The idea of menopause weight loss may feel like fiction—a concept that lives in the same land as the tooth fairy, Superwoman, and self-cleaning kitchens. It’s no secret that, as we age, it gets harder to drop pounds if we want to.
The reality is, menopause and the surrounding time comes with a unique combination of physical changes and life stresses, many of which can contribute to weight gain.
For some, putting on weight can lead to feelings of depression and low self-esteem—particularly in societies that are in constant praise of slimmer figures.
So is this just one of those certainties in life? Death, taxes, and menopause weight gain?
As we navigate the answer to this question, let’s just agree to go gently on ourselves. Seriously. We’ve got enough on our plates.
📝 In this article:
- Losing weight during menopause
- Menopause weight gain
- How can I balance my hormones to lose weight during menopause?
- Is it possible to lose weight during menopause?
Losing weight during menopause
Menopause is the mark on your calendar twelve months after your period ends.
The months and years leading up to that point—known as perimenopause—are when this metamorphosis is in full swing.
One of the key changes over this time is a pretty major hormonal one.
Estrogen and progesterone, the hormones that have been keeping your menstrual cycle ticking for all these years, are no longer needed.
As they decline, you may experience a range of symptoms, such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood changes.
Some people may also experience unintentional weight loss during menopause.
For some women, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) helps with these symptoms.
It’s important to note that, while we speak of these as “symptoms,” this is not an illness. Menopause is a completely natural transition, like puberty.
Menopause weight gain
Many women also experience weight gain over this time—about two to five pounds on average.
And this weight gain might not be totally due to hormones.
As the North American Menopause Society tells us, there is actually no concrete evidence that links either menopause or HRT to the weight gain that might happen over this time.
The simple fact of getting older may be a key element at work. As we age, lean body mass decreases, and our body fat increases.
We are also more prone to metabolic syndrome (Met S), which is linked to insulin resistance, weight gain, and hypertension.
But even that is not as cut and dried as we may have previously thought.
This recent study showed that metabolism only starts declining after about the age of sixty. So, uh, yes–this is by no means a simple issue.
There are so many other factors that may also come into play:
- Mental health challenges. This time of life can have a severe impact on your mental health. As many as 20% of women experience depression during menopause. Depression and weight gain are linked in complex ways—depression can cause weight gain, and weight gain can cause depression. If you are struggling with depression, reach out to your healthcare provider, a trusted friend or relative, or the Peanut community. There is help available.
- Busy schedules that leave little time for exercise and meal planning. Careers, children, elderly parents—there’s a lot going on at this time. Exercise is great at reducing stress and preventing the loss of muscle mass—but finding the time to do it may be easier said than done.
- Sleep is harder to come by. The relationship between sleep and menopause is not always a great one. According to this study, up to 56% of women report sleep difficulties at this time of life. As this recent study explores, trouble with sleep may have a significant impact on weight gain.
The bottom line? There’s no one cause for the weight gain that might happen at this point in life.
Every body is different and, even within one body, several factors may be working together.
How can I balance my hormones to lose weight during menopause?
While we’re not totally sure if weight gain is directly linked to the hormonal changes that happen during menopause, changes in body shape tend to be.
Basically, the weight migrates from your hips to your waist.
So, if you’re wondering, the answer is yes—menopause belly fat is a thing.
As your ovaries kick up their heels to enjoy their new life of leisure, a variety of hormonal fluctuations take place.
As this study explains, these hormonal fluctuations could be responsible for your change in shape.
Is it possible to lose weight during menopause?
The short answer is, there’s no short answer. Yes, it’s possible in the sense that people have done it before. It’s also harder—and should be done safely.
What is the fastest way to lose weight during menopause?
If you’re wondering how to lose weight during menopause, the first thing is to do it kindly.
Heavily restrictive diets can lead to nutritional deficiencies and Yo-Yo dieting, both of which are not optimal for your health at any stage of life.
Here are some other things to try instead:
- Get regular exercise. You don’t have to compete in triathlons. Any regular physical activity will do. Expert advice says to incorporate about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week. And the best way to stick to an exercise plan is to do something you actually enjoy. Dance, yoga, and walking in nature all count.
- Eat a nutrient-rich, balanced diet. This study showed that the Mediterranean diet, with its focus on plant-based foods like whole grains and vegetables, was very useful.
- Limit salt, sugar, and processed foods. Doing so can help decrease your risk of various health conditions, including type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Choose foods high in calcium. Milk products, nuts and beans, and leafy green vegetables are all excellent sources. Too many servings of red meat and carbonated drinks get in the way of calcium absorption.
- Drink at least two liters of water a day. This miracle liquid can help you on your weight loss journey in many ways. It’s a natural appetite suppressant, metabolism booster, and waste removal service, to name but a few of its stellar traits.
- Slow your alcohol and caffeine intake. If nothing else, doing so will help with hot flashes.
- Try to establish consistent mealtimes. There has been recent interest in the idea that weight loss is not just about what we eat but when we eat it. Eating with our circadian rhythms in mind—that’s the internal clock that governs our sleep-wake cycle—may help us lose weight. Practically, this means eating the bulk of your daily food during the daytime.
Supplements. Some menopause supplements are specially made for weight loss, but make sure they’re FDA-approved and third-party tested so they’re safe to take.
Finally, proceed with compassion. That’s the most important thing right now.
And you don’t have to do any of this alone. Connect with us on Peanut. We’re having the conversation.