Health & Diet

Menopause: Doctor shares ‘key’ change to diet for weight loss – ‘it’s important’

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Hormone changes during the menopause can impact women’s bodies in a “whole range of ways, both physically and mentally”, according to cosmetic doctor and hormone expert Dr Martin Kinsella. He spoke to about which foods and drinks women going through the menopause can eat – or avoid – to lose weight.

Dr Martin Kinsella explained why women over 50 are more likely to gain weight compared to other age groups, saying: “The hormone changes that women experience during the peri-menopause and menopause around this age mean that women are more likely to put on weight.

“However, it’s a common misconception that hormone changes alone cause weight gain when in fact it’s usually related to lifestyle and genetic factors as well.

“Whereby a lot of women become more sedentary and years of bad habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol and poor diet begin to impact health and weight.”

So, how can older women begin to lose weight?

Dr Kinsella advised: “Older women can lose weight using a combination of eating a healthy balanced diet and exercising regularly.

“Taking steps to reduce alcohol and sugar intake can also help.

“Also, getting hormone levels checked can help because if a hormone imbalance is identified, hormone replacement therapy can help to balance the hormones and address weight issues.”

The doctor recommended making “healthy food swaps” such as “swapping white rice and pasta for brown, and snacking on fruit and vegetables rather than sugary snacks such as chocolate”.

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He added: “Alcohol is often a big factor in weight gain and loss, and people often underestimate just how many calories there are in what they’re drinking.

“Keeping a daily food and drink tracker using something such as the My Fitness Pal app can help to keep a more accurate track of your calorie intake.”

The doctor continued: “It’s important to try and reduce the intake of sugar, salt, processed foods and also yeast – as this can play havoc with hormones, which are a huge factor in women aged 50 and above.

“Cutting back on alcohol, caffeine and fizzy drinks is beneficial too as these can all negatively impact hormone balance and impact weight gain.

“Eating more lean proteins, fruit and vegetables and healthy grains is key.”

Dr Kinsella explained: “When you go through the menopause your estrogen levels drop and because estrogen maintains bones density, this can lead to bone loss and low bone density.

“For this reason it’s a good idea to ensure that your diet is high in phyto-oestrogens such as soya beans, tofu, peanuts, kidney beans, chickpeas, grains and cereals such as wheat, rye, barley, oats and sunflower seeds.

“Walnuts, almonds and cashews, fruits and vegetables such as apples, broccoli and cauliflower.”

Dr Kinsella also recommended “calcium rich foods”.

It is important that women consume at least 1,000mg of calcium daily – to put this into context, one glass of milk is about 300mg of calcium.

As for exercise, the doctor went on to say: “The best exercise for hormone health is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), or resistance training.

“This is because endurance exercising can put the body into chronic stress, increasing cortisol levels and negatively impacting hormone balance.

“Short bursts of exercise in HIIT and resistance training are best for hormone health as well as for bone and heart health,” Dr Kinsella added.

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