall health.
Weight gain is associated with sleep apnea as well, which is a condition that makes it difficult to breathe deeply while sleeping and affects your quality of sleep. Rest is essential to many functions of the body – most notably immune system function, which can make you susceptible to illness. Energy and cellular function are heavily dependent upon the detoxification that takes place during restful sleep. Hormone changes not only change weight, but also sleep patterns themselves.
A lack of sleep can also contribute to weight gain. Avoid heavy meals and blue light screens in the evenings, and try to get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. It is not cool or proof of being a hard-worker if you sleep less than 7 hours. If your sleep doesn’t improve with basic sleep hygiene, consult a sleep specialist who may order a sleep study to treat any underlying causes of your insomnia.
Diversify your workout routine. Novelty can make exercise more enjoyable, so switch up your routine regularly. Try adding light weights when you’re out for a walk, or trying an exercise class or two at your local gym. Adding strength training to a cardio workout will help your body build more lean muscle mass, which in turn raises your resting metabolic rate – aka, the amount of calories you burn every day even without exercise.
Changing your diet is also a great way to introduce nutrient dense and lower calorie foods. A 2016 study found that a Mediterranean diet was effective in promoting long-term weight loss. Mediterranean diets are largely plant-based – high in healthy fats like olive oil; they feature low intake of red meat, and promote intake of whole grains, lean fish or poultry, and fruits and vegetables. It’s important to not simply cut calories, as bone loss happens more quickly as you get older, so you should continue to take in essential vitamins and minerals. A diet is only helpful if you still eat and drink the necessary vitamins, minerals, collagens and other substances needed for proper cellular function.
Our Bone & Joint Multivitamin was designed by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Meredith Warner according to the recommendations she makes to her own patients every day. Designed for surgical patients seeking to optimize their overall health, but ideal for sourcing all the essential vitamins and minerals you need for excellent connective tissue health, this multivitamin is a great option to ensure you’re filling gaps in your diet and to promote overall wellness at the same time.
There are many things you can do to lessen the symptoms of menopause, however, there are other changes that are simply a part of aging. At Well Theory, we’re dedicated to helping you age vibrantly – from our Herbal Kitchen cooking show, to our helpful resources, surgeon-designed products, and more. Consult with your physician about how you can create a plan to age with grace, and start living well today!
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