Generations after generations, women seem to follow certain weight gain myths blindly despite research saying otherwise. HT busts five of the most common myths.
Menopause causes weight gain
This again is a myth as latest researches say that menopause by itself doesn't cause women to gain weight.
“By the time women reach menopausal stage, they mostly become less active and their metabolic rate has also slowed down, which could be a bigger reason for putting on weight,” said Dr Karmakar.
There is a drop in the female hormone called estrogen inside a woman's body when attaining menopause, though the change only results in the way body fat is distributed, leading to more belly fat.
Women should focus on practising a healthy lifestyle — cutting down on calorie-dense sugary and fatty substances and exercising regularly — as heart disease is most common among post-menopausal women due to excess weight. Early steps need to be taken to prevent excess weight gain during menopause and to avoid complications. Take quiz
Contraceptives cause weight gain
To worry about weight gain as a birth control side-effect is a common concern among women contemplating taking birth control pills, as the pills are hormonal in nature.
There are many rumours and myths surrounding contraceptive pills, but it is important to not let those rumours cloud your decision about choosing the right method, feel gynaecologists.
“The modern-day pills don’t lead to any significant weight gain. Some pills may cause pre-menstrual bloating though, but there’s hardly any actual weight-gain as commonly believed,” said Dr Debjyoti Karmakar, consultant, department of gynaecology, Medanta- The Medicity Hospital.
“Earlier, the pills had larger hormonal content. Now, the dose is decreased and the type of hormone has also changed,” Dr Karmakar added.
“It is very difficult to convince women to try pills; most that I see believe it will lead to weight gain, which is not true,” he added.
Focusing on a healthy lifestyle — eating well and exercising regularly — can help keep the weight off.
Thyroid disorder and weight gain
Almost all women suffering from hypothyroidism, a form of thyroid in which the gland does not produce enough hormones, blame their excess weight gain to the disease and keep piling up kilos further.
According to the doctors, however, the weight gain happens only during the initial phase when the disease is not detected and treatment hasn’t reached. Fatigue, which is one of the symptoms, leads to lack of energy and a person tends to become less active and indulges in binge eating, resulting in sudden weight gain.
“Weight gain due to Thyroid is barely up to 5kg and the symptoms also subside once the treatment begins, so there’s no excuse for those extra kilos. One needs to go easy on high-calorie food and stop blaming thyroid for weight gain,” said Dr Dinesh Dhanwal, professor of medicine and endocrinology, Maulana Azad Medical College.
An estimated 40 million people in India suffer from thyroid-related disorders, of which 60% are women and usually aged between 20 years and 40 years.
Pregnancy and weight gain
The biggest myth doing the rounds among pregnant women is that they must eat for two as they are carrying a baby inside.
While it’s vital to maintain a healthy diet, to laden itself with calorie-laden food is not advisable.
“In India, the emphasis is on over-feeding than feeding nutritious food. We do not advise more than 300 extra calories per day for pregnant women, though every body responds differently during that period,” said a professor, department of gynaecology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
It is also important to not get into rapid weight loss or crash diet after pregnancy as losing weight gradually actually helps women maintain a healthy weight in the long-term and it does not affect their breast-feeding capacity in any way.
Strength training makes women bulk up
This is another popular myth that persists despite the fact that women typically don't have the amount of hormones, testosterone, necessary to build huge muscles.
“Convincing women to lift weights is a huge task,” said Nahaar Singh, a fitness-trainer in one of the south Delhi clubs. Health experts say muscles burn more calories than body fat. If there are more muscles in the body, a person will burn more calories, even while resting, which in effect means you will have a leaner and more defined body shape.
“Whole-body weight training thrice a week can do wonders for women,” added Singh.