If you’re here because you’re worried about gaining weight during menopause, let’s start with one thing—it’s a completely natural transition in a women’s life, and although there are ways to manage or lose this weight, be kind to yourself about any weight gain.
Weight gain during menopause is highly individual, affected by your genetics, hormones, diet, and lifestyle, but averages at between 2-5 pounds.
If you find yourself gaining weight during menopause, here’s everything you need to know about why this happens and 9 ways you can support post-menopausal weight loss.
What is menopause?
The menopause is a natural part of aging where a woman gradually has less and less periods until they stop altogether.
When this occurs, a woman is no longer able to get pregnant naturally and may also experience other symptoms, such as hot flashes.
This process often takes place between 45-55 years of age as a woman's oestrogen levels decline.1
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Why is there weight gain during menopause?
There are a number of reasons why women are prone to weight gain during menopause:
Decreasing muscle mass
As a result of age, a common decrease in exercise, and fluctuating hormones, many women lose muscle mass during this transition, which increases the appearance of any weight gain.
In the perimenopausal phase—the stage that occurs before true menopause—hormones fluctuate between high and low levels before they decline during menopause.
Both high and low levels of oestrogen have been linked to increase fat storage.2
Heightened insulin resistance
Women naturally become more resistant to insulin as they age, which is linked to an increased difficulty in weight loss.3
Lack of sleep
Some women also have difficulties sleeping during the menopause, which is linked to weight gain through a decreased ability to manage hormones and appetite.4,5
How common is weight gain during menopause?
Menopause weight gain is very common, although there are multiple factors that may affect how much weight a woman gains if they do gain weight at all.
- Lifestyle, such as diet and exercise
Some have estimated that women gain about 2–5 pounds in the perimenopausal transition, the pre-menopause phase where eostrogen levels in the body begin to fluctuate significantly ahead of decreasing.6
However, in the same way that a person’s individual lifestyle and genetics affect menopause and weight gain, the duration and severity of each woman’s menopause is also especially individual.
How can I stop menopause weight gain?
Controlling your weight, or even losing weight during menopause, is certainly possible.
Although the results vary greatly by person, depending on genetics, diet, and lifestyle.
But don’t worry, we’ll soon give you 9 ways to lose weight during menopause.
- Menopause is a phase of transition in a woman’s life when they stop having periods and can no longer get pregnant
- Menopause weight gain may occur for multiple reasons, including an increased difficulty in weight loss, less exercise, and increased cravings for unhealthy food
- The amount of weight gained during menopause varies from person to person, but averages at 2-5 pounds
- You can stop and even lose menopause weight, but should also be kind to yourself—weight gain can be a natural effect of growing older
9 best ways for losing weight after menopause
Here are 9 top tips to help you lose weight while you're experiencing the fluctuations of menopause.
One way to support menopause weight loss is to reduce the amount of carbs in your diet.
Studies have shown that this is a useful tactic in reducing menopause belly fat and helps to increase metabolism, something which naturally slows down with age.7,8
Get more fibre in your diet
Getting enough fibre in your diet is important for healthy digestion and certain high-fibre foods, such as flaxseeds, have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity.9
Women going through menopause naturally become more resistant to insulin, which may make post-menopause weight loss more difficult, so fibre-rich foods which support insulin intake could show benefits.
Add more soya to your diet
Did you know that thanks to soya isoflavones, plant-based chemicals known as “phytoestrogen,” soya foods are often beneficial to women going through menopause?
This is because soya isoflavones work as a weak form of oestrogen in the body, helping to reduce the symptoms of menopause like hot flashes.10
They also support weight loss goals as they’re low in fat, high in protein, and soybeans, tofu, and tempeh are known for having the highest isoflavone content.11
Try the best exercises for menopause weight loss
The most recommended exercise routines for menopause and weight gain in the stomach are:
- Resistance training
One of the effects of changing hormones and aging is that lean muscle mass decreases.12,13
So high-repetition resistance training has been proven to support a reduction of abdominal fat, often a problem area for women during menopause.14,15
- Cardio training
Another way of supporting your goals in losing weight after menopause is cardio training, or aerobic exercise, as studies have shown that cardio can help you to fight off abdominal fat without losing muscle.16
Cardio also doesn’t require any new equipment or too much pressure from more intensive exercises, meaning that it can help support menopause weight loss over 50.
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- Combination training (resistance and cardio)
For the best results, some studies have suggested a combination of resistance and cardio training as a strategy for healthy weight loss and muscle mass retention.17
Give your body the rest it needs
This is a good rule for any happy and healthy routine, but especially during menopause when your hormones and moods fluctuate, difficult to manage on a bad night’s sleep.
Getting enough sleep helps to manage these hormones.18
Plus, not getting enough sleep can increase your appetite and decrease your ability to resist unhealthy snacks, so sleep is an important weapon in your fight against menopause weight gain.
Try the best diets for menopause weight loss
Here are three menopause diet plans to lose weight, each with proven menopause weight loss success stories
- Low-carb diets
Low-carb diets have always been recommended for losing weight and decreasing fat in the abdominal area, but did you know it’s also effective as a menopause diet for weight loss?19
For example, one study conducted on postmenopausal women showed that in a 6-month period on a low-carb diet, they were able to lose 21.8 pounds, 27.5% of their body fat, and 3.5 inches from their waists.20
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Mediterranean diets are a colourful, flavourful balance of fruits, vegetables, fish, and other healthy ingredients inspired by countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.21
Not only has this diet been shown to support overall health and a decreased risk of heart disease, but it also promotes weight loss.22
- Vegetarian or vegan diets
Vegan and vegetarian diets are often recommended for weight loss, but they’ve also been proven to have multiple benefits for menopausal women.
In one study of postmenopausal women who switched to a vegan diet, results showed significant weight loss, while another study showed that vegans experienced less severe symptoms during perimenopause—the phase prior to full menopause.23,24
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Drink enough water
Drinking enough water is important for overall health, but it also has multiple benefits for women going through menopause.
For starters, drinking water may reduce bloating, a side effect of hormone fluctuations during menopause.25
It is also useful in your journey of menopause and weight loss, as drinking water before a meal can help you feel full quicker and may increase your metabolism, something which decreases as you age.26
Drinking 500ml of water at least 30 mins before a meal may mean you even consume 13% less during your meal.27
Another of the recommended natural remedies for menopause weight gain is acupuncture.
If you’re not scared of needles and are willing to try something different, acupuncture has been shown to help decrease the frequency of hot flashes by 36.7% over 6 months.28
Not only this, but several studies have suggested that acupuncture may increase oestrogen levels—supplementing your naturally decreasing levels of oestrogen—which could support better sleep and a reduction of menopausal symptoms.29
Hormone replacement therapy
Hormonal replacement therapy is at the end of this list for a reason!
While HRT may work as one of the best menopause supplements for weight loss in some people, it is recommended to try more natural options before seeking advice around this more invasive method.
However, if you do think this method might be the best fit for you, hormone replacement therapy has been shown to support a loss of abdominal fat and improve insulin sensitivity during and after menopause, an important factor in weight loss.30
- Reduce carbs: Helps to increase metabolism and decrease abdominal fat
- Fibre: Increases insulin sensitivity, which helps to promote weight loss
- Soya: Soya-based foods are low in fat and contain phytoestrogen, which act like a weak form of eostrogen in the body.
- Exercise: Resistance or cardio training, or a combination of both, promote weight loss and muscle mass retention
- Get enough rest: Sleep helps to manage hormones and reduce cravings
- Diets for menopause weight loss: Low-carb, Mediterranean, or vegan diets have all shown success stories in menopausal weight loss
- Drink enough water: Water may reduce menopausal-related bloating and help you to feel full quicker and eat less
- Try acupuncture: Acupuncture has been linked to a decrease in hot flashes and increased oestrogen
- Hormone replacement therapy: Linked to reduced abdominal fat and improved sensitivity to insulin, which promote weight loss
Unexplained weight loss during menopause?
If you’re feeling the complete opposite to the above, and have actually experienced unexpected menopause weight loss, you’re not alone!
During the start of menopause, a woman’s ability to gain fat doubles while her lean muscle mass decreases.31
However, muscle weighs more than fat, so if your body’s level of fat remains stable while your muscle decreases, you may see unexpected weight loss.
The final say
Wow. Did you know there were so many ways to support menopause and weight loss?
Well, now you do!
Not only did we share 9 ways to manage your weight during menopause, but you also now understand why weight gain is so common during this phase of a women’s life and that you’re not alone—it’s completely normal.
For more interesting articles you might like, try “Postmenopause: What to expect,” “Natural remedies for menopause symptoms,” and, if you’re wondering whether men can also suffer from hot flushes, read “Hot flushes in men.”
Last updated: 14 September 2021