Your metabolism has a significant impact on how your body stores fat, builds muscles and loses weight. During menopause, most women experience a sudden change in their metabolic rate.
The changes in hormone levels during menopause can cause a shift in your metabolic rate. It’s likely that your metabolism will slow down and become less effective as you go through menopause. A slower metabolism means more weight gain, increased fatigue and frequent headaches.
Here are the most common ways your metabolism will change during menopause and what you can do to control your metabolism as you age.
You may gain weight as your metabolism slows
As you begin to go through menopause, your hormones start to fluctuate, and your body goes through a whole set of changes. One of the most common changes to a women’s body is sudden weight gain, especially around the belly.
The reason for sudden weight gain during menopause is a change in your metabolism. A drop in oestrogen causes a shift in your metabolism. As your metabolism slows, your body starts to accumulate fat from excess nutrients, leading to weight gain.
So, when you enter menopause, don’t be surprised if you gain a little bit of weight on your stomach.
According to this study, most women tend to gain at least 1-2kg of extra weight around their stomach as they enter menopause, and some women gain more than 5kg overall.
Fat distribution changes
Another way in which your metabolism changes is that it forgets how to distribute weight. As well as the speed of your metabolism, you could find you gain weight in very specific areas.
This is because the oestrogen drop means your metabolism isn’t sure where to spread the fat it now wants to store. So, rather than even weight gain, your metabolism puts all the excess fat into one area - the stomach.
This is because it is trying to protect your major organs. An extra layer of cushioning could be beneficial if you live in the wilderness like our ancestors.
Unfortunately, an extra layer of fat around the middle isn’t really necessary for the modern woman and is generally just a big pain. Belly fat can make you feel very self-conscious, although, in reality, it’s your metabolism trying to protect your organs.
If you’ve noticed that you are gaining weight or are concerned about gaining weight, you can read this article to discover some of the best herbal remedies for preventing menopausal weight gain.
As you begin to transition into menopause, your metabolism slows down, meaning you may experience sudden weight gain. Your body forgets to use food as fuel for energy, so you begin storing it as fat. Specifically, your body will likely gain weight on your stomach as your metabolism tries to protect your internal organs.
Extreme fatigue can be caused by a slow metabolism
Besides oestrogen, your metabolism can also be affected by the levels of progesterone, thyroid and adrenal hormones. These hormones help your metabolism regulate cell turnover and cellular energy levels. When going through menopause, you may experience sudden surges and dips in these hormone levels leading to extreme fatigue.
During menopause, your metabolism is no longer as efficient on a cellular level, so your body requires more energy for your daily activities. This makes everything more tiresome and can leave you with low energy.
When you experience menopausal fatigue, you may feel achy or think your limbs are getting heavier. Everything will require more effort from bending down to tie a shoe, standing up or lifting an object takes just a little more energy.
Green tea for combating fatigue
The good news is you can combat fatigue to feel more awake. Your metabolism sets your natural fatigue level, but you can work to improve it before, during and after menopause by drinking green tea.
One study from 2017 found that green tea is more effective than coffee for beating fatigue. The plant contains energy-boosting polyphenols to help give you an instant boost and make your day easier.
Furthermore, the same study found that regularly drinking green tea can actually boost your metabolism. It contains Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which actively increases your metabolism.
So not only can green tea make you feel better every day, in the long term, you’ll feel less fatigued because your metabolism is improving.
If you want to find out more about green tea and its health benefits, check out this awesome article about the best green tea in Australia.
As your metabolism slows down at a cellular level, everything will require more energy. This will leave you feeling fatigued. Daily tasks may become harder, and you could feel achy and with heavy limbs. You can help boost your metabolism and combat fatigue by consuming green tea daily in place of coffee.
You may have less muscle when your metabolism decreases
Your muscle mass and your metabolism are very interlinked. When your metabolism changes, it no longer focuses on building muscle anymore.
As you lose muscle mass, your metabolism slows, and as your metabolism slows, you lose muscle mass. It’s a downwards spiral that starts during menopause.
When you hit menopause, your metabolism stops focusing on building muscle and being so active. You will find it harder to keep your muscles looking toned.
It is because of the lack of oestrogen in the body. Your metabolism no longer has the tools it needs to build muscles, and women start to lose strength.
Most women begin to lose muscles mass almost immediately, with studies showing that the most significant change happens in the first year.
Although losing muscle mass is common during menopause thanks to a change in metabolism, it isn’t hard to regain it.
Because your metabolism can no longer build muscle the way it used to, working out with weights can be very beneficial. Using weights during exercise is an effective way to build muscle without becoming bulky.
Your metabolism changes during menopause, making it harder to build muscles. As a result, many women lose muscle mass and end up feeling flabby and less toned. Using weights during exercise can help retain muscle definition without adding bulk.
A slow metabolism can affect brain health, resulting in headaches and confusion
Changes to your metabolism during menopause won’t just impact your physical appearance. Your metabolism isn’t just about weight; it has a much bigger influence on your brain health.
Your metabolism is responsible for many cognitive functions and activities in your brain. It means that as your metabolism slows, your brain will also slow.
This is why many women going through menopause become forgetful and experience frequent headaches. You could also experience mental fog and confusion trying to complete basic tasks.
A study in 2015 tried to look into why metabolism and headaches are linked, but really no one knows why. The study found that around 20% of people are affected by headaches caused by metabolic disorders.
There is some speculation that as your body slows down, everything becomes more challenging, and your brain just can’t cope, so you get headaches.
Ginkgo biloba tea for a sharp mind
A great way to ensure you stay hydrated and your brain stay sharp and focused is to drink Ginkgo biloba tea.
The same 2015 study mentioned above concluded that boosting your metabolism with physical exercise and a healthy diet is best to avoid headaches. Combining this with adequate hydration is equally essential for tackling menopausal migraines.
Multiple studies, including this one from 2011, have found that Ginkgo biloba extract can improve cognitive functions. The plant can help with everything from battling Alzheimer’s disease to helping improve memory, recall and function of the brain as metabolism slows.
Your metabolism is heavily linked to your brain functions. As your metabolism slows, your brain slows down with it, leading to memory loss and frequent headaches. Women in menopause are more likely to suffer from daily migraines while completing simple tasks.
What you can do to control your metabolism during menopause
It’s your hormones that cause metabolic changes. Therefore, to help control your metabolism, it’s crucial to balance your hormones.
The sudden surge in hormones throws your whole body off balance. By balancing your hormone levels, you can minimise the effect of menopause.
Here are some other amazing ways to help boost your metabolism during menopause.
- HIIT Training: High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) combines short, intense periods of exercise with lots of breaks. The combination of giving it your all and then resting wakes up your metabolism and really makes it work hard. Try switching up your exercise routine to include at least one HIIT session per week.
- Eat spicy foods: Eating spicy foods is another great way to naturally boost your metabolism during menopause. Spicy foods trigger hormonal releases, which in turn encourage your metabolism. You burn calories more efficiently and may feel warm as your body gets a kickstart. Over an extended period, regularly eating spicy foods can ensure your metabolism doesn’t slow down.
- Stop snacking: Your metabolism works best when it gets lots of fuel at once and then it has time to process it. This means three good meals a day is perfect for keeping your metabolism working well. If you snack in between meals, your metabolism doesn’t have time to process correctly, and it can become slow. For a faster metabolism, stop snacking.
- Get more sleep: When you don’t get enough sleep at night, your body gets confused. Your metabolism is linked to your circadian rhythm, so when you stay awake at night, your metabolism tries to hold on to everything as it works out what’s going on. The result is weight gain and slow metabolism. Make sure you get at least 7 hours a night and have a regular sleep routine.
- Move in the morning: All exercise is good exercise. However, for your metabolism, exercising in the morning is easily the best. Your metabolism doesn’t start and stop when you exercise; it continues to burn calories long after you stop exercising. If you do some exercises in the morning or even just go for a walk, your body will continue to have increased metabolism for the rest of the day.
You can also learn more about how to naturally balance your hormones and encourage weight loss during menopause in this article about the best herbal remedies to fight menopausal weight gain.
Or you could choose to use a unique Hormone Balance tea blend that uses the best natural ingredients to help keep your surging hormones in check.
How many calories should a menopausal woman eat?
Another great way to minimise symptoms is to control your metabolism through your diet. By ensuring you aren’t overindulging, you can protect your metabolism.
Of course, the number of calories you consume heavily depends on your current weight, age and the amount of activity you do. A bad diet and overeating food can massively slow down your metabolism, exacerbating the symptoms we’ve mentioned.
Generally, menopausal women need fewer calories, so most doctors recommend slowly cutting calories over the course of a year as your body adjusts. By the end of the first year of menopause, you should be eating between 200-300 fewer calories than before the menopause started.
One study stated that if menopausal women wanted to lose weight, they shouldn’t consume more than 1500 calories a day.
Generally, scientists agree that slowly decreasing your calorie intake to be under 2,000 is suitable for women under 60, and women over 60 can reduce further if a doctor decides it is appropriate.
Light exercises, good sleep, spicy foods are all good ways to help balance your hormones and speed up your metabolism. Besides, it’s crucial to keep an eye on your diets to reduce your calorie intake, allowing you to lose weight.
Women entering menopause will notice a considerable number of changes to their bodies within the first year. From headaches and confusion to fatigue, weight gain and loss of muscle mass, most changes can be linked to the slowing down of the metabolism.
As your metabolism slows during menopause, the rest of your body slows down with it. Since your metabolism is linked to your hormones, balancing your hormones is crucial for managing the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause.
If you want to learn more about anti-ageing naturally and how to tackle health challenges in later life, check out this article about why Turmeric is an anti-ageing wonder!