Understanding Weight Gain in Women
Women in our country are conditioned to be very weight-conscious. And for most women, that doesn’t change with the onset of menopause. In fact, unwanted weight gain during menopause can make women more self-conscious than ever. More importantly, excess weight can threaten your health, and exacerbate other common symptoms of menopause.
You may find it nearly impossible to maintain or lose weight during this time in life—even if your diet and fitness habits haven’t changed.
Here are the hard facts about menopausal weight gain:
- Approximately 90% of women will gain weight just before and during menopause.
- Most women will gain between 10 and 15 pounds during this time.
- When women gain weight during menopause, those new pounds will likely be gained around the midsection.
- Weight will be distributed differently than in younger years. Your body shape might change from being pear-shaped to being more apple-shaped.
- Additional weight in the form of water retention is also common during menopause.
Causes of Weight Gain in Women
The reason women gain weight during menopause, even if diet and fitness habits haven’t changed, is because key hormones in the body decline during this chapter in life. And hormones have everything to do with the following:
- How much fat we store
- How hungry we are
Estrogen levels drop substantially during menopause as the ovaries stop producing it. But did you know that fat cells produce estrogen, too? As your ovaries produce less estrogen, your body looks for other ways to make it. While your ovaries may no longer be an option, converting calories to fat still is. So your body will work extra hard to do so.
Progesterone levels also decrease during menopause and perimenopause. While progesterone does not have an impact on the body’s fat content, insufficient amounts will cause water retention and bloating.
Testosterone is found in small quantities within the female body; and it too diminishes during menopause and perimenopause. Testosterone directly affects your body’s ability to build muscle mass, and therefore affects metabolism. Muscle burns more calories than fat. So the less muscle you have, the fewer calories you burn, even when you’re asleep.
Low thyroid is very common in menopausal women, and can also be responsible for weight gain. Since thyroid is responsible for regulating your body’s calorie consumption, low thyroid can mean a diminished metabolic rate. A slower metabolism means fewer calories burned, which makes it difficult to keep weight off.
When you’re under stress, your body releases too much of a stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol in excessive amounts can signal your body to go into storage mode. In other words, when too much cortisol is released, your body thinks you’re in danger—and it responds to that perceived emergency by conserving calories. When your body reacts this way, it will store every calorie it can, and therefore cause weight gain, usually around the midsection.
Treatment For Weight Gain in Women
Trying to lose weight when your hormones are working against you is like trying to push a heavy rock up a steep hill. Our doctors can develop a customized hormone program for you that will take the uphill battle out of losing weight. Other solutions might include growth hormone therapy, and injectable nutrients designed to increase metabolism. Don’t spend another day in a body that doesn’t feel like your own. Let’s get you back to feeling like you.