Okay. We’re about to have a conversation about menopause weight gain. So here’s an idea: Let’s talk about this kindly.
Let’s have a conversation about weight that doesn’t see larger bodies as “incorrect.”
Let’s shift the conversation to be about feeling healthy and strong rather than hitting a certain number on the scale. 💪
We spend too much of our lives being given messages about our bodies and their “wrongness”.
It’s time we took charge of the conversation.
Are you here for it?
In this article: 📝
- What causes weight gain during menopause?
- How long does menopause weight gain last?
- How can I stop menopause weight gain?
What causes weight gain during menopause?
The truth is the relationship between menopause and weight gain is complicated.
Let’s start from the beginning:
Menopause is officially diagnosed 12 months after you have your last period.
There’s a lot that happens to our bodies over this time—some of it related to the specific changes that menopause brings, and some of it just to do with the fact that we’re getting older.
So, here are the most common causes of weight gain during menopause:
1. Changes to your hormone levels
One of the real showstoppers of menopause is estrogen fluctuation. 🎢
Ever since you hit puberty, estrogen has been a key part of how your menstrual cycle functions.
When you get to menopause, you no longer need estrogen to do this job for you, so your ovaries stop producing it.
“Once this happens, your backup estrogen comes from DHEA from the adrenal glands,” explains chiropractor and wellness practitioner Dr. Paige Enwright. “If your adrenal output is insufficient, your next backup is your own fat cells!”
“Our adipose tissues, or fat cells, have their own aromatase enzyme that creates estrogen. So many women who have insufficient hormones—insufficient adrenals—eat well, exercise a ton, and still gain weight.
“It all comes down to adrenal output,” Dr. Enwright continues, “I work with many women in menopause on adrenal function.”
2. Getting older
Aging for women comes with an increased risk of certain illnesses like thyroid disorders.
We also naturally lose muscle mass as we age.
All of this impacts our metabolisms and makes it easier for us to gain weight.
3. Dealing with other symptoms of menopause
Yes, that’s right. Sometimes symptoms cause other symptoms. 🤦♀️
You may not be sleeping so well. You may have some weird cravings for foods that are high in sugar and salt.
You may be too tired to do anything but the bare minimum.
And having to negotiate all of this can lead to weight gain.
There’s so much going on at this stage of life that can challenge our mental health.
Not only are your hormones shifting around, but you may also be dealing with a bunch of life stresses—families, relationships, money, work, the general state of the world.
It’s a lot.
Depression and weight gain have a complicated relationship—one causes the other causes the other.
5. Increased insulin resistance
This can make weight loss more of a challenge.
However, there are some people who experience unintentional weight loss during menopause.
After all, all bodies are different.
The other crazy thing about weight gain during menopause is where it happens on your body.
Fat storage often shifts from your hips and thighs to your belly.
Why does this matter? Because it’s more of a health threat.
[Belly fat](](https://www.peanut-app.io/blog/menopause-belly) puts you more at risk for developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other illnesses.
How long does menopause weight gain last?
Because there are so many factors involved in the relationship between menopause and weight gain, there’s no easy answer to this.
On average, perimenopause lasts between four and eight years, after which your hormones may settle.
But hormonal fluctuation may not be the only reason for weight gain.
It may be helpful to reflect on the other factors going on in your life and discern if there are any areas within your power to shift.
Just remember, any changes you make in your lifestyle to counteract menopausal weight gain need to be sustainable if you want them to have a long-term effect.
There’s no room for crash diets and quick fixes here, just small, intentional steps toward a more balanced, enriched you.
How can I stop menopause weight gain?
Well, you can’t necessarily, but you can create healthy habits that benefit you in all sorts of ways:
- Avoid crash diets: We’ll say it over and over. Fad and crash diets wreak havoc on your system and often lead to more weight gain down the line. Not to mention adding a restrictive aspect to your life that your mental well-being could do without. You’re already contending with a plethora of menopause symptoms.
- Eat a nutritionally balanced diet: A nourishing, balanced menopause diet includes protein, healthy fats, and lots of fruits and veg. And let’s forget room for honoring cravings.
- Make mealtimes a thing: Try not to eat on the run. Dish up your food and sit down to eat it. Make it mindful and meaningful.
- Manage your intake of salt, sugar, and saturated fats: Need we say more?
- Limit your alcohol consumption: Alcohol can exacerbate many menopause symptoms.
- Get daily exercise: You don’t have to compete in a triathlon. Just do something you genuinely love to do. And do it often.
- Look after your mental health: Seek help if you’re struggling. Prioritize having healthy relationships. Take time to address your own needs. Self-care is not an optional extra—it’s a necessity.
- Consider taking supplements: Some menopause supplements may be able to help with weight loss.
Be kind to yourself. 💝