This Morning: Early menopause sufferer explains symptoms
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One of the symptoms of perimenopause is weight gain, particularly around the tummy area. Express.co.uk spoke exclusively to Dean Zweck, Product Development Manager at Total Fitness, about how women can lose fat for good at this time of their lives.
Dean explained why perimenopause – when you start to experience symptoms before your period stops completely – can bring about excessive weight gain.
He told Express.co.uk: “As our natural levels of oestrogen drop, the body will adapt to increase fat stores. Fat produces a form of oestrogen called estrone, which combats the natural decline in oestrogen.
“To help achieve this, our metabolic rate drops during menopause meaning we burn less calories during the day.
“This is coupled with an increase in hunger. We are primed to move less and eat more – the perfect recipe to gain weight.
“With the drop in oestrogen and progesterone comes an increase in cortisol. Rising cortisol levels are associated with an increase in fat storage around the middle.
“This explains why we start to see a change in our body shape and increase in weight.”
The expert told Express.co.uk his top five tips for effective weight loss during perimenopause.
He encouraged women to get their strength up, telling them to start “lifting weights”.
Dean explained: “Lifting weights builds muscle, muscle increases your metabolic rate, and a faster metabolism burns more fat.
“As we age, we naturally lose muscle which further affects your appearance.
“If you aren’t doing so already, start now. Exercises that target many muscles at once such as squats, lunges and deadlifts may give you the most bang for your buck.”
But not all exercise has to be rigorous in order to be effective: “A large proportion of the calories you burn over the whole day is from activities like walking, not through exercise.
“Try to be as active as possible, by using stairs rather than lifts, having walk and talk meetings at work rather than sat down, parking slightly further away from the shops – all will contribute to the calorie burn needed to lose weight.”
Moving onto food, the expert stressed the importance of a hearty, balanced diet “based around quality protein sources, fruit, vegetables and healthy fats like nuts, seeds and avocados”.
“Food that is minimally processed tends to be more satiating, meaning you feel less hungry after the meal, and you’ll be less tempted to snack.”
However, this doesn’t mean you have to shun processed foods entirely. They are okay as the occasional treat if you make sure to follow an “80/20 split to start and then adjust accordingly”.
When it comes to diet, Dean emphasised the importance of one food group in particular – protein.
He said: “Protein is the building block for muscles, so increasing the amount of protein you eat will support your weight training.
“Protein also helps in controlling hunger. Great sources of protein are lean meats like chicken, fish, eggs, pulses and soy.”
Finally, Dean advised perimenopausal women to find time to relax, as cortisol (the stress hormone) can lead to an increase in fat storage around the belly.
Pick a stress-relieving hobby such as meditation, yoga or mindfulness and dedicate time to it.
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