Will Hormone Replacement Therapy help me lose weight?
Hormone Replacement Therapy can be life-changing for many women experiencing menopausal symptoms, from hot flushes and night sweats to brain fog, fatigue, and, you guessed it, weight gain. As we get older, it’s perfectly normal to carry a little extra weight, particularly around the middle. If you’ve noticed the extra pounds creep in, you may have started to cut back on calories to help shift it or invested in body-shaping underwear. The menopause is a time when we often experience a loss of confidence due to unwelcome changes, and weight gain only worsens that.
What causes weight gain in menopause?
Weight gain in menopause is an effect of your hormones encouraging your body to store more fat as you leave your reproductive years behind. As your ovaries produce less oestrogen, the body turns to other production sources, and extra fat cells effectively become the body’s safety net. This drop in oestrogen often leads to excess pounds accumulating on your tummy instead of your bottom and thighs. As well, these hormonal changes, and the way they make you feel – often tense, stressed and anxious – send your stress hormone cortisol levels rocketing. In turn, this increases your chances of gaining yet more tummy fat.
The quality of your sleep may also be affected by hormonal changes, which further impacts the symptoms of your menopause and that dreaded belly fat. Thanks to decreased levels of the appetite suppressant leptin and increased levels of the appetite stimulant ghrelin, you are also far more likely to make poorer food choices and overeat.
How can HRT help?
Just because weight gain is likely, it really doesn’t make it mandatory. Yes, weight gain is another symptom of the hormonal changes in your body, but Hormone Replacement therapy or Bio-identical Hormone Replacement therapy can help you to maintain or restore your ideal weight once again. By rebalancing oestrogen levels, we increase skin elasticity and prevent the increased storage of fat. You will also feel better mentally, sleep well and maintain a normal appetite.
What is the difference between HRT and BHRT?
BHRT stands for Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy, which means that the hormone supplement exactly resembles the one your body makes, therefore making it “bioidentical”. It is natural and plant based. Our body accepts it as its own and responds very well to it compared to synthetic hormones, which usually come from the urine of a female horse. BHRT can be offered via different delivery systems: the hormones can be compounded by a pharmacy in the form of a cream, lozenges, or pills.
Bioidentical hormone prescriptions are personalised for each patient, and it’s essential for a practitioner to initially assess a patient’s medical history and symptoms and action a blood test. They can then prescribe a treatment plan and monitor a patient’s progress, along with regular follow-up tests.
Other things to try
It’s recommended that you eat 200 fewer calories per day when you’re in your fifties. To keep menopausal symptoms and belly fat at bay, focus on a diet rich in meat and plant-based proteins like avocados, legumes and black beans, healthy fats, fresh fruit, and mineral-rich green leafy vegetables. Also, think about reducing or eliminating processed grains and sugars.
Finding a balance that works for you can be tricky, especially when learning to live with all the changes that menopause brings, so it may be helpful to work with a nutritionist to learn exactly how to overcome poor eating habits and embrace a more nutritious lifestyle through your diet.
Movement is powerful – not only will it help shed excess pounds, but it also makes you feel good mentally. It’s recommended that most healthy adults do moderate aerobic activity for at least 2.5 hours a week. Also, explore strength training or weight resistance as this will help build your muscle mass and improve metabolism.
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Disclaimer: Please be aware that results and benefits may vary from patient to patient taking into consideration factors such as age, lifestyle and medical history.