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Understanding the Complexities of Hormones on Weight

Men and Women gain and lose weight in very different ways. Women often struggle to lose weight, while gaining weight quickly. This becomes even more prevalent after a certain age. While weight loss can be easier for women through their 30s, once they hit their 40s and especially when they experience menopause, weight loss can seem like an impossible task.

So why is it that weight loss is more difficult for women? Weight loss is greatly impacted by hormone levels in the body. This is why women on their periods will notice they are more hungry, retaining water, or generally feel like they’ve put on weight. When a woman goes through menopause, this greatly impacts the levels of estrogen in the body. Estrogen helps to regulate metabolism and weight gain, thus why the menopausal women may notice weight gain, even if they are eating and working out the same. This will specifically contribute to weight gain around the waist and hips.

How can we combat weight gain through menopause and other hormonal changes?

Insulin resistance is a major contributor to weight gain. Insulin levels are impacted by our diet and how we store and use blood sugar. If our diet consistently leads to high spikes in blood sugar, we will have elevated insulin levels that lead to weight gain and can lead to diabetes. This means we need to avoid overeating as well as highly processed carbohydrates and overeating sugars. This includes processed and naturally occurring sugar.

Up your protein intake

Did you know that making sure you get enough protein in your diet can help you to feel more full? Protein intake contributes to full cues in the body, so it should be eaten at every meal.

Add in more intense exercise

To combat the slowing down of your metabolism with age, it’s important to find a new way to burn calories. It’s recommended to add in more aerobic exercise like running, walking, swimming etc. You’ll also want to prioritize weight training. Building muscle increases metabolism while making sure you don’t gain weight.

Look at how you work

What is your work life like? Do you find yourself sitting at a desk all day? Even standing at your desk vs. sitting will help keep your activity levels up. Also, having some kind of desk exercise equipment can help too. There are mini bicycles for pedaling under your desk or even walking treadmills meant for under the desk. Prioritize moving as often as you can.

Schedule and plan meals

Know when you need to eat and make a point to stick to those times. Snacking is a mindless thing and it’s easy to find yourself snacking and adding on a lot of unnecessary calories to your day. Scheduling and planning out meals can ensure you make good food choices and have balanced meals, reducing the chance of rushed meals that have little nutritional benefits. It’s also important to avoid late dinners. Try to finish eating by 7pm and give yourself as much time as possible for digestion.

Prioritize sleep

We all know how important sleep is, but it is still not always the top of our to-do list. Not getting enough sleep can lead the body to going into stress mode, which can slow down metabolism, while contributing to excessive exhaustion and brain fog. Your body functions best with 7-9 hours of sleep. So work on that sleep routine.

Reduce stress

Another thing that can often sound easier said than done is reducing stress, but your stress levels play a large role in weight gain and weight loss. While experiencing high levels of stress, the body goes into fight-or-flight mode due to high levels of cortisol in the body. This leads to a metabolic slowdown, or burning less calories. Prolonged times of high stress can have long-term impacts as well. This elevated cortisol will also increase your appetite. Being in this fight-or-flight mode also leads to the body not metabolizing food for energy and even though you are eating more food, you’ll be more tired, mentally exhausted and even more subject to illness. To help combat this, incorporating yoga, stretching, and deep breathing can help lower stress levels. Any activity that helps to reduce your stress and allow you to relax is great for this.

These are just a few of the tools you can use to help with hormonal weight changes, but it's important to practice patience and remember that if you still have issues, you should consult your doctor. Hormones are tricky and there's a lot of path's to manage them.

Until next time... and remember weight control is for all!

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