Menopause and the “Middle Age Spread”

Menopause and the “Middle Age Spread”

Many women notice a time in their 40s and 50s in which their body starts to change. Their normal routine of diet and exercise suddenly has less impact on their body and it becomes harder for them to maintain their normal weight. Also weight loss becomes more of a challenge and even their general body shape can change – generally from the womanly

The Middle Age Spread

pear shape to the hard-to-lose apple. That’s right – it’s the “m” word."Menopause" refers to the time of life when the ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone, the female sex hormones. While scientists once thought that this occurred suddenly, perhaps over a month or two, we now know that menopause occurs gradually, over a two to five year period. This has given us the term "perimenopausal transition." During this time, the amount of estrogen made in the ovaries shifts back and forth, from normal amounts to high amounts to none at all. This time period is refered to as the "Middle Age Spread". 

Both men and women tend to gain weight as we age, but weight gain is accelerated for women in the early menopausal years. Studies have shown that women in menopause can expect an increase an average of 10-15 pounds without changing their diet or exercise regimen.

Fluctuating hormones are responsible for a myriad of changes in your body during the "Middle Age Spread". 

  • Estrogen levels decline.

    Estrogen is the hormone that causes ovulation, and ovarian production drops sharply around menopause. Because your fat cells also make estrogen your body actually increases fat production in an attempt to keep estrogen levels more normal.

  • Progesterone levels drop.

    Lower progesterone generally leads to water retention and bloating, but this generally disappears within the first few months.

  • Cortisol increases.

    Aging in general increases our cortisol levels gradually causing fat to deposit more around the midsection and changing your body shape from the pear that is normal for most women, to apple.

  • Testosterone declines.

    Testosterone is normally responsible for building and maintaining lean muscle mass, so when levels decline you lose muscle, which means decreasing your metabolism.

The Middle Aged SpreadBut changing hormone levels associated with menopause aren't the only cause of weight gain. Aging and lifestyle factors play a big role in your changing body composition, including:

Exercising less. Menopausal women tend to exercise less than they did when they were younger, which can lead to weight gain.

Eating more. Eating more means you'll take in more calories, which are converted to fat if you don't burn them for energy.

Burning fewer calories. The number of calories you need for energy decreases as you age because aging promotes the replacement of muscle with fat.

There's also evidence that weight gain during the menopausal years increases breast cancer risk.

Women who gain more than 20 pounds after menopause increase their breast cancer risk by nearly 20 percent.

But women who lose 20 pounds after menopause reduce their breast cancer risk by as much as 23 percent.

Even smaller amounts of weight loss after menopause lead to a modest risk reduction.

Our Enlita weight loss program is designed to help you make lifestyle changes that can help with hormonal balance. To learn more about the Enlita Lifestyle Program For Optimal Weight and Health click here.



About the Author:
Dr. Kendra Pearsall, N.M.D. is a Naturopathic Medical Doctor specializing in natural weight loss and food addiction. She created to help millions of people achieve optimal health, natural weight loss and life success with her free weekly e-newsletter (sign up at the top of this page.)