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It's Not Impossible to Lose Weight Safely After Menopause

by Stella Robinson

While many women find it hard to lose weight and keep it off following menopause, weight gain doesn't have to be a fact of life after age 50. Menopause isn't directly to blame since lifestyle habits often play a significant role.

Exercise and eating a healthy diet help prevent weight gain around the waist—a factor that increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. But if you feel you can't do it alone, a physician weight loss center can help you achieve your goals by developing a program that likely will include the following three components.

Adding more physical activity to your daily routine. Becoming less active after age 50 just doesn't cut it if you want to maintain a healthy weight. Because part of a healthy weight loss program is burning more calories than you consume, exercise and diet go hand in hand. Usually, one won't work without the other.

While aerobic activity such as walking, running, biking, swimming, and playing tennis burns calories, strength training increases muscle mass, which decreases as you get older. As a result, weight gain can occur as you get closer to the age of menopause and your metabolism slows. But strength training helps your body burn more calories at rest. That's because you lose fat and build more lean muscle.

Limiting added sugars in your diet. Although sugar itself doesn't cause weight gain, over-consumption of foods with high-sugar content can add on extra pounds. Therefore, along with exercising to burn more calories, you need to eat less.

Another thing to consider is how well your body metabolizes the calories you take in, which depends on the type of calories you consume. For instance, fat has more calories per gram and foods that are high in refined sugars contain more nutrient-empty calories. Sugar in your diet also comes from carbohydrates such as potatoes, rice, and pastas and breads made from refined white flour.

Consuming too much sugar can cause changes in your blood sugar levels that may make you crave even more carbohydrates. And all those added calories get stored in your body as fat. If you have diabetes, fluctuations in blood sugar levels that can occur with menopause make it especially important to consume less sugar in your diet.

Including more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish in your diet. Fruits contain sugar naturally. It's not added; therefore, it's not as bad for you. Like fruits, vegetables provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that your body needs to stay healthy. Because of their fiber and water content, fruits and vegetables contain fewer calories, yet they fill you up.

Fish and lean meats provide the protein you need, but with less fat, especially saturated fats. Fish also provides omega-3 fatty acids that are healthy for your heart–a factor to consider since the risk of cardiovascular disease increases after a woman goes through menopause.

An increase in belly fat, which may be due to decreased estrogen levels, is common in post-menopausal women. But studies show that including whole-grain foods in your weight loss program can help you lose more body fat, particularly around the belly area.

Do you have more questions? Visit a physician weight loss center to learn more about maintaining a healthy weight after menopause.