I’m on hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Does this make it harder to lose weight? I’m having so much trouble. Any suggestions?
Many women over 40 who are approaching menopause say that losing weight is more difficult. And it doesn’t seem to matter whether they’re taking hormones. In fact, according to scientific research, HRT may actually help you stay slim.
“Estrogen helps you metabolize fat so you don’t store it so easily,” explains Dr. Lois Jovanovic, director of Sansum Medical Research Institute in Santa Barbara, Calif. In studies on more than 2,000 women, results consistently show that those taking HRT do not gain more weight. In fact, many of them gain less weight than post-menopausal women who are not taking estrogen.
One caveat: If you take more estrogen than you need, you might retain fluid and your breasts might enlarge, making it look like you gained a few extra pounds. That’s why it’s important to work with your doctor to get the right dosage.
A more likely reason that losing weight gets harder as we age is that our metabolism slows down so we burn fewer calories. Research has shown that women going through menopause lost up to six times more muscle than women of the same age who were still menstruating. The more muscle you lose, the fewer calories you burn throughout the day, and that can set you up to gain weight and make losing it more difficult.
The best defense against a slow metabolism is weight training. Lifting weights builds muscles and boosts your calorie burn.