Are you going through menopause and struggling with weight gain? You’re not alone! Many women gain weight during this stage of life, but luckily there are natural remedies to combat it.
Let’s delve into the connection between menopause and weight gain, and explore the potential causes. We’ll also discuss complications that can arise from menopausal weight gain.
Don’t worry though, you’ll get practical tips here on how to lessen menopausal weight gain through exercise, diet, and lifestyle changes.
Are you ready to take control of your body during this transformative phase of life?
Short on time? Don’t leave now! Scroll to the bottom for health hacks you can implement TODAY.
Why is Weight Gain So Common During Menopause?
As you enter this new phase of life, it is not uncommon to experience weight gain. If this describes you, know that you’re not alone!
Let’s explore the many factors that contribute to menopausal weight gain.
Menopause brings a natural decline in estrogen levels. This hormonal shift affects how your body handles fat, leading to increased storage, especially around the waist.
With lower estrogen levels, your metabolism tends to slow down. This means you burn fewer calories at rest, making it easier to gain weight if you’re not careful with your food choices.
Unfortunately, we all lose muscle mass as we age. Since muscles burn more calories than fat, even when you are resting, less muscle means you’re not burning as many calories, contributing to potential weight gain.
Hormonal fluctuations during menopause influence your appetite and food cravings. You might find yourself longing for sugary or high-calorie treats, which can lead to overeating and unwanted pounds.
Stress and Emotions
Menopause can be an emotionally challenging time, and stress levels may increase due to hormonal changes and life transitions. Stress eating or emotional eating can become a coping mechanism, impacting your weight.
During menopause you may face sleep disturbances. Poor sleep can disrupt hunger-regulating hormones, potentially leading to weight gain.
Menopause often occurs at the same time as other big life changes, such as children leaving home or retirement. These adjustments might affect your daily routines and activity levels, which can influence weight.
Some women are more genetically prone to gain weight during menopause, making them more susceptible to changes in body composition.
Understanding these factors can help you make informed choices to manage your weight effectively during this time. Taking care of yourself is crucial.
Balanced nutrition, regular exercise, stress management, and enough rest all play key roles in maintaining a healthy weight during menopause.
Consulting with a healthcare professional can provide personalized guidance, offering you the support and confidence to navigate this transformative phase with grace and vitality.
Risks of Menopausal Weight Gain
The hormonal changes that occur during menopause can contribute to weight gain, particularly around the abdomen. Weight gain in your midsection can lead to a higher risk of health complications such as heart disease and diabetes.
While weight gain can be part of the aging process, increased amounts of body fat and decreases in lean body mass (primarily muscle) seem related to menopause (1).
Issues with Abdominal Fat
Excess body fat, particularly in the midsection, can pose significant health risks, including an increased likelihood of cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders.
A study published in the journal Menopause found that accumulating inches around your middle during menopause — even if you haven’t gained a single pound — puts you at greater risk for cardiovascular disease (2).
Having more fat around the middle of the body (central adiposity) is linked to a higher risk of mortality, even if you have a normal BMI or Body Mass Index (1).
In other words, excess weight around your waist or abdomen can increase the likelihood of health problems and reduce your life expectancy, even if your overall weight falls within the normal range.
Concerns for Heart Health and Cholesterol
Menopause also causes changes to your cholesterol levels which means concerns for heart health. Additionally, menopause affects how your blood vessels work and your risk of metabolic syndrome (1).
To manage weight effectively and reduce heart disease risk, lifestyle changes are crucial.
What’s the Best Way to Prevent Menopause Weight Gain?
To prevent menopause weight gain, exercise regularly and maintain a balanced diet. Manage stress through relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation. Prioritize sufficient sleep as poor sleep can contribute to weight gain during menopause.
Staying active and incorporating exercise into your daily routine can be a game-changer when it comes to managing weight gain during menopause.
Engaging in regular physical activity, whether it’s brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or dancing, helps burn calories. By creating a calorie deficit, you can counteract the natural slowing down of metabolism that often occurs during menopause.
Preserving Lean Muscle
Strength training exercises, like weight lifting or resistance training, are fantastic for preserving and building lean muscle mass. Since muscle burns more calories than fat, maintaining muscle can give your metabolism a helpful boost.
Aerobic exercises are great for burning fat and promoting weight loss, especially when combined with a balanced diet. This can lead to improved body composition and help you shed unwanted pounds.
Quality of Life
Exercise has a positive impact on your body throughout your life. Women who remain physically active during and after menopause tend to experience lower stress levels and enjoy a higher overall quality of life.
By being physically active, you may experience fewer unpleasant symptoms of menopause like hot flashes and night sweats, and have a reduced risk of negative health outcomes like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes (3).
Regular physical activity can help regulate appetite hormones, making you feel more satisfied and less likely to overeat or give in to cravings.
Menopause can bring emotional challenges, and exercise is an excellent stress reliever. It can help reduce stress and emotional eating, making it easier to maintain a healthy weight.
Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking or dancing, are fantastic for bone health. They can help maintain bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, which becomes increasingly important during and after menopause.
Exercise contributes to better sleep quality, essential for hormonal regulation and overall well-being during menopause. Improved sleep can also positively impact your eating habits and weight management.
Remember, choose activities that you enjoy and feel comfortable doing. Start gradually if you haven’t been active for a while, and listen to your body’s signals.
If you’re unsure where to begin, seeking advice from a healthcare professional or certified fitness trainer can help you find the perfect exercise routine tailored to your needs.
By incorporating exercise into your daily life, you’ll be taking proactive steps to manage weight gain during menopause and promote your overall health. Every effort counts, and finding activities that bring you joy will make it easier to stay committed. You’ve got this!
Diet plays a vital role in managing weight gain during menopause. Opt for whole, nutrient-dense foods in place of processed and sugary options. Prioritize fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Stay hydrated and limit alcohol intake to help control weight gain.
And if you’re noticing additional cellulite recently, good food choices can help with that too!
Let’s explore how what you eat can make a real difference in supporting your body through this significant life change.
With the changes in metabolism, it’s essential to be mindful of your calorie intake. A balanced diet and portion control ensure you don’t consume more calories than your body needs, helping to prevent unwanted weight gain.
Opting for nutrient-dense foods like colorful fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats ensures you get essential vitamins and minerals without unnecessary calories. These foods keep your body well-nourished.
Foods high in fiber, like delicious fruits, veggies, and whole grains, help you feel full and content, reducing the temptation to overeat. They’re also fantastic for keeping your digestion in check.
Fueling with Proteins
Including lean proteins from sources like poultry, fish, beans, and legumes helps your body maintain muscle mass. More muscle means burning more calories, making weight management easier.
Adding healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil, not only keeps your meals tasty but also contributes to feeling satisfied.
Watching your sugar intake and reducing processed foods can make a real difference in managing weight gain and improving overall health.
Staying hydrated with good ol’ water is essential. Sometimes, our bodies mistake thirst for hunger, so drinking enough water can prevent unnecessary snacking.
If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. While a glass of red wine can enhance a meal, alcohol contains calories, affects sleep and metabolism, and can increase appetite, all potentially contributing to weight gain.
Moreover, excessive alcohol consumption may disrupt hormonal balance and liver function, impacting weight regulation during menopause.
Timing and Portions
Listening to your body’s signals, watching your portions, and enjoying balanced meals at regular intervals can support your energy levels and help you to avoid overeating.
Practicing mindful eating, savoring your meals, and being aware of emotional eating habits can foster a healthier relationship with food.
Taking Care of Your Bones
Including calcium-rich foods in your diet, like dairy products or fortified plant-based alternatives, supports bone health during and after menopause.
Each woman’s journey through menopause is unique, and dietary needs may differ. If you’re uncertain about the best approach, seeking guidance from a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) can provide personalized advice.
By embracing a balanced and nutritious diet, you can take charge of managing weight gain during menopause and nurture your overall well-being.
Stress management and sleep play crucial roles in managing weight gain during menopause. The hormonal changes and life transitions that accompany this phase can impact your stress levels and sleep patterns, which, in turn, influence your weight and overall well-being.
Recognizing the link between stress, sleep, and weight is essential. Stress can disrupt sleep, and poor sleep can elevate stress, creating a cycle that affects weight. Addressing both stress management and sleep quality is key to maintaining a healthy weight during menopause.
Menopause can bring emotional challenges, and stress levels may rise due to hormonal changes and life transitions. Managing stress is essential for maintaining a healthy weight.
Stress can lead to emotional eating, where we seek comfort in food. By handling stress better, we can avoid this pattern and prevent unnecessary weight gain.
Finding healthy ways to cope with stress, like meditation, yoga, or spending time outdoors, prevents stress-induced eating and nurtures a positive mindset.
Insomnia is an extremely common symptom of menopause according to the North American Menopause Society (5).
Adequate sleep plays a crucial role in managing weight gain during menopause. Hormones that regulate appetite can be disrupted by poor sleep, leading to increased calorie intake (6) which makes it difficult to maintain a healthy weight.
To promote good sleep hygiene, it is important to establish a consistent sleep schedule and create a relaxing bedtime routine. Avoiding caffeine and electronic devices before bed can also contribute to better sleep quality.
Good sleep improves energy levels, making it easier to stay active and engage in regular exercise, which supports weight management. By getting enough sleep, you can also reduce cravings, support healthy eating habits, and improve overall weight management.
Can Supplements Aid in Combating Menopause Weight Gain?
Several supplements, including black cohosh, ashwagandha, and rhodiola appear to help relieve menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings. However, only a few currently show promise for preventing weight gain.
Containing isoflavones similar to estrogen, red clover is often used to manage symptoms and effects of menopause, such as hot flashes, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular health. A recent animal study also showed a potential benefit in weight management (7).
Green tea is often touted for its numerous health benefits, and some studies suggest that it may have a role in supporting weight management. This may be due to its anti-inflammatory effects or its effects on appetite and metabolism.
A recent study specifically in post-menopausal women found an effect on both weight and body fat from a green tea supplement (8).
You may have been hearing quite a bit recently about the supplement berberine. And while not specifically focused on menopause, recent research does show that it can be helpful in preventing weight gain (9).
Similar to berberine, bitter melon has been studied for general weight management, not only menopause related. It also shows promise in mitigating weight gain (10).
Herbal remedies can have varying effects on individuals and may interact with medications or health conditions. Seeking professional guidance before introducing any herbal supplements is essential, particularly if you have existing health concerns or are taking medications.
Best Natural Remedies for Menopause Weight Gain
As a woman goes through menopause, it’s natural to experience changes in weight and body composition. However, there are effective ways to manage your weight during this phase.
Engaging in regular exercise and adopting a healthy diet play significant roles in weight management. Setting good sleep habits and making lifestyle adjustments can also contribute to maintaining a healthy weight during menopause.
If you’re experiencing difficulties managing weight gain during menopause, incorporating natural supplements into your routine may also be beneficial. Taking a holistic approach to combat menopause weight gain will help you maintain a healthy weight and support overall well-being.
Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for menopause weight gain. Embrace a personalized approach, be patient with the process, and celebrate the strength within you!
Kate is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and certified yoga instructor with a Master’s in Public Health. She loves to share what she has learned about nutrition and yoga to help people live healthier, more balanced lives. When not working on this blog or teaching yoga, Kate is usually spending time with family and friends or reading a good book.