Weight gain is one of the most frustrating symptoms of menopause. Many women gain several pounds of body weight during menopause. These extra pounds are not only difficult to manage, but they come with health risks.
Increased risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer have all been associated with menopausal weight gain. It can also lead to a decrease in self-esteem and an overall decline in quality of life.
What Causes Weight Gain During Menopause
What are the most common causes of menopausal weight gain? The most common causes of menopausal weight gain are age, hormonal changes, lifestyle changes, sleep disruptions, and genetic factors. Let’s take a closer look at each of these.
As women age, their body composition changes. They tend to lose muscle mass and increase fat mass. Fat distribution changes, with more fat collecting around the midsection. This increased abdominal fat (or belly fat) is due to a combination of factors, including hormonal changes, decreased activity levels, and reduced protein intake.
As women approach middle age, estrogen levels can become sporadic. This is due to changes in the ovaries and the menstrual cycle during the menopause transition. Estrogen levels decline, which can lead to a decreased production of leptin. Decreased estrogen and leptin levels impact appetite and energy intake. When these levels are low, it’s normal to gain weight.
It’s important to stay active during this stage of life. During midlife, metabolism tends to slow down, so it’s important to keep moving. A sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, and lack of exercise can all contribute to weight gain during menopause.
Many symptoms of menopause can adversely affect your sleep. Hot flashes, night sweats, and mood imbalances have all been known to keep women up at night during the menopausal transition. This lack of sleep can lead to weight gain in general by throwing off your appetite, metabolism, and energy levels. And who wants to stay active when they’re tired all the time?
Some women may have a higher risk of obesity and weight gain due to genetic factors. A recent UCLA study found that a gene called reprimo may be linked to weight gain that occurs without dietary change. Reprimo modulates cell migration and helps to suppress tumor formation, among other things. More studies are needed to determine the precise role it plays.
These women may be at increased risk during their menopausal years, as a genetic predisposition compounds with changing lifestyle factors. For women who experience a higher risk of obesity, it is particularly important to keep a healthy lifestyle into menopause and post-menopause.
Menopause Weight Gain Risks
Menopausal and post-menopausal women experience a higher risk factor for a number of health problems. There are some similarities between the health risks associated with menopausal weight gain and regular weight gain. However, there are also some important differences.
Menopausal women are more likely to be insulin resistant. This means that their bodies have difficulty processing sugar, which can lead to a number of health problems. Insulin resistance is often linked with obesity, which comes with an increased risk for a number of diseases.
Menopausal women are at an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, as well as other health issues. Menopausal women who gain weight are also more likely to suffer from joint pain, sleep problems, and depression.
Cardiovascular disease is a general term for conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels. It includes coronary heart disease, stroke, and other diseases of the heart and blood vessels. During menopause, women can experience increased blood cholesterol levels. Both high blood cholesterol and weight gain have been associated with cardiovascular disease.
Weight gain during menopause can cause hypertension for a few reasons. Changes in hormone levels can lead to increased appetite and fluid retention. The metabolism slows down during menopause, making it harder to keep weight off. Carrying excess weight puts extra strain on the heart and can damage blood vessels, both of which can contribute to hypertension.
Menopausal weight gain can have a significant impact on heart health. One of the reasons why menopausal weight gain is so dangerous is that it often leads to abdominal obesity. Abdominal obesity is associated with a higher risk of heart disease.
This type of obesity is particularly harmful to the heart, as it increases the amount of fatty tissue around the organ, called visceral fat. This can lead to a condition called atherosclerosis, where the arteries harden and narrow, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
While a few extra pounds may not seem like a big deal, the truth is that even a small amount of weight gain can increase the risk of developing diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when there is too much sugar in the blood.
That insulin resistance we mentioned? It’s because estrogen helps regulate how our bodies respond to insulin. Lowered estrogen means higher insulin resistance, which can lead to high blood sugar. So, menopausal women are at increased risk of developing diabetes.
Diabetes can have a number of serious health consequences, including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and nerve damage. Therefore, it is important for menopausal women to be aware of their risk and take steps to prevent or control diabetes.
How to Prevent Menopausal Weight Gain
Menopausal weight gain may seem unavoidable, but don’t there’s hope. Preventing weight gain during your perimenopausal years can be as simple as a matter of intention and awareness.
How do you stop menopausal weight gain? Healthy lifestyle changes can stop menopausal weight gain and enhance your wellness overall.
Avoid Crash Diets
A crash diet is a diet that is used to lose weight in a very short period of time. It is usually a very low-calorie diet and is not sustainable in the long term.
While it may be necessary to take in fewer calories as your metabolism slows down, crash dieting usually only leads to temporary weight loss followed by a rebound of weight gain. A much better option is to adopt a long-term healthy diet by making adjustments over time.
Many women may benefit from following a Mediterranean diet during menopause. The Mediterranean diet is a healthy eating pattern that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and olive oil. It has been shown to provide a number of health benefits, including weight loss as well as a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.
The Mediterranean diet is rich in antioxidants, which can help to protect against some of the oxidative stress that occurs during menopause. This diet can also help to reduce inflammation, which is a common problem during menopause.
Start Tracking Meals
Meal tracking can help you to become more aware of what you are eating and how much you are eating. It can also help you to identify patterns in your eating habits. You may notice that you tend to overeat when you are stressed or that you crave certain foods when you are tired.
Meal tracking can help you to make healthier choices. When you are aware of what you are eating and the nutrition that you are getting, it can be easier to make choices that are good for you. Make your calories count by choosing healthy, whole foods (such as whole grains) over processed foods (such as refined carbohydrates).
Aim For Fewer Calories
Once you know what you’re eating, you can start making adjustments to reduce calories. As your metabolism slows, you may find you need fewer calories to maintain a healthy weight. Start cutting calories by 100 or 200 calories at a time.
Cut Back on Alcohol
Cutting back on alcohol can help improve your overall health, reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases, and help you maintain a healthy weight. It can also help improve your sleep quality and increase your energy levels.
Alcohol consumption can impair the body’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients. This can lead to a slowed metabolism and weight gain. Alcohol also contains empty calories that add up over time.
Get Good Sleep
Getting enough sleep may be especially important as we get older. Sleep helps to restore and repair the body, and it’s also when the brain consolidation of memories and learning occurs. Sleep plays a role in regulating hormones, metabolism, and appetite. Poor sleep can contribute to a number of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Both strength training and aerobic exercise are important for maintaining a healthy body weight, a healthy metabolic rate, and lean body mass. As we get older, resistance training becomes increasingly important in the prevention of many health problems, including osteoporosis. These types of physical activity can help combat loss of muscle dues to age.
Find a Workout Buddy
Having a friend to work out with can help to keep you motivated. It’s easier to stay on track with your fitness goals when you have someone to hold you accountable. Working out with a friend can also make fitness more fun.
Does menopausal weight gain go away? Whether or not menopausal weight gain goes away is dependent on each individual’s genetics, biochemistry, and lifestyle.
The best way to deal with menopause weight gain is to make lifestyle changes that will help you lose weight and keep it off.
When to See a Doctor
If you are menopausal and are having trouble managing your weight, it is important to speak with a trusted healthcare provider. They can help to determine if your weight gain is due to menopause or if there may be another underlying cause. They can also provide guidance on how to best manage your weight during this time.
If you’re seeking medical counsel for menopause, weight gain, or your health in general, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. You can schedule an Intro Call with a member of our Care Team today.
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