Weight Gain during Menopause


Can be defined as the time when a woman’s menstrual periods stop and her ovaries stop releasing eggs. This natural process of aging can have a woman on a crazy roller coaster ride every month. When a woman does not have her menstrual period for a year she is considered to be menopausal. During the years of 35-55 women experience weight gain and/or may find it harder to maintain the weight they are currently at. They may also notice that they gain most of their weight in their stomach area rather than their hips and thighs.

As you enter the early stages of menopause, maintaining weight becomes more and more difficult, and losing weight becomes almost impossible. This is because of the fluctuation in your hormones. Your body’s hormones have a direct impact on your appetite, metabolism, and fat storage. At this stage, women develop “insulin resistance” making their bodies store fat, rather than burn calories. This “insulin resistance” changes how our bodies handle the foods we eat.

For example, if you ate 1,000 calories before menopause, you would burn 700 of them and store around 300. After menopause, your body will store 700 and burn only 300! This is a big difference, and the result is weight gain! Even a modest weight gain can result in a change of dress size.

How Does Exercise Help?

The good news is that a regular program of physical activity can help manage many of the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause as well as the related health concerns, such as heart disease and osteoporosis.

The mood-elevating, tension-relieving effects of aerobic exercise help reduce the depression and anxiety that often accompanies menopause. Aerobic exercise also promotes the loss of abdominal fat—the place most women more readily gain weight during menopause. In addition, some research studies have shown that the increased estrogen levels that follow a woman’s exercise session coincide with an overall decrease in the severity of hot flashes. Strength training also helps. It stimulates bones to retain the minerals that keep them dense and strong, thus preventing the onset and progression of osteoporosis. These effects of exercise, along with improved cholesterol levels and physical fitness, work together to help prevent heart disease.

Keep in mind, though, that good nutrition works hand in hand with a physically active lifestyle. A low-fat, high-fiber diet and adequate calcium intake are vital to realize the full benefits of exercise.

The daily changes you make now can yield important benefits for decades to come.

Here are just a few menopause weight loss tips:

• Reduce calories. Menopausal women need fewer calories to maintain former body weight. It may be necessary to cut calorie intake by 10 to 15 percent, while at the same time increasing your level of activity or exercise. If women don’t reduce their calorie intake, they are over eating. Calories needs are the highest during the mid-20s, then reduce at about 2% to 4% for every 10 years added.

• Eat a balanced diet. Avoid refined sugars and indulge in fruits and vegetables. Choose foods low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Fat intake should be less than 30 percent of daily calorie intake. Women of all ages should consume 20 to 30 grams of fiber daily.

• Portion Control. Eat slowly and practice portion control – this does not mean you have to eliminate your favorite foods. Just eat smaller quantities.

• Maintain adequate intake of water: So many of the bodily functions rely on the body being adequately hydrated. Drinking 8 to 10 glasses daily is ideal. Most people mistake feelings of thirst for feelings of hunger and eat something when they could have just as easily drank a glass of water and been done with it. Next time that you think you might be hungry, stop and think it over. Did you eat less than four hours ago? When was the last time that you had something to drink? Have you been working or exercising at a fairly strenuous pace? Before you reach for something to eat, fill a glass and drink it. Wait a few minutes and see if you still feel hungry. Retrain your body to seek out food only when it truly needs it, which begins with you knowing the difference between real hunger and thirst.

• Don’t lose large amounts of weight. There is a balance between being too thin and just right. Being very thin can lead to an increased chance of developing osteoporosis.

• Increase your physical activity. Exercise becomes particularly important as a woman ages. Regular exercise benefits the heart and bones, helps regulate weight, and can be a mood enhancer, creating a better sense of well-being. Women who are physically inactive are more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis.