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Have you experienced unexplained weight gain in your 40s? Have you been eating all the right foods and exercising multiple times per week, but still can’t seem to shake that extra weight? It may be due to your hormones.
During perimenopause (the transition period into menopause), our estrogen and progesterone levels diminish, and eventually will become obsolete during menopause down the road. This hormonal change is supposed to gradually happen over time, but for some, that isn’t always the case. Erratic changes like that lead to a hormonal imbalance, which can affect your metabolic rate to slow down. A lower metabolic rate causes your body to burn fewer calories during the digesting process and instead store more of them as fat. That’s why you might be gaining weight even though you’re not consuming more calories or exercising less.
Estrogen and progesterone are not the only hormones that contribute to weight gain. Dr. Romy Block, an endocrinologist and Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago, says that hormones like Peptide YY (PYY) and ghrelin also play a role. “As women take on more roles with work and children, they tend to sleep less,” Dr. Block said. “Hormones that regulate weight, such as PYY and ghrelin, are manufactured during deep wave sleep during hour 6-7. Therefore, women who get 5-6 hours of sleep have difficulties getting credit for the implemented lifestyle changes.”
PYY and ghrelin help regulate hunger satiety, but if you aren’t getting your full seven to nine hours of sleep, your body is missing out on those hormones. If you are not getting enough sleep, you should try to get around eight hours every night. If that still doesn’t work, hormone therapy is always an option, although some types of hormone therapy are associated with longterm risks.
A solution that you can practice every day is to eat a clean diet. The key is a healthy diet, not starving yourself with tiny portion controls. You should cut back on sugary, fatty and highly processed foods, as those could all lead to hormonal imbalances, and focus instead on lean proteins, whole grains and fresh fruits and veggies.