Losing weight is great, but not when it comes with a cost
You may have, at one stage, experienced some menstrual changes as a result of weight loss. The extent of these changes depends on how much weight you lose.
Periods can also stop when your weight loss is higher than 20%
Back in the days of my bodybuilding preparation, women competing in the figure category had to be a certain body fat percentage to show muscular detail — this required extensive dieting and training. Body fat percentages had to delve down below single figures. I managed to get to 6% with a lot of hard work. Then, my periods stopped for six months. Strenuous exercise mixed in with restricted eating can cause alterations to your hormone levels, from interrupting your ovulation and lowering estrogen levels. Over time, this can become harmful to your bone health. It’s important to note that exercise in itself does not cause periods to stop — it’s the miss-matching of energy consumed and used that results in the decrease of available fuel. What happens in this situation is that your body desperately needs to use the energy that would otherwise run the body’s day-to-day processes. Unfortunately, this can cause some significant problems. Various systems begin to shut off (mainly what the body considers non-essential) reproduction, growth, and building bone. There is no natural way to know the extent of caloric restriction needed for your periods to disappear. Every woman has their set-point. For some women, it doesn’t take much. For others, maybe it will never happen unless in extreme circumstances. Therefore, it is essential to keep your attention fixed on how your cycles respond when you start to lose weight. Bone mineral density is significant during a woman’s lifespan. The bone mass peak occurs between 20–30 in both men and women. You begin to lose that bone density as your age increases from this point onwards. Weaker bone tissue results in stress fractures, especially in your back, pelvis and heel bone. That may turn out to become the onset of early osteopenia and osteoporosis. Disappearing periods should be avoided, and it’s crucial to ensure your nutrition is of a high standard at all times. That doesn’t mean an abundance of food, but sticking to your portions and making sure your meals contain wholesome foods that will fuel your workouts. Lifting weights can also help strengthen and protect the bone, ligaments, and muscle tissue. Adding stress to our bones helps them become stronger. As the saying goes, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” That’s why I always recommend women weight train. The benefits will not only become apparent on your body, but the changes internally and for your bones is to your advantage. When we become older, there is, of course, the susceptibility to falls, weak muscles and the inability to move as we once did. You can minimise or even eliminate this by staying active, lifting weights and making sure you eat well. As I always say, think of exercise and proper nutrition as a lifestyle plan, and you will always be one step ahead of any ageing challenges that lie ahead.
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