Weight gain during the menopause transition is a common occurrence that typically begins around the age of 40, although it can happen earlier or later for some women.

On average, women gain approximately 1.5 pounds per year during this time, regardless of their original body size or ethnicity.

It can sometimes feel that we've gained weight overnight, and many women report that they haven't changed their exercise or eating habits, yet the pounds keep piling on.

It's a confusing situation that can leave you feeling helpless and defeated.

Many women decide to follow a restrictive diet in order to lose weight. However, even if they do manage to lose weight, they often regain some of it back within 12 months.

And within a 2-3 year period, they find themselves back at their original weight or even heavier, with less muscle.

But why does this happen? Is it aging? Is it hormone related or lifestyle?

It is actually all 3.

Let's take a brief look at why weight change becomes more difficult after the age of 40.

As we age, our body undergoes changes that affect our metabolism and muscle mass.

Unfortunately, involuntary loss of muscle mass is strongly related to age, resulting in a decrease in resting metabolic rate.

This means that our body doesn't require as much energy to maintain itself at rest.

In fact, muscle mass can decline by 3-8% per decade from the age of 30, unless we take proactive steps to prevent this loss.

The rate of muscle loss accelerates even further after the age of 50.

In addition, as women go through menopause, their bodies undergo significant changes. Unfortunately, these changes often lead to an increase in fat mass and a decline in lean mass, with fat storage shifting towards the belly area.

This results in an increased risk of inflammation, insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

On average, women can expect to gain around 12 pounds during the 10-year period of perimenopause to post-menopause, with some women experiencing these changes as early as 35 years old.

Second, our bodies also tend to start increasing fat storage, and so it's important to understand the different types of fat storage so we can take steps to manage it. 

Subcutaneous fat, also known as SAT FAT, is the fat we can see under our skin and often occurs as a result of aging and lifestyle factors.

On the other hand, visceral fat, or VAT FAT, is deep around our organs and mainly stored in the abdominal region.

This type of fat storage increases as SAT fat increases and is driven by the hormone shift in menopause.

Estrogen plays a role in regulating adiposity and can drive VAT fat storage during this time. However, too much VAT fat can increase our risk of inflammation and chronic diseases, so it's crucial that we take steps to manage our fat storage and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Third, as we age, our lifestyle factors can contribute to weight gain.

We tend to become more sedentary and engage in fewer physical activities, especially after 40.

Our busy careers and the stress of managing relationships with adult children and aging parents can also take a toll on our health. It's important to prioritize self-care and find ways to incorporate movement into our daily routines.

Remember, taking care of yourself is not selfish, it's necessary for a healthy and fulfilling life.

So now let's look at weight regain after a diet.

After experiencing weight gain which can be uncomfortable, you decide to go on a diet. You manage to stick to the diet and lose weight.

Unfortunately, losing weight through a restrictive diet can lead to the loss of muscle mass.

And when you finish the diet and start eating normally again, your body becomes more efficient at storing fat and increasing energy intake.

This happens because your body wants to avoid the stress of another diet and has learned to store more energy in case you restrict again.

That's why you need an after-diet plan to maintain your weight loss and keep your body healthy.

It's important to focus on building muscle through strength training and eating a balanced diet that includes protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates.

This will help keep your metabolism high and prevent your body from storing excess fat.

Remember, it's not just about losing weight, it's about creating a sustainable and healthy lifestyle that you can maintain for the long term.

Losing weight is just the beginning of the journey. The real challenge is maintaining that weight loss.

It's important to slowly add calories back into your diet until you reach the maintenance level for your new body weight.

And this is where having a dietitian who specializes in reverse dieting can be a game-changer.

They can guide you through the process of adding in calories in a healthy and sustainable way.

Don't underestimate the power of investing in your health and well-being. With the right support, you can achieve your goals and live your best life.

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About Rhoda ...

Rhoda is an award-winning dietitian, mature age model, and CEO of Sayvana Women.  

She is the creator of the Elegant Eating Solution, an affordable program that helps women avoid weight regain and feel great about themselves, without restrictive eating.

Elegant Eating is based on the science of protein leverage and follows the unique R.E.M.A.P approach to successful aging.

Learn More About Elegant Eating and How to Get Started

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