As a female, perimenopause is the period of time in your life where you are transitioning to menopause. Perimenopause can start as early as your late 30s and usually lasts for several years. During perimenopause, your hormones fluctuate dramatically, which can affect you physically and emotionally. You may accumulate unwanted pounds during this period, despite following a lifestyle that always controlled your weight in the past. Consult your health care provider if you gain weight unexpectedly.
When your diet consists of too many processed foods and too much white sugar, your cells can become resistant to insulin. Insulin is necessary for transporting glucose through cell walls. The process is gradual and can result in type-2 diabetes. As a result of insulin resistance, your body stores the excess glucose as fat, which results in weight gain. While drinking diet sodas may reduce your caloric intake, many of them still cause you to produce insulin, which contributes to your insulin resistance.
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When you are under stress, your adrenal gland releases cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that hinders weight loss. Your body interprets stress as a threat to your survival and begins to hoard calories. The stress can come in many forms. In additional to emotional stress, crash dieting, binging and fluctuating weight can all stress the body. If the stress is chronic, it can cause a metabolic disorder known as adrenal fatigue. As a reaction to stress, you may also overeat and not be aware of it.
During perimenopause, your ovaries gradually reduce their production of estrogen. As your estrogen production diminishes, your body seeks to produce it elsewhere. Your body then seeks to retain fat in an effort to maintain your hormonal balance. Also, as you approach menopause, your body produces less of the hormone progesterone. Declining progesterone levels don't cause you to gain fat, but they do cause water retention and bloating.
Women tend to lose muscle and gain fat as they approach menopause. Initially, the fat may target your abdomen. Because muscle weighs more than fat, this initial increase in body fat may not cause an increase in your weight. However, as you lose more lean mass, your basal metabolism will slow down. Your slower metabolism makes it more likely that you will gain fat all over your body, which will cause an increase in your weight.