Weight gain is something that most women struggle with as they go through the menopausal transition. Research studies report that the menopausal transition is linked to a weight gain of 4 – 6 pounds over a 3-year period. However, this is only an average, and unfortunately, many women experience a more dramatic weight gain. In addition, the menopausal transition is linked to increased abdominal fat and decreased calories burned. Finding ways to increase calorie burning and prevent weight gain is important to the quality of life of women undergoing the menopausal transition.
A new research study published late last year  suggests that combining strength training with soy consumption can be a good way to fight menopause weight gain. For this study, postmenopausal women were assigned to one of four study groups. Group 1 followed a strength training program and consumed a soy protein powder (25 grams soy protein with 50 mg soy isoflavones) daily. Group 2 followed the weight training program and consumed a non-protein placebo powder. Group 3 consumed the soy protein powder, but did not exercise. Group 4 was the control group; individuals in this group did not exercise and consumed the placebo powder. The study investigators measured the impact of soy consumption, strength training, and the combination on the number of calories burned while resting. The researchers reported that:
- Calories burned while resting decreased by 4% in the control group.
- Calories burned while resting decreased by 2% in the group eating soy protein daily but not exercising.
- Individuals taking part in the strength training program and consuming the placebo powder saw a 9% increase in calories burned while resting on average.
- Volunteers consuming soy protein daily and following the weight training program experienced a dramatic 17% increase in calories burned while resting.
A decrease in calories burned while resting and a lack of physical activity are a couple of the main reasons for the weight gain experienced by many women during the menopausal transition. Strength training builds muscle mass, and muscle burns more calories than other tissues in the body, even while at rest. Therefore, strength training is one way to fight this drop in the number of calories burned at rest and the menopause weight gain that comes with it. Interestingly, consuming soy with isoflavones provided a dramatic boost to the effects of strength training on calories burned at rest. This suggests that consuming 25 grams of soy protein with soy isoflavones per day in combination with weight training can be a good way to fight menopause weight gain.
1. Trevisan MC, et al. Influence of soy protein intake and weight training on the resting energy expenditure of postmenopausal women. Rev Assoc Med Bras 2010; 56(5):572-578.