I am seriously in a panic state about my recent weight gain. Literally NOTHING works anymore. I eat nothing but smoothies, and salads and good quality protein, no artificial sweeteners and I exercise every day...but I’ve gained 20 lbs in the last year.
I have weight gain round my middle now, despite eating a healthy diet - no sweets, chocolate or cookies. I eat plenty of salads, fish, veg, rice and some fruit. I just can’t get rid of it.
Menopause is causing my body to hang onto every last pound of fat...for what reason I do not know. I eat right and move a lot, gardening, walking, cleaning a big house, and I just can’t lose a POUND. Beyond frustrating.
The old “calorie in, calorie out” theory does not seem to apply any more. Even with diet pills I have to just about kill myself working out daily to see any loss at all.
What these women are describing is a condition in which they have become resistant to weight loss.
Weight gain during menopause is the norm. Ninety percent of menopausal women gain some weight between the ages of 35 and 55. On average, women gain 12-15 pounds during menopause. Many women gain much more than that. Around 30 percent of women aged 50 to 59 are not just overweight, but obese.
One of the most common concerns expressed by menopausal women is how easy it is to gain weight and how hard it is to lose weight - also known as weight loss resistance.
What is weight loss resistance?
A woman is weight loss resistant when despite her best efforts she cannot lose weight. Best efforts include
- following a recommended healthy diet for weight loss
- daily exercise
No diet and no amount of exercise, even working out at the gym, brings about a loss of weight.
Weight loss resistance occurs when a woman has imbalances in one or more systems of her body. Until imbalances are addressed, no amount of working out at the gym will fix it.
Systemic imbalances that contribute to weight loss resistance
There are six systemic imbalances that contribute to weight loss resistance in women
- Imbalance in the reproductive system
- Imbalance in the digestive system
- Imbalance in the metabolic system
- Imbalance in the adrenal system
- Imbalance in the nervous system
- Imbalance in the immune system
Reproductive system imbalance and weight loss
During menopause your ovaries produce less estrogen and progesterone than prior to the onset of perimenopause. Not only do their levels change, but the ratios between them changes. Your ovaries produce more estrogen relative to progesterone - Estrogen becomes dominant. Estrogen dominance causes your body to store more fat than prior to perimenopause. It also makes it more difficult to burn fat when exercising
Your hormones are chemical messengers that control all the systems of your body. As your body functions as a holistic system, changes in one part of your body affects other parts of your body. Changes in the level of one hormone (estrogen) affects the levels of all of the hormones in your body.
Digestive system imbalance and weight loss
The hormone that regulates your digestive system is insulin. Insulin breaks down the food that you eat and converts it into energy. It delivers the energy to the cells of your body and stores some of it as fat, as a future energy source.
Estrogen dominance disturbs the production of insulin by your body. Your body produces more insulin during menopause than prior to it. As a result, your body stores more fat and makes the burning of fat during exercise more difficult.
Metabolic imbalance and weight loss
Your metabolism is regulated by the thyroid hormone. Estrogen dominance disturbs the production of thyroid by your body. The most common result is that your body produces insufficient thyroid, a condition known as hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism causes your metabolism to slow down. A slow metabolism = weight gain and difficulty losing weight.
Hypothyroidism is a predominant condition during menopause, affecting 26% of menopausal women.
Adrenal imbalance and weight loss
Your adrenal glands produce cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. When you encounter stress, your adrenal glands increase the production of cortisol to help you deal with the threat.
As menopause symptoms increase the levels of mental, emotional and physical stress that you experience, the level of cortisol in your body is higher during menopause than prior to the onset of menopause symptoms. If you experience moderate to severe menopause symptoms, the level of cortisol in your body may be chronically high.
Too much cortisol results in fat being stored around your waist.
Nervous system imbalance and weight loss
Estrogen dominance causes a change in your brain chemistry during menopause. It not only affects all of your hormones, it also affects the chemicals in your brain called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that transmit thought from one cell to the next, allowing your brain cells to “talk to each other”. They control all of your mental and emotional responses.
Disturbed levels of neurotransmitters cause you to experience negative emotions that are associated with food cravings and bad eating habits. They also bring about emotions (depressed states) that are not conducive to doing exercise.
Immune system imbalance and weight loss
Many studies have examined the effect that falling estrogen levels has on the immune system during menopause. The findings of these studies are conclusive. Falling estrogen levels weakens the immune system during menopause.
Inflammation is an immune system process by which your body’s white blood cells protect you from infection with foreign organisms, such as bacteria and viruses. It’s an essential, sometimes life-saving function of your immune system. But over-activation of this healing response leads to chronic inflammation. Imbalance in the digestive system and the metabolic system are major causes of chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation therefore is a significant source of weight loss resistance.
Weight loss resistance may be caused by a combination of any of the above 6 systemic imbalances, but one of them usually becomes prominent.
This post is reproduced with the permission of Menopause Matters.
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