Any veteran of the “diet wars” is all too familiar with the stress and strain of never being able to claim victory — for long — over the scale. And once we turn 40, when hormones begin to fluctuate wildly, that battle feels even more difficult.
Tactics that used to work fall short, while a new wave of symptoms like brain fog, low energy and insomnia hit. It’s frustratingly common, says triple-board-certified ob-gyn Anna Cabeca, DO, bestselling author of The Hormone Fix (Buy from Amazon, $20.49). “The almost universal fallout from hormonal changes is weight gain.”
How Menopause Affects Your Body Weight
While reproductive hormones decrease as we approach menopause, ‘aging’ hormones (insulin and cortisol) increase, causing inflammation to rage throughout the body, explains Dr. Cabeca. This triggers fat cells to shut off their fat-burning powers. And
just like that, the body is locked in a phenomenon called “weight-loss resistance,” which Dr. Cabeca estimates affects up to 90 percent of women over 50.
What’s more: As a woman’s size increases, her menopausal symptoms worsen too, according to Brazilian research. “Women in America suffer greater menopause-related issues — up to 800 percent more — than other women around the globe.” Dr. Cabeca witnessed this discrepancy as she watched her mother age rapidly through menopause and pass away from heart disease at 67, while family members in other countries lived into their 90s. After traveling the world studying how women eat, Dr. Cabeca concluded, “Our diet is to blame .”
The Natural and Healthy Fix
The good news: It doesn’t take a major diet overhaul to rebalance hormones and melt trapped fat. Through clinical research, Dr. Cabeca discovered that switching up your eating habits for just six days reboots your metabolism, making weight loss effortless.
So she created four low-carb “pauses” in which you stop consuming certain foods like sugar, grains, or meat for a brief period of time to reset your metabolism. (You can
start a plan every Monday and enjoy a “cheat” day every Sunday before cycling on to the next mini plan.) Dr. Cabeca explains, “Just like you have to change up your exercise routine, you have to change your eating routine to keep your metabolism on its toes.”
“By switching things up, we make the body more insulin-sensitive, allowing women to drop one dress size a week,” says Dr. Cabeca. Her plan also increases body stores of oxytocin (the “joy” hormone), which counteracts the inflammatory stress of cortisol, while naturally suppressing appetite.
3 Slimming Foods for Bothersome Menopausal Symptoms
You can learn more about Dr. Cabeca’s low-carb “pauses” to ease menopause symptoms here. Below are three slimming superfoods to get you started on relieving hot flashes, brain fog, and more the tasty way!
Chickpeas for brain fog: These powerhouse legumes contain choline, a nutrient that’s needed for optimal memory and mood. Plus, their digestion-slowing fiber reduces starch absorption by up to 66 percent, lowering a meal’s glycemic index and boosting its slimming powers.
Almonds for restless sleep: These crunchers are bursting with magnesium — a mineral that’s been shown to soothe nerves, relax muscles, and promote deep Zzzs. Bonus: They are also overflowing with monounsaturated “healthy” fat, revving metabolism and calorie burn.
Mushrooms for hot flashes: Varieties like shiitake, rich in vitamin D, are proven to protect against hot flashes and night sweats. And Johns Hopkins University researchers found folks who replaced meat with satisfying mushrooms ate 420 fewer calories and 30 fewer fat grams per day to drop pounds fast.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.
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