Since I’ve entered menopause, I’ve noticed it’s harder to lose weight. I’m 54 and I’ve found it very difficult to stick to a diet, also because it’s not easy for me to make my health goals a priority whilst juggling the many demands of parenthood. Do you have any easy plan for me to follow to stay healthy and fit?
Angela P. – Britstol (UK)
Answer by Nutritional Biologist Stefania Agrigento
Dear Angela, menopause is often a challenging time for women because we have to face both physical and emotional changes for which we are often not prepared. During this phase of our life, the reduction of female hormones leads to the redistribution of body fat – especially in the abdominal area-, our metabolism slows down and we start losing muscle mass. So, if we don’t work out regularly and follow a healthy diet, losing weight becomes more difficult.
However, part of weight gain is often due to our lifestyle, too. To reduce calories without skimping on nutrition, pay attention to what you’re drinking and eating and choose foods rich in micronutrients such as vitamins, iron, calcium and others minerals.
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, particularly those that are less processed and contain more fibre, is healthier than other options. Say yes to 5 portions of seasonal fruit and vegetables a day, consume lean meat and fish 2/3 times a week, low-fat dairy products, and replace butter and margarine with extra virgin olive oil.
Cut back on carbs and steer clear of calorie-filled alcohol, sodas, and coffee drinks. If you need a treat, from time to time, choose a small piece of dark chocolate rather than something baked. Above all, pay attention to salt intake: you should not exceed 5 grams per day (1 level teaspoon of coffee).
Physical activity, including aerobic exercise, swimming, brisk walking (for at least 150 minutes a week) and strength training, can help you shed excess pounds and maintain a healthy weight. As you gain muscle, your body burns calories more efficiently —which makes it easier to control your weight.