Menopause and Weight Gain

January 18, 2018
lady, coffee, park, bench, autumn

lady, coffee, park, bench, autumn

This post is part of the Gorgeous 50’s series inspired by a book given to me by one of my sisters on my 50th birthday – ‘Grown up and Gorgeous in your 50’s’ by Pamela Robson.  I will be sharing some of Pamela’s words and my own thoughts along the way.  To see all posts published as part of this series, go here.

Pamela says:

During and just after menopause, losing weight becomes almost impossible.  About two-thirds of woman will put on weight during this time (typically between 5 and 10 kilos).  Weight comes on gradually, and tends to accumulate around the middle, because of hormones.  Hormones have a direct impact on appetite, metabolism, and fat storage.  Some people develop insulin resistance – a condition where the body stores fat, rather than burning kilojoules.

My thoughts:

I have not yet reached menopause, however I am more than certain that I am in the perimenopausal phase.  Weight gain has already been an issue and weight is much harder to shift than ever before in my life.  It does scare me to hear the stories of weight gain after menopause and that it is almost impossible to lose! 

I decided a little research on this subject might be helpful to understand the WHYs and WHATs and the following is some of what I found.

A change in hormone levels, mainly oestrogen, may influence body fat distribution. Many women in perimenopause and early post menopause years gain fat mass as their oestrogen levels drop. Women of childbearing age tend to store fat in the lower body (‘pear-shaped’), while men and postmenopausal women store fat around the abdomen (‘apple-shaped’). Animal studies have shown that a lack of oestrogen leads to unwanted abdominal fat, although the exact mechanisms are not yet understood. 

Apart from declining oestrogen levels, other factors that may contribute to weight gain after menopause include:

  • age
  • reduced physical activity and loss of muscle mass
  • number of children
  • family history of obesity
  • anti-depressant and anti-psychotic drugs
  • chemotherapy
  • lowered metabolic rate
  • altered lifestyle – for example, eating out more.

Contrary to common belief, weight gain is not linked to Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). In fact, some studies suggest that use of HRT is associated with less fat gain and potential beneficial effects on muscle mass. If a woman is prone to weight gain during her middle years, she will put on weight regardless of whether she uses HRT. Some women may experience symptoms at the start of treatment, including bloating and breast fullness, and these may be misinterpreted as weight gain. These symptoms usually disappear within three months of the therapy doses being modified to suit the individual.

Pamela mentioned that some people develop insulin resistance.  Unfortunately, my research has well and truly confirmed this to be true.  Here is an article I found on How to Avoid Insulin Resistance.

To manage weight gain

To manage weight after menopause, try to:

  • Eat a healthy diet (calorie control will help in losing weight)
  • Engage in regular and sustained aerobic exercise. This will give your metabolism a boost. Aim for at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity every day.
  • Build and maintain your muscle mass with strength training such as weight training or weight-bearing exercise like walking. (See your doctor before starting a new exercise program)
  • Accept the changes to your body that are age related and work towards decreasing your risks by taking healthy lifestyle measures.

Avoid crash diets.  Consult with your doctor if you need some assistance and/or guidance!

Balance by Deborah Hutton have some great posts on Weight Loss after Menopause.

A quick search of Booktopia found the following books on the topic of ‘Menopause and Weight Gain‘ that might be of interest to you:


Are you on the other side of Menopause or perhaps you’re in the perimenopause phase like me?  Has weight gain been a problem for you?  Please do share your experiences so we can all learn from each other!

Ciao for now,

Link up here at WOTM or with another of us in the Lovin’ Life Linky team:

Leanne of Deep Fried Fruit
Lyndall of Seize the Day Project
Kathy of 50 Shades of Age
of Debbish
and Jo of And Anyways

It doesn’t matter where you link up as it will magically appear on all six blogs.

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  • Reply Jo Tracey January 18, 2018 at 6:38 am

    I think I’m in the peri stage – although I had a partial hysterectomy (ovaries remain) back when I was 38. As a result of polycystic ovaries, I’ve also battled insulin resistance my entire adult life but strangely my sugars were the best they’d ever been last time I had my bloods done. It’s weird, I’m the fattest I’ve ever been, yet inside also the healthiest. Seriously weird. I tend to blame my weight gain on mindless portions & indulgence – especially since it’s way more than 5-10 kgs! Great post, by the way…

    • Reply Min January 18, 2018 at 5:56 pm

      Thanks Jo! Well there you go – peri twins we are! I nearly went down the hysterectomy track (a full one) because my cycles are misery these days but fear stopped me. Fear of the unknown and the fact that someone told me that our ‘periods’ keep us young and many other similar things – that made me change my mind. So my cycles are still misery but hey … I’m still young (apparently)! I think being healthy is far more important than looking slim but having said that, feeling good is important too!

  • Reply Jo@JoSimplyWill January 18, 2018 at 7:08 am

    I can totally relate to this Min. I go between being concerned about it and deciding not to worry about it. In the end, I’m in excellent health and quite fit for someone going on for 60. I think that ultimately my love of food and occasionally wine outweighs my concern for a few kilos of fat around my belly. It becomes a question of how much we are willing to sacrifice to try to stay the shape we were in our 20s.

    • Reply Jo@JoSimplyWill January 18, 2018 at 7:09 am

      Crikeys, so sorry Min! Having trouble with my connection and didn’t realise I’d posted 3 times! Please remove the first 2.

      • Reply Min January 18, 2018 at 5:58 pm

        LOL – no problem. Same thing has happened to me numerous time. I deleted the first two! xo

    • Reply Min January 18, 2018 at 5:58 pm

      Very true Jo. I want to enjoy food and wine and I don’t mind a bit of extra weight. I know and accept I will never have the shape I had in my 20s! I think as long as we are healthy, happy, and comfortable in our own skin and can find the right balance to achieve that!

  • Reply Ingrid January 18, 2018 at 8:17 am

    I have gained weight recently and I’m of a perimenopause age but have not experienced any other symptoms yet.

    I’m not sure if my weight gain is due to perimenopause or overindulgence. I’m hoping it’s due to overindulgence as it sounds like there will be more I can do to reverse it if it is!

    I have started watching what I eat since the start of the year (typical new years resolution I know!) and I have lost 2 kgs so far so I am hopeful of losing more!


    • Reply Min January 18, 2018 at 6:03 pm

      Well done on the 2kg loss Ingrid! I bet you’re feeling much more comfortable for it. Good luck with losing more!

  • Reply Jo Castro January 18, 2018 at 10:38 am

    Great post Min! I agree it’s much harder to lose weight as we get older, and I think perhaps that our metabolisms might slow down too. I’m no expert but I think as energy levels decrease it become harder to zip around like a mad thing all day long, get out and exercise, and do all the things we might have done when we were younger -or if we had kids, when we were running around after our children. For me personally I’ve also become rather too fond of the finer things in life – which include good food and good wine, and when I was younger we didn’t have the time or the money for such indulgences. So I think for me it’s a general ‘softening’ all round, and although I would like to lose the 5kgs which I’m probably carrying in excess of my ideal weight, I’m not in the end probably going to cut down drastically enough on my eating habits, and do lots more exercise to achieve it. Still I try!

    • Reply Min January 18, 2018 at 6:05 pm

      You’re looking fabulous Jo so I wouldn’t worry too much but it’s easy for an outsider to say, I know. In the end, we know when we feel comfortable or not comfortable with our weight. I’ve lost some weight lately and feel much better for it, but would still like to lose more. It’s hard work and very slow, but I’m determined. It sure is harder at this age though – phew!

  • Reply Sydney Shop Girl January 18, 2018 at 11:30 am

    I hear you am with you, Min. Thanks for the sensible advice in today’s post.

    SSG xxx

    • Reply Min January 18, 2018 at 6:05 pm

      Thanks SSG! xo

  • Reply Denyse January 18, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    A very helpful post for many Min. I lost weight in my mid 60s when I was anxious and had IBS. I have continued to lose weight and now have stabilised thanks to limited eating means. I guess I could say I have been on a ‘diet’ of necessity since cancer surgery. I now know I do not want to re-gain much of the weight lost as I feel well (the body feels better) and I fit into all my new clothes. I shall be interested to see how things pan out for me for the rest of the year once, hopefully, I can eat from a full range of foods which require chewing and crunching.

    • Reply Min January 18, 2018 at 6:06 pm

      I hope you can manage to keep the weight off when you are able to eat more variety of foods again Denyse. You’re looking fabulous by the way but gee what a way to lose weight! xo

  • Reply jodie filogomo January 18, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    Talk about being the opposite for me. In fact, when I started losing weight without trying, it was a little scary that something might be wrong.
    Luckily I’ve stabilized now, but I do think what we eat has a huge, huge influence. I always have loved the saying that food is thy medicine…

    • Reply Min January 18, 2018 at 6:08 pm

      I remember you telling this before Jodie. I’m so glad your weight loss turned out to not be anything serious to worry about! You are very lucky by the way and you are right – what we eat and how much we eat is very important! xo

  • Reply Kathy Marris January 18, 2018 at 1:19 pm

    I’m living proof of weight gain after menopause Min. I managed to put on 8 Kgs since I hit menopause and that was with no change in my diet or exercise regime. It just crept on all by itself. However as you know last year I took action to lose 7 Kgs of that weight and I’m now trying to maintain it. That will be the next challenge! You do have to eat less and exercise more to keep the weight under control.

    • Reply Min January 18, 2018 at 6:08 pm

      You’ve done so well to lose 7 kg’s Kathy and you’re looking fabulous too! Go you! 🙂 xo

  • Reply Leanne | January 18, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    I’m 56 and still haven’t reached full blown menopause Min, but I can definitely testify to the gradual weight gain – especially around the midrift without doing anything to deserve it! I’ve been “long and lean” all my life, but these last few years have seen me go up a dress size – nothing huge, but unsettling and annoying. This year my plan is to increase my walking – once a day isn’t enough by the look of things, and to find a “diet” plan that works for me – I don’t have many bad things to cut down on, so I need to find something that reduces my calories without starving myself – stay tuned.

    • Reply Min January 18, 2018 at 6:10 pm

      You still look long and lean in any photo’s I’ve seen of you Leanne! You look fantastic but of course we know ourselves when we feel good or uncomfortable. I’m sure you’ll find a way to lose the bit of weight you want to. I’ll stay tuned and hopefully read all about your weight loss success! 😉 xo

      • Reply Leanne May 23, 2018 at 4:48 pm

        Well Min, it’s now late May and I’ve been doing the extra bit of walking, I’ve been on the 16/8 intermittant fasting diet and I really can’t see any great change as far as getting thinner goes. I tell myself that at least I’m not getting any fatter and I’ve just put my Winter pants back on and they still fit (I just wish they were loose!) This Midlife weight creep is a killer 🙁

        Thanks for linking up with us at #MLSTL and I’ve shared this on my SM xx
        Leanne |

        • Reply Min May 23, 2018 at 9:57 pm

          At least you’re not getting any fatter is a very good attitude and way of looking at it Leanne. You’re maintaining very well! Go you! You look fantastic anyway. xo

  • Reply Maria | passion fruit, paws and peonies January 18, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    Great post – very informative, thank you. I’m firmly in Perimenopause. My belly poked out for years and I just couldn’t shift it. Now after a year on HRT I’m feeling slimmer. It’s not all roses yet with high blood pressure and a few remaining symptoms but it is good to gain a little confidence back after all this time! x #lovinlife

    • Reply Min January 19, 2018 at 11:39 am

      Thank you Maria and my pleasure! Isn’t that interesting that HRT is what made the difference for you and helped you to shift some weight. That’s basically what my research told me too! Enjoy that confidence and good luck getting the few remaining symptoms sorted! xo

  • Reply Natalie January 19, 2018 at 2:24 am

    Great post, Min. Regular exercise and enjoy food in moderation are key to make us feel good and manage weight gain. When I run on the treadmill and see how long I need to run to burn 100 calories, which are the equivalent of three small cookies, I learn to eat better.

    • Reply Min January 19, 2018 at 11:38 am

      Thanks Natalie! I agree, eating better (and watching portion sizes) is the key actually!

  • Reply Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond January 19, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    Hi Min thanks for the informative post. I’m one of the lucky ones that actually went through menopause without too much disruption to my life. I think it was because I discovered running and P.T. when I turned 50 and I’ve always tried to make healthier food choices. I do realise that not everyone is the same but there are ways you can control the ‘middle aged spread’.

    • Reply Min January 20, 2018 at 8:03 am

      You’re lucky Sue! I know you run and keep slim and fit and good on you! I’m one of the unlucky ones where ‘cycles’ and all that female stuff has always been difficult. This phase of life is no different. However, I keep on doing my best to help improve the symptoms – lots of activity (reformer pilates and walking) and a healthy diet.

  • Reply Janet Camilleri aka Middle Aged Mama January 19, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    Oh I feel ya Min. I’ve been an “apple” figure all my life, so what hope is there for me now LOL?! I walk about 3km most mornings now and hoped I’d lose weight but really all it’s done is stopped me getting heavier. Thankful for that at least because the scales were creeping ever upwards until I got my butt into gear in mid 2017! Oh and my doctor told me something interesting – there is no such thing as being “in” menopause. We are either pre, peri, or post. I suspect I’m peri – having had a hysterectomy (but keeping my ovaries) I don’t get periods. Still get the occasional headache that used to be monthly so yup, perimenopausal for sure 😉 .

    • Reply Min January 20, 2018 at 8:06 am

      It certainly requires a lot more effort to shift weight at this phase of life – that’s for sure. Move more. Eat less. I’m peri for sure too but I still get periods *blah*.

  • Reply Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond May 23, 2018 at 8:42 am

    Thanks for linking up and sharing with us at Midlife Share the Love Party, Min. I know that many women will be nodding in agreement when they read your post. It is hard to keep off the weight and i’m not sure where I would be if I didn’t run. Keeping fit and active in some way that we enjoy and eating sensibly will go a long way to keeping us healthy. #MLSTL

    • Reply Min May 23, 2018 at 9:50 pm

      It’s a battle I live with nowadays Sue. Never used to. I hope it settles down once I’m on the other side. At the moment it’s a case of eat very little and exercise a very lot!

  • Reply Terri Webster Schrandt May 23, 2018 at 10:02 am

    So, in reading this, I recognized myself in my mid-40s with peri-menopause! Gaining more around the middle (egads)!, I hit the big M at age 49, took HRT and of course gained 20+ pounds. Dieting was at a stand-still. At 55, my doc said, let’s wean you off the HRT. At 56, only having two hot-flashes a day was doable (compared to 1 every hour before HRT). I promptly went to Weight Watchers in January 2016 and promptly lost 25 pounds. I have lost 30 and have kept it off, reaching my lifetime goal weight and only gaining a pound or two, but still tracking and attending meetings. There IS a light at the end of the tunnel!

    • Reply Min May 23, 2018 at 9:53 pm

      I’m 53, soon to be 54 and still in the peri-menopause phase. I think I have probably been peri-menopausal for anywhere up to 10 years! I never do things by halves *sigh*. It sounds like you’ve had quite the journey too but thank you for the light at the end of the tunnel info!

  • Reply Jo May 23, 2018 at 11:36 am

    I think I’ve commented already, but today I’m coming from MLSTL party 🙂 I find it almost impossible to lose weight these days, and I’d love to lose a couple of Ks to get back to a bit more of a ‘fighting’ weight. However, it goes off, and then it comes back on – so unless I want to live on lettuce leaves for the rest of my life I guess I’m just going to have to be sensible and try not to put any more on.

    • Reply Min May 23, 2018 at 9:56 pm

      You look fantastic Jo! I was always skinny and never had to worry but from my 40’s on weight gain has become part of my life and I really don’t like it much (that’s being polite). It’s very hard to shift it. It’s a case of each very little and exercise a very lot and then maybe some might shift. It’s certainly not as easy as it was in the younger years!

  • Reply Christine May 23, 2018 at 7:49 pm

    I’m in the peri-menopause phase, but funny story about how I realized that. Last year, after my husband and I packed up our 2 teens and set out to travel for a year, I missed my period. In theory, I knew that was because of my age, 47 at the time. But, I had been clockwork up to that point. Then, when I appeared to be missing a second month, I started to panic, wondering if I was pregnant. We were in Barcelona at the time and I just couldn’t bring myself, at my age, (grey hair and all), to go to a pharmacy and ask for a pregnancy test. So I worried for awhile, and then I got my period. Since then I have had regular months and not so regular. But, I’ve stopped worrying about being pregnant!
    I wonder if stress plays a role in all of this, in terms of weight gain? I have fought fat in my midsection my whole life. At about age 40, I started eating better with some decent results. At 45, I started an exercise program. I figured it took a long time to end up in my state and would take an equally long time to change in the other direction. Since leaving work at the end of 2016 and travelling for almost a year, my mid section looks ok. I am far more mindful of how much I eat, (portions everywhere are too big), how active I am and how much stress I am carrying. The quality of everything is important, whole food as much as possible, any kind of activity even a 10 kilometre walk and being mindful of my thoughts.

    • Reply Min May 23, 2018 at 10:00 pm

      LOL oh I’m sorry to laugh but the worry about being pregnant, even with grey hair and being too embarassed to buy a pregnancy test! I’m still regular as clockwork – every 4 weeks – and I’m turning 54 at the end of this month. My mid-section is the problem area too – such a pain. Sounds like you’re doing all the right things as far as eating, moving, and looking after your mind!

  • Reply Cherie May 23, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    I am in the Peri stage, and I notice the weight creeping up. So, frustrating since I exercise, and eat well. I have struggled with my blood sugars since I was in my early 30’s. Have been taking medicine for diabetes for a few years now. Was told by my previous PCP that I had trouble with my sugar because I was overweight (even though I wasn’t) but I have noticed that my weight goes up when my sugars are off not the other way around. It’s a difficult time in life as far as health, well, more frustrating than difficult.

    • Reply Min May 23, 2018 at 10:02 pm

      Yes it is SO frustrating I know Cherie – because even eating healthy and watching portion sizes and avoiding snacking and exercising regularly can appear to do very little to shift the weight. I guess if we at least maintain and not gain that is a positive. It would be difficult in conjunction with diabetes and blood sugar levels I would imagine! All the very best of luck to you! xo

  • Reply Victoria May 23, 2018 at 11:54 pm

    I am 20 years past menopause. I thought I was losing my mind when I first started through I couldn’t sleep, I was either crying or angry and the hot flashes never stopped. Weight gain was just one of the many issues. lol

    • Reply Min May 24, 2018 at 2:08 pm

      You’re right – weight gain is just one of the things associated with peri-menopause and menopause. We females get the rough end of the stick in many ways, don’t we?!

  • Reply Mary Lou May 24, 2018 at 6:03 am

    So glad to see a post on this important topic! I went into perimenopause in my mid-30s. I need to lose at least 50 lbs (I’d be happy with 20 lbs.) I exercise and watch portion size and haven’t been able to lose. So I try to maintain and not gain. Keep trying! #MLSTL

    • Reply Min May 24, 2018 at 2:09 pm

      Wow Mary Lou – mid 30’s is early for perimenopause. I think it was mid 40’s for me. Maintaining and not gaining is an achievement in itself! Good luck!

  • Reply Molly May 24, 2018 at 9:17 am

    I must admit I’m a little relieved there is a plausible explanation for the additional flab around the middle I’ve acquired over the past year. I watch my diet (although I know I could exercise more) … but the additional belly fat is frustrating. I suppose it is time to acknowledge that my metabolism is not going to be what it was in my 20s and 30s 🙂

    • Reply Min May 24, 2018 at 2:14 pm

      I’ve got the extra flab around the middle too Molly. It’s my problem area *sigh*. Part of being middle-aged I guess but I’m not gonna sit back and accept it. I keep active and eat healthy and hope for the best!

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