“Healthy Diet Won’t Stop Menopause Weight Gain”
That’s a nice scary headline for women of a certain age, isn’t it? It’s one that did the rounds of online news sites a couple of weeks ago now.
Not so scary really when you stop to read the fine print though!
In a study of 7000 healthy Australian women age 48 to 56, researchers found those who ate the most healthy foods gained just as much weight over the six years of the study, as those who ate the least healthy foods – about 1.7 kilograms.
Is the middle aged spread unavoidable?
Well, not really. If you eat too much of anything you will gain weight, regardless of the health value of the food. So whilst eating healthy food won’t stop you gaining weight in your late 40′ s and early 50’s , eating less of it will. Chief researcher, Clare Collins said “Women, on average, will gain two kilograms over the menopause years and the only women who resist that are women who put either extra focus on their diet or extra focus on physical activity or both,”
“Our earlier research had found people who had a higher diet quality score also consumed more calories, because if you have a greater frequency and variety of healthy foods you also consume more energy,” she said. “So the good news is we showed they don’t gain [more] weight.”
Analysis of the study’s data also seems to be finding a link between high fruit and vegetable intake and less weight gain. Collins suspects this is due to switching from unhealthy foods.
A couple of months ago, I was the lightest I’ve been since year 11 at school. I was training for a half marathon, so doing quite a bit of exercise, though not the mileage I’ve done for previous races. I upped my resistance training, which I think really helped with fat burning, and yes, I was watching what I ate very closely for the month prior to the race. Before I popped something into my mouth, I considered whether it would help me go faster, or whether it would just end up being dead weight I’d have to carry around the course. Getting on for two months later, I am still sitting on the lighter side of my usual adult weight range. It’s unlikely this is due to loss of muscle or bone mass due to the type of exercise I do. It is due to eating less food and being pretty much alcohol free. Even just a couple of glasses a week gives your calorie intake a boost of up to 400 calories.
So… how to fend off the menopause midriff?
The peri-menopausal and post menopausal health message is pretty much the same as at any other time of your life. If your diet isn’t up to scratch, include more fruit and vegetables in your diet. Eat less food, drink less alcohol and exercise more to fend off the menopause midriff.