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menopause and slower metabolism

By | Fact Checked |

One of the biggest complaints about going through menopause is a slow metabolism, which can result in weight gain. Your favorite jeans don’t fit anymore?  Did that little black dress shrink while it was hanging in the closet? Let’s see what we can do about that metabolism!

What is slow metabolism?

Metabolism is the sum of the chemical processes that occur in your cells that provide energy you need for life. When those processes slow down—and there are plenty of reasons they can—one of the results is weight gain.

Metabolism is largely regulated by hormones in the bloodstream and through specific receptors on your cells. However, there are more factors that can slow your metabolism.

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  • You can partly thank your parents for how fast you burn calories. Even if you are wired for a sluggish metabolism, there are still things you can do to help rev it up.
  • Inadequate sleep. While you are sleeping, your metabolism levels out and is steady However, poor sleep interferes with optimal energy use, which can make your more susceptible to obesity ad diabetes.
  • Severe dieting. Significantly reducing your food intake triggers your body to survive on less calories, which in turn slows your metabolism. It’s a survival tactic, and your weight loss efforts will likely not go as planned!
  • Wrong salt. Uniodized salt, like sea salt, lacks this essential trace nutrient, which is necessary for healthy thyroid function and metabolism.
  • Dehydration, even mild, can affect metabolism. Water helps burn calories and also fills you up so you may eat less.
  • This important mineral is essential for a faster metabolism. Inadequate amounts of calcium can contribute to a slow metabolism.
  • Unresolved or chronic stress can take a toll on metabolism. When the stress hormone cortisol is high, it’s more difficult for your body to use insulin, which in turn slows metabolism.
  • Sleeping at a temperature of 75 degrees or more prevents your body from producing brown fat, which is rich in fat-burning cells.
  • Some meds. Use of some medications such as antidepressants and certain antipsychotics can slow down metabolism.
  • Shifts in hormone levels can affects metabolism. Conditions involving hormone changes, such as diabetes, overactive or underactive thyroid, and pregnancy, have a role.

Read about latest research finds that those who restrict carbs lose more weight

How is a slow metabolism associated with menopause?

The hormone changes characteristic of perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause can kick your metabolism into slow gear. Although the dramatic decline in estrogen during menopause doesn’t directly cause you to gain weight, it may lead to an increase in fat around the abdomen and total body fat. At the same time, a loss of muscle tone along with a slower metabolism can contribute to increased body fat as well.

How can you manage a slow metabolism naturally?

Revving up a slow metabolism and putting the brakes on weight gain are largely matters of lifestyle. Here are some tips.

  • Go 150. That’s the number of minutes of aerobic exercise you should get to help reduce body fat after menopause. Add about 20 minutes of muscle-strengthening activities to that schedule three days a week for best results. Aerobic exercise also improves blood pressure, cardiovascular health, and blood sugar. Muscle toning boosts the amount of calories you burn.
  • Be consistent. With your meals, that is. Eating at regular intervals helps keep your metabolism steady, while grabbing food here or there or skipping meals can cause your metabolism to fluctuate.
  • Eat small meals more often. If you break up your meals into five or six smaller ones throughout the day, you will keep your metabolism on a more even keel. You will not be eating more calories, just spreading them out.
  • Drink water. Every time you drink water, your body processes it and heats it to body temperature. The energy used to create this heat uses up calories, and this can raise your metabolism. The process lasts only about 60 minutes, so be sure to drink water often.
  • Choose calcium. Include calcium-rich foods in your diet daily and take a supplement if necessary. Food choices include almonds, fermented soy and soy foods, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, figs, kale, broccoli rabe, and low-fat dairy.
  • Eat healthy carbs. Be sure to get adequate calcium from soy and soy foods, almonds, figs, chia seeds, kale, white beans, and low-fat dairy.
  • Healthy carbs. Not all carbs are the enemy, because your body needs them to make insulin. Choose fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as your sources and skip the white flour, sugar, and fast foods.
  • Choose metabolism-boosting foods. Certain foods have an ability to slightly raise your metabolism. You can’t count on these foods alone to provide a big increase, but every little bit can help. Some of the foods include tea, foods rich in selenium and iron (e.g., legumes, seafood, seeds, nuts), chili peppers, beans and legumes, apple cider vinegar, cacao, and seaweed.
  • Try herbs. Some herbs may be helpful in revving up your metabolism or supporting weight loss. Talk to a knowledgeable professional before starting these herbs and take recommended doses. Several choices include carallume fimbriata, cayenne, fenugreek, ginger, ginseng, gymnema sylvestre, oregano, and turmeric.

Read about your basal metabolic rate and weight gain

when to see your doctor

If you are having difficulty losing weight or are experiencing symptoms that can be associated with a slow metabolism, such as persistent bloating and/or gas, sugar cravings, you keep gaining weight despite your best efforts, continuous headache, fatigue, constipation, and depression, talk to your doctor. You may have a thyroid issue or other underlying medical condition.

bottom line

The menopausal years are frequently accompanied by a slow metabolism. Don’t let it get you down! You can make some lifestyle changes to rev it up.

  • Conceicao MS et al. Sixteen weeks of resistance training can decrease the risk of metabolic syndrome in healthy postmenopausal women. Clinical Interventions in Aging 2013; 8:1221-28
  • Friedenreich CM et al. Effects of a high vs moderate volume of aerobic exercise on adiposity outcomes in postmenopausal women. A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Oncology 2015 1(6): 766-76
  • Link R. 13 herbs that can help you lose weight. Healthline 2018 Jul 23
  • Petre A. The 12 best foods to boost your metabolism. Healthline 2021 May 20
  • Johnson S. Best ways to lose weight during menopause. Medical News Today
Andrea is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) & Menopause Expert. Andrea is in menopause & has been researching for the last 5 years science-based ingredients and methods to help women manage their symptoms. She’s the Founder of—a multiple award-winning website. Andrea co-authored the book “Unjunk Your Junk Food” published by Simon and Schuster, as well as “Label Lessons: Your Guide to a Healthy Shopping Cart,” and “Label Lessons: Unjunk Your Kid’s Lunch Box.” Andrea co-hosts the Morphus for Menopause podcast and appears as a Healthy Living Expert on TV across North America. Andrea has more than 20 years of experience in the health & wellness space and is a multiple award-winning Influencer.