A Science-Backed Way to Lose Weight After Menopause

By on June 9, 2014
feet of woman on scale

By Linda Melone –

The scariest thing about the weight gain after menopause is it seems to happen to even active and fit women.

In a recent letter to the health columnist at the New York Times a woman talks about “suddenly gaining 15 pounds” after menopause, despite exercising moderately for over 30 years. She says she’s not sleep deprived (which can contribute to weight gain) and can’t figure out how to lose the weight.

Can you relate?

Seems the problem lies with an increased levels of two enzymes found in our fat cells after we hit menopause. Apparently these nasty buggers kick in when estrogen levels drop. Their sole purpose in life is to make our lives miserable by manufacturing and storing fat.

Nice, right?

On top of this enzymatic situation, metabolism drops at the same time. Between the two, many women gain an average of 10 pounds around menopause.

But here’s the good news: You can reverse it.

Of course you can’t switch off the enzymes (at least not yet), but you can still win the weight gain battle. In a study of 17,000 postmenopausal women (who were not on any hormones), researchers found they were three times more likely to lose weight when they increased their fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Sounds easy enough.

And there’s more. According to another study involving over 500 women, those who followed a diet of 1,300 calories and burned 1,000 to 1,500 calories a week greatly reduced their waistlines and remained at or below their baseline weight.

Let me repeat that: below their baseline weight!

So with these guidelines in mind, I’ve developed a sample 1,300 calorie healthy menus and ways to burn 1,000 to 1,500 calories a week. 

Sample 1,300 calorie menu

Breakfast: 1 carbohydrate + 2 protein

Example: Veggie omelet made with 2 egg whites + 1 yolk and ½ cup non-starchy veggies such as onions and mushrooms

Snack: 1 carb + 1 protein

Example: medium apple with 1 tbsp peanut or almond butter

Lunch: 1 carb + 3 oz protein + 1 fat (include at least 2 servings of a non-starchy vegetable)

Example: whole grain wrap (<120 cal) + 3 oz turkey breast + baby spinach, tomatoes and 1/4 avocado + side of baby carrots

Snack: 1 carb + 1 protein

Example: mini pizza—small whole wheat pita topped with 2 tbsp tomato sauce + 1 oz low-fat mozzarella

Dinner: 1 carb + 3 oz protein + 1 fat (include at least 2 servings of a non-starchy vegetable)

Example: Chicken and broccoli stir-fry over brown rice…  sauté broccoli in 1 tbsp vegetable oil, add 3 oz sliced chicken breast and serve over ½ cup brown rice

After dinner: small piece of fruit or other healthy snack of your choice equaling 100 calories

 

To burn 1,000 or more calories a week you simply need to exercise long enough to burn off 200 calories a day, five days a week. Mix and match these 200-calorie activities (calculated for a 150-lb woman):

 

  • Gardening: 2 hours
  • Walking at a moderate pace (3.5 mph): 1 hour
  • Tennis doubles: 1/2 hour
  • Hiking: 1/2 hour
  • Treadmill at a 6% grade, 3 mph: 1/2 hour

What changes will you make this week, based on these suggestions? I’d love to hear about any revelations or any of my advice that resonated with you. And please let me know in the comments section if you have any questions.

And if you enjoyed this article you may like some of my other blog posts on my website, www.LindaMelone.com, geared to help you lose weight and get fit after 50. (You can also find out why I’m so passionate about helping you lose weight!) When you get there, sign up for my freebie, 10 Ways to Blast Belly Fat After 50, for more helpful tips.

 

I’d also love to hear from you: What are your biggest weight loss challenges? You may find your question in a future blog.

 

 

 

About Linda Melone

Linda Melone is a certified personal trainer and fitness pro-turned-writer whose work can be found on Prevention.com, Health.com, WomansDay.com and many others. At 55, she knows firsthand the struggles of keeping off weight after 50 and vows to help other women slay the belly fat dragon. Check out her website at www.LindaMelone.com and sign up for her free, twice-monthly newsletter and free 10 Ways to Blast Belly Fat After 50 special booklet.

5 Comments

  1. Dagny Kight

    June 17, 2014 at 10:04 am

    “…those who followed a diet of 1,300 calories and burned 1,000 to 1,500 calories a week greatly reduced their waistlines and remained at or below their baseline weight”

    The math on this makes no sense.

  2. Ann

    June 24, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    As a menopausal woman, I read this article with great interest. In fact I devour any and all articles on this frustrating topic! I came across this article, which offers scientific support for much of the info that Linda covers here. As early as age 25, everyone’s metabolism starts to slow down at a rate of 1 to 2 percent (or more) a year. That means that by age 60 your metabolic rate has slowed by at least 40 percent. Yikes. Oh course exercise is key. Read this for more:
    http://www.juvenon.com/the-metabolic-swiss-army-knife-exercise/?utm_source=newcampaign

  3. Linda Melone

    June 29, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Hi Dagney, those were simply the results the researchers found, so I’m not sure if the math necessarily adds up according to previously known calculations. And, as with any findings like this, your mileage may vary :).

    Ann, it’s true exercise is really key to keep your metabolism cranking. I think we tend to slow down as we age even if we don’t realize it. I find it harder to get going than I used to in my formative years. Finding a friend or workout partner is a great motivator. I look forward to going to my gym because I know everyone there. If I don’t show up I hear about it the next day!

  4. Size Zero Patch

    July 23, 2014 at 11:38 am

    This was a wonderful article with some great tips. However, there are just two nit-picky things I found that weren’t altogether true. You say that coconut is high in unsaturated fat. However, coconut is actually extremely high in saturated fats and should be consumed only rarely if at all.

    • Linda Melone

      July 23, 2014 at 12:38 pm

      Thanks for your note, but I’m not sure where you found a coconut oil reference. I didn’t mention it in this story. But while we’re on the subject, coconut oil contains lauric acid, a medium chain triglyceride that increases HDL (good cholesterol) and makes it less likely to do damage than other saturated fats. The jury’s still out, however, and it’s best to go easy on fats in general, and saturated fats specifically.

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A Science-Backed Way to Lose Weight After Menopause