Even though you don’t change your eating habits, postmenopausal weight gain is almost inevitable. The question is why? It seems that scientists have known for a long time that the shift from storing fat in the hips and thighs to the abdomen after menopause is caused by lower estrogen levels, hence the dreaded midriff bulge! However, it wasn’t until a groundbreaking study, co-authored by the Mayo Clinic, that we learned the why. Proteins, revved up by the estrogen drop cause fat cells to store more fat making losing postmenopausal weight especially difficult.
And it gets worse…These cellular changes also slow down fat-burning by the body. So much so, that a postmenopausal woman’s metabolism will fall 10 to 20% per decade after the onset of menopause. The result of that metabolism drop is an average of 12 pounds gained within eight years of menopause! Without making significant changes in eating habits, the weight will continue to pile on.
At Prime Women, we’ve observed for years that the best read articles we publish are about dieting and nutrition. There seemed to be a never ending quest to find an answer. However, diets that work well for younger women and men do not work for the postmenopausal woman. If the diet isn’t eliminating an entire food group (never a healthy or sustainable option), they typically recommend more food than postmenopausal women can eat and lose weight, yet not take into account the nutritional needs of this age group.
The result of our observations (and our own experiences) was a collaboration on a weight loss program with Dr. Kathryn Waldrep, practicing OB-Gyn, with 35 years of experience in treating and counseling women from childbearing age to end of life. She had witnessed firsthand the havoc hormones play on a woman’s weight and her ability to lose weight. Dr. Waldrep also knew that it wasn’t just one thing, like cutting calories, that would make a weight loss program successful.
Ultimately, we decided on a five point program. Portion control was certainly first and foremost, but the program had to take into account a woman’s Lifestyle and allow for a few indulgences. Accountability was also key because we all need reminders to stay on track. Timing became a key component when Dr. Waldrep saw good research around eating according to your circadian rhythm, which typically results in eating within an 8 to 9 hour window. Not only would this form of intermittent fasting help you consume fewer calories but, according to studies, extend your life. Exercise was essential to combat the drop in metabolism, both cardio to burn calories and weight lifting to build muscle mass and strengthen bones. All five points contribute to successfully losing postmenopausal weight.
The eating program follows what Dr. Waldrep recommends for this age group; more protein (we tend to overindulge on carbohydrates and not get nearly enough protein), adequate nutrient-rich vegetables, minimal fruits, healthy fats, additional calcium and drastically reducing sugar intake. Sugar really is the devil which is why fruit is restricted, as well.
This is not a program that requires you to track calories. If you keep your portion sizes as recommended, you will stay within the correct calorie range that will help you lose weight slowly, yet maintain muscle mass. We provide specific guidelines around what we recommend you eat for optimum health and the proper portion sizes. There is a daily meal planner that does all the work for you. The PLATE program allows you to eat all food groups, just in smaller portions. You can even indulge in an occasional cookie, cupcake, slice of pie and, yes, wine. We tell you how many substitutes you can have based on your choices AND remind you when you’ve used up your weekly allowance.
When PLATE was first launched, it was a website-based program. By creating an app, we could make the program mobile, allowing the member to have easy access anywhere, and have reminders on everything from scheduling your weight training, getting in your 10,000 steps for cardio, notifying you to check the meal plan you created every day and when to stop eating based on the hour you set for your last meal of the day.
Creating an app also allowed us to lower the price of membership substantially. We cut the price by a third, now only $19.90 a month or $49 for three months. If you can afford it, plan to stick with the program for at least three months. Habits, like snacking and overeating, don’t change overnight. The good news is that once you change your eating routine and make exercise a real priority, the new habits will stick.
Maintaining a healthy weight should be a priority for all of us, but you may have never found it attainable. Your life ends up revolving around food. It’s no way to live. Our goal at Prime Women is to help our readers of women over or near 50, live healthy, meaningful long lives. In an article we published, OLDER, WISER AND ROCKING THEIR 70S – POWERFUL WOMEN IN THE NEWS!, we talk about how women in their 70’s and even 80’s are still full of life, working and contributing at high levels across a wide variety of industries. You can be one of those women, too. It’s never too late to change your life.
This article is strictly for informational purposes only. Please consult your doctor before following any of the dietary guidelines given in the article or joining PLATE or making any dietary changes.