As we age, we naturally become less active, and, therefore, we burn fewer calories, which can lead to weight gain. But several other factors that also can contribute to weight gain, the most common of which are stress and the onset of menopause.
Stress Weight Gain
Cortisol—The “stress hormone”
Whether you’re stressed because of the constant, crazy demands of your job or home life, the body releases various hormones, one of which is cortisol. Cortisol allows for a burst of energy and other physical changes that prepare the body for “flight or fight.” If you remain in a prolonged state of stress, however, the body maintains increased levels of cortisol, which can be damaging to the body in many ways. One side effect of increased cortisol can be weight gain, especially in the abdominal area, which can bring more negative health consequences than fat stored in other areas of the body.
Increased levels of cortisol in your system cannot only make you crave unhealthy food, but excess nervous energy can often cause you to eat more than you normally would, which leads to weight gain.
Living Busy Lives
Experts believe that one of the big reasons we’re seeing more obesity in our society these days is that people are too stressed and busy to make healthful dinners at home, and instead opt for the convenience of unhealthy fast food instead. Also, with all the demands of modern-day life, exercise may be one of the last things on your to-do list. The result of which is, once again, weight gain.
Menopause Weight Gain
As many women enter perimenopause, or approach menopause, they find themselves experiencing unexplained weight gain. The answer for why this is happening lies in the links between your body’s hormonal balance and body fat.
The first and most basic link is between insulin metabolism and body fat. Most of us eat the conventional low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet, with lots of processed foods (pasta, breads, snacks, beer, and wine, etc.). Over time, this diet commonly creates a condition known as insulin resistance. When you are insulin resistant, your body converts every calorie it can into fat—even if you’re dieting. And it won’t let you burn fat when you exercise.
Another link is estrogen loss. As the estrogen production of your ovaries falls, your body turns to secondary production sites, including body fat, skin, and other organs. If your body is struggling to maintain its hormonal balance, body fat becomes more valuable.
What to do?
Just because there is stress in your life or the fact that you may be entering menopause, doesn’t mean you simply have to accept your weight gain. There are many things you can do. Since there can be more than just one reason for your weight gain, you need to schedule a meeting with your doctor so that he or she may be able to help narrow down the reasons and make the appropriate suggestions.
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT INTENDED AS MEDICAL ADVICE. PLEASE BE SURE TO SEEK THE ADVICE OF A LICENSED MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL BEFORE ADMINISTERING ANY MEDICAL CARE.