GP talks about the impact of the menopause on weight gain
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Struggling to stay in control of your waistline is a common part of the ageing process – one that seemed so much simpler in your thirties and forties. For many women over the age of 50, hormone changes can cause havoc when trying to shed a few pounds. Luckily, This Morning’s resident doctor, Dr Nighat Arif revealed a few things you should be doing if you are looking to downsize.
“As women go through the change [menopause] many find it difficult to shift weight,” Dr Nighat began.
“Our habits change the older we are – looking after grandkids and parents.
“Also your work becomes far more sedentary; sitting is now the new form of smoking. A sedimentary lifestyle affects someones ability to lose weight.
“Our ability to digest alcohol also changes – we have an intolerant response.
“A glass of wine before bed doesn’t have the same effect as it use to, you’ll feel wise the next day,” the doctor continued.
Speaking about the changes a woman’s body goes through in their forties and why many put on weight, Dr Nighat explained: “As we go through our forties, that’s when the transition of peri-menopause happens; your ovaries don’t produce enough oestrogen, and as oestrogen depletes – which is a drip by drip affect, your brain goes ‘I need oestrogen’.
“Oestrogen keeps our blood vessels nice and healthy from our hair right down to our toes.
“And then it sends a signal to the fat cells around your body going ‘produce more oestrogen’, because that’s the other place where they produce more [oestrogen].
“So your fat cells get bigger, they get bigger around their tummies and hips,” she added.
“Women in their forties come to me going ‘I do all this exercise and now I’m hitting my middle age and now I’m not losing that weight’.
“I say to them ‘You’re body is just adjusting to that transition, make note of that.’”
And the one thing women can do if they experience this is: “Your diet has to change as well in order to look at this physical transition that’s happening,” Dr Nighat said.
Speaking further about changes in diet to achieve weight loss over 50, the doctor revealed: “I never say ‘elimination diet’.
“Life is short but enjoy it. Nothing is off limits but portion size is what I’m looking for.
“If you take out nutrients when over 50, you’re not getting the building blocks you need – lean muscle, magnesium, protein.”
It terms of protein, Dr Nighat suggested eating less red meat and opting for leaner alternatives like chicken and turkey.
“Soya products are brilliant, nuts are brilliant – having a heart healthy diet,” she added.
Exercise also helps, but Dr Nighat prefers the term “more movement”.
“I hate the word exercise, I’ve stopped using the word,” she remarked. “[Just do] movement that you enjoy; if you want to do lunges in the kitchen, do it. If you can lift your legs while at your desk and do five reps, I’m very happy with that.”
Presenter Holly Willoughby also suggested getting off the bus a stop early and walking the rest of the distance, or taking the stairs instead of escalator or lift.
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