How risky is weight gain after menopause?

Menopause weight gain can have serious implications for your health. Excess weight increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems and various types of cancer, including breast, colon and endometrial cancer.

What's the best way to prevent weight gain after menopause?

There's no magic formula for preventing — or reversing — menopause weight gain. Simply stick to weight-control basics:

  • Move more. Aerobic activity can help you shed excess pounds and maintain a healthy weight. Strength training counts, too. As you gain muscle, your body burns calories more efficiently — which makes it easier to control your weight.

    For most healthy adults, experts recommend moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, for at least 150 minutes a week or vigorous aerobic activity, such as jogging, for at least 75 minutes a week. In addition, strength training exercises are recommended at least twice a week. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you might need to exercise more.

  • Eat less. To maintain your current weight — let alone lose excess pounds — you might need about 200 fewer calories a day during your 50s than you did during your 30s and 40s.

    To reduce calories without skimping on nutrition, pay attention to what you're eating and drinking. Choose more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, particularly those that are less processed and contain more fiber.

    Legumes, nuts, soy, meat, fish or chicken are healthy protein options. Replace butter, stick margarine and shortening with oils, such as olive or vegetable oil.

  • Check your sweet habit. Added sugars account for nearly 300 calories a day in the average American diet. About half of these calories come from sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks, juices, energy drinks, flavored waters, and sweetened coffee tea.

    Other foods that contribute to excess dietary sugar include cookies, pies, cakes, doughnuts, ice cream and candy.

  • Limit alcohol. Alcoholic beverages add excess calories to your diet and increase the risk of gaining weight.
  • Seek support. Surround yourself with friends and loved ones who support your efforts to eat a healthy diet and increase your physical activity. Better yet, team up and make the lifestyle changes together.

Remember, successful weight loss at any stage of life requires permanent changes in diet and exercise habits. Commit to lifestyle changes and enjoy a healthier you.

April 21, 2016 See more In-depth