Gaining weight during menopause is common due to a combination of natural changes in the body and it is particularly felt around the abdomen. As well as lowering women’s self-confidence, weight gain during menopause can worsen menopause symptoms and increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes & dementia.
If you are looking to manage your menopause weight gain, read on to understand what causes it and what you can do to shed it healthily.
Menopause Weight Gain Explained
As women approach their mid-forties, the reproductive system begins to gradually shut down by signalling the ovaries to produce fewer hormones. Lower levels of hormones, especially estrogen, commonly result in symptoms like hot flashes, interrupted sleep, lack of libido, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. And many of these symptoms also contribute to menopause weight gain.
High and low levels of estrogen, for instance, both contribute to fat storage and weight gain during menopause. Interrupted sleep, typically due to night sweats and anxiety, has been shown to affect how the body stores fat the following day. In addition, the metabolism slows down and the rate at which the body stores fat typically increases during menopause.
The aging process coupled with less physical activity as women get older also causes a loss of lean muscle mass, and higher insulin resistance during menopause, which generally make it harder to lose weight.
Menopause Weight Gain: Here’s What You Can Do to Lose It
The most successful way of losing the weight gained during menopause is to make some key healthy lifestyle changes to counteract the natural changes occurring in the body. Eating well, exercising, staying mindful, and managing hormone fluctuations with natural supplements are some of the tools that can help you to lose weight during menopause.
The Most Effective Exercise
The fabulous news is that long workouts are not necessary to lose weight during menopause. Indeed, physical health experts advise as little as 15-20 minutes 3-5 times per week to battle the menopause belly bulge.
The most effective type of exercise to lose weight during menopause is a combination of cardio and resistance training. Cardio sessions might include 15-20 mins of biking, hiking, jogging, walking, CrossFit, or aerobics one day. On alternate days, resistance training could include the use of weights or bands for 15-minute muscle toning sessions, or 15-minute HIIT training to target belly fat.
Instead of focusing on reducing your calories to lose weight during menopause, consider a healthy and balanced way of eating instead. Believe it or not, low-calorie diets during menopause slow the already slowed metabolism even more, which causes additional fat storage around the belly. Eating low-calorie diets during menopause will also increase the risk of osteoporosis as women age.
Following a low-carb Mediterranean diet is highly recommended during menopause, for instance. Foods like fruit, herbs, lean fish, legumes, nuts, seeds, spices, and vegetables are all low in fat, high in fiber, and aid the reduction of belly fat as well as weight loss. A recent study also revealed that vegan and vegetarian diets can lower the occurrence of hot flashes by 60% and help women lose as much as 10% of their body weight.
Because hormone fluctuations are the root cause of most menopause symptoms, including weight gain, managing hormone fluctuations can result in less severe symptoms and increased weight loss.
To help manage symptoms, a natural supplement called Vitex, also known as Chastberry, is recommended for its ability to mimic the effects of estrogen. Containing phytoestrogens, which are natural substances capable of copying the role of estrogen in the body, a daily intake of Chasteberry can reduce hot flashes and mood swings as well as improve sleep during menopause. And it can do so without any of the risky side effects of HT.
Our favorite Chasteberry Supplement on the market is this one from Intimate Rose with added ginger. Give it three months to take full effect and you won’t believe the difference in your moods and sleep patterns.
Does Improving Sleep During Menopause Help You to Lose Weight?
Night sweats, as well as the stress and anxiety that come with menopausal mood swings, can cause frequent sleep disturbances due to an increased level of cortisol. After a 2021 study carried out by the Endocrine Society, it was revealed that disrupted or broken sleep during menopause, when coupled with a drop in estrogen, decreases the body’s capacity for burning fat the next day.
This means that a lack of sleep during menopause can result in weight gain while improving your sleep during menopause can increase weight loss.
Regular exercise and relaxation techniques like yoga & meditation during the day can go a long way toward improving menopausal anxiety and sleep. And although they are not considered a sleeping aid, Chasteberry supplements, and the hormone-balancing abilities of the phytoestrogens they contain, are incredibly successful at improving sleep during menopause.
Relaxation & Mindfulness During Menopause
Staying relaxed and going with the flow can be difficult during menopause when hormone fluctuations and mood swings can cause a rollercoaster of emotions and food cravings from one minute to the next. But instead of giving in to every emotional upheaval or sweet and salty craving, incorporate relaxation practices like breathwork, meditation, and yoga into your morning routine to help you stay mindful throughout the day.
Daily relaxation and mindfulness can also help menopausal women to become more aware of their meal portions and snack cravings so as not to overeat or overindulge.
Although gaining weight is common during menopause, especially around the abdomen, losing menopausal weight is not as impossible as many believe. Caused by a mixture of symptoms like hormonal changes, a slower metabolism, poor sleep, less physical activity, and mood swings, the best way to lose menopausal weight is to treat the symptoms.
You can do this by increasing your physical activity with some regular exercise, eating better to combat a slower metabolism, and taking a daily Chasteberry supplement to re-balance your hormone levels naturally, reduce mood swings, and improve your sleep.
Web MD - Menopause, Weight Gain, and Exercise Tips - https://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/menopause-weight-gain-and-exercise-tips
National Library of Medicine - Mediterranean diet as a medical prescription in menopausal women with obesity: a practical guide for nutritionists - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32329636/
Plant Based Done Right - Whole Food Plant-Based Diet and Menopause - https://plantbaseddoneright.com/whole-food-plant-based-diet-and-menopause/
National Library of Medicine - Vegans report less bothersome vasomotor and physical menopausal symptoms than omnivores - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29704911/
Endocrine Society - Effect of Experimentally Induced Sleep Fragmentation and Hypoestrogenism on Fasting Nutrient Utilization in Pre-Menopausal Women - https://www.abstractsonline.com/pp8/#!/9188/presentation/2027
Sleep Station – Menopause and Sleep - https://www.sleepstation.org.uk/articles/health/menopause-and-sleep/
Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., has been a gynecologist and women’s health provider for almost 30 years and a menopause care specialist for the past ten.