Menopause: Focus on eating ‘real food’ and avoid midlife weight gain- diet plan that works

The Natural Beauty Show discuss menopause

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Menopausal weight gain can be notoriously hard to shift and while there are many diets out there promising fast results, experts warn that while they are “appealing”, they’re not “evidence-based”. So what can women do to prevent expanding belly fat in their abdominal region?

Nanette Santoro, the chair of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora and a longtime menopause researcher explained: “There are a lot of compelling theories and good science being done around his question, but there are currently few answers.

“Mid-body weight gain is almost universal among menopausal women.”

She noted that weight gain will differ from person to person, with a percentage of women experiencing “more rapid weight gain and more fat accumulating around the abdomen during the menopausal transition”.

“Still, little is known about why these women seem to have to work much harder on maintaining their body weight during this time,” she added.

But she revealed there could be one beneficial way for women to avoid weight gain and take it under control.

“What women should take from this is that they should be focusing on eating food – real food, not processed,” she said, referencing Michael Pollan’s advice from In Defence of Food.

“Mostly from plants and not too much.”

Due to declining oestrogen levels and age-related loss of muscle tissue, what a woman eats and how she exercises is very important when it comes to her weight.

Lifestyle factors such as a balanced diet made up of whole foods, fruits and vegetables is recommended by nutrition experts at Free Soul who also noted a recent study finding that vegan diets in particular could actually help them maintain a healthy weight.

The 2018 trial, published in the National Library for Medicine, uncovered that menopausal women who followed a vegan diet with no other food restrictions lost “more weight at a higher rate overall” than those following a low-fat restricted diet.

This indicated to the researchers that a balanced vegan diet could help to support a healthier lifestyle for those concerned with weight gain during menopause.

According to Healthline, there are a number of science-based beats benefits for going vegan in general, including:

Rich in nutrients

Can help lose excess weight

Reduce diabetes risk by lowering AC1 levels

Could prevent certain types of cancer, such as colon cancer

Reduces heart disease risk by lowering cholesterol

Reduce arthritis pain

A vegan diet, like any, can be done under intermittent fasting regulations.

Dr Lynn Pattimakiel, a certified menopause practitioner, said this method could aid weight loss, adding: “This type of eating pattern can help you burn calories more efficiently.”

She made it clear that skipping meals is a “no-go”, but revealed some people have success by consuming their healthy goal calories within an eight-hour window.

While many diets need further research and scientific approval, there is evidence supporting the idea that intermittent fasting can help some people lose weight.

In a 2021 review published in JAMA Network Open, found there was “moderate to high quality” evidence of weight loss benefits for those suffering with the menopause.

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