Will I Gain Weight During the Menopause?

One of the main concerns of women entering into the menopause is gaining weight. How true is it that you put on weight? Can we avoid it? We will go into detail here.
Will I Gain Weight During the Menopause?

Last update: 31 March, 2020

Many women ask if they’ll gain weight during the menopause. Firstly, we know that the menopause is when a woman stops having periods. It usually happens after the age of 45 and has hormonal consequences.

At this stage, the ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone. It’s thought that a woman has entered menopause when she hasn’t had a period for one year. However, it also comes with other physical changes that make women worry. 

One of the main concerns is that women can gain weight. Next, we’ll reveal the truth, the processes involved and what we can do to prevent it.

Hormonal changes during the menopause

To answer the question of whether you gain weight during menopause, it’s important to note that a series of hormonal changes occur during this period. Although these could be related to weight gain, the truth is that experts link it more with aging itself.

Muscle mass decreases as we age, especially if we don’t exercise regularly. This loss of active tissue leads to a significant reduction in caloric expenditure and, consequently, to a low weight gain without altering dietary behaviors.

A woman on some scales.
Hormonal changes may be related to weight gain during menopause. However, more studies are needed.

This study by the journal Climacteric suggests that “hormonal changes can be linked to gaining weight around the stomach area”. They also propose estrogen therapy as a solution.

However, they conclude that there aren’t enough studies to prove how effective this type of therapy is on body composition.

How to prevent changes to body composition

Hormonal changes and losing muscle mass must be compensated in order to avoid unwanted weight gain. In order to improve your metabolism, the best thing to do is create a plan of high-intensity exercise that will prevent loss of active tissue.

Additionally, scientific literature suggests that postmenopausal women should exercise regularly to avoid problems such as osteoporosis. From a nutritional point of view, it’s important to take measures that will help your body get the nutrients it needs but without producing an imbalance in energy.

1. Intermittent fasting

This is an excellent way to eliminate a large amount of daily calories using little effort. The best thing to do is skip breakfast because hormonal cycles make you have less of an appetite in the morning.

Studies also suggest that these dietary needs are positive because they can help to prevent complex illnesses such as type II diabetes.

2. Eating fewer carbohydrates

The main function of carbohydrates is to produce energy. In menopausal women, unless they exercise a lot, they don’t need this nutrient as much.

This is why it’s good to decrease carbohydrate intake and slightly increase the amount of proteins. This should help to prevent loss of muscle mass.

A man eating.
During the menopause it’s better to decrease carbohydrate consumption and increase protein consumption. The latter will help maintain muscle mass.

Meanwhile, strict keto diets can be difficult to follow. Furthermore, its fiber deficiencies can be a problem for intestinal health. However, if we choose an appropriate low carbohydrate diet, we should avoid these issues.

Eating whole grains and unprocessed foods will help support the amount of fiber needed for our bodies to function. According to different studies, eating fiber is also linked to preventing cardiovascular risks.

3. Choose fresh and seasonal foods

At this delicate stage of life, and from a hormonal point of view, you need to ensure you’re getting enough vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. There’s nothing better than fresh food for a good supply of these.

Avoiding commercial products will improve the supply of micro-nutrients and reduce the consumption of trans fatty acids and chemical products.

Additionally, including more fruit and veg in your diet will provide you with more antioxidants that will fight against aging and free radicals.

Scientific literature suggests eating more blueberries and forest fruits if you want to incorporate extra nutrients into your diet.

So…can you gain weight during the menopause?

You can influence how your body changes during the menopause. Despite a series of hormonal changes and aging that can cause weight gain, there are ways in which you can balance this out. 

Maintain a healthy diet, rich in fresh produce and regular exercise can help prevent unwanted weight gain after the age of 45.

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  •  The NAMS 2017 Hormone Therapy Position Statement Advisory Panel., The 2017 hormone therapy position statement of the north american menopause society. Menopause, 2017. 24 (7): 728-753.
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  • Chopra S., Sharma KA., Ranjan P., Malhotra A., Vikram NK., Kumari A., Weight management module for perimenopausal women: a practical guide for gynecologists. J Mildlife Health, 2019. 10 (4): 165-172.