Maintaining your desired weight during menopause can be a real challenge. Here are some simple tips.
Losing weight during menopause can be especially challenging. Your metabolism and hormone levels change drastically, causing all kinds of symptoms like hot flashes, love handles, and mood swings. Here is how you can stay slim, trim, healthy and fit through midlife. As is often the case, it’s the little things that make a big difference, and that can affect not only your appearance, but also your overall well-being.
In addition to the two main aspects – diet and exercise – there are many weight loss pills on the market that claim to help you lose weight, such as metformin.
But why do women gain weight during menopause and how can we counteract this in a healthy and mature way? We want to get to the bottom of these and other questions.
How to lose weight during menopause?
Maintaining your desired weight during menopause can be a real challenge. The hormonal changes in your body can cause you to pack on those extra pounds, especially around your midsection. However, you can easily counteract this process with simple tips and tricks.
- Change in diet
- Physical Activity
- Intermittent fasting
- Find a weight loss partner
- Set realistic goals
Causes of weight gain during menopause
- Hormonal changes – the decrease in estrogen production increases body fat percentage and fat redistribution.
- Metabolic changes – with age, metabolism naturally slows down, resulting in fewer calories burned
- Muscle loss – reduces the need for calories
- Increased appetite – hormonal fluctuations can increase appetite and lead to food cravings
- Stress and sleep deprivation – stress (due to sleep deprivation) caused by menopause symptoms can affect eating patterns
- Genetics – genetic predisposition plays a role in weight gain
- Lifestyle – diet and exercise have a major impact on health and weight at every stage of life
- Medications – Medications can affect weight gain
Tips for losing weight during menopause
Here are the five most effective strategies for successful weight loss during menopause.
Change in diet
As mentioned above, diet is an important factor in health, weight loss and well-being. It is therefore a useful tool in the fight against obesity. Due to the changes in the body that occur during menopause, the metabolism slows down, fewer calories are burned and the percentage of fat increases. Conscious eating can be the key to not exceeding caloric needs.
Nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, fiber, vitamins and minerals should make up the majority of your diet. Processed foods high in sugar are counterproductive to weight loss. As mentioned earlier in this article, a moderate calorie deficit can slowly but steadily drop the pounds.
In addition, estrogen levels are particularly high during menopause, which can lead to water retention. To prevent this, a low-salt diet may be helpful during hormonal changes.
In addition to diet, the second important pillar is physical activity. Even though metabolism slows down, regular exercise is still very important for health and weight.
Appropriate physical activity should include aerobic exercise such as jogging, walking, swimming, or cycling, as well as resistance training. As muscle mass decreases with age, fewer calories are needed. Therefore, exercise is an effective way to restore and maintain caloric expenditure. Regularity is the key to success. Working out hard one week a year is a drop in the bucket. Exercise should be an integral part of daily life. However, individual abilities should be assessed to minimize the risk of injury. Those who are new to exercise can benefit from a trainer.
In addition, physical activity can help reduce stress and re-regulate sleep, resulting in improved overall well-being and more energy in everyday life.
Intermittent fasting is a form of diet that can be particularly effective not only during menopause, but also in younger and later years of life to regulate weight and metabolism.
Fasting and eating alternate, with the body going without food for extended periods of time to allow for proper digestion.
There are different forms, such as 16/8 fasting, where you fast for 16 hours and eat during the eight-hour window. If this is too intense, you can also adjust the time window individually. Another strategy is 5:2 fasting, where you have a very low calorie intake two days a week, or even set a fixed fasting day each week.
This strategy stimulates metabolism, stabilizes blood sugar, has an anti-inflammatory effect, improves insulin sensitivity, and is calorie-restricted, which is weight-loss and health-promoting.
As is often the case, it is a matter of habituation and takes time to feel normal. It also requires a high level of behavioral control to resist temptation. Again, a nutritionist or doctor can be consulted when in doubt.
Find a weight loss partner
When it comes to losing weight, the psychological aspect also contributes to success.
Finding a weight loss partner can be very motivating in the fight against the pounds. A weight loss partner is someone who shares the same goals, provides support, and motivates during difficult times. It is too easy to procrastinate and fall back into old habits. As humans, we tend to compare ourselves to each other, which can be stimulating. Also, two brains have more knowledge and more ideas to get closer to the goal. Social support is important for us humans to stay positive and self-efficient.
Set realistic goals
Setting realistic goals is very important for weight loss motivation because realistic goals are achievable. Unrealistic or overly ambitious goals often result in frustration, loss of motivation, and sometimes even regression due to discouragement.
It makes sense to formulate goals very concretely and in small steps. The principle of SMART goals has been proven and used in many industries. SMART goals are specific, i.e. they define exactly and clearly what is to be achieved. They are measurable. You can monitor, record, or visualize your progress, for example, by regularly measuring your waistline or weighing yourself and dating or writing it down. Even the old pants can be put on for a test to make your success visible to you.
A goal should be attractive or attainable, i.e., it should match your own abilities and available resources to achieve it. In addition, the goal should be particularly relevant to you in order to motivate you, i.e., it should have positive consequences for you. Last but not least, it is necessary to formulate a timed goal. In this way, you create a deadline by which you want to achieve your realistic goal.
A little tip, a realistic and recommended weight loss is about 0.5 to 1kg per week.
How many calories should I eat to lose weight during menopause?
There is no general answer to this question and it depends on many factors such as age, gender, individual metabolism, activity level, current weight and lifestyle.
However, there are rules that can be followed and adapted depending on individual goals, needs and resources.
It is worth trying to eat 500-1000 calories less per day than you normally would. This should result in slow and steady weight loss. Crash diets are difficult to maintain and require permanent dietary changes. Because this approach is difficult for many people and old habits quickly return, they often experience the yo-yo effect. In principle, a balanced diet should include plenty of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, proteins and whole grains, preferably unprocessed foods and few sweets.
However, to be on the safe side, it is worth consulting a nutritionist or doctor to develop a strategy tailored to your individual lifestyle, health, and goals.
Losing weight during menopause with the right diet
As mentioned above, diet is crucial to losing weight, and not just during menopause. You should reduce your calorie intake, so drastically reduce high-calorie, processed, and sugary foods. Focus on protein and fiber. Lean meats, eggs, fish, legumes, nuts, tofu, and yogurt are especially high in protein. These foods help build muscle. In addition, foods such as yogurt have a positive effect on intestinal flora. A healthy intestinal flora regulates the metabolism and therefore has a positive effect on weight loss.
Control your portion sizes and avoid too much salt to counteract water retention
The bottom line
In summary, menopause is associated with a number of changes in a woman’s life, including hormonal fluctuations, less energy, and a tendency to gain weight, especially in the midsection. However, menopause is not the only cause of weight gain. Diet, activity level, age-related metabolic slowdown and lifestyle all contribute.
The situation is not hopeless. Through conscious dietary changes, regular exercise, muscle building, social support from a weight loss partner, adequate sleep, realistic goals, and appropriate stress management, menopausal women can effectively lose weight and increase their energy.
Ultimately, lifestyle control is up to us. Menopause may bring symptoms, but it should not be used as an excuse to do nothing about unwanted weight gain and changes in the body.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it possible to lose weight during menopause?
Losing weight during menopause is possible with a healthy, calorie-restricted diet and adequate physical activity. However, hormonal changes during menopause can make weight loss more difficult, so patience, consistency, and possibly consultation with a healthcare provider may be beneficial.
What is the best way to lose weight in my 50s?
An active and healthy lifestyle is the best way to lose weight. This should include a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, as well as regular physical activity that includes both aerobic and resistance training.
What speeds up metabolism during menopause?
Intermittent fasting and a healthy gut flora regulate metabolism. In addition, regular exercise, especially muscle-strengthening activities, can also increase the metabolic rate by increasing muscle mass, which tends to decrease during menopause.
- Englert, I., Egert, S., Hoffmann, L., and K Kohlenberg-Müller (2023). Concept of an Intervention for Sustainable Weight Loss in Postmenopausal Women with Overweight-Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Dietary Intervention Study. Nutrients, Read Article, 15(14), 3250.
- Susan Ruth Davis, Camil Castelo-Branco, Chedraui, P., Mary Ann Lumsden, Nappi, R.E., Shah, D., and Villaseca, P. (2012). Understanding weight gain at menopause. Climacteric, Read Article, 15(5), 419–429.
- Knight, M.G., Anekwe, C.V., Washington Krystilyn, Akam, E.Y., Wang, E., and Fatima Cody Stanford (2021). Weight regulation in menopause. Menopause, Read Article, 28(8), 960–965.
- Hunter, G.R., Fisher, G., Neumeier, W.H., Carter, S.J., and Plaisance, E.P. (2015). Exercise Training and Energy Expenditure following Weight Loss. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Read Article, 47(9), 1950–1957.
- Varady, K.A., Cienfuegos, S., Ezpeleta, M., and Gabel, K. (2022). Clinical application of intermittent fasting for weight loss: progress and future directions. Nature Reviews Endocrinology, Read Article, 18(5), 309–321.
- Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T.B., and J. Bradley Layton (2010). Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review. PLOS Medicine, Read Article, 7(7), e1000316–e1000316.
- Aya Avishai, Conner, M., and Sheeran, P. (2019). Setting Realistic Health Goals: Antecedents and Consequences. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Read Article, 53(12), 1020–1031.
- Cook, H., Garris, L.A., Gulum, A.H., and Steber, C.J. (2022). Impact of SMART Goals on Diabetes Management in a Pharmacist-Led Telehealth Clinic. Journal of Pharmacy Practice, Read Article.
- Poirier, P. and Jean-Pierre Després (2001). EXERCISE IN WEIGHT MANAGEMENT OF OBESITY. Cardiology Clinics, Read Article, 19(3), 459–470.
- Fernanda Braga Seganfredo, Carina Andriatta Blume, Milene Moehlecke, Giongo, A., Daniela Schaan Casagrande, Noronha, V., Alexandre Vontobel Padoin, Schaan, B.D., and Cláudio Corá Mottin (2017). Weight-loss interventions and gut microbiota changes in overweight and obese patients: a systematic review. Obesity Reviews, Read Article, 18(8), 832-851.
Leonard Eberding is a pharmacist, an executive, and a board-certified specialist in medication therapy management. Mr. Eberding holds a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from SUNY Binghamton University and a doctorate in pharmacy and philosophy from the University of Florida. He is also a contributor to numerous health magazines, where he uses his knowledge of pharmacogenomics to help patients get on the right medications the first time, rather than relying on trial and error.