As women age, hormonal changes alter the way fat is stored on our bodies. These hormonal changes can start in our thirties with few noticeable symptoms other than a greater propensity to put on weight.
In this article, you’ll learn about the defining chapters in a woman’s reproductive life and how they affect weight gain.
Women and Weight Gain Summary
- Hormonal changes that occur as a woman ages cause changes in weight distribution.
- Skipped ovulations that often occur during perimenopause can result in weight gain due to estrogen dominance.
- The decrease in estrogen associated with menopause causes a woman to gain weight around her waist.
- Eating a low-sugar, high-fiber diet that includes healthy fats can help a woman lose weight as she ages.
Women and Weight Gain: How It Changes as We Age [Video]
In this video, you’ll learn…
- The three main stages of menopause.
- How menopause affects women and their weight.
- How to achieve weight loss during menopause.
Stages of Menopause: How Hormones Change with Age
In the absence of disorders, a young woman’s monthly cycle is fairly predictable with ovulation happening midway through her cycle.
As a woman ages, she moves through stages that are marked by changes in the levels of estrogen and progesterone that are produced.
Perimenopause: Skipped Ovulation
Perimenopause can start as early as a woman’s thirties and go on for longer than a decade. This stage can be further broken down into early perimenopause and late perimenopause.
One thing that can happen in the early stage is that a woman’s body may periodically skip ovulation.
Most women are not aware that ovulation is not occurring because the signs are subtle. The missed ovulation sets up an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone.
This imbalance can be explained with just a little understanding of how these two hormones change during a woman’s monthly cycle.
If we look at the production of estrogen from the beginning to the end of a cycle, we see that it takes a fairly bumpy path of highs and lows, throughout the month, but it is always present to a fairly substantial degree.
But, when we look at progesterone, we notice that it is linked to ovulation. It is very low at the start of a cycle and then surges soon after ovulation.
If ovulation is missed, progesterone does not go as high. This results in an imbalance in which estrogen is said to be dominant, and the woman experiences what is referred to as estrogen dominance.
Estrogen Dominance, Menopause & Weight Gain
One of the symptoms of estrogen dominance is weight gain. That gain is often in the lower body around the hips and thighs.
As the woman moves into late perimenopause and closer to menopause, her cycle becomes irregular as the production of estrogen and progesterone from the ovaries drops.
This overall reduction in hormones that continues into her post-menopausal years causes fat distribution to shift from the lower body to the waist. Women at or beyond menopause often find that they put on belly fat much more easily than they did when they were younger.
Insulin’s Role in Weight Gain
There is no doubt that changes in hormonal balance that occur as we age make it easier for the body to gain weight. That doesn’t mean, however, that weight loss is impossible. In fact, the main factors associated with weight gain and loss do not change.
Regardless of our age, when we focus on eating foods that do not spike the fat-storing hormone insulin, weight loss happens.
The worst offender for spiking insulin is sugar. Because sugar is already in its most basic form, it takes very little time or effort for your body to digest and absorb it. This quick absorption causes a spike in blood glucose.
That excess glucose must be moved out of the blood, so your body pumps out insulin to achieve that result and your body stores energy, much of which ends up as fat.
First Steps toward Weight Loss
The first step to weight loss is to cut out sugar, but you can go beyond that and eat in a way that blunts blood sugar spikes.
The foods that do that are healthy fats and fiber. Those are easy components to obtain in a salad that contains fiber-rich vegetables and healthy fats like nuts and seeds.
If you would like a place to start, you can download my free 0,1,2,3 strategy that explains how to get off sugar and bring more fiber-rich foods into your diet.
About the Author
Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated in 1991 with a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Palmer College.