Menopause weight loss: ‘Cut back’ on ‘poisonous’ drink or risk ‘storing more body fat’

Rapid weight loss 'becoming much more accepted' says Mosley

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Pre, during or post-menopause, women’s bodies change a lot. spoke to Claire Jones, founder of YourOneLife Healthy Weight Solutions about menopausal women putting on weight, and the diet changes they should make to combat weight gain – including “cutting back” on a popular drink. 

“Women often gain weight around this time due to a perfect storm of circumstances that tend to come together at the same time, some of which are within our control, and some which are not so much, although we do have choices about how we respond to them,” Claire explained. 

“A high proportion of women I work with are either in peri-menopause, going through the menopause or have come out the other side of it, and they all report difficulties with losing or managing their weight. 

“Many feel the menopause is strongly related. 

“It’s well known that it can be associated with weight gain, but the good news is that it’s not inevitable, and can be managed.” 

The main issues Claire has found are: reduced activity which leads to boredom snacking, super-busy jobs or lifestyles leading to chaotic eating patterns including comfort eating and binges, reduced muscle mass as a result of lack of use as we age, hormonal changes affecting how and where the body stores fat, stress, and mood swings and brain fog. 

“All of these factors can lead to issues with sleep, alcohol and other substance use, and snacking, comfort eating, bingeing, (especially on highly palatable, high calorie foods with a low nutritional content),” Claire said. 

“It’s often followed by heavy restriction because of the inevitable weight gain, chasing a quick, unsustainable result, coupled with lots of guilt and shame, and all or nothing thinking patterns.  

“All of this can also have a knock-on effect on mental health, as well as hormonal fluctuations and mood swings.”

For anyone looking to lose weight, Claire said: “It can be very challenging to break out of this cycle.” 

To add to this, “there is no ‘one-size-fits-all.’ Different programmes suit different personalities and lifestyles.” 

Claire recommends eating according to the 80/20 principle: “If 80 percent of our calorie intake is coming from nutrient-dense, minimally processed foods, we can then have 20 percent of our calorie intake from whatever we fancy.” 

Women should aim for “a small calorie deficit” because “when we reduce our calorie intake we also reduce our nutritional intake, and we need to ensure we are eating enough to provide the brain and body with what they need”. 

Drinking enough water is vital too: “General advice is to aim for two litres a day, as this supports weight loss in a variety of ways, as well as being important for good health,” Claire said. 

She also suggested looking at stress levels and sleeping patterns as this can have an impact on weight loss. 

As for diet changes, Claire suggested “cutting back” on alcohol. 

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“As many people say, and I agree with – everything in moderation, as this is good advice,” she said. 

“Cutting things out that we are designed to eat isn’t usually necessary or helpful and there is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it’s about how far something is taking us towards or away from our goals. We want to avoid going to extremes.

“Alcohol however, is definitely worth considering cutting back on because of the impact it has on our weight in various ways,” she said. 

Alcohol contains seven calories per gram, so a typical bottle of wine is around 600 calories.  

“It’s a poison so our bodies process it before food, meaning food calories we may eat are more likely to be stored as fat,” Claire added.  

“It lowers our inhibitions meaning we are less like to care about our goals and so give in to temptation both in terms of drinking more than intended and eating when we said we were only going to have a drink. 

“It makes us hungry, so give in to temptation as above. 

“It affects our sleep quality and mood meaning we are more likely to snack the next day as our appetite is affected.” 

Claire added: “I am not saying don’t drink, just be aware of the impact it can have versus your goals.” 

Claire is the author of Eat Less Without Going on a Diet.

“My book goes through the practical tips I’ve been using myself to manage my weight well for more than a decade now,” she explained. 

“It contains suggestions like making sure we are hungry when we eat, tricks we can employ to reduce the volume like eating more slowly, using a smaller plate, smaller cutlery, being aware of where calories can hide. 

“It’s not just what and how much we eat, but how we eat, that matters.”

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