Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Female Body Battle

Let's face it, maintaining our desired body weight gets tougher as we age. Did you know that a sedentary woman around the age of 40 loses 1/2 a pound of muscle per year, or roughly 7 pounds of muscle per decade? A pound of muscle tissue burns approximately 35-50 calories a day, so this means a potential weight gain of up to 3 pounds per year, or approximately 10-25 pounds per decade! Did you also know that ovulation burns 300 calories per day for 3 days? This means perimenopausal and menopausal women lose a 900-calorie "freebie burn" per month! If we don't adjust, that's an additional 3 pounds of weight gain per year and yet another possible 25-pound weight gain per decade!

Ladies, there's no getting around it. To avoid muscle loss, we need to lift weights. We need to maintain our muscle to maintain our metabolism and this can be done in just 30 minutes, 2x per week. Growth hormone builds muscle and it's something we have a lot of, so let's take advantage of it! It's secreted in pulses when we sleep if we do HIIT cardio or heavy weightlifting. And, growth hormone mobilizes fatty acids which our muscles use for energy. 

As for weight gain in perimenopause, we need to counterbalance the effects of estrogen dominance. We are estrogen dominant as progesterone starts to decrease. In menopause, estrogen drops and everything levels out. But, perimenopause is a roller coaster ride and estrogen dominance causes our body to act in unpredictable ways. Without the balancing effects of progesterone, we start to see more weight gain in our abdominal region. Also, fluctuating hormones affect our thyroid, which controls our metabolism. 

Although we can't completely control our diminishing progesterone, there are ways we can help ourselves out. We can eat soy and tropical wild yams which contain diosgenin. Diosgenin converts into progesterone. We can also try to manage our stress. Too much stress along with estrogen dominance leads to cravings for sugar. Increased sugar intake leads in increased insulin. A double whammy for fat storage! As for our thyroid, we need to make sure we have enough iodine and tyrosine. Fish, avocados and eggs are a good way to make sure we get enough. 

Here's some good news! Even though magnesium is depleted with estrogen dominance, dark chocolate is high in magnesium! Magnesium relaxes blood vessels in the brain, allowing a greater flow of oxygen. This improves your overall sense of well-being. So, enjoy some chocolate, maybe even with walnuts which are good for our hearts!

There are ways we can help ourselves out

Josephson, Scott. "The Female Physique: The Link Between Nutrition, Hormones and Strength Training!" 2016 IDEA Personal Training West.
McMillan, Sherri. "Training The Female Client."  IDEA Health & Fitness Association.
Teta, Jade. "How to Get Rid of Belly Fat Through Nutrition and Exercise." IDEA Health & Fitness Association.
Lee, John R., M.D. "What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause." Hachette Book Group, 2004.

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