Weight gain in the menopause: tips for maintaining a healthy weight
Menopause can be a confusing time for women, as it can bring with it numerous difficult symptoms to manage. Many women find that during the menopause, they gain extra weight that they find tricky to lose.
In this article, Dr Giada Frontino, Consultant Gynaecologist and Professor Richard Mackenzie, expert in metabolism and weight loss, tell you everything you need to know about weight gain during the menopause, and offer longlasting and reliable advice on how to effectively shake off excess weight.
Why does your weight change during the menopause?
Many women gain weight as they age. Once you enter the menopause, you may find it more difficult than usual to maintain your normal weight.
During perimenopause and menopause, weight tends to increase due to many factors, including:
- Decreased oestrogen levels
- Increase in cortisol, the hormone that manages how your body uses carbohydrates, protein and fat
- A reduction in muscle mass
- Trouble sleeping and general fatigue that may make it difficult to stay active during the day
- Genetic factors – if your parents or close relatives tend to store weight around the waist, you will be more prone to it too
Reduction in muscle mass will affect your metabolism, meaning your body will require fewer calories than prior to menopause. This means that even if you eat and exercise the same as before menopause, you could still gain weight.
Are there risks to gaining weight in menopause?
Gaining weight, especially around your midsection, increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and breast and endometrial cancer. Putting on too much weight will actually worsen your sleep and cause you to feel more fatigued.
Is it possible to lose weight during the menopause?
Yes, it is absolutely possible to lose weight during the menopause. Even if it requires more effort, you will be able to return to a healthy weight.
It is most important to understand whether there are any underlying metabolic issues causing you to gain weight and/or are preventing you from losing weight. A menopause or weight loss specialist can help you with this.
In the meantime, you can benefit from following these tips:
Stick to a healthy diet
The first step to improving your diet is to increase your intake of healthy proteins. These include foods like fish, eggs, lentils and beans. Cutting down on sugars and substituting snack bars with pistachios, almonds and walnuts and plain yoghurt will make a big difference. Alcohol should be kept down to a weekly treat of a glass of wine or beer.
Following a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, protein and dairy can help to manage your weight. This will also help reduce your menopause symptoms.
Keeping physically active on a daily basis will not only help you maintain a healthy weight, it will improve quality of sleep and your mood.
Aerobic activity and weight-bearing exercises such as jogging and dancing are ideal in mid-life. In order to have a beneficial effect, exercises should be of moderate intensity and never make you feel out of breath or exhausted. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week.
If you don’t feel like hitting the gym, then a brisk 30-minute daily walk will quickly show positive effects on your wellbeing and weight.
What can help me lose weight?
Successful weight loss relies on making lifestyle changes and remaining consistent. Any changes you make to your diet and exercise routine therefore need to be realistic and doable in order to be sustainable long term.
If you’re making changes but still feel like you’re still struggling with losing weight, our specialists will be able to check whether there may be underlying hormonal causes or insulin resistance. This information will be the key to successfully reaching your normal weight and wellbeing, and we will be able to provide you with tailored eating and exercising plans to support with your specific health requirements.
Dr Giada Frontino
Dr Giada Frontino is a Consultant Gynaecologist who specialises in PCOS, irregular periods, endometriosis, Perimenopause and Menopause, and early pregnancy. She has over 15 years of experience in diagnosing and helping patients with fertility issues and has been published in peer-reviewed journals and international textbooks. She speaks English, French and Italian.
Professor Richard Mackenzie
Prof Richard Mackenzie is an expert in weight management and metabolic issues, and is internationally recognised for his research into human metabolism, obesity, type 2 diabetes and elite athletic performance. He has over 15 years of experience helping patients with obesity and weight loss.
If you are going through the menopause and are struggling to lose weight, our experts can help. Book an appointment by calling 0207 079 2100 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and a member of the team will be in touch to book you in.