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Why Women Gain Weight Around Menopause - And What You Can Do

Many of us hear that weight gain after age 40 is just part of being a woman. It’s estimated that women will gain around 2 to 5 pounds while they are transitioning through menopause.

Why Women Gain Weight Around Menopause - And What You Can Do

Why does weight gain happen?


As women age our bodies transition through four main hormone cycles, these transitions are all related to our reproductive cycles.

  • Pre-menopauseas a teenager your body prepares for having children, your menses starts, and hormones are available to create new life.

  • Perimenopauseanywhere from 30-50 years old your body transitions away from having children, our hormone levels begin to change and menses becomes irregular. This is the stage where many symptoms occur.

  • Menopauseis the time when you have “officially” stopped menses for a 12-month time frame. Your symptoms from perimenopause may intensify.

  • Post-menopause this is the time after you have been 12-months menses free. Menopause and post-menopause are used interchangeably.

The hormone shifts that happen during perimenopause are when most women begin struggling with weight gain and other symptoms. Estrogen is often blamed for the weight gain. This hormone tends to promote fat gain during the reproductive years which is needed when we are having children. As our estrogen levels drop though it can impair function of leptin which controls the feeling of fullness.


Ghrelin (hunger hormone) has been found to be higher in perimenopausal women. When this hormone is out of sorts you will have an increased appetite possibly increasing your calorie intake.


Often the weight gain women experience is around their waist. Genetically if you have family members that seem to carry weight in the abdomen then you likely will as well.

Why Women Gain Weight Around Menopause - And What You Can Do

What are the risks?


There are concerns about carrying extra weight around the midsection. Often people that carry weight here have higher incidences of breathing problems, heart and blood vessel disease and type 2 diabetes.


Women who carry weight around their midsection have a greater risk of heart attack. If you are dealing with weight gain and small changes aren’t helping work with your doctor to determine where your hormone levels are.

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Steps to prevent weight gain.


As we age, we tend to move less, but movement is important to maintaining health. The hormone changes that we experience can affect our muscle mass, so it is important to continue some sort of strength training and movement daily.


Watching what you eat is also important. As we shared above the hormones related to how you feel may be out of whack. Ensuring that you are eating good clean whole foods can help with your hormones. There are superfoods that can stimulate neurotransmitters and help with things like stress levels.


An often-overlooked aspect of weight gain is sleep. When our bodies are sleep deprived this can also impact leptin and ghrelin causing us to snack more. Make sure you are taking time to set up a positive sleep routine.

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Weight gain doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of your menopause journey. Work on setting up your lifestyle to include clean eating, small daily exercise and self-care can ensure that you maintain your ideal weight at any age.


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