After menopause, it might seem impossible to lose weight. At least, this was my experience and many other women who reached out to me. Our declining hormones, stress, and general aging can all work against you.
But before we blame our metabolism and throw ourselves a pity party, do you want to know the cheat codes? Umm, yes!?
First of all, why is it so hard?
- Hormonal changes. Low levels of estrogen can lead to fat storage.
- Loss of muscle mass. Decreased physical activity, fatigue, and hormone changes affect our muscle mass. Less muscle means we don’t burn as many calories as we used to.
- Inadequate sleep. Night sweats, anyone? Tossing and turning? Can’t quite find a sleeping position that feels good? Poor sleep is linked to weight gain.
- Increased insulin resistance. In recent studies, 40% of non-obese healthy postmenopausal women were found to have insulin resistance.
- Too much cortisol = weight gain. In menopause, we no longer have estrogen to offset high cortisol levels. Too much cortisol can make us tired, unable to sleep, and causes insulin resistance.
Where we store fat is also important. Women in menopause begin to store fat around their stomachs (visceral fat), increasing their risk for metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. It’s not about weight loss; it’s about fat loss.
What is metabolism anyway?
Metabolism is the chemical processes going on inside your body to allow life and normal functioning. This is called homeostasis. These processes include those that break down nutrients from our food and those that build and repair our bodies.
Food’s energy is measured in kilojoules or calories each time we eat. Think of it this way, a calorie of food is a unit of energy, and not all calories metabolize in the body the same.
To help you better understand your metabolism, here is a breakdown of how our body uses calories as energy:
- Basal Metabolic Rate. 50-70% of your daily energy (calories) use is your body’s basic needs, even when resting.
- Thermogenesis. This is the energy your body uses to digest your food and drinks. 5-10% of your daily energy needs is thermogenesis.
- Non-Exercise. Non-exercise movement is any movement during the day when you are not at restcleaning the house, sitting at your desk, gardening, or doing anything other than a scheduled exercise. 15-20% of your daily energy needs come from non-exercise.
- Exercise. Only 5-10% of your daily energy needs come from workouts.
What is important to understand about losing weight:
- If we regularly eat and drink more calories (a unit of energy) than our body uses, the body will store the remaining energy as fat.
- Most of the energy your body burns is non-exercise calories.
- How you exercise matters more than how much you exercise. Exercise that includes resistance/weight training will increase muscle mass.
- Reducing stress can help you sleep better and lower your body’s cortisol levels, helping you maintain a healthy metabolism.
Ways to increase your Metabolic Rate:
- Grow some muscles by adding resistance/weight training! Muscle uses more energy than fat.
- Try to move more during the day. You can stand at your desk, take more breaks, clean the house, or walk the dog. All movement is good movement!
- Find a mindfulness practice like yoga or meditation. Reducing your cortisol levels will improve your metabolism and help you stay insulin sensitive (which is a good thing)!
- Choose better food. Food with less fat and more protein can increase your thermogenesis calorie expenditure.
I know it can seem very confusing to navigate this new body you are in, but I promise you that once you understand how to make a few tweaks, it gets better! I was able to lose 20 pounds by implementing these few changes.
Please remember to seek medical advice from your healthcare provider because every woman is different, and you might have other medical concerns that must be addressed.
Please also read my other blogs on this topic for more information!
I created Five programs for women who are in menopause:
- MenoMagic! Menomagic is made especially for women over the age of 40. It includes a 37-page nutritional guide to shifting your body into fat loss.
- PERFECT10 is for those that are busy but want to start weight training. All of these workouts are under 15 minutes.
- Metabolic Movements is awesome to help boost your metabolism, gain muscle, and relax your nervous system.
- My NEW Strong & Stretchy Yoga Sculpt program is an amazing blend of traditional yoga and weight training, balance, and mobility.
- My FAST program is great for those who want to include intermittent fasting and want to lose weight. I have also included daily meditations and plant-based recipes to try.
Please try any of my programs for FREE for 7 days!