We all know dieting is difficult after menopause. The quick weight-loss tricks that you've used for decades seem to have stopped working almost overnight and it feels like you gain five pounds just by looking at a piece of chocolate cake. When you do manage to diet, the pounds come off so slowly that it seems like an ounce a week.
The reason for this is a slower metabolism as you get older combined with the tendency to eat more and exercise less as you age.
But that doesn't stop us from trying. The trick is to find a weight-loss regimen that works for you now.
Researchers at the University of Illinois have come up with an important tip. If you want to avoid losing muscle as you lose fat, they advise adding protein throughout the day to stave off hunger pangs and reach the right proportion of muscle to fat.
The researchers followed 31 healthy postmenopausal obese women who were divided into two groups and put on a 1,400-calorie diet. One group received a powdered whey protein supplement in the morning and again in the afternoon or evening. The other group received a placebo that contained carbs.
After six months, the researchers found that the women who ate more protein lost 3.9 percent more weight and had a relative gain of 5.8 percent more thigh muscle volume than the women who did not eat protein.
Both groups of women were urged to exercise and were assessed before and after the study for strength, balance and the ability to perform tasks like standing up five times from a chair and lifting a book 12 inches above their shoulders. In both groups, strength decreased as weight decreased but the researchers said more exercise would likely alleviate this problem.
This is only one study – with a relatively small group of women – but it's a reminder that you might have to alter your dieting habits after menopause. Finally, remember to check with your doctor before starting any weight-loss regimen to make sure you have no other physical or medical problems that might interfere with a diet and exercise program.