15 July 2014 Weight Gain during Menopause

Menopause comes with all sorts of trials and tribulations and many women complain of weight gain. A Canadian research team published an interesting article on how energy expenditure (calories burned) changed over the course of 5 years for 102 premenopausal women. The team measured their body composition, physical activity, resting energy expenditure, and thermogenesis every year. Over 5 years, there was a significant drop in their total calories burned. When components of energy expenditure were examined (resting metabolic rate, thermogenesis, and physical activity), it was discovered that the drop in total calories burned was due mostly to a drop in their moderate intensity activity along with an increase in sedentary activity.

Why is this good news? Because we can do something about activity - we can choose to move more and sit less.

Of course there are changes during menopause that can cause fatigue and make us less inclined to exercise: hot flashes, poor sleep, change in sexual drive, caring for both teens and elderly parents, etc. But weight gain doesn't have to be one more blow we are “forced” to deal with - we can prevent it with just a little bit of planning and scheduling.

Examples of Moderate Activity

Bicycling < 10 MPH
Dancing
Gardening - active
Golf (wheeling/carrying clubs)
Frisbee
Horseback riding
Housework - carrying loads up & down stairs, scrubbing floors, etc.
Roller skating - leisurely pace
Shoveling snow - light
Swimming for leisure or treading water
Table tennis (ping pong)
Trampoline jumping
Volleyball
Walking 3 - 4.5 MPH

Tip: moderate intensity activities allow you to talk but you would have difficulty singing. They burn anywhere between 3.5 - 7 kcal/minute. Here's another list with more examples of moderate intensity activities.

Avoiding a drop in total energy expenditure during menopause is important since it helps prevent the creation of a calories surplus. Creeping weight gain over time can easily occur if there is a small but consistent drop in total calories burned over time (if one continues to consume the same number of calories). Using a calories tracker is a great way to control both calories consumed and calories burned.

Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD, CDE
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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

Tags:

Exercise/Health Weight Gain/Unwanted Weight Gain Other Health Issues/Aging

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