Dr. Jen, if a postmenopausal female is in good health, hormonally-balanced and nutritionally sound, will she continue to keep her weight in check and her belly flat?
This question came from a lady named Donna. And simply put, yes, a postmenopausal woman in good health who is hormonally balanced and nutritionally sound can probably keep her belly flat and maintain a healthy weight.
But like most questions I get, there are a lot of factors to consider. While hormone imbalances definitely can cause weight gain around the middle, hormone balancing isn’t necessarily like a magic tea to getting weight off and keeping weight off in menopause. If only it were that easy…I would love it if it were that easy!
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One of the more common things I see in my office that leads to the belly looking flabbier and the change in body shape that we see in older women is osteoporosis. Osteoporosis will cause a curvature in the spine and that curvature can change the way a woman stands, which can cause her belly to protrude more than it did before – even if she hasn’t put on weight. Vitamin D together with calcium helps protect older adults from osteoporosis.
If you have been gaining weight and can’t get it off, make sure to get your thyroid hormone checked. And make sure you are in an optimal range, not just an acceptable range. I have patients all the time who are already on thyroid hormones, who are in the normal range but still feeling lots of thyroid symptoms. Once I treat them into an optimal range, they are finally able to lose weight and keep it off. It really makes a huge difference!
Hormones can be really confusing! Too little estrogen can cause weight gain but so can too much. Same with progesterone and testosterone. Too little can cause weight gain. Too much can cause weight gain. So that’s one of the reason I think that measuring hormone levels and treating people into an optimal range is so important.
Stress and Cortisol
Stress can really take a toll on our belly and belly fat, among other things, so getting stress under control is really important. Stress can lead to problems with our cortisol levels and adrenal health, which in turn can have a huge impact on all your other hormone levels.
Literally 97% of the people I see in my office have some sort of issue with their cortisol, whether they make too much, they make too little, they make too much at the wrong time of the day, and the list goes on and on.
My Endless Energy Quiz (and my Three Weeks to Endless Energy program) is really about getting your stress, your cortisol, and your adrenal health under control, with diet, lifestyle and supplement suggestions tailored to where you’re at.
And thanks for the great question, Donna!