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Renew Youth Weighs In: Why Drinking Alcohol Can Make Menopausal Weight Gain Worse

Menopause News, Women's Health

Alcohol can worsen the decline in metabolism women already experience at menopause. Renew Youth offers solutions to boost metabolism.

As a trusted menopause treatment provider for nearly 20 years, Renew Youth has listened to many, many women describe exactly what menopause symptoms bother them the most. In the majority of cases, weight gain is mentioned as a top concern.

Menopausal weight gain can be especially upsetting because it seems so baffling—many women will start to gain weight around their belly, hips, and thighs despite maintaining the same diet and activity level they had before menopause. The explanation is that this weight gain is hormone-driven. The same hormone changes that stop your periods also change your metabolism, leaving you more prone to weight gain, especially around your midsection.

All too often, we see women struggling—and failing—to conquer menopausal weight gain because they don’t understand the hormonal and metabolic factors that are driving this process, and they don’t understand how other factors—like alcohol consumption—can affect it. At Renew Youth, we are here to change this by providing the information and tools women need to look and feel their best during menopause and beyond. This includes science-backed solutions for boosting metabolism to a more youthful level to not only help women shed weight gained at menopause, but also help keep it off.

Understanding Metabolism

While most people associate metabolism with calorie burning, there is actually a lot more going on. Metabolism encompasses a complex web of processes, including both anabolic functions involving the storing of nutrients in the body and catabolic functions involving breaking down food into energy. It is the interplay of these processes that determine if your metabolism is functioning in a fat-burning or a fat-storing state.

What Changes at Menopause

During menopause, a variety of hormonal changes can affect your metabolism and cause issues with your weight:

  • Declining estrogen production in the ovaries causes the body to focus on converting calories to fat
  • Declining testosterone makes it more difficult to build muscle, and the less muscle you have, the fewer calories your body will burn
  • Low thyroid may also contribute to a slower metabolism in many menopausal women
  • Excess cortisol from stress tells your body to conserve calories, especially as belly fat

How Alcohol Affects Metabolism

Combining alcohol with the changes already going on in the menopausal body can make metabolism even more sluggish and prone to storing fat. The reason why has to do in large part with how alcohol affects the body’s ability to respond to glucose.

Glucose is the fuel cells use for energy. It can come from food, from synthesis in the body, or from the conversion of glycogen, which is a form of glucose stored in the liver.

The amount of glucose in your blood is a key factor in the storing and burning of fat. Normally, hormones keep insulin levels balanced, which in turn balances blood glucose. When blood glucose is high, insulin will be released. This will tell cells to take in glucose, some of which will be stored as glycogen and some of which will be stored as fat. When blood glucose is low, glucagon will be released, triggering the release of a variety of hormones like cortisol, testosterone, and epinephrine that help initiate the process of burning fat for energy.

Drinking alcohol can disrupt this normal metabolic process in a variety of ways. Alcohol interferes with all the sources of glucose as well as the various hormones that are supposed to regulate it.

In essence, alcohol makes your metabolism go haywire because it is poison to your body. Alcohol has no nutritional value and cannot be stored like other types of food, so your body wants to get rid of it as quickly as possible. This requires alcohol metabolism to take priority over other metabolic processes, including those needed to maintain healthy blood glucose levels. Insulin production can increase, which means the body is getting more signals to store glucose as fat. At the same time, alcohol will be getting transformed into acetate as it passes through the liver. This acetate will be burned by the body in place of the fats that would normally be burned for energy.

The end result is a metabolism that is more geared towards fat storage than fat burning.

Other Ways Alcohol Can Cause Weight Gain

Disrupting your metabolism isn’t the only way alcohol can lead to weight gain. Remember that alcohol is packed with empty calories. The juices, sugary sodas, and other mixers often found in alcoholic drinks certainly don’t help.

For example, a pina colada has a similar amount of calories to a donut, while a pint of lager delivers around as many calories as a slice of pizza, and sipping a frozen margarita will give you about as many calories as a cheeseburger.

Because alcohol impairs judgment, drinking can also make you more likely to make poor food choices. You may end up eating more junk food as well as continuing to eat after you’re full.

How Much Alcohol is Too Much?

For women, experts draw the line between moderate drinking and heavy drinking at seven drinks per week—with no more than three of those drinks being consumed on any one given day.

But be aware that one “drink” isn’t necessarily the same as one glass. For example, one “drink” of wine is five ounces, but your typical wineglass will hold more. If you’re drinking beer, one “drink” is 12 ounces, while for hard liquor one shot or 1.5 ounces is the limit.

In most cases, moderate drinking will not be enough to create lasting changes in your metabolism. In fact, research has shown that moderate alcohol consumption can actually be beneficial for health. Women who drink in moderation have a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and stroke. They also tend to have stronger bones after menopause than non-drinkers.

However, heavy drinking carries many health risks. It can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and cancer, as well as cause serious damage to the heart, brain, liver, and nerves. Women who drink heavily are also more prone to developing “central obesity” or an apple-shaped figure with extra belly fat. Central obesity is a risk factor for heart disease.

Renew Youth Can Help Get Your Metabolism Back on Track

As long as you are careful to drink in moderation—and ideally stick to lower-calorie drinks such as red wine, vodka & soda, or gin & soda—you shouldn’t have to worry too much about alcohol changing your metabolism. However, given the changes at work in your body due to menopause, your metabolism could use support regardless of your drinking habits.

The foundation of a healthy metabolism is ensuring you are eating right and getting enough exercise. Don’t skip meals—especially not breakfast—and make sure each meal has a good balance of nutrients including protein. As for exercise, strength training is an excellent choice. Research has shown that two to three sessions of strength training per week can reduce age-related metabolic decline by up to 50 percent.

To support your efforts to restore your metabolism, consider some of these options from Renew Youth:

Hormone Replacement: We offer comprehensive hormone replacement therapy to correct the low estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and thyroid that typically cause weight gain and other menopause symptoms. We can also help adjust cortisol levels—which also affect fat metabolism and weight gain. Our hormone therapy includes numerous safeguards to protect against side effects and ensure effectiveness.

HCG: When menopausal women diet, they are prone to lose muscle as much as fat. HCG or Human Chorionic Gonadotropin is a hormone that can help supercharge your metabolism to ensure it is targeting fat instead of muscle whenever there is a calorie deficit. As an added bonus, HCG can help suppress your appetite to help you stick to your diet.

Secretagogues: Growth hormone plays a very important role in metabolism. The fact that growth hormone declines sharply in adulthood helps explain why teenagers seem to be able to eat whatever they want without gaining weight, while adults would bulk up on the same diet. Treatment with certain peptide hormones known as secretagogues can help stimulate the pituitary to create more of your own natural growth hormone. At Renew Youth, we offer four different secretagogue options—sermorelin, GHRP-2, GHRP-6, and ipamorelin. Each of these secretagogues works on a different pathway in the brain, which gives us flexibility to find the treatment that is right for each individual.

Injectable Nutrients: We offer a variety of prescription injectable nutrient formulas that enable you to benefit from the pure, undiluted vitamins, minerals, and amino acids your body needs to maximize your metabolism, without worrying about taking in too many calories from food or losing too many nutrients to the digestive process. Some of the best injectable nutrients for optimizing metabolic function and getting your body in fat-burning mode include choline, inositol, methionine, and Vitamin B12.

If you would like to learn more about what’s going on with your metabolism during menopause and how to keep it functioning optimally, contact Renew Youth today.

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