Stop Menopause Weight Gain

Prevent menopausal weight gain with calcium-boosting dairy products.

Hormonal changes around the time of menopause may predispose some women to store excess fat, especially around the abdomen area. Loss of muscle mass in middle age may also slow the metabolism and trigger fat storage. However, it is possible to avoid menopausal weight gain through careful attention to diet, regular aerobic exercise and strength training exercises.

Calorie Control

The average daily calorie intake for women is 2,000, but is dependent upon age, size and other factors, such as activity levels. If your activity levels have dropped during the years leading to menopause, you may need to eat fewer than 2,000 calories each day to prevent weight gain. To lose weight at the rate of approximately one pound each week, you should eat a deficit of 500 calories each day, according to Staness Jonekoss, author of “The Menopause Makeover.”

Optimal Nutrition

A diet that is rich in bone-boosting calcium is essential because loss of estrogen during menopause may exacerbate bone loss. Calcium-rich foods help to prevent weight gain by limiting the absorption of dietary fat. The Yale Medical Group recommends the equivalent of at least three daily servings of dairy products. Vitamin D, which is triggered through skin exposure to sunlight and found in fortified foods such as fortified soy products, is essential for the absorption of calcium. Women aged over 50 require 600 to 800 international units of this vitamin each day.

Base your diet around sources of lean protein for tissue repair, and whole grains, fruits and vegetables, which are low in calories and high in fiber to help you feel full.

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Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is important for cardiovascular health and helps boost your metabolic rate, which tends to slow in the years leading to menopause. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise each day, such as brisk walking or cycling. Choose activities that you enjoy, and exercise with a friend to help keep you motivated. The level of intensity of your workout should leave you slightly breathless, but still able to hold a conversation with someone. Allow at least 10 minutes warm-up time prior to your workout to prevent injury.

Strength Training

Aim to achieve 15 minutes of strength training exercises two to three times each week. Boosting muscle mass will help prevent weight gain, as muscles burn more calories than fat. Strength training exercises involve use of weight machines, dumbbells and resistance bands. Swimming can also boost muscular strength because of water resistance against your body.