The truth about Menopause and weight gain

17 May 2023

On average, we gain about 0.5kgs a year after Menopause.

I am asked every day by my Peri and Menopause patients to help them with weight gain. It is so common among women experiencing Perimenopause and those who are post-Menopause. Research tells us that nearly two-thirds of women aged 40 to 59 are overweight. On average, we gain about 0.5kgs a year after Menopause. Now, that mightn’t be an issue for slim ladies but for Shelly and I, and our more portly sisters, it’s pretty devastating – and not great for our health.

Is menopause really to blame?

Honestly, the evidence is a bit mixed. Studies tell us that any extra kilos we accumulate are from a combination of ageing and lifestyle factors (so less exercise and more alcohol and a bad diet), but changes in body composition and fat distribution (that fat moving around your hips and around your belly) are hormonal. 

Research also tells us that gaining weight causes a lot of stress and even contributes to anxiety, depression and low life satisfaction during Peri. Plus, women who are overweight don’t sleep as well, and sleep disturbances can cause weight gain. It also increases your risk of knee arthritis, and that can interfere with your exercise and your sleep. Basically, it’s a whole messy pastiche of not-good stuff!

It’s time to change your diet.

Science says weight loss after Menopause is assisted through reducing fat intake, as well as boosting your fruit, vegetable, and grain consumption. In fact, despite those TikTok Keto warriors touting their diet of choice, research shows that weight loss is greatest among women who decrease the percentage of energy gained from fat.

But honestly, it’s whatever diet works for you. Personally, I am a hangry biatch when I attempt intermittent fasting. And it’s not really any more successful a method than any other form of calorie restriction. But if it works for you, that’s fine!

While it’s obviously great for your health, exercise is far less important when it comes to weight loss. But given its amazing benefits on your mental health, sleep, bones and cardiovascular and general health, it’s worth upping the ante. By how much, you ask? At least 150–300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 75–150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise is recommended, plus resistance exercise on two or more days a week.

Eek! I may or may not have some room for improvement there myself!

What’s that you speak of? HRT?

Major studies have shown that women on HRT do lose weight and their BMI and waist circumference dropped in size compared to women on a placebo or not taking HRT. Fasting blood insulin levels and glucose were also reduced in women on HRT and there was less diabetes. Taking HRT for weight loss alone isn’t usually recommended but it might be a nice side effect while you’re curingthose hot flushes and sleeping better, too. 

Don’t forget, you can always see your GP for medications or even a referral to a bariatric surgeon if your weight is spinning out of control.

Want to share your menopause weight story? Or, do you have some tips to share? Basically, who can help motivate me to shift those COVID kilos already? Leave us a message below.

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