Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by exercising, getting enough sleep, focusing on a balanced diet, and eating mindfully can help you look and feel your absolute best during menopause and beyond.
Here are three healthy diets that have been shown to help with weight loss during and beyond the menopausal transition.
The Low-Carb Diet
Many studies have shown that low-carb diets are excellent for weight loss, and are also able to reduce abdominal fat.
Although peri and post menopausal women have been included in several low-carb studies, there have only been a few studies looking at this population exclusively.
In one such study, postmenopausal women on a low-carb diet lost 21 lbs (9.5 kg), 7% of their body fat and 3.7 inches (9.4 cm) from their waist within 6 months.
What’s more, carb intake doesn’t need to be extremely low to produce weight loss.
In another study, a paleo diet providing roughly 30% of calories from carbs produced a greater reduction in belly fat and weight than a low-fat diet after 2 years.
The Mediterranean Diet
Although the Mediterranean Diet is best known for improving health and reducing heart disease risk, studies show it may also help you lose weight.
Like low-carb diet studies, most Mediterranean diet studies have looked at both males and females rather than peri- or postmenopausal women exclusively.
In one study of men and women aged 55 years and older, those who followed a Mediterranean diet had significant reductions in abdominal fat.
A Vegetarian Diet
Vegetarian and vegan diets have also shown promise for weight loss.
One study in postmenopausal women reported significant weight loss and improvements in health among a group assigned to a vegan diet.
However, a more flexible vegetarian approach that includes dairy and eggs has also been shown to work well in older women.
Other Weight Loss Tips That Work
Here are a few other tips that can help with weight loss during menopause or at any age.
- Eat plenty of protein. Protein keeps you full and satisfied, increases metabolic rate and reduces muscle loss during weight loss.
- Include dairy in your diet. Research suggests that dairy products can help you lose fat while retaining muscle mass.
- Eat foods high in soluble fiber. Consuming high-fiber foods like flaxseeds, Brussels sprouts, avocados and broccoli can increase insulin sensitivity, reduce appetite and promote weight loss.
- Drink green tea. The caffeine and EGCG in green tea may help burn fat, particularly when combined with resistance training.
- Practice mindful eating. Mindful eating may help reduce stress and improve your relationship with food, so you end up eating less.
Calories Are Important, But Low-Calorie Diets Don’t Work Well Long-Term
In order to lose weight, a calorie deficit is needed. During and after menopause, a woman’s resting energy expenditure, or the number of calories she burns during rest, declines. Although it may be tempting to try a very-low-calorie diet to lose weight quickly, this is actually the worst thing you can do.
Research shows that restricting calories to low levels causes loss of muscle mass and a further decline in metabolic rate. So while very-low-calorie diets may result in short-term weight loss, their effects on muscle mass and metabolic rate will make it hard to keep the weight off.
Moreover, insufficient calorie intake and decreased muscle mass may lead to bone loss. This can increase your risk of osteoporosis.
Although losing weight may be your primary goal, it’s important that you make changes you can maintain over the long term.
It’s also best to focus on health, rather than the number on the scale.