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Perimenopause Diet & Weight Gain

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Table of Contents

What is perimenopause

During perimenopause, a woman’s hormone levels can change and fluctuate considerably, often resulting in changes in the pattern of menstrual periods. As you become postmenopausal, reproductive hormone levels fall, leading to estrogen and progesterone levels that are inadequate to generate a menstrual period. Symptoms are diverse, unpredictable, and frequently go unrecognized as perimenopause symptoms. 

The years leading up to a woman’s last period are known as the menopausal transition or perimenopause. In this period, periods can stop and then begin again. There’s no means of telling how long this period will last, but it may be anywhere from two to eight decades-long, with the average being four decades. It typically begins when women are in their late 40s. Extra stress in your life, extra weight, certain medications, and pregnancy may all cause interruptions in your normal cycle. These aren’t regarded as perimenopausal or menopausal symptoms as they are usually reversible or temporary.

Perimenopause symptoms

During this stage, you may experience symptoms such as:

Hot flashes

Night sweats

Disposition changes

Weight gain

Change in sexual drive

Trouble sleeping

Urge to urinate more often

Since these symptoms may also be brought on by other medical problems, you should see your physician for any new symptoms. Weight gain might feel like it is inevitable as soon as you’ve entered your middle years, but the fact is it does not need to be. Natural hormonal fluctuations imply you might begin to notice symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings. Still, you do not need to idly accept that the number on the bathroom scale will also steadily creep up. Weight distribution varies because you hit menopause, with the additional pounds amassing right around your stomach.

Weight Gain and Menopause: According to the Healthy Women Study, the average weight gain in obese women was about 5 pounds; however, 20 percent of the population they studied gained 10 lbs or more. Not only is the weight gain from a fall in estrogen, but it’s also because of a decline in energy expenditure. Some women may notice a general weight gain, while others might not find a difference on the scale but might observe that their pants are not buttoning as readily. Both are surprising to many women since they might not see a difference in their dietary intake or action.

Hormones role in weight change

Estrogen plays a very important role in fat storage and supply. Ahead of perimenopause, estrogen deposits fat on your thighs, hips, and buttocks. During and after menopause, the drop in estrogen contributes to a general increase in total body fat, but more so on your mid-section. Studies had consistently demonstrated that this waistline increase differs from when you were younger. It’s the visceral abdominal fat that increases as we enter menopause. Visceral fat is within your abdomen and surrounds your organs. This can be more dangerous than an increase in subcutaneous fat, which can be found in places such as your thighs, buttocks, and outer abdomen. Visceral fat is supposed to be metabolically active, and this harms the body. An increase in visceral fat is related to increased insulin resistance, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and inflammatory diseases.

Weight Gain

Even though the chance of weight gain as a middle-aged woman is greater, this does not necessarily mean it is required. Many of the health risks found in the menopausal transition will also be influenced by weight. If we have the ability to maintain a healthy weight or at least minimize any weight reduction, then we’re going to minimize these additional health risks. How can you stay healthy in this stage of your life? Let us explore some simple options.

Before during, and after menopause, your estrogen amounts start to wane, and your metabolism slows, making it more challenging for you to shed weight, especially around your middle. And belly fat is not just annoying – it is also unhealthy. Studies show that it increases your heart disease risk, diabetes, some cancers, and maybe even premature death.

Diet changes to lose belly fat

Here are some of the most effective dietary strategies that can help manage symptoms:

Things to add to your diet include fiber, calcium, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. When it comes to healthy eating, it is helpful to look at all of the foods you should be eating versus the few foods that lack nutritional value. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy are all great choices.

Fiber: Fiber is another go-to during perimenopause. It will help keep you feeling full longer, which may suppress cravings. This will go a long way toward weight loss attempts, which can be particularly tough as you age and your metabolism slows down. Most women don’t get enough fiber every day, which is an issue, as it’s a wonderful source of energy for your gut bacteria. Your microbiome flourishes on a diet high in indigestible fibers from whole vegetables and fruit, whole grains, legumes, and fermented foods.

Women need about 30 to 35 g of fiber daily. This could be from a mix of foods. Fiber has also been proven to reduce your risk of certain diseases of aging. These include cardiovascular disease, stroke, and cancer. Fruits and vegetables are a terrific place to find fiber. Whole grains and legumes are also a very good source.

– Drink water: Dehydration can have a massive impact on symptoms: A two- to three-percent change can cause cognitive difficulties and influence decision-making. Digestive problems like constipation and reflux may also worsen without sufficient hydration. And be aware: dehydration can be mistaken for hunger cues that may result in snacking or eating larger portion sizes.

– Calcium: As you get older, your risk of obesity increases. To maintain your bone health in check, your intake of calcium to 1,200 mg per day. Vitamin D is also essential in this regard. You will want to consult your physician for individualized recommendations.

Protein: Perimenopause is a time when your body is going through numerous changes. Due to these changes, your body could use a little bit more of certain nutrients. Your muscle mass begins to decrease through perimenopause. Protein can help out with maintaining muscle mass. With fluctuating hormones, equilibrium is the name of this game. Protein may also help by controlling appetite and glucose levels. It could even help balance your hormone levels. To get maximum benefits, dispersing your protein intake out over the foods is better. Eggs, peanut butter, salmon, lentils, and yogurt are excellent high-protein choices.

Eat lower glycemic index foods: Insulin is a hormone made in the body released when we eat to assist in transporting blood glucose to brain and muscle cells. Too much insulin production was linked to many inflammatory diseases and may aggravate fat accumulation around the stomach, which wreak havoc with hormones and may aggravate symptoms of menopause. Foods that turn to sugar quickly from the bloodstream are believed to be high on the glycemic index, causing more insulin to be released. Legumes, whole grains like oats, lower sugar fruits, barley, rye, any non-starchy veggies are reduced glycemic alternatives.

Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with decreased inflammation, in addition to improved moods. Omega-3s also have been linked to decreased depression, which is something many women experience during perimenopause.

Soy and tofu: Whole soy foods, such as edamame (soy) beans fresh or frozen, plain tofu, or unsweetened fortified soy milk, can help alleviate symptoms of hot flashes thanks to the existence of whole isoflavones. These are phytochemicals that might help balance hormonal fluctuations related to menopause. Eating these foods is also a good way to get protein, fiber, and calcium simultaneously.

– Eliminate alcohol & caffeine: This may be one of the more challenging areas of enhancing peri and menopausal symptoms. Habits such as a normal nightly glass of wine to unwind or coffee later in the day to boost your energy can start to drastically impact mood and sleep in this stage. Alcohol is a depressant and can lead to dehydration. It can cause overeating and aggravate symptoms of stress and melancholy. Alcohol and caffeine can disrupt deep REM sleep cycles, even if consumed hours before sleeping, which compounds the sleep’s hormonal disturbance.

Avoid the usual suspects: Restrict polyunsaturated fats, highly refined carbohydrates, caffeine, and alcohol. Saturated fats from meat and dairy products increase your risk for heart disease. Choose plant-based fats when you’re able to. Also, limit highly refined carbohydrates, such as white slices of bread, pasta, and baked products, to prevent blood sugar spikes and constant cravings.

You should speak with your doctor about your diet changes to fight mood swings and irritability.

Summary

As you enter perimenopause, there are a few things you can do to stay healthy and alleviate symptoms. A healthy diet with more protein and fiber, exercise, yoga, no alcohol, and unhealthy fats can do wonders. In this period of your life, your body will undergo several hormonal changes. These modifications may also be accompanied by unpleasant symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings. Being active and eating well will help make this transition less challenging.