Do Hot Flashes Burn Calories? 4 Things You Need to Know
Hot flashes, one of the most familiar, and most obvious symptoms of menopause are not pleasant. Far from it. They are natural, and nothing to be worried about, but they can be very uncomfortable. In this article, we will talk a little about this phenomenon, helping you understand what is going on in your body. Also, we will answer one common question "Do hot flashes burn calories?". Grab a glass of something icy, as we dive into the world of hot flashes.
What Are Hot Flashes?
Hot flashes are sudden floods of heat, often followed by excessive sweating and redness in the face and neck. When combined with redness, they are called hot flush. Rapid heart rate and even chills can also occur. They can also happen at night (night sweats), and they can even be so intense that they wake you up.
Besides menopause which is the leading cause of hot flashes, they can also be triggered by certain medications, surgery and chemotherapy.
The biggest issue with hot flashes is not intensity, but longevity. Some women (about 20%) never experience them, but for most, hot flashes are something they will have to deal with, seven years on average. Some unfortunate women have hot flashes for 10+ years.
Why hot flashes happen, and what causes them is not clear. One thing is certain - although unpleasant, they are completely natural.
There is no cure for them; you have to adapt. It is a good idea to stay away from well-known sweat triggers like caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods. Furthermore, de-stressing will help you keep things under control. Yoga, pilates, jogging, walking, or any kind of physical activity can help. Practicing deep, abdominal breathing and meditation will have positive effects too.
Menopause And Weight
Unfortunately, menopause is often followed by weight gain. You eat like you always did, but in menopause, your waistline starts to get broader. Different factors control weight. First, the food that we eat, but also the level of activity, the amount of pure muscle mass, how much sleep we get, stress, etc.
Menopause hormonal changes affect all of these. Women can have either significantly elevated or decreased levels of estrogen, both of which will show in weight gain. Furthermore, insulin resistance often occurs in menopausal women, and it can lead to problems such as type two diabetes. Also, hormonal changes influence how fat is distributed around the waistline, and that is another reason why you look fluffier when you hit menopause.
With age, the muscle mass decreases. Muscles are like calorie burning power plants, the more you have, the more calorie they burn, keeping fat off.
Also, hormonal changes hurt sleep cycle, and women in menopause tend to have trouble sleeping, especially when the first symptoms kick in. All of this adds to stress levels. And when you are under stress, noticing all of the changes your body goes through (hot flashes for example), you are more likely than not to start searching for comfort in your fridge. And, with age, you become less physically active. All this will result in gaining weight, which will stress you out, even more, contributing to more weight gain.
What Can You Do About It?
As you can see, different circumstances are going against you when you hit menopause, at least when it comes to gaining weight. But, that does not mean you will get fat. A few simple lifestyle changes and improvements are all it takes to stay slim:
- Exercise - exercising regularly will help you burn fat, but also maintain, or even increase muscle mass. It will also improve your cardiovascular health, and decrease stress levels. Furthermore, it will help you sleep better. Yoga and pilates are terrific choices, as well as jogging and simple walking. But, if you want more muscles, hit the gym.
- Go low sugar - insulin resistance is a problem, but it is relatively easy to counter. Try to avoid carbs, especially simple ones, mainly sugar. Stay off sweets, soda, and similar junk, and you are good. But don't go overboard, eliminating carbs entirely is hard, and something that is very hard to do long term.
- Eat less - this is a no-brainer. Decrease your daily calorie intake by at least a 100, ideally 200. It will not only help to prevent weight gain but will help you burn fat, in combination with exercise of course. Just make sure to avoid crash diets, you need something sustainable.
Finally, Do Hot Flashes Burn Calories?
While there are rumors and even some researches that talk about calorie burning effect of hot flashes, don't count on that. In theory, the amount of calories burned during hot flashes depends on several factors, mainly how long they last, and the woman's body weight - heavier women will burn more calories. It is also interesting that obese women have more intense and more frequent hot flashes, which will mean they will burn much more calories.
However, there is not enough research on that. Besides, this is a bit counterproductive. You want to reduce your hot flashes because they are very uncomfortable. On the other hand, if they last longer, they will burn more calories. Still, since you can't control how often and how long you have hot flashes, it becomes utterly insignificant, a stat that you can't count on.
As you can probably figure out, there are dozens of better ways to burn more calories. Take swimming for example. You control when you swim, you control how long, and it cools you off while you do it. A much better way to shed fat, you’ll agree.
Menopause is not pleasant, but it is entirely natural, and something you will have to get through at a certain age. The same goes for hot flashes; they will happen, so don't sweat about it. 🙂
Puns aside, don't count on calorie burning effects of hot flashes. Even if they exist, they are unpredictable, and thus insignificant.