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Women and losing weight during menopause: what really works?
I am the kind of person that can just think about food and put on weight. This is probably because I started dieting at the age of 13 or 14, mostly because my mother convinced me I was going to gain weight if I didn't diet. If only I weighed now what I weighed in high school!
If you have dieted much at all, you've probably heard that dieting is pretty much guaranteed to make you fat. You probably already knew that from experience. And now it's so hard to lose weight that you aren't quite as gullible as you used to be.... But still, you are overweight now and you know it's causing health problems, you know you need to find a way to get it off.
And if you were already overweight before menopause, well, now it's beyond belief!
Maybe there's a special strategy for losing weight during menopause...surely after all this time they've found something that works for menopause, haven't they???
First of all, let's talk about supplements for losing weight during menopause. They are all over the internet - Let me tell you what hasn't worked for me, so you won't have to waste time or spend money needlessly.
Now. I take most of the supplements above anyway, for other reasons. This is how I know they haven't helped me lose weight.
I take 3000 IU of vitamin D because it helps you absorb calcium and prevents many types of cancer. I use progesterone cream for hormonal support. I have taken black cohosh for hot flashes. I take calcium every day to help me relax and to keep my bones strong. I drink two very strong cups of coffee every day. I haven't lost even one pound from using these substances.
The ONLY thing that has worked for me to lose weight is cutting my intake on carbohydrates. If I keep them to about 70 or 80 grams a day, I can lose weight. But it is very slow. I wrecked my metabolism in my twenties with all of my ridiculous diets. And I have thyroid disease, so even though I take T4 and T3, my metabolism is still low. I have attempted to raise it, but without success as yet.
But I have a hard time limiting my carbohydrates, unless I add a menopause weight loss supplement that really works-which is 5HTP. I'll talk more about this in a minute, but right now I want to go back to the supplements mentioned above.
There have been studies done on some of the substances above, proving weight loss or metabolic increase, so just because they didn't work for me doesn't mean they won't work for you. But don't buy a multivitamin thinking it will help you lose weight.
Coconut oil, Vitamin D, calcium and CLA and chromium picolinate all have been studied and proven to help with weight loss.
Some of the weight loss supplements I see advertised are frightening, and certainly don't appear to be helpful for long term weight loss – unless you want to die in the process! I saw one supplement that had FIVE forms of caffeine in it – FIVE. Three of them were the first three ingredients. Really. Just go buy some No-Doz, I'm sure it's cheaper.
What you CAN do
Don't ingest any high fructose corn syrup. It has been proven to cause more weight gain than sugar. It is in everything now, so you will need to read labels.
Robert Lustig, M.D. says, in The Bitter Truth, “A calorie is not a calorie...The more you think a calorie is a calorie, the more you think, well, then if you ate less and exercised more it would work. It doesn't. All of the studies show it doesn't work.”
Reduce or eliminate processed food. It is full of unhealthy fats and other chemicals that you may be reacting to without even knowing it. In addition, you will never get the nutrients you so desperately need from eating processed food. It is all empty calories. Even if this doesn't click for you consciously, your body knows it, which is why it will keep giving you cravings for more food – it's looking for nutrients.
Avoid bad fats and eat healthy fats. Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon, in their book Eat Fat Lose Fat, state “...replacing trans fats with coconut oil and other healthy fats is the number one measure for preventing and reversing the insulin resistance so characteristic of type II diabetics.” (page 143) Most overweight people probably have insulin resistance to some degree.
Believe it or not, artificial sweeteners have been associated with weight gain. If you must drink something other than water, there are now soft drinks available sweetened with stevia – Zevia, and Blue Sky Free are two that I know of. Or, take 8 ounces of water and add the juice of 1/2-1 lemon and a shake of stevia – it's very refreshing and much healthier. You can find Zevia at Whole Foods or other natural food stores.
Losing Weight During Menopause - What Really Works
There is one supplement that I know works for losing weight during menopause: 5HTP. This supplement helps you from becoming low in serotonin. If you are low in serotonin you will crave carbohydrates and stimulants, especially if you are cutting back on carbs to lose weight. You can also try St. John's Wort for the same purpose. Take 5HTP in 50mg caps, one in the afternoon and one at night.
UPDATE July 31, 2011. For the latest menopause weight loss supplement information, see menopause weight loss supplement.
Enig, M., Fallon, S. (2005). Eat Fat Lose Fat. New York, NY: Penguin Group.
Lustig, R. Sugar: The Bitter Truth. UCSF, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. Retrieved August 19, 2011 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM