Yes, it is true. It is harder to maintain and lose weight during and after menopause. The reasons are complex and include aging, reductions in muscle mass, and hormonal changes. The good news is that strategies for fighting your widening mid-section are relatively simple.
Here are the top five tips I offer my patients to reverse weight gain and build a stronger, healthy body.
- Eat three meals a day. No snacks.
An old nutrition professor told me something that I remember every day. Eat something within 3 hours of waking to get your metabolism going; AND avoid eating 3 hours before going to bed. With that schedule in mind, plan three meals (NO SNACKS) and stick to them. Eat each meal intentionally on a plate at a table. Avoid screens and enjoy the food.
- Eat protein at each meal.
Each meal should include a lean protein plus vegetables and/or fruit. Don’t rely on animal protein. Add low-fat dairy (if tolerated), whole grains, or beans and legumes. Having vegetables and a serving of whole grains will offer adequate protein at one of your meals.
- Avoid alcohol.
This can be a tough one for some and no biggie for others. If you are someone who enjoys a beer or a glass of wine, there is room for it in a weight loss plan, however, it will slow your progress. When you drink any type of alcohol, your body shifts gears to metabolize it first. As a result, your body does not burn off the food you ingested or any excess fat as effectively until the alcohol is gone. It is advisable to avoid alcohol while trying to lose weight or minimize intake to no more than 4 drinks a week (not on consecutive days).
- Measure your portions (at least for a while).
Most of us eat more calories than we think. Just check the nutrition label on prepared food next time you’re in the grocery store. I find that portioning and measuring food for a few days helps you get a sense of how much you are really eating. Making an effort to avoid snacks is also helpful as you are reevaluating your intake. Remember, a handful of almonds or mindlessly munching while preparing dinner can really add up.
- Move more ALL DAY.
Increase your activity by getting up and moving around all day. This does not mean going to the gym or out for a run. Rather, increasing your movement throughout the day will increase your daily energy expenditure and burn more calories. Walk around your house, park at the far end of the parking lot, take the stairs, get up from your desk every 20 minutes and walk around, clean your house, walk your dog…this all adds up and makes a big difference over the long-term.
Karen Kruza, MPH, RDN, LDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in nutrition-related GI disorders, weight management, and family nutrition. For more information, visit Kruza Nutrition.