One of the most common symptoms women experience once they reach their 40s? The dreaded perimenopausal weight gain – where the scale keeps shifting up even when you’re eating the same amount as your 30s!
But although countless women see their weight go up no matter what they do, this isn’t inevitable. If you want to halt perimenopausal weight gain in its tracks and maintain a healthy body composition, I’m here to show you how.
What causes perimenopausal weight gain?
Perimenopause is a complex transition period, with a lot of changes occurring. Unfortunately, there are several that can feed into weight gain.
This is one of the major causes of weight issues in women, no matter what their age! But those in perimenopause are particularly vulnerable to the effects, as stress tolerance is lower during this stage. When you’re constantly stressed, your body protects you by:
- Making it harder to lose weight
- Storing more energy as body fat
- Increasing appetite (and craving for sweet, energy-dense foods!)
Stress also puts additional pressure on other systems involved in weight maintenance & metabolism.
Another big issue during perimenopause is the risk of developing insulin resistance (IR). Insulin is the major fat storage hormone of the body. So once your body’s cells have taken the energy they need from the bloodstream, your insulin will direct the remaining energy to store as fat.
But what if your cells are resistant to insulin’s messages? The majority of that glucose gets sent to be stored as body fat instead. So if you seem to put on weight no matter how many calories you’re eating, IR may be to blame. Your body is not utilising the calories and is putting them away for later instead.
You likely know that the thyroid is your metabolism management gland. So when it’s happy and happy, your body will use a good amount of energy to keep all systems running smoothly.
But during perimenopause, the thyroid is more vulnerable. In fact, autoimmune thyroid disease is more commonly diagnosed between 30-50 than any other life stage.
There are a lot of reasons why, but a common factor in an underactive thyroid? Stress! Stress can reduce your conversion of T4 (inactive hormone) to T3 (active hormone). And as a result, your metabolism drops, and you have to eat fewer calories to maintain the same body weight.
Eating too little
Believe it or not, many clients I work with are undereating to begin with! Calorie restriction, insufficient protein, empty calories and nutrient deficiencies all add up to weight gain over time.
Of course, diet culture tries to tell us that we need to keep restricting to lose weight. But your body wants to protect you – and if it thinks there isn’t enough food, it will hold onto what it has.
If you’re not getting the nutrients needed to fuel your thyroid, to keep your blood glucose levels steady, to tackle inflammation and support your nervous system, guess what? Your metabolism will fight back. The body will keep sending you signals to eat more – think cravings and increased appetite.
And if you continue to restrict, your thyroid function will drop and your stress hormones will ensure you store everything you eat.
The good news?
These factors might all be working against you right now – but they’re not out of your control. There are steps we can take to alleviate stress, support the thyroid, optimise your nutrition and balance your insulin.
So how can I maintain my weight (or even lose a few kilos)?
I’m glad you asked. It’s time to look towards a personalised approach to your health. This allows you to not only release any extra weight, but also feel energised and amazing in the process!
When I help clients with this, we take a look at:
Their nutrition and how their body processes different foods
If there are any nutrient deficiencies contributing to their symptoms
How they move, sleep and manage their stress
The state of their gut health
Any underlying conditions that might need addressing
So the weight loss almost becomes a secondary benefit because we’re optimising everything that feeds into weight gain (along with all of your other symptoms!)
Ready to release that pesky perimenopausal weight gain?
Let’s jump on a FREE Pre-Screening Call to talk about how we can get you looking and feeling amazing now and for decades to come!
Susie Garden | Clinical Nutritionist & Naturopath
Are you a woman feeling stressed, flat and experiencing the challenges of peri/menopause?
It’s time to reclaim your youthful energy, radiance and self-assurance (and your ideal weight).
I’m here to help with my proven method.
Book your complimentary Pre-Screening Call here, and let’s see how I might help you.