No doubt gaining weight is easy, but during menopause even the skinniest people add on some pounds, especially around the tummy. In the past everything was blamed on hormones, but that has changed. The reasons for menopausal weight gain are complex. Let’s take a look at some of them:

Calories add up

Through the decades of our lives most of us gain a little weight every year. Little by little it becomes more noticeable.

Drug effects

Many drugs cause weight gain. Some of the worst are anti-depressants and antibiotics. Antibiotics are now part of our normal food; they are fed to animals so they become fatter. Even some vegetables contain tiny amounts of antibiotics because animal manure or feces get in contract with the vegetables.

Our gut bacteria is affected

Our gut bacteria is fundamental to controlling weight. During midlife the gut bacteria is under a lot of pressure caused by antibiotics, stress, hormonal changes, and others. (Read gut bacteria during menopause).

Lack of muscle

As we age and don’t work out, we lose muscle. With muscle loss we need less calories to maintain our body so the extra calories go to our fat reserves. In other words, our metabolism slows down.

Weaker organs

By midlife some of our vital organs are tired or overwhelmed. We are surrounded by toxins and have not-so-healthy eating habits that affect our liver and thyroid. We have a ton of stress that affects our adrenal glands and some mindset habits affect the whole body. If the liver and/or adrenals are not working properly that will further affect our thyroid. This will have a direct negative effect on our weight, energy levels, mental clarity, happiness, hot flashes, etc.

Combination factors for weight gain

Some menopausal symptoms such as insomnia alter our gut bacteria and this causes weight gain. On top of that we don’t have enough energy during the day and move less. Some people suffer from depression during menopause and tend to eat a poor diet. This and other causes create the perfect storm for weight gain.

Stress at midlife

Stress causes weigh gain in most people. Many people resort to calorie-rich foods such as sweets, carbohydrates, fats and alcohol during stressful periods. For many women these are years of changes or personal dissatisfaction that result in stress, sadness, and worrying a lot. Stress creates many hormonal issues that contribute to weight gain. (Read stress in menopause)

Menopausal weight gain is different than previous weight gains

This is something that shocks many women. During perimenopause and menopause we don’t only gain weight, our body shape changes. We accumulate weight around our tummy and in the back. Belly fat is the main characteristic of menopausal weigh gain. In some women the breast may also grow, in others the contrary happens.

The worse type of weight gain

Belly fat is not good news. Belly fat is associated with heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and other illnesses.

Menopausal weight loss is totally possible

Weight loss is always challenging because it requires habit changes. Menopausal weight loss can be more challenging because there is no one size fits all diet, or no calories-in-calories-out. Our hormones and gut bacteria are different and are stopping us from losing weight. And as always there are a lot of diet options and misinformation and selecting the right choice is not easy. Totally not fair, but do not worry menopausal weight loss is possible.

How to lose weight in midlife?

The first thing that many women (including myself) find out is that the diets that used to work so well, do not work anymore. It is important to understand the causes of weight gain in midlife, because this makes it clear that it is not only a matter of a diet; we also need to:

Control stress, eat healthy, eat nutritious food, be happy, sleep well, etc. And the hormones? We also need to balance our hormones. Fortunately the same things that help us balance the hormones and strengthen our organs help to lose weight and to have a happier life. If we see the whole picture:

During midlife, our bodies are calling us to live a fuller, more meaningful life, to live every moment and protect our bodies.

That is the gift of menopause, an invitation to live a better life during our second half, or as it’s called in Chinese medicine “second spring.” Spring is a time of re-birth and awakening.

Xassy

To lose weight during perimenopause and post menopause we need a gentle reset. Good news, it is possible, more good news, it will improve your total health.

At this time more than a diet we need some lifestyle changes. I lost weight doing just that and you can do it too.

That is our motivation during midlife. Weight control is not about vanity, it is about health and quality of life. We are improving and protecting our current and future health, both physical and emotional, by learning to control our weight.

This is a series of articles in which I will share how you can lose weight during perimenopause and post menopause. Next article: Intermittent fasting to lose weight in menopause


14 Comments on Why do we gain weight during menopause?

  1. Never underestimate the importance of gut health. Just getting to know more about the brain of the gut. Thanks for these tips – which apply to women who are already out of menopause as well.

    • The gut bacteria is one of the new health frontiers, it affects everything. Yes the tips are for perimenopause and post menopause.

  2. Great article! There was a lot I did not know about perimenopause and menopause. Thank you for the great insight into that pesky belly fat! I made a change over a year and a half ago to the keto lifestyle. I have dropped 60 pounds and have been able to keep them off. Still, the belly fat just refused to leave! LOL

    • Congrats!!! 60 lbs is a lot. Keto is great for weight loss. We all have belly fat is the normal shape for our body. The problem is when the tummy is big and the first thing to do is to lower stress and look into inflammation.

  3. Thanks for this article. I’ve been so surprised at how (and how much) my body has changed in the past year. I haven’t altered my routine, but my body has really changed. This information is extremely helpful.

    • Hi Amy. Yes it is shocking how our bodies change. The same thing happened to me, same diet, same exercise and more weight. But don’t worry with the right care the body can go back to a similar shape as before, not exactly a flat tummy but almost. I will include more content in this topic so come next week.

    • Hi Linda. Well said, certainly it is very important to care of ourselves. We cannot give and we cannot live fully is we don’t take care of ourselves.

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