by Kejal Sheth
Has your weight-loss progress decreased or stalled completely since you entered menopause? Do not get discouraged, we’ve all been there. It’s quite normal for weight loss to slow down or even stall.
What is ‘Weight-loss Plateau’?
After a few months into your new diet or exercise regime, the weight you saw slipping off week after week suddenly comes to a halt. The scale has stopped budging for no reason you can think of even though you are still eating carefully and exercising regularly.
What causes weight-loss plateau?
During the initial weeks of weight-loss, your body gets energy by releasing stored glycogen, a type of carbohydrate found in the muscles and liver. Glycogen is made partly of water, so when it is burned for energy, water is released which causes weight loss.
You lose some muscle along with fat as you lose weight. Muscle is what helps keep your metabolism up. So your metabolism declines as you lose weight, causing you to burn fewer calories. Your slower metabolism slows down your weight loss. You reach a plateau when the calories you burn equal the calories you consume.
Menopause & Weight-loss Plateau
Menopause causes a weight loss barrier for most women due to loss of muscle mass, insulin resistance, and high/low levels of estrogen that lead to fat storage. Menopause causes a decline in the levels all sex hormones including testosterone, the “male” sex hormone which encourages muscle mass production. So, low testosterone along with estrogen dominance causes weight gain after menopause.
Tips to overcome the weight-loss plateau:
- Increase intake of protein and fibre
Make sure you include enough protein in your meals, so you do not have frequent hunger pangs and stay fuller for longer time periods. Eating protein helps to burn more calories during digestion.
- Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a great way to overcome the weight-loss plateau. There are three methods of intermittent fasting- alternate-day, periodic, and daily time-restricted. You can discuss with your nutritionist on the best plan that suits your health conditions and your daily routine and chalk out a proper meal schedule along with healthy food options and recipes.
- Exercise regularly
Even though you might feel disheartened by lack of results because of the weight-loss plateau, do not give up on regular exercise. It is important to ensure regular physical activity to keep your body fit. Exercises that target belly fat will provide the best results. You can use resistance bands, weight training, and cardio to slim your waist while avoiding muscle loss.
- Get sufficient sleep
Menopause means that a restful night’s sleep is not always possible. Hot flashes and night sweats may keep you tossing and turning for hours after you go to bed. But irregular or lack of sufficient sleep is a huge detriment in your weight-loss journey. Make sure to get at least 7 hours of sleep daily. You can try breathing exercises or yoga before bedtime or sleeping in a cooler environment to get proper sleep.
- Reduce stress
Menopause causes an increase in stress levels. This makes you feel tired and irritated. It also increases cortisol levels that are linked to increase in belly fat. Eat balanced meals to give sufficient nourishment to your body. Avoid heavy dinners and too much salt and spice in your food. You can also try calming exercises.
- Focus on overall health
Your waistline is not a perfect indication of health. So it is ok if you think that you still need to lose 2-5 kilos. Instead, focus on your overall health and not just the numbers on your scale or the shape of your waistline.
If you feel your efforts to get past a weight-loss plateau are not giving results, talk with a dietitian. Each body is different, so maybe this might be your body’s way of telling you to take notice. You’ve already improved your health by improving your lifestyle with healthy diet and regular exercise. So now, don’t give up and revert to your old lifestyle with unhealthy eating habits and no exercise.
Appreciate your success and be consistent in your efforts to maintain your weight loss.