Are your hormones preventing you from losing weight?

If you’re a woman between the ages of 45 to 55 and you’re feeling particularly moody, fatigued, sleepless, and hot and sweaty, these may be symptoms of perimenopause, the sometimes rocky road leading up to menopause. If these changes weren’t enough to make you miserable, you may also see the numbers rising when you step on the scale.

What’s behind all these unwelcome changes?

One word: Hormones. Your estrogen levels are going up and down.

The pituitary gland, the master control for all the body’s hormone-producing glands, is screaming at the ovaries to release more estrogen, but the ovaries are running out of fuel. Every once in a while the ovaries pump out a big secretion of estrogen.  Luckily the hormone chaos is temporary. Eventually your estrogen will level out, leaving you, your mood, and your temperature on a more even keel.

How Estrogen Can Cause Weight Gain

But weight can be another story. Women generally put on about a pound a year during perimenopause. It can be tough to combat because hormonal shifts change your body’s composition and the distribution of fat.

As the ovaries’ output of estrogen declines, the body looks to fat cells, which also produce estrogen, and works to convert calories into fat to keep up with the demand. Unfortunately fat doesn’t burn calories at the same rate as muscle does, so women tend to put on more pounds.  These new pounds tend to accumulate around the middle, which can increase the risk for heart disease and insulin resistance.

Testosterone, which plays a key role in creating lean muscle mass, also starts to dip, compounding the problem and slowing metabolism. At the same time, surging progesterone levels cause bloating and water retention, which can make it harder to get into your skinny jeans.

How to Combat Hormonal Weight Gain

The good news is that weight gain is not inevitable. An international study involving 17,000 women found that those put on an eating plan that included plentiful amounts of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains not only counted fewer hot flushes than women in a control group, but were three times more likely to have lost weight over the year of the study.

And in data from the University of Pittsburgh, women were asked to burn at least 1000 calories a week through exercise for a year had smaller waistlines and were more likely to be at or below their pre-study weight than a similar group of women who didn’t make these lifestyle changes.

That means your workout is more important than ever. Strength training, in particular, is your secret weapon against hormone-related weight gain because it helps to build muscle mass, while making you look and feel your absolute best.

For help with exercise plans & meal planning to help you achieve your weight loss goals email me

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