Menopause & Weight Gain – How to Interrupt the Cycle

Graphic - Menopause and Weight Gain - How to Interrupt the Cycle

As you get older, you may notice that you gain weight very easily and it becomes more and more difficult to lose weight.  I hear this every day in my practice.  Today, I want to explain why this occurs and how to interrupt (or prevent) this cycle from occurring in your life.

Let’s look at what causes weight gain in menopause:

  • Hormonal changes (especially a decrease in estrogen) cause more weight gain around your abdomen. This is called visceral fat – which is the fat that overlies the organs, also known to be a more dangerous type of fat because it leads to diseases like diabetes and heart disease
  • Your muscle mass starts to decrease and your fat mass increases.
  • Your metabolic rate slows down – which requires you to take in less calories to maintain your weight
  • For most, your physical activity decreases
  • Your genetics may play a part
  • You may experience a lack of sleep which usually makes you more hungry

With this in mind, how can you prevent menopausal weight gain or lose weight during this phase of your life?

First, reduce your total number of daily calories

  • You will need about 200 calories a day less in your 50s compared to in your 30s and 40s
  • Get 0.8 to 1 gram/kg of protein daily. For a woman who weighs 150 pounds, this relates to at least 68 grams of quality protein per day.
  • Eliminate as much processed and sugary foods as you can.
  • Increase your ingestion of plant-based foods like nuts, seeds, olive oils, beans, legumes, and fatty fish

Second, reduce your carbohydrate intake which will help decrease your belly fat.

Third, increase your fiber intake.

Fourth, be sure to exercise: 

  • Especially strength training which help to increase muscle mass
  • Aim for a workout that makes you break a sweat

Fifth, be sure to get enough sleep.  You should get approximately 7-8 hours each night.  To help, practice a good sleep habit routine such as removing all electronic screens from your bedroom for at least an hour before bedtime and go to bed and get up on the same schedule each day.

Remember, menopause is a natural change that all women will experience at some point. It can be very frustrating to see such significant physical changes in a short period of time. It may take more mindfulness to lose weight at this time, but it is possible.  I see success with my patients every day! You don’t have to go through this alone. Reach out and let us help you positively navigate menopause so you can feel healthier and experience less frustration during this natural phase of life.