Perimenopause weight gain, what you need to know

Alison Tehan Nutrition / bloating  / Perimenopause weight gain, what you need to know

Perimenopause weight gain, what you need to know

If you’re over 40 and you’ve started to gain weight without making any major lifestyle changes, you may wonder what’s going on with your body. It can be frustrating when you haven’t changed your diet or exercise routine, but the kilos still find a way to creep in anyway. Sudden weight gain during perimenopause, however, isn’t unusual. It’s been estimated that the average weight increase experienced during perimenopause and menopause is around 2-5 kgs.

This would have to be the most common complaint from women during perimenopause. Weight gain during your 40s is largely due to a decline in your metabolic rate as well as the hormonal change, in particular a reduction in estrogen. Estrogen keeps your body more insulin sensitive, and progesterone reduces inflammation. So once you have declining levels of both it can be much harder to manage weight. From the age of 30 there is a decrease in muscle mass, which changes body composition. Muscle helps to keep the body more metabolically healthy, and as this is declining it becomes harder to manage weight.

Also the fluctuation in hormones is powerful enough to affect your thyroid hormones too. If you’re really struggling with managing your weight it is worth looking into further thyroid function testing to see if it is a low thyroid problem.

What can you do?

Changes in the way you eat are required and the type of exercise you do is important during perimenopause. We can no longer rely on what we did in our 20s and 30s.

  1. Eat more protein

ensuring you have a diet rich in protein is important for maintaining the muscle mass you have and supporting the growth of new muscle during perimenopause and beyond. Its also important to support blood sugar levels which can become more unstable during this period. Most women I see aren’t eating nearly enough protein especially at the beginning of the day.  Women should be aiming for at least 1g protein / kg body weight.  If you are regularly active this needs to be increased further.   This will help you to eat less across the day and feel more balanced and satiated whilst also supporting your metabolic health.

2. Eat a wholefoods diet

This seems obvious but when we analyse exactly what we are eating in detail we can see many high processed foods that creep into our diet on a regular basis that we may not be aware of.  This adds more empty calories without providing any nourishment. Our bodies need nourishing with whole nutrient dense foods that support all the processes that are going on. This is a time when cooking and eating home cooked food is going to support your body the most. Also fibre from whole foods will help to support your gut health. If your diet does not include enough fibre, your gut will be inflamed leading to further weight gain.

3. Reduce Alcohol

Our bodies are already experiencing higher levels of inflammation so alcohol is only adding more empty calories and increasing inflammation further. It will also affect your sleep and energy levels.

4. Strength Training

With the decline in estrogen, women become more insulin resistant and the body needs support to build muscle through strength training. In order to maintain muscle mass, which helps to keeps your metabolism high, you need to consistently build muscle and support muscle strength. This requires strength training at least a few times a week.

  1. Adequate Sleep

Poor quality sleep or not enough sleep may be a key factor for weight gain. Inadequate sleep decrease fat utilization. Also lack of sleep increases ghelin, your hunger hormone increasing your blood sugar levels as well as your calorie intake.Waking up exhausted makes it harder to exercise and can make us hungrier by messing with our hunger hormones ghrelin and leptin, leading to weight gain. Studies have found not getting enough sleep can lead to an increased risk of higher abdominal fat.

If you need tailored support with your weight in a guided and supported way where I can provide you with recipes and specific advice for your routine and lifestyle please set up a free 15 min chat to understand how I can help you here.