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Dr Laila Kaikavoosi is a GP, menopause specialist and founder of the UK’s first online menopause clinic, the Online Menopause Centre. She spoke to Express.co.uk about why it is easier for women going through the menopause to put weight on – and what they can do about it.
Dr Kaikavoosi explained that at menopause, “due to the reduction in female hormone levels”, women’s metabolism slows down.
She continued: “There is also a reduction in muscle mass which results in reduction in metabolism.
“This together with some food intolerances or sensitivities which could occur at this point makes it easier for women to put on weight.“
So, how can women begin to lose weight?
Dr Kaikavoosi said: “The dramatic and permanent drop in female hormones, as well as the commonly increase in levels of cortisol, play an important role in the process of weight gain in older women.
“Therefore, the same diet which could have helped reduce weight in the past may not work at the time of menopause.
“Women need to work on reducing their cortisol level.
“Cortisol is one of the adrenal hormones which is known as the ‘stress’ hormone and can prevent sugar metabolism.”
To reduce their cortisol level, Dr Kaikavoosi recommended that women “increase their physical activity, reduce alcohol, fatty and sugary food intake, reduce their stress levels, and pay attention to their sleep”.
The menopause expert advised speaking to a nutritionist or healthcare professional to “guide you with how to gently substitute certain calorific food types with more nutritious and beneficial ones”.
According to Dr Kaikavoosi, “women should think about a more plant-based diet as they enter the menopause”.
Other foods include nuts, avocado and oily fish, as these “help to balance hormones and benefit heart and brain health”.
Dr Kaikavoosi continued: “Stomach acid can reduce with age leading to digestion difficulties and emergence of food intolerances.
“It is therefore beneficial to incorporate natural probiotics like fermented foods – kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut – into the diet.”
However, exercise is also “extremely important” when it comes to weight loss.
Dr Kaikavoosi recommended following the World Health Organisation’s and the Government’s guide of 150 minutes of aerobic or 75 minutes of high intensity exercise per week.
She added: “Women need to do a combination of aerobic exercise to increase their metabolic rate and burn calories as well as strength training to build muscle mass.
“This will result in calorie consumption and reduction in waistline fat.
“This can be achieved by for example daily walking or swimming and yoga classes, which are so easily and freely obtained online.”
Exercise is not only beneficial for weight loss, but also for overall general health and wellbeing.
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