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Why Is It Hard To Lose Weight After Menopause

Are You Overtraining Dont Overdo The Exercise

Why is it so hard to lose weight during menopause?

Doing high intensity HIT and cardio training may also create another issue in the menopause adding too much stress to your adrenal glands.

Its important that your exercise schedule doesnt put unnecessary pressure on your adrenal output and how much cortisol you release. When we do intense, high-impact exercise, we release more cortisol. Add to this to a very busy lifestyle, with ongoing stress and overwhelm, and your adrenals are under a lot of pressure! If we enter the menopause with already tired and overworked adrenal glands, this can mean you experience more difficulty going through the menopause.

Thats because in menopause your adrenals help with some oestrogen production as your ovaries production declines. So you really dont want to go into the menopause driving excess adrenal stress and continual high cortisol. Not good for your hormone balance, not good for your metabolism and potentially not good for your thyroid output.

Why Is It So Much Harder To Lose Weight After Menopause


Medically reviewed by: Sharon D. Malone, M.D., FACOG, CNMP

When we go through menopause, our bodies go through a metamorphosis much like they did in puberty just minus the vertical growth spurt.

Where puberty ushered in an estrogen surge that led to the onset of your period, perimenopause rapidly slows the production of estrogen and progesterone, which aside from ovulation and thickening your uterine lining, are also thought to regulate energy balance and appetite.

The result? An average weight gain of 5 to 8 lbs. between the onset of perimenopause and our last period.


Whats happening here?

According to the Mayo Clinic, women often gain weight during perimenopause because:

We lose muscle mass. As we age, its normal to lose muscle mass and gain fat more easily. When you lose muscle, your metabolism slows and you body burns fewer calories, which makes it harder to lose weight.

Youre genetically predisposed to weight gain. Genetics can contribute to adding pounds during menopause. If your mom or female relatives gained weight, theres a good chance you will too.

You sleep less. If you suffer from hot flashes that interrupt your sleep, you get less sleep and that slows metabolism even more.


With so much stacked against us, is it time to hit the couch? #NetflixandChill

Dont skip meals.

Up your cardio.

Add weights to your workout.

Get enough sleep .

Eat fewer carbs

Losing Weight After Menopause Is Tough Here Are Tips That May Help

Stress changes hormones so we store more fat. Be aware that shifts in mood including increased irritability — can accompany menopause.

    For Mary van den Berg-Wolf, 63, an internist in Bala Cynwyd, a ski accident and the resulting knee injury proved a wake-up call.

    Knowing that every extra pound she carried translated into six pounds of additional pressure on that aching knee, she was determined to lose some of the 20 or so pounds she had gained between the ages of 45 and 50.

    “My experience with weight loss was always trying to lose a couple of pounds, trying to be healthy, eating a low-fat, high-carb diet and thinking of it as calories in, calories out,” said van den Berg-Wolf. She often found herself cutting back on lunch and then devouring a box of low-fat cookies later in the evening.

    And not losing weight.

    Her experience, as many women can attest, is common. Shedding pounds after menopause is usually harder. But it’s not impossible, said Janine Kyrillos, director of the Jefferson Comprehensive Weight Management Program at Bala.

    “People are resigned to gaining weight as they get older, and they assume that’s what’s going on,” said Kyrillos. “But there are lots of subtle things happening, including lack of sleep and increased stress levels.”

    “If people pay more attention to what’s going on in their lives, it doesn’t have to be a fait accompli that they’re going to gain weight,” she said.

    But what if none of these measures helps?

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    Increasing Exercise May Be A Key To Success

    The old adage of eat less and move more certainly applies to weight loss after menopause, but the ratios may have to shift to see results.

    “Cutting calories is necessary for weight loss, but increasing exercise will help sustain weight loss, prevent weight gain and lead to favorable changes in body composition,” Pinkerton says. “The general recommendation is 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days per week.”

    You don’t have to get that all in one session each day, she adds. You can divide it up over two 15-minute high-powered sessions if that helps fit it into your day more easily.

    Related:6 Ways to Exercise Without Even Knowing It

    Can You Achieve Long

    Why Its So Hard TO LOSE EXCESS WEIGHT After Menopause ...

    Ward explains that because the menopause diet in her and Wrights book includes satisfying portions of enjoyable foods, and since its not overly restrictive, its more likely to be sustainable and effective. The word diet invokes deprivation, but a menopause diet should be thought of as a way to enhance well-being, Ward said. This eating pattern can help you look and feel your best while reducing the risk of chronic conditions that may affect your quality of life later on. She also pointed out that no one, including dietitians, eats perfectly all the time. The menopause diet is meant to help you make small changes to your routine that will stick in the long run.

    Recommended Reading: Is Dizziness A Symptom Of Menopause

    Why Is It Hard To Lose Weight After Menopause

    So youve been slim and trim your whole life, and now, after 40, youve gained a few pounds it seems without any changes in exercise and nutrition. Or, you might have already had a few extra pounds, and now its a few more than a few.

    In either case, something is going on in your body. And its not good.

    So what is it that makes losing weight after menopause so hard? There are a number of factors:

    Factor #1: Less Muscle

    Every pound of muscle you have burns about 6 calories per day. Doesnt sound like much, but imagine losing 10 pounds of muscle. Now, you burn 60 calories per day fewer than if you had those 10 pounds of muscle. Multiply that by 7 days, and youre burning 420 calories per week fewer than if you had those 10 pounds of muscle.

    So even though you might be eating the same type and amount of food as you did in your 20s and 30s, youre no longer burning as much.

    The average age of menopause is 51. But average means that some women get there earlier, and some get there later. So in one study, the results showed that women who are menopausal have lower muscle mass than women who are not menopausal, but of the same age.

    Factor #2: Poor Sleep

    With hormonal changes, sleep can get interrupted. Either:

    • It takes you a long time to fall asleep, or
    • You fall asleep just fine, but you wake up throughout the night, or
    • You wake up at 4-5 in the morning, and cant fall back asleep, or
    • You fall asleep fine, you stay asleep fine, but you wake up and you dont feel refreshed.

    How Can You Lose Menopause Weight Gain

    You can lose menopause weight gain the same way you can lose weight that isnt associated with menopause.

    Restrict calories with a healthy diet. Exercise regularly, and aim for a combination of aerobic exercise to burn calories and strength training to build muscle. Prioritize your sleep.

    Lastly, reduce stress. Stress can lead to things like overeating, excessive alcohol use, sleep disturbances, and other issues that can lead to weight gain.

    Read Also: Perimenopause Dizzy Spells

    Body Changes At Menopause

    As we age, our muscles decrease in bulk and our metabolism slows down. These changes can contribute to weight gain around the time of menopause.Other physical changes associated with menopause may include:

    • skin changes, such as dryness and loss of elasticity
    • vaginal dryness
    • hair growth .

    These changes may affect a womans body image and self-esteem and increase her risk of depression and sexual difficulties. Taking steps to manage the symptoms of menopause can help.

    Why Menopause And Weight Gain Go Hand In Hand

    How to lose weight after 50.

    Most women will gain about five pounds during the menopausal transition, Pinkerton says. While it might not seem like a lot, these five pounds may be compounded by a future weight gain or previous weight gain you’ve been trying to lose.

    However, most of these causes are related to aging, not menopause. It just so happens these events all occur at the same time. That’s why menopause often gets the blame.

    Here are some factors that contribute to weight gain during midlife and menopause.

    Read Also: Early Menopause After Tubal Ligation

    Watch Your Carbohydrate Intake

    Not all nutrients are created equal, and some experts believe that a steady diet heavy in unrefined carbs like pasta and bread are a significant factor for excess belly fat. Carbs are the enemy of the middle-aged woman, says Dr. Boling. If you are perimenopausal, look at how much sugar you are eating. Carbs turn into sugar in our bodies. Some turn faster, like candy bars, oatmeal burns slower, but eventually it all turns to sugar. If you are aware of how many carbs you are eating, you are going to do better. Research published in April 2017 in the British Journal of Nutrition found that a reduced-carbohydrate diet may decrease the risk of postmenopausal weight gain.

    Keep Portions In Check And Time Your Meals Right

    Your metabolism has slowed down by the time you hit menopause with some research suggesting it burns a couple hundred calories fewer a day. You can very quickly avoid 200 calories, but that can also very quickly add up if you dont reduce the number of calories you consume, says Christine Palumbo, RD, a nutrition expert in Chicago.

    Its also this time in your life, Palumbo notes, when you may be easing up from the daily duties of preparing meals for your family, and you just want to take a break from the kitchen. She has cooked for 25 years, and is sick of it, and she just wants to go out to eat, says Palumbo. What happens then is that you will inevitably eat twice as many calories as you need at that meal, and its often accompanied by alcohol, which is also associated with abdominal weight gain. Order appetizers as entrees and ask for a to-go container for leftovers when you do indulge in a large main course.

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    Why Is It So Hard To Lose Weight After Menopause

    Menopause means different things for different women. Some are thankful to be done with the reproductive stage of their lives, while others think the onset of menopause is the beginning of the end. The end of what, though? To be sure, menopause is a time of significant physical, emotional, and psychological change. Its important to understand whats going on with the female body during menopause, but what really counts is not that menopause happenstheres no avoiding itbut how one reacts to the inevitable changes menopause brings.

    Strictly speaking, menopause describes the time in a womans life when twelve consecutive months pass without a menstrual cycle. Menopause is divided into three stages: before the change a woman is considered pre-menopausal, around the time of the change a woman is considered peri-menopausal, and after the change a woman is considered post-menopausal. In the U.S. women generally experience the first changes at around age 51.

    Every womans journey through menopause is unique, but most experience some combination of hot flashes, mood swings, anxiety, loss of libido, weight gain, and depression. For the purposes of this article, well focus on why women tend to gain weight after menopause, and why its hard to keep it off once its there.

    Understanding Weight Loss And Perimenopause Symptoms

    Why Is It So Hard to Lose Weight After Menopause ...

    Most women enter perimenopause in their 40s and 50s. There are different theories about why this causes weight gain: some scientists believe a woman’s metabolism is slowing down while others argue that this stage in a woman’s life provokes hormonal imbalance, which in turn affects her weight.

    Hormonal imbalance can be caused by low estrogen levels. Because estrogen is stored in fat, when you approach menopause, your body responds by holding on to fat cells in an effort to boost falling estrogen levels. It’s much tougher to lose fat at this time, but weight loss and perimenopause can work together.

    As estrogen imbalance is the most likely cause of weight gain during perimenopause, it’s a good plan to consider natural hormone related methods when looking for solutions like phytoestrogens and hormone-regulating supplements.

    Recommended Reading: Sweet Potato Menopause

    Top Tips For Weight Loss And Perimenopause Symptoms Relief

    It’s important to work out if your weight gain is due to physical or psychological factors . It may also be a combination of the two of them or other factors.

    Once you have established this, you can work out the most effective method for weight loss. Start by:

    • Schedule rest into your daily routine. Taking time to relax can improve both physical and mental health.

    • Exercise regularly at least 5 hours per week. Over time you may notice that your body weight stays the same. However, this is not because exercise is ineffective, but because you are stopping the progression of weight gain. If you hadn’t exercised, you would have gained weight instead of staying the same.

    • Eat a more balanced diet. Add more fruit and vegetables to your meals and limit your intake of processed foods, sugar, and red meat.

    • Explore complementary therapies. Consider using an alternative remedy, such as herbal supplements, in conjunction with the above methods.

    • Hutchinson, Susan M.D. “The Stages of a Woman’s Life: Menstruation, Pregnancy, Nursing, Perimenopause, Menopause”. November 2007.
    • Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
    • BMJ Group. “Menopause: What is it?” Patient Leaflet. 2007

    Time Meals And Snack Right To Counter Mindless Eating

    Its not just what you eat when you are following a mid-life diet that matters, but also when you eat. Midnight ice cream binges and potato chip raids, for example, are generally bad ideas and would be a poor choice even during the light of day. But the general message on food timing is clear: Dont eat too much too late, Peeke says. Eating later in the evening is murder for trying to keep weight off.

    Another way to keep snacking calories in check is to avoid mindlessly nibbling throughout the day or falling into the dreaded afternoon snack trap. What a menopausal woman does from 3 p.m. on every day can determine how big her belly is. Thats when most women tend to overeat and oversnack.

    To help rein in your snacking, Peeke says to start paying attention to your circadian rhythm. Eat during a window of 8 to 12 hours a day, and then dont eat for the rest of the time. Experts find this imperative to take care of weight at any age, but especially during menopause, she says.

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    Losing 100 Pounds Despite Disability

    Living with rheumatoid arthritis for many years, Lynn Burgess had always struggled with her weight. But when her RA became so severe that she was forced to go on disability in her mid-40s, she was less and less active. Being at home all the time, I also ate a lot more and didnt cook healthy meals like I should, says Burgess, now 60, who lives in the Chicago area. By 2017, Burgess realized she was well over 200 pounds and, at just 411, had about 100 pounds to lose. It was very daunting, but I had to try.

    She reenrolled with Weight Watchers, which had helped her lose smaller amounts of weight in the past. I decided I was not going to give up if I didnt lose or even if I gained sometimes, because thats inevitable, she says. Weight Watchers worked for me, but I dont think its the plan you use so much as the commitment to follow it.

    It took about a year and a half for Burgess to lose 100 pounds, and shes kept it off for the past 2 years. After about 20 or 30 pounds, once I started feeling it in my clothes and seeing it when I looked in the mirror, that made me feel great, she says. That helped me keep going.

    What To Do If Your Belly Fat Is Hard To Lose After Menopause

    Lose weight at menopause & understand how menopause plays a role in metabolism.

    If you have excess belly fat, it isnt only an aesthetic concern for you. It also has serious health implications. Excess visceral fat raises your risk for cancer.

    If youre a woman, a waist circumference of more than 35 inches raises your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease.

    You may not be able to totally prevent or stop belly fat from accumulating, but you can keep it in check by doing some exercises.

    Read also: How to Treat Menopause Symptoms Without Hormones

    Recommended Reading: Menopause Dizzy Spells

    Change The Way You Look At Food

    So its not about dieting. Diets ultimately fail. You have to change your relationship with food. You now need to eat the foods your body can handle if you want to keep your weight in check.

    That means not eating foods that increase insulin and eating vegetables and lean protein instead. Fruit should be consumed in moderation because of its high sugar content. Milk and milk products are a problem too. Our bodies dont need it once we stop growing. Milk is a growth hormone. So drinking lattes and such is adding needless calories.

    While Dr. Laura designs every eating regimen for the individual, she did offer some generalizations on what your diet would need to look like in order to lose weight postmenopausal. She recommends getting 50% of your calories from vegetables that are low in carbohydrates. Lean proteins should be roughly 25%. Healthy fats, like olive oil, avocado, etc. should make up 15%, and that leaves only 10% for everything elseother carbs such as fruit, whole grains, oatmeal, potatoes, milk in your coffee, birthday cake, and alcohol, which should only be 1% of that 10%. In other words, you cant drink and lose weight.


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