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Menopause and Weight Gain

Answered By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

Q: Eight years ago I lost 8 stone through sensible eating and exercise. Since going through the menopause, I’ve gained 3 stone in 18 months despite eating the same way and going to the gym 3-4 times a week. Now, I can’t seem to shift it. What do you recommend?

A: Well done for losing so much weight in the past and keeping a large amount of it off. But you’re right to try and control your weight now, rather than leaving it until it escalates further.

Although many women find they put on weight during the menopause, recent studies conclude that the menopause itself is not the cause of weight gain. Instead, the general consensus is that piling on the pounds is due to reduced activity and a general slowing of the metabolic rate. Nevertheless, these factors alone don’t account for the large amount of weight you’ve put on in such a short period of time.

To gain a stone in six months (your current average), you need to consume around 270 calories more than you need each day. It might sound a lot, but in reality it’s equivalent to roughly one large packet of crisps, half a bottle of wine, a small bar of chocolate or a couple of slices of toast and butter – and that’s easy enough to do every day! Although you say you haven’t changed your eating habits you might find it helpful take a closer look at your diet.

Before you begin a weight loss plan, I suggest you keep a food diary for a week and write down every single mouthful that passes your lips. You might be amazed at just how much you’re eating without even realising it.

You can use the WLR food diary to record your calorie intake. Plus you’ll have the advantage of seeing just how many calories you’re consuming each day. WLR will also tell you how many calories you need each day to keep your weight steady, and when you’re ready to start dieting, the number of calories you need to lose weight at different rates. (Try WLR's tools, free)

Finally, it’s fantastic that you’re still going to the gym regularly, but do bear in mind that it might be time to revamp your workout to ensure you're exercising to maximise weight loss. Most gyms should be able to help devise a personal programme for you to help you burn fat, tone muscle and lose weight. Good luck!

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