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The Vegan Menopause Podcast -- Ep. 6 -- Waistline Wisdom

Updated: May 4

In this episode, we explore why weight gain around the midsection is so common during menopause and some tips on what to do about it.

First of all, I want to say that this is not about body shaming, and I encourage you to have a healthy body image and to love your body regardless of perceived imperfections. However, weight gain, particularly around the belly, is a very common struggle during perimenopause and something I get asked about a lot, so I wanted to share some information.

Abdominal fat can also mean that fat is stored around your organs which can have health consequences such as cardiovascular disease.

So my hope for you is both that you are happy and comfortable in your body and also that you are at a healthy weight without health risks.

Menopause doesn’t necessarily cause weight gain. However, it can bring about a transition towards storing more fat around the midsection.

Our hormones regulate how the body uses energy and nutrients. This includes how fat is used for energy and where in the body the fat is distributed, such as the torso versus the lower body. Menopause may be the first time when you start seeing excess weight around your belly whereas it might have always gone to your legs before. This may be associated with the decrease in estrogen.

Hormones and genetics affect where we store the weight, but the weight gain itself is most likely due to getting less movement as we get older. It could have been creeping up gradually over the years.

Perimenopause increases inflammation and the feeling of pain in the muscles, as well as stiffer joints, and we may also be dealing with a lot of fatigue so it might feel a lot more difficult to exercise and harder to get motivated now.

If our eating habits stay the same (and hunger can certainly remain the same), the decrease in movement can lead to a change in body composition – more fat and less muscle.

High estrogen tends to lower the appetite and burn more calories through its actions in the nervous system. So when estrogen drops, the appetite can increase.

Also, we lose muscle and strength as we age. Because muscle utilizes a lot of energy, as we lose muscle, our metabolism slows.

Estrogen, not only testosterone, supports muscle mass. So when we lose estrogen during and after menopause we experience a loss of muscle mass - one study found that we can lose up to 1.5% during menopause. And the muscles don’t respond as well to taking up protein.

However, if you are physically active, you can certainly have more muscle mass than if you were sedentary. You can always keep improving and working on your muscle mass, as well as your bone health and cardiovascular fitness.

Another factor that can contribute to more fat around the middle is loss of height. Intervertebral discs, the discs between the bones of your spine, shrink and compress as we get older. Changes to posture can result in the appearance of a thicker midsection -- so one thing you could do is to work on your posture and standing up taller.

Listen to the episode below for eight more strategies to help.

In my free guide, Five Action Steps to Elevate Your Vegan Menopause Experience, I share five simple steps you can implement immediately, to feel more calm, more positive, and less affected by menopausal symptoms.

If you're struggling with menopause symptoms, a Menopause Wellness Check will help! You will get a custom video with feedback and tips based on the information you provide.

DISCLAIMER: This information on this website is general in nature and for informational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.


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