Gaining weight in menopause or peri-menopause? Have you noticed more belly fat or bingo wings since you hit 40? Read on for the lowdown on weight gain in menopause, and how to lose it.
"breast implants gave me cancer,"
Gaining weight in menopause
I experienced medical menopause at the age of 46, as a result of chemotherapy. My breast implants gave me cancer, and then chemo shoved me into menopause. When you have medical menopause (losing your menstrual cycle due to treatment, medication or surgery), you fast-forward all the perimenopausal symptoms and get hit with a hormone tornado:
Bingo wings (upper arm fat)
The very LAST thing you want to do is train hard at the gym and restrict your food. Instead, you want to sit on the couch in a fog and eat chocolate (or is that just me?).
If you’re in your late 30s, 40s or 50s and you’re noticing the below symptoms, this blog’s for you!
You do NOT have to resign yourself to “menopause belly”. You are not broken.
Symptoms of menopause (and peri-menopause)
Symptoms of menopause can be felt up to 10 years before you actually enter menopause. This period is called peri-menopause and common signs include:
Low mood (feeling blah)
Feeling exhausted, even after sleep
Bloating and belly pain
Increased breast size or tenderness
Change in body shape and where you store fat.
Nightmare! But it doesn’t have to be, and the physical changes are very much controllable. You do NOT have to resign yourself to “menopause belly”. You are not broken. Your hormones are NOT fighting you. Your body is doing exactly what it’s meant to do, it’s just different to your 20s and 30s.
So our action plan to fight back has to be different. ‘Eat less and train more’ won’t cut it. Hours of cardio won’t work. Fasting will mess up your appetite and metabolism even more.
"alcohol is often your greatest obstacle between the body you have and the body you want "
Three ways to lose menopause weight without dieting
Menopause Fat Loss Tip 1: Eat more protein
Many women don’t eat enough protein at all, and even more eat their protein at dinner and have minimal throughout the day. (If you’re a tea and toast for breakfast, salad for lunch, chicken and veg for dinner kind of chick, this is you.)
We need regular protein intake spread across your day to preserve muscle, build muscle and prevent cravings. This means a high protein breakfast, protein-rich lunch and dinner and even some protein based snacks such as yoghurt or meatballs or protein shake to keep your reserves high.
Menopause Fat Loss Tip 2: Lift heavy weights
To transform your body and get jaw-dropping results, we need to lift weights. Not the pink Barbie dumbbells. We need to lift challenging weight to create muscular adaptations. This builds gorgeous lean muscle, shapes your butt, tightens your legs, cinches your tummy and sculpts your arms.
Who doesn’t want that?
Menopause Fat Loss Tip 3: Ditch alcohol
Stay with me here - alcohol is often your greatest obstacle between the body you have and the body you want because it:
Contains calories but no nutrition (alcohol has 7 calories per gram, compared to carbs and protein which both have 4 calories per gram)
Impedes fat metabolism
Makes you bloated and puffy
Interrupts your sleep, so you’re tired, hungry and more likely to reach for junk food
Makes you feel rubbish the next day so you don’t feel like training or eating well
There will always be more alcohol in the world. You can get a drink whenever you want it. But while you’re in a fat loss phase, removing alcohol is one of the best decisions you can make.
Best Exercises for Menopause
When I hit menopause, I researched the very best exercises for fat loss. I could no longer slog out a hard training run or HIIT workout on the assault bike and battle ropes. I was exhausted! I needed the minimum possible effort, the greatest recovery time and the greatest results - fast!
The solution? Weight training.
Slower, controlled, deep breathing, mind-muscle connection, body sculpting exercises that calmed my brain, focused my efforts and delivered epic results.
We’re talking barbells and dumbbells, building strength week after week:
Plus a million variations to keep my progress humming and my body healthy
The truth is, there is no one ‘best exercise’ for hormonal weight loss. But weight training as a protocol is my personal best recommendation. Anyone can do it. Any level of fitness, ability, mobility, injured or not. There are ZERO barriers to entry. You can do this. Promise.