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How to lose weight during menopause?

Written by: Cristina Rodríguez

Why do 60% of women gain weight during menopause? Discover the reasons for this weight gain and our tips on managing it with a balanced diet, regular exercise, and hormone therapy to improve your quality of life.
comment perdre du poids a la menopause : explication pourquoi on prend du poids a la menopause et solutions

Up to 60% of women report gaining weight during menopause, according to the Spanish Association for Menopause Study (AEEM). They link this process to metabolic changes that often lead to an increase in body fat. At age 20, body fat is about 26%, increasing to 33% at 40, and up to 42% by 50. Another study by the International Menopause Society states that hormonal changes during menopause don't necessarily cause weight gain but often alter fat distribution.


"The relationship between menopause transition and changes in body composition or weight remains uncertain," states the study Changes in body composition and weight during the menopause transition : the role of Estrogens: from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. "Our hypothesis is that menopause adversely affects body composition regardless of chronological aging."


This means not only physical changes but also an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, along with emotional changes that can significantly affect our quality of life as women.


Knowing this, what helps to lose weight during menopause?


Understanding why these changes in body weight occur and how to manage them is crucial for maintaining good health during this stage of life, which can present certain challenges for maintaining a healthy weight.


In this article, we will delve into the risks associated with weight gain, why it happens, how to prevent it, and how hormone therapy can be an ally.


A. Why Does Menopause Cause Weight Gain?


Menopause is a very important stage in women's lives, yet we are often not very familiar with it. To answer why weight gain occurs during menopause, the primary cause is related to the decrease in estrogen levels that characterizes this process, which can lead to an increase in body weight.


We often wonder: Why does the belly grow during menopause?


This phenomenon involves several interconnected factors. On one hand, the reduction of estrogen in our body affects metabolism, reducing our ability to burn calories effectively, which can often lead to an increase in abdominal fat, known as "hormonal belly." This is confirmed by the study "Winning the Weight Battle After Menopause" from Harvard Medical School.


Want to know how to deflate the menopause belly? We explain it a bit further down.


Additionally, besides weight gain, women tend to lose muscle mass during menopause, according to the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Muscle mass is crucial for keeping metabolism functioning normally, and its loss contributes to increased fat accumulation.


Weight gain during menopause can also be influenced by changes in eating habits and physical activity. Many women report a decrease in their activity levels due to menopause symptoms like fatigue and joint pain, according to Harvard Medical School.


The same authors state that increased stress and lack of sleep—common symptoms during menopause—can also promote weight gain. Cortisol, the stress hormone, can increase appetite and encourage abdominal fat accumulation. Additionally, insufficient sleep can disrupt the hormones that regulate hunger, leading to increased calorie consumption.



B. What are the risks of weight gain during menopause?


Weight gain during menopause not only affects women physically but also poses health risks. One major risk is the increased incidence of cardiovascular diseases, as shown by many studies, including "The reality of weight gain during menopause."


Excess fat, especially around the abdomen, can raise blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose levels, all of which contribute to heart disease, according to Harvard Health.


Furthermore, weight gain during menopause is closely linked to a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Visceral fat accumulation can lead to insulin resistance, making it difficult to control blood sugar levels, as stated by the Mayo Clinic.


Another significant risk is the impact on joints: additional weight puts extra pressure on joints, especially knees and hips, increasing the likelihood of developing osteoarthritis, according to the National Institutes of Health.


Moreover, weight gain can affect mental health. Many women experience a decrease in self-esteem and an increase in depression and anxiety due to changes in their bodies, according to the Cleveland Clinic.


For all these reasons, addressing weight gain during menopause is very important to prevent these health risks and improve quality of life.



C. How to prevent weight gain during menopause?


How to lose weight during menopause? How to lose 10 kilos during menopause?


There are several ways to prevent and correct weight gain during menopause. Firstly, maintaining a balanced diet is essential. Consuming foods rich in fiber, fruits, and vegetables, and limiting saturated fats and refined sugars is recommended by the Mayo Clinic. Controlling portion sizes and maintaining regular meal times to avoid unhealthy snacking is another point emphasized by Harvard Health.


Want to know how to eliminate abdominal fat during menopause? Is it possible to lose belly fat?


To eliminate abdominal fat, besides diet, regular exercise is crucial. Physical activity and resistance training keep metabolism active and help maintain muscle mass, aiding in fat burning and weight loss, according to PubMed Central. The Cleveland Clinic recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, combined with strength training to gain muscle mass.


In addition to the importance of exercise and diet, reducing stress and improving sleep quality is also vital. Why? Cortisol, the stress hormone, promotes abdominal fat storage when stress becomes chronic, contributing to weight gain. Thus, engaging in sports or stress management techniques—like yoga or meditation—and having good sleep habits will help maintain a healthy weight.



D. Hormone therapy helps reduce weight gain


We often wonder: What pills to take for weight loss during menopause?


Indeed, besides all the factors mentioned, hormone therapy can help control weight during menopause, according to scientific studies like those from the North American Menopause Society, highlighting the role of hormones in this process. The crucial role of these hormones is due to estrogen and progesterone's significant influence on metabolism and fat distribution.


Hormone therapy involves administering the estrogen the body stops producing during menopause, thus facilitating weight loss and preventing fat increase.


"Additionally, it has been shown that hormone therapy prevents bone loss and reduces the risk of fractures in postmenopausal women," states the Mayo Clinic in this article.


The benefits can be particularly significant when hormone therapy is administered early in the menopausal transition and tailored individually to each woman. "However, there are risks associated with hormone therapy use. These risks depend on the type of hormone therapy, dosage, duration of medication use, and individual health risks. For best results, hormone therapy should be personalized and periodically re-evaluated to ensure the benefits continue to outweigh the risks," it says.


It's important to note that considering options like hormone therapy should be accompanied by medical supervision, understanding the benefits and risks of hormone therapy, as it is not suitable for all women and may have contraindications based on general health and personal history.


There are two main types of hormone therapy:


  • Systemic Hormone Therapy: Estrogen is administered as a pill, ring, patch, gel, cream, or spray and can be used to treat any common menopausal symptoms.


  • Vaginal products: Whether in the form of a cream, tablet, or ring, these therapies minimize the amount of estrogen absorbed by the body and are typically used to treat vaginal and urinary symptoms of menopause.



Understanding all these factors, treatments, and their interrelation, and adopting the necessary daily actions, can help women maintain a healthy weight during menopause and reduce many associated risks.




Further references:
  1. Mayo Clinic - "Menopause weight gain: Stop the middle age spread"

  2. Hormone therapy: is it right for you? - Mayo Clinic

  3. Changes in body composion and weight during menopause transition - PubMed Central

  4. Spanish Association for Menopause study (AEEM).

  5. International Menopause Society

  6. Harvard Health - "Why women gain weight during menopause"

  7. Research Gate  "Changes in Body Composition during the Menopausal Transition and Their Implications for Health"

  8. National Institutes of Health (NIH) - "Menopause: Overview"

  9. Cleveland Clinic - "Menopause Weight Gain: What to Do About It"

  10. Changes in Body Composition in Women over Six Years at Midlife - Oxford Academic

  11. PubMed Central (PMC) - "Menopause-related changes in body fat and skeletal muscle mass"

  12. Understanding weight gain at menopause - PubMed

  13. North American Menopause Society (NAMS) 

  14. Mayo Clinic -


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