I’ve not had a period for two years and have gained a huge amount of weight, especially around my middle. I’ve started doing a lot more exercise but can’t seem to shift any of it. What can I do? 

Due to declining hormonal levels in the menopause this can lead to an increase in the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to a condition called insulin resistance, connected to blood sugar imbalances, (elevated blood sugar). Both these imbalances have a profound effect on your metabolic rate, affecting your ability to lose weight & there is a tendency to gain weight around the middle. This condition can be balanced through diet, supplement & lifestyle changes.

The main thing to focus on is balancing your blood sugar consistently throughout the day. This can be done by ensuring you eat regular meals & snacks every 3-4 hours & every meal & snack contains a protein source (meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes, dairy products). Eating low GI (low sugar & slow release) foods is also important to balance blood sugar, as these help to prevent insulin spikes, so foods like wholemeal pasta & bread, brown rice, sweet potato, green vegetables & low GI fruits such as berries & citrus. Also avoiding high GI foods, so any form of sugars & high fructose fruits (dried fruits, melon, grapes, mango) & minimising really starchy vegetables such as white potatoes, carrots & parsnips would be beneficial. Other foods to avoid are sweeteners (low fat, sugar free & diet products) & trans fats (processed foods & hydrogenated spreads), as these affect blood sugar levels.

A calorie controlled diet may be helpful, however it is important to eat a minimum 1400 kcals per day to prevent your metabolism slowing down.  Minimising stress is also really important, so practicing yoga or meditation would be useful.

Chromium, zinc, B vitamins, vitamin D, Co Q10 & magnesium are great for balancing insulin & cortisol, so a multivitamin & mineral containing these would be beneficial. Other supplements such as probiotics, fish oil, & cinnamon are also helpful. *Always consult your GP before starting any supplements due to contraindications with some medications.