I see SO many women struggling with this problem, I thought I’d address it. We all know proper nutrition and lifestyle is key, but there are certain hormones that diminish in menopause, and others that kind of get out of control. These are the ones you need to address – and if you get it right, you will avoid the spare tyre that will build around your waist at this time of life. It’s all about controlling the hormones which control you.
One of the main hormones you want to keep well under control is INSULIN. It is a fat-building, inflammatory hormone – we need a little, but not too much. Insulin maintains healthy blood sugar levels, however when too many carbs are eaten, the pancreas cannot keep up with the demand for more and more insulin to deal with the excess glucose so it gets ‘tired’ and the insulin is no longer effective. When less glucose is able to enter the cells as a result, it leads to strong carbohydrate cravings, a ravenous appetite and greater potential for fat storage due to the high level of circulating blood sugar. In short, you put on abdominal weight.
Another very important hormone responsible for mayhem at this time of life is CORTISOL. There is a significant shift in hormones at this time of life, and with the stresses that typically happen at this time, our main stress hormone, cortisol, can get out of balance. An important function of cortisol is to increase blood sugar levels in order that we have enough energy to carry out physical tasks in a fight-or-flight situation. It can make you feel bulletproof with the sudden rush it provides, but repeated elevation of this hormone leads to weight gain and many other symptoms, including adrenal fatigue. Like the pancreas, the adrenals get tired eventually too.
Your THYROID hormones control your energy levels and your metabolic rate, so they are pivotal to a healthy menopause. When these hormones are out of kilter, you find there is a decreased ability to use stored fat for energy, and weight gain is the result.
LEPTIN is a hormone too, which tells you that you’ve had enough to eat. Your fat cells produce this hormone and tells the brain you are full. Just as you get insulin resistance (when insulin stops working) so you can also get leptin resistance. This causes hunger making you eat more as you don’t know when you’ve had enough. Fructose and fizzy drinks are big players in both leptin and insulin resistance, and one leads to the other.
Following a low-carb diet is literally the only way to conquer menopausal weight gain, as insulin is driven by carbs, which include sugar (every kind – sugar is sugar), carbohydrates like grains and high-starch vegetables and seed oils (vegetable oils). These spell disaster if you are wanting to either lose weight or avoid it in menopause. They ALL interfere adversely with the above hormones and have quite a devastating effect. An effective and focused programmed is found in The Low-Carb Creed in my online store under BOOKS.
There are some great supplements you can use to avoid weight gain – when taken in conjunction with a low-carb diet, to keep your sugar under control. They include:
MAGNESIUM CITRATE – reduces abdomen size
- helps balance blood sugar
- magnesium reduces abdominal fat
- important energy nutrient
- activates enzymes involved in digestion & use of protein, fat and carbs
- helps insulin guide glucose into the cells for energy (without which glucose and insulin levels rise and glucose is stored as fat)
- off-sets stress and controls cortisol levels – it’s a great antidote avoid the weight gain from cortisol
FISH OIL – increases lean muscle and burns fat
- improves body composition
- enhances insulin sensitivity
- suppresses lipogenic genes responsible for fat gain
- more body fat is burned by taking fish oil regularly (not flax oil)
- increases lean muscle and burns body fat
- reduces body fat stores
- decreases cortisol
- effective dose: 4g-6g/day in divided doses (must be a pure brand)
- balances blood sugar
- reduces cravings for sugar, carbs, alcohol
- improves insulin sensitivity
- helps increase lean muscle mass
- has a ‘body-sculpting’ effect
- naturally triggers growth hormone for weight loss and anti-ageing
- helps liver detoxification which further aids weight loss
FIBRE – Psyllium Husks goes a long way to helping with bloating, constipation and other problems, plus it encourages healthy flora
PROBIOTICS – use a good probiotic to maintain healthy gut ecology
All the above are available from my online store at sallyanncreed.co.za/shop.