Menopause is inevitable although most women would definitely like to skip it. This transition marks a beginning of a new chapter in your life and it’s a special time that should be cherished. However, that’s not easily done due to various symptoms that occur in menopause. Hot flashes, night sweats, incontinence, and even disturbed sleep are linked with the change as well as weight gain. When it comes to weight gain, there are various myths circling around and it’s time to see what’s true or false. Throughout this article, we’re going to discuss the link between weight and menopause and debunk some of the most common myths.
1. Weight gain always starts in perimenopause
As you can tell by its name, perimenopause refers to the period before the menopause starts. It’s widely believed that weight gain, actually, starts at this stage. Although perimenopausal weight gain is quite common, it’s not mandatory. The weight gain at this point is the body’s way to adapt to new hormone levels. But, even though it’s common it’s not necessarily mandatory. This means that while some women can gain weight in perimenopause, other women don’t have to. Women have different metabolic set points meaning they can gain or lose weight at their own rates.
2. If I starve myself, I won’t gain weight during menopause
Actually, this is one of the most common myths about preventing weight gain in younger population. But, it’s quite worrying that even menopausal women assume that starving themselves is a good way of preventing weight gain. It has been scientifically proven that starving yourself and skipping meals can only induce the opposite effect i.e. lead to weight gain. For example, Martha Belury of the Ohio State University conducted a study to inspect whether skipping meals can help you lose weight or not. Results of the study, published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, showed that skipping meals and avoiding eating sets off series of metabolic miscues that result in abdominal weight gain.
3. I can easily avoid menopausal muffin top if I strictly follow high-intensity exercise
A healthy diet coupled with physical activity is always recommended for weight loss and maintaining healthy weight range. When it comes to physical activity, there’s a popular belief that high-intensity exercise is the best way to avoid the awkward muffin top. However, that’s not quite correct. For instance, Journal of Obesity study conducted by Dr. Shelley Keating of the University of Sydney revealed that although high-intensity exercises deliver some benefits such as increased fitness levels, they don’t have a “fat furnace” effect, particularly if you mostly carry your weight in abdominal area. So what exercises can you do? According to the study, standard aerobic exercise is more beneficial for weight loss than high-intensity exercises. Therefore, to lose the muffin top caused by menopause weight gain you should skip high-intensity workout.
4. Weight gain is inevitable in menopause
About 30% of women ages to 50 to 59 aren’t just overweight, but obese. It is estimated that 90% of menopausal women gain weight. It comes as no surprise that putting on a few pounds is considered inevitable in menopause. Is that correct? According to Professor Susan Davis of the Monash University from Melbourne, Australia, it’s a myth that menopause itself causes women to gain weight. She conducted a review of studies published in the International Menopause Society. The review showed that although menopause doesn’t cause weight gain the hormonal changes during this period are linked with the way the fat is distributed thus leading to increased abdominal fat. Professor Davis and team of researchers that worked on this review discovered that weight gain in menopause occurs due to drop in estrogen levels. In fact, various menopausal symptoms are linked with hormonal fluctuations.
The study also showed that weight gain in menopause is a consequence of environmental factors and aging.
5. Estrogen replacement therapy causes weight gain
HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) which is also known as estrogen replacement therapy is one of the most common treatments whose primary aim is to alleviate symptoms women experience. The therapy is also linked with the common myth which claims that this treatment can cause weight gain. But, that’s not entirely correct. The International Menopause Society study we’ve mentioned above also discovered that estrogen therapy doesn’t cause weight gain. In fact, there’s strong evidence that HRT can prevent abdominal fat increasing after menopause.
There is wide array of Menopause symptoms. Intensity and severity of these symptoms vary from woman to woman. Weight gain is just one of uncomfortable signs of menopause, but unfortunately, there are various myths that surround it. Throughout this article, we’ve showed you that proper way to maintain healthy weight range or lose abdominal fat isn’t high-intensity workout, but aerobic exercise. You’ve also found out that menopause itself doesn’t cause weight loss and it’s rather a consequence of hormonal fluctuations. Since weight gain puts you at risk for various diseases, it’s important to address the problem with lifestyle adjustments. It’s also recommended to consult your healthcare provider regarding estrogen therapy.