How menopause affects the metabolism
Among the many changes that occur during menopause, including hot flashes, night sweats, and changes in mood, a shift in metabolism also occurs which can lead to further issues as a direct result of the decrease in estrogen production. Here's what to expect.
November 1, 2023 | Ashley Moriarty, PT, DPT, OCS
Among the many changes that occur during menopause, including hot flashes, night sweats, and changes in mood, a shift in metabolism also occurs which can lead to further issues as a direct result of the decrease in estrogen production. Some of these changes include:
Slower basal metabolic rate
Basal metabolic rate is the rate at which your body burns calories at rest. If BMR slows down, which some studies suggest it does by 100 kcal/day, but energy intake (food consumption) does not decrease in a similar way, then you may be at risk of increased fat mass.
Changes in lipid profile
Menopause causes an imbalance of cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, (LDL), triglycerides, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) due to a sharp decrease in estrogen. This imbalance, termed dyslipidemia, is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Changes in fat distribution and insulin resistance
This is a shift in which weight is distributed throughout the body, causing more fat to accumulate in the abdomen. Abdominal fat can increase the risk of metabolic disorders, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes due to changes in insulin resistance. The accumulation of abdominal fat in women during menopause is associated with a decline in the production of the protein adiponectin. Adiponectin is important for the metabolism of glucose, as it makes the cells muscles and the liver more sensitive to the actions of insulin. Low adiponectin levels are associated with insulin resistance and thus higher levels of glucose.
Decreased muscle mass
Other hormonal changes the occur during menopause can lead to sarcopenia, or loss of muscle mass. This decrease in muscle mass can also contribute to a slower metabolism as muscle burns more calories than fat. As you already know, there is a higher risk of increasing fat mass in the postmenopausal stage, which accompanied by a decrease in muscle mass, can put you at increased risk of musculoskeletal injury.
In addition to consulting with a doctor who specializes in menopause and hormone replacement therapy, you can benefit from meeting with an optimal health provider who can assess and intervene with exercise, nutrition recommendations, and help create a comprehensive plan to minimize the effects of these changes.