To many people, menopause is associated with mood swings, hot flashes and weight gain. While it’s true that a typical woman will gain 10 to 15 lbs during menopause in her 40s and 50s, this is simply due to hormonal changes. Too many people stress over weight gain during menopause, taking it as a sign that they are getting too old or losing control of their health. Its amazing the myths some people believe about weight loss during menopause. Here we are going to debunk some of these myths and hopefully be able to ease your mind a bit and help to make the transition a little smoother.
Myth #1. Fat-free or low-fat foods means no calories.This is simply not true. In fact, fat-free or low-fat foods can actually have more calories. Also, since they have little or no fat in them, they are not satisfying to the body, which makes you want to eat even more. It is important to realize that fats are not the only source of calories. Carbohydrates and proteins also contain calories. You need to look beyond the marketing claims and look at the serving sizes and the number of calories per serving on the package to determine if the product will help you lose weight.
Myth #2. Foods with fat in them are bad for youNot quite. Actually, there are some foods with fat in them that are good for you. Specifically, the bad kind of fat that you want to avoid is saturated fat. You can avoid saturated fats by eating nuts, chicken, extra lean beef and pork tenderloin. Actually, you need fat in your diet. Fat makes you feel satisfied longer and helps your body absorb nutrients.
Myth #3. Eating in the evening causes weight gain.Eating in the evening, by itself, does not cause weight gain. The real issue is that most people are more inactive in the evening, rather than when they choose to eat. What you should do is evaluate what you have eaten and how much physical activity you have had during the day. Just make sure that you are really hungry, or you may find you can get by with just a light snack.
Myth #4. Watching TV has no impact on my weight.This is definitely not true. Studies have shown that eating while watching television actually can cause you to gain weight. This inactivity has been given the non-flattering term of “grazing”. What with all the food commercials making you hungry, in addition to the extended periods of inactivity caused by watching the tube, it is no wonder weight gain takes its toll over time.
Myth #5. Menopausal women should avoid carbohydrates.Again, not really. There are good and there are bad carbohydrates. The type you want to avoid is refined carbohydrates, most often found in processed foods. Your body needs complex carbohydrates such as those contained in whole grain bread, pasta made from whole grain and beans. Not only will complex carbohydrates make you feel full longer, they will also give you enough fiber to remain regular.
Myth #6. Skipping meals will help me maintain my weight.This one is actually quite the opposite. By skipping meals you may be able to avoid a few calories up front, but your body will more than make up for it by turning hunger into starvation causing you to overeat later. In addition, when your body notices you are skipping meals on a regular basis, it will tend to slow your metabolism down and start to conserve energy stores in the form of fat. Not quite the results you were looking for.
Myth #7. A high-protein diet will help me lose menopausal weight.High-protein diets are not so much for losing weight as for putting on body weight. Talk to any body builder. Instead, you should go for a balanced diet. Do not try to get your nutrition from any one food group out of proportion. In fact, a high-protein diet carries risks with it of ingesting too much cholesterol and bad fats which can threaten the health of your heart.
Myth #8. Menopause means more cardio and less weight lifting.Convenient myth, but a bad one. Cardio is certainly useful in making your heart stronger and helping you to burn up those calories. But cutting out weight lifting is really a bad idea. Some people fear that weight lifting will make you bulky, but this is simply not true. It actually helps your body by toning it so that it becomes more lean and firm. Any added muscle from weight lifting will only help you burn more calories during the day.
Myth #9. No fast food over age 40.It’s actually hard to argue with this one, but its a little harsh. Fast food restaurants are starting to offer healthier choice menus now, so you can probably pick a meal that won’t destroy your diet. But you should be smart about the foods you eat. For example, its probably okay to indulge in a burger from time to time, but you can help by cutting out the fries and avoiding the calorie-loaded condiments like mayo, “secret” sauces and cheese.
Myth #10. Desserts are a definite NO-NO.Like other menopausal weight loss myths, there is some truth to it. But like avoiding fast food, this can be particularly harsh, especially for those with a sweet tooth. There is certainly a way to have your dessert and eat it too if you like. First, try eating healthier, like having fruit instead of cake or candy. Second, if you do indulge, just maintain some moderation in your frequency and portion size.
Weight loss during menopause doesn’t have to be stressful or inconvenient. Menopause is a normal part of life and should be approached with balance and tolerance. Some people do not worry about the few pounds they put on during this part of their lives, while others such as actors and other professionals must work hard to keep slim. If you must lose your menopausal extra pounds, then you should work with your doctor or nutritionist and definitely avoid any fad diets. Above all else, stay healthy.