Understanding Menopause and Weight Gain

Menopause and its related symptoms hardly go unnoticed for women between 45 and 55. However, some studies show that even women in their late thirties can suffer from the early onset. So whether you’re approaching menopause or going through it at the moment, I’m sure you already know about the many discomforts this new chapter brings.

While the menopause whammy hits every woman at a certain point, one side effect sure catches most ladies off guard – weight gain. In fact, one in five women experiences weight gain during this period! Just recently, a friend of mine reported how she misses life before menopause as the extra weight hits her hard.

To help familiarize yourself with the whole process of weight gain in menopause, we’ve identified some of the most frequently asked questions on the topic.

Without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Do You Gain Weight During Menopause?

Weight gain is often the number one enemy for most women worldwide, regardless of age. While some women are more prone to gaining weight long before menopause kicks in, others may notice abdominal weight gain during this transition.

Unfortunately, as you age, it becomes harder to maintain your usual weight. And by the time menopause starts, several hormonal changes occur that only add to the challenge. The good news is, you can avoid gaining weight by sticking to a proper diet and getting regular exercise during menopause.

Weighing Scale beside Woman
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Does Menopause Make You Gain Weight?

While menopause does not necessarily make you gain weight, it can contribute to the extra pounds. This is because as your body tries to adjust to the new hormonal changes, it can react by stacking up the excess fat around your belly. This is a normal process caused by the fluctuations in estrogen − a hormone responsible for accumulating fat cells.

Why Does Menopause Cause Weight Gain?

A lot of changes kick in during menopause, with hormones dominating the entire process. For example, during the perimenopause stage, your progesterone levels start to decline, while the estrogen begins to fluctuate, eventually falling to a very low level. As these changes occur, women become more prone to gaining weight.

However, the whole process is highly individual. Some women may experience sudden weight gain, while others (the lucky ones!) won’t gain a single pound.

Why Do You Gain Weight During Menopause

Weight gain during menopause is mainly related to a variety of hormonal changes. But, as if mood swings, night sweats, and hot flashes aren’t annoying enough, they’re likely to be accompanied by a few extra pounds during the menopausal whammy.

However, weight gain is not always related to the hormonal changes during menopause. Instead, your lifestyle, age, and genetics all play their respective roles. When it comes to lifestyle factors, your diet and exercise will primarily impact your overall weight, just like they do during the menstrual stage.

Also, in menopause, our bodies burn fewer calories and fat for the same activities (so unfair!) The few extra pounds you could quickly shed 20 years ago are a lot more stubborn now, so you want to be extra careful in adjusting your lifestyle to the ongoing changes.

How Much Weight Do You Gain During Menopause?

During the whole menopause period, women are likely to gain between 10 to 15 pounds on average. The range, however, can vary between three to 30 pounds. Women who were already overweight can experience more weight gain.

I’ve heard it from so many women: They feel like their bodies have betrayed them when it comes to losing weight at this stage. This can pose a challenge to women accustomed to losing weight quickly. But there’s somewhat of a silver lining: There’s a massive boat of gals sailing the same waters, as almost 90% of us tend to gain weight during this period.

woman adjusting balance weight scale
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What Is the Average Weight Gain During Menopause?

Between the age of 45 and 55, women can gain between 10 and 15 pounds on average. This weight tends to accumulate in the belly area rather than being distributed throughout the body. However, this process is highly individual, and some women can get by with two or three pounds tops.

Menopause Weight Gain Like Crazy

‘I’m about to turn 50, and none of my pants fit anymore’ – the war cry of almost every other woman on the planet who faces menopause. The fact that you begin to gain weight definitely isn’t thrilling, and it’s also not so budget-friendly. But it’s a reality – menopause can cause you to gain weight like crazy sometimes.

Even though the hormonal changes play a big part, you want to ask yourself whether you’re helping the hormones by overeating junk food or acquiring a sedentary lifestyle. If so, you may want to reconsider your life choices for the next few years.

Upper Body Weight Gain Menopause

As you get older, your body undergoes a series of changes that might include upper body weight gain. As you start to gain more weight, the fat cells typically group around your belly during menopause but can also make their way to your breast (that doesn’t sound so bad) or upper body.

To avoid the accumulation of fat cells in your upper body, make sure to get enough exercise, incorporate a diet packed with nutrients and fiber, and avoid alcohol.

Weight Gain in Breasts After Menopause

Have you felt puzzled by your cup running over lately? Rest assured – bigger boobs are normal during menopause. However, as you transition between perimenopause and menopause, your hormones start to fluctuate. As a result, there can be an accumulation of fat cells around your belly and your breasts.

According to a 2004 study, about one in five women experience breast size increase after menopause. The main reason for it is the overall weight gain.

Menopause and Weight Gain in Thighs

As you may already know, the hormonal changes related to menopause usually make women gain weight around their bellies rather than the thighs or hips. However, these changes alone don’t have to be the leading cause of menopausal weight gain. Other factors play an essential role, such as aging, genetics, or lifestyle. So if you notice an increase in weight around your thighs, it may well be due to these factors rather than the estrogen fluctuation.

checking diet progress dietician consultation
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How to Reverse Menopause Weight Gain

As irritating as menopause weight gain may be, it’s possible to ease the struggles. Unfortunately, there’s no secret formula to help you reverse the weight gain, but you can stick to the basics:

Get Active

By staying physically active and adding some aerobic exercise or strength workouts, you can lose weight faster and keep healthy. In general, the recommended moderate aerobic activity for adults is 150 minutes per week, followed by 75 minutes of jogging or other vigorous aerobic exercises.

Eat Less

Let’s have a quick look at the math. If you were to maintain your current weight in menopause, you should consume 200 fewer calories than in your 30s or 40s. This doesn’t mean you need to starve yourself, however. Instead, make sure to eat more whole foods, veggies, fruits, and especially foods rich in fiber.

Cut the Sweets

By adding sugar, an average American adds around 300 calories to their diet. Most of those calories come from sweetened drinks such as sodas, juices, and energy drinks. So by getting rid of those sugar-packed products, cakes, doughnuts, candy, and other guilty treats, you’ll have a much easier time controlling your weight in menopause.

Lower Alcohol Consumption

Alcoholic drinks will only add calories to your diet and increase your risk of gaining weight.

Friendly reminder: No matter the age, weight loss can be a time-consuming process, and it can take months to lose just a few pounds. Menopause only makes things more complicated, so you may need to put extra effort into reaching your desired weight. However, do your best to commit to positive lifestyle changes, and you’ll enjoy a healthier you, helping menopause go as smoothly as possible.

HRT for Menopause Weight Gain

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is believed to help with weight loss in some women.

Women who undergo the HRT take advantage of modern medicine to boost hormone levels during menopause. There are numerous theories as to whether this therapy is good for weight loss or, on the flipside, promotes weight gain. However, there is no scientific evidence that HRT causes any of the two changes.

nurse weighing elderly patient
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Exercise for Menopause Weight Gain

Next to mood swings, hot flashes, and insomnia, weight gain has to be one of the most troublesome symptoms of menopause. However, as losing weight can easily be your top motivation for exercising, there are numerous other benefits of regular physical activity during menopause. Release of the happy hormone (endorphin), peaceful sleep, libido boost, and stress relief are the main benefits.

Depending on your body type and shape, you can implement various exercises to stimulate weight loss. If you have no previous experience with exercising, it’s important to start adding activities gradually. At first, you can take power walks, followed by some stretching and strengthening exercises.

If you already have a history of going to the gym or doing various training sessions, you can go for high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which is sure to make you sweat and help burn those extra pounds faster.

Overall, the best exercise combination is cardio and strength exercises. Basic whole-body activities you can try include the following:

  • Sit-ups
  • Push-ups
  • Squats
  • Planks
  • Fire hydrants
  • Mountain climbers
  • Lunges

A combination of these exercises will work out your whole body, build muscle strength, and increase your resting metabolism rate. This will, in turn, burn more calories while your body is at rest, resulting in faster weight loss.

Best Treatments for Menopause Weight Gain

It’s a fact: Menopause weight gain is a thing. The number of pounds you’ll gain is highly individual, and there are several ways to help slow the process down. You can implement a diet rich in soluble fiber and protein. Also, regular exercise (a combination of strength and cardio) will do wonders to stop you from gaining more weight.

Several supplements can manage menopause weight gain, and we’ll discuss some of them below.

Stasis Women’s Health Support

There’s no sugar-coating this: You can’t stop menopause. But you can help your body adapt to the ongoing changes faster, and Stasis can help you do just that. This food supplement improves your hormonal balance to mitigate the symptoms of hormonal changes.

It’s effective at improving mood and energy, reducing hot flashes, promoting healthy estrogen balance, and helping with weight management. You can use it during menopause and perimenopause, and there’s even free shipping for orders inside the US.

The 30-day supply (you take four capsules daily) is packed with an estrogen support formula with no gluten, dairy, or GMO.

Pros

  1. Helps with weight loss
  2. Reduces hot flashes
  3. Good value for money

Cons

Not effective for everyone

Fit & Happy

MenoLabs, a women’s health company known for its menopause products, features the fiber + probiotic combo to help women achieve their health goals during menopause. The main idea behind this combo is to bring your gut microbiome in balance. As you do, it will affect your weight, mood, and even sleep positively.

With two capsules of Meno Fit probiotic and two teaspoons of Happy Fiber per day, you’re bound to feel more energized and happier It can also manage your sugar cravings. All this will ultimately lead to enhanced weight loss.

Pros

  1. Natural ingredients
  2. 20+ years of research behind each product line
  3. Helps control weight
  4. Reduces other menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings
  5. Vegetarian-friendly
  6. Estrogen-free

Cons

  1. It may not work for everyone
  2. A bit on the pricey side

90 Day Quick Start

Did you like the MenoLabs MenoFit and Happy Fiber products and would like to make an addition to the powerhouse combo? Then, you can try the 90-Day Quick Start that comes with a 90-day fitness and nutrition guide and free access to their MenoLife health tracking app.

With MenoLabs products, you will give your energy levels a jumpstart without undergoing hormone replacement therapy. In addition, the program is excellent for easing the annoying symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes, weight gain, night sweats, mood fluctuations, and so on.

With MenoLabs, all treatment is based on improving your gut. The bacteria populating your gut impact your weight, hunger, energy, and mood. Keeping them in balance will keep your overall health in balance as well.

Pros

  1. Helps prevent weight gain
  2. Reduces hot flashes and night sweats
  3. Adds to microbiome health
  4. Boosts metabolism

Cons

  1. It may not work for everyone
  2. Pricey monthly subscription