Our bodies are constantly changing, your metabolism now isn’t what it was 10yrs ago, and neither is your body chemistry. As we age things change, and often the biggest change occurs around middle age, for women that change is menopause.
Menopause is the process where women leave child-bearing age. When this happens, the body chemistry is moving from child-bearing requirements to health maintenance, becoming more sensitive to hormonal changes. The body begins to store fat at a higher rate as a part of that maintenance.
What happens in the endocrine systems during menopause is not as simple as a change in the level of estrogen. The body is one unit, it works together and a shift in the balance of one hormone will likely affect the rest. Both external and internal influences affect hormones. Most affected by a decrease in estrogen are cortisiol, insulin, leptin and thyroid hormones.
What causes weight gain during menopause?
A stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Cortisol levels in women increase as we age and estrogen and testosterone levels decline. Once of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue is weight gain. Emotional stressors add pressures to stimulated adrenals and keep cortisiol levels higher. If not addressed adrenal fatigue can lead to your body burning out and struggling to maintain hormone balance.
Produced by the pancreas to regulate blood sugar. Menopause can make the body’s cells less sensitive to insulin, meaning there is excess sugar in the body which is often stored as fat. Insulin resistance contributes to the hot flashes in post-menopausal women.
Produced by fat cells, increasing energy consumption and acting as neurotransmitters to the hypothalamus to signal feelings of fullness.
The higher the blood sugar level, the more leptin is secreted. As cells become resistant to insulin, they can also become resistant to leptin, causing you to overeat. The more weight you gain, the less sensitive to leptin you become, one compounds the other.
4. Thyroid hormones
Regulate metabolic processes throughout the body. They control bone metabolism and weight control. If inadequate hormones are produced, bones can weaken, metabolism slows and you gain weight.
Several hormones are produced by the thyroid gland. Some increase with age while other decrease. Menopause doesn’t affect thyroid function, just the levels of hormones secreted.
As the thyroid is ties to the reproductive system, the decrease in estrogen during and post menopause therefore also affects the thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones determine how cells burn fuel (carbs and fats). Changes that occur during menopause tell the body to slow and store more fat. Cholesterol can rise after menopause as the fats are consumed for energy as efficiently as before menopause.
How to maintain balance?
Being educated and understanding what is going on with your body is the best place to start. Work with your body, not against it to adjust to the changes of menopause.
1. Stay active
Regular exercise, especially weight bearing exercise helps boost metabolism, keep weight off and protect against osteoporosis. Join one of our strength classes today!
2. Eat green
Now you know a reduction in estrogen affects blood sugar, its important not to overload your new tolerance level. Sugar that isn’t used is now stored as fat, so be mindful of processed foods and simple carbohydrate intake.
Eating lean means, fish, nuts, seeds, coconut and olive oils and avocado will provide energy, fuel the brain and reduce inflammation in the body.
Avoiding chemicals, eating non-GM , additive and preservative free foods will nourish your body and avoid taking it with added toxins.
Load up on vegetables, especially the dark leafy kind. Make sure you get enough folic acid, calcium, vitamin B12 and D, magnesium and iron.
3. Get your hormone levels tested!
This will provide a baseline indicator for adjustment you have to make. Register here for our mobile DEXA scanning lab https://www.bookitlive.net/privatebooking/measureup-ml/R26ce658fb0.
Better yet, why not take control of your health and kick-start with our 8 week challenge. Kicks off September 30th! Visit kmjgroupfitness.com to register today.