The Menopausal Middle
You’ve started gaining weight in places you never did. You are eating the same type of diet you always have, exercised in the usual way and yet your waistline is exponentially expounding. Is your body deceiving you? Why is this happening?
Menopause is a time of many changes and shifts in the body and one of the main ones is a large propensity towards belly or visceral fat.
With estrogen on the decline the body tries to compensate and help you out. Since estrogen is stored in belly fat the body wants to store more fat in hopes of normalizing your estrogen levels to improve your energy, and keep its store of this important hormone as normalized as it can.
Unfortunately, this shift can lead to a rapid rate of weight gain with a feeling of total loss of control in weight management.
Fortunately, there is a solution and it involves changing the balance of your diet to accommodate the hormone shifts.
How do you combat the menopausal middle?
Shift your macronutrients. The three macronutrients in the diet are carbohydrate, protein and fat. Even if your body did well all these years with a certain balance, that is likely to change due to hormone changes in peri-menopause and menopause.
Start with slowly increasing the balance of your diet towards more protein and less carbohydrate. This balance may need to be meticulously massaged to create a plan that works for your particular body, and is highly individual.
Since you are the most insulin resistant in the morning, having a high carbohydrate breakfast is likely to set the tone for a day filled with fluctuating blood sugars, cravings, hunger and fatigue.
Having a high protein breakfast with a small amount of carbohydrate and some healthy source of fat can lower the level of insulin resistance, leading to less cravings, increased energy and less propensity towards fat storage.
Even consuming healthy sources of carbohydrate can be more than your body can handle due to insulin resistance, causing your pancreas to increase the release of insulin, making your body have a propensity towards fat storage.
Is this fair? Absolutely not, but it is an unfortunate reality of menopause and therefore if one wants to control the symptoms including weight, risk of cardiovascular disease and avoiding diabetes this is what is necessary.
Calming down insulin levels can take a few days to a few weeks. Your body has been running on higher insulin and glucose levels than is needed, which means you cannot burn and utilize your fat stores.
When insulin resistance is calmed down, it means your body can now metabolize your fat stores which starts to reverse the menopausal middle. Lifestyle management of understanding the metabolic process in your body is essential and having a professional who understands the physiology of it and how to help may be needed so that the menopausal middle does not have to be a permanent part of your future.