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Get Ahead of Menopausal Weight Gain with These 8 Essential Strategies

I talked last week about leptin and ghrelin, two pesky hormones that play a leading role in how hungry you feel, how well you burn calories, and, ultimately, how you manage your weight during this transformative time.


Let's discuss some of the steps that we an take to support ourselves.



woman standing on scales

Leptin and Ghrelin: A Recap

 

Leptin, the "satiety hormone," is produced by your fat cells. It tells the brain you're full, helping to regulate your energy balance and keep weight gain in check.

 

The catch during menopause is that your body might start ignoring leptin's signals, a phenomenon known as leptin resistance.


Certain foods, such as processed foods and saturated fats, are known to reduce how the brain can take on board the leptin messages.

 

It's a vicious cycle.


Eat more, gain body fat.

More body fat means more leptin in cells.

Too much fat means that proper leptin signalling is disrupted.

The brain thinks you're starving, making you want to eat more.

You get fatter. And hungrier.

You eat more.

Gain more fat.

And so on.

 



Ghrelin, on the flip side, is the "hunger hormone'; this tells your brain when it's time to eat.


During menopause, fluctuating oestrogen levels can send ghrelin levels on a rollercoaster ride, often leading to increased hunger and a stronger appetite. Combine this with a leptin resistance party, and you've got a full hunger hormone rave.

 

How to Balance These Hormones

 

Addressing this isn't drastically different from standard weight loss advice.


  1. Eat Protein-Rich Foods:

 

Foods high in protein help regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity, which may improve leptin sensitivity over time. Protein-rich foods also increase the feeling of satiety and reduce hunger.

 

This must happen at every meal, and if you snack, here too.

 

Starting your day with a protein-packed breakfast is really important. Think eggs, Greek yogurt, or a smoothie with plant-based protein powder.

 

2. High-Fibre Foods Are Your Friends:

 Foods high in fibre, such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains, can increase satiety and help manage weight.


They can also help reduce inflammation and improve gut health, both of which are important for gut sensitivity.

 

Fibre-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts.

 

 3. Limit Processed Foods

 

Processed foods can contribute to inflammation and insulin resistance, which seriously need to be contained if you want to lose weight.

 

This means steering clear of white flour and refined carbs like cakes and other bought bakery items, sugary foods and drinks, alcohol, processed meat, and even to a lesser extent red meats.

 

All processed foods can alter the bacteria that live in our gut. That alteration can interact with our immune system and trigger it in a way that leads to chronic inflammation.

 

4. Increase Omega-3 Rich Foods

 

Omega 3 fatty acids, found primarily in fatty fish, walnuts, flax, and chia seeds, offer numerous benefits. While they are not a magic solution on their own, they support a comprehensive weight loss plan.

 

  • They help increase feelings of fullness and satiety.

  • They possess anti-inflammatory properties.

 

 

5 . Prioritise Sleep:

 

Sleep, obesity, and diabetes are all linked.

 

Lack of sleep can increase ghrelin, and decrease leptin, leading to increased hunger and appetite.

 

Add to this the fact that sleep disruption can also disrupt blood sugar balance.

 

If you struggle with your sleep, it will make losing or controlling your weight so much more challenging.

 

Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. Easier said than done, especially with a busy schedule, but trust me, your hormones (and sanity) will thank you.


6. Manage Stress:

 

Stress can wreak havoc on leptin and ghrelin levels.

 

Chronic stress leads to overeating, poor food choices, increased alcohol consumption, and impaired sleep.

 

 

·      (A) When not stressed, ghrelin stimulates appetite, and leptin inhibits appetite by acting on the brain (hypothalamus). 

·      (B) Chronic stress, leading to excess cortisol, can stimulate ghrelin, enhancing appetite and eating. 

· Chronic excess cortisol can also reduce the sensitivity of the hypothalamus to leptin, again enhancing appetite and eating.

Images are adapted from Servier Medical Art, which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported 

 

Our stress response is dictated by many factors, such as age and sex, alongside what has happened in our lives beforehand.

 

How to relieve stress without overeating?

 

There is no magic solution; we all must find what works for us. Sadly, you are unlikely to completely eliminate stress, so this is a learn-how-to-manage process.

 

A couple of suggestions include meditation, exercise, and social support.

 

7. Regular Exercise:

 

Regular physical activity can improve leptin sensitivity, helping your brain recognise leptin's signals more effectively.

 

Exercise is a great way to manage stress and improve overall well-being. Find something you love- running, yoga, or dancing in the living room – as long as it gets you moving.

 

8. Don't Eat Too Late

 

Eating just before bed can throw off your body's natural rhythms, which oversee critical functions like hunger and metabolic rate.

 

Indulging in meals late in the day, particularly past 8 pm, is linked to a rise in leptin resistance. This can lead to more intense hunger pangs and potentially more weight gain. So, it's wise to give your body a break and dine earlier to stay in sync with your body's clock.

 



But this is a long-term process.


Avoiding stuff for a week or two, or even a month, will not work. There is no miracle cure. You need to have an anti-inflammatory lifestyle and diet as much as possible (no one needs to be perfect).

 

Menopause is indeed a journey, and understanding it goes beyond willpower. It's about supporting your body with thoughtful dietary and lifestyle choices, aiming for sustainable, impactful changes.

 

Perfection isn't the goal—it's about progress and finding a balance that works for you.


 

Please schedule a complimentary call with me to discuss your experiences. This conversation is an opportunity to explore your symptoms and the possible ways to manage them with absolutely no obligation. Remember, understanding and then addressing your symptoms is vital to finding relief and improving your daily life.


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