Menopause Weight Gain: Keeping the Pounds Off

Apr 052014

Avoiding Menopause Weight Gain articleMenopause and weight gain are closely linked in many women’s minds—the shifting of your curves and appearance of bigger numbers on the scale can be a big shock. Our bodies do change with menopause, but that’s no reason to just accept the bulge and toss out your skinny jeans. Menopausal weight gain is primarily affected by 5 main factors: hormones, exercise, genetics, diet, and stress. While we can’t completely stave off the effects, understanding the changes your body will go through and making small adjustments to your lifestyle can help you reign in your growing belly fat and the health issues—like heart disease and high cholesterol—that often come with it.

What’s a little belly fat?

Our weight shifts as we age, moving to our bellies and expanding our waistlines. Unfortunately abdominal fat is not just an extra bit of padding right under the skin (subcutaneous fat), it is also visceral fat – found deep inside your abdomen surrounding your internal organs. It’s this visceral fat that increases your risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer. Some research has also linked belly fat –regardless of overall weight – with premature death. Managing your weight and fitness during and after menopause is crucial to staying healthy well after menopause is over. Here are the biggest factors that lead to belly fat and what you can do to avoid it.

Control Your Hormones 

While some studies do link lower estrogen to increased appetite, the effect on muscle appears to have a larger impact on your waistline. As estrogen levels dip, muscle mass all over the body shrinks and your muscle to fat ratio decreases. This affects your metabolism (the speed at which your body burns calories) because even at rest muscle burns more calories than fat. A recent study by the Mayo Clinic also found that the lack of estrogen during menopause not only causes fat cells to increase the amount of fat stored, but it is also the cause of fat re-distributing from your hips to your abdomen and thighs.

So the bad news is that even if your diet doesn’t change, your metabolism can slow down and those unused calories might jiggle in places you don’t want them to. The good news is you do have options in controlling your hormones. Contrary to popular belief, estrogen hormone replacement therapy (HRT) doesn’t cause you to gain weight. Recent studies show that HRT administered for menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and mood swings can also help you avoid abdominal fat by keeping your muscles healthy and your curves where they are. There are also natural options for boosting estrogen in the body—including certain herbs and plant based phytoestrogen.

Keep Active!

Certain parts of our lives might calm down a bit as we grow older, but this is not the time to give up on exercise. A National Institutes of Health review found that people who did aerobic activities for at least 10 minutes every day had waistlines that were on average 6 inches smaller than those who did not exercise.

But don’t just stick to aerobic exercise, as we’ve seen muscle building is keyto maintaining your health through menopause. A combination of aerobic exercise and strength training not only helps you build muscle, but also assists in maintaining bone density and preventing osteoporosis –for which menopausal women are also at a higher risk.

Exercise also increases the release of endorphins (happiness hormones), which help combat other symptoms of menopause such as mood-swings, depression, and anxiety. It might feel like a chore at first, but once you get into a routine, exercise can make you feel (and look!) amazing.

You’ll also want to exercise those super important muscles that you can’t see: your pelvic floor muscles. During menopause you lose muscle tone in every part of your body, including your pelvic floor, which can contribute to issues with incontinence, vaginal dryness, and even prolapse. So be sure to keep up with your Kegel exercises and invest in a good Kegel exerciser to help you keep your most important muscle group as toned as the rest of you.

Adjust Your Eating Habits

To keep a healthy weight you have to burn more calories than you eat, but that doesn’t mean that you have to starve yourself – just start eating healthier. One University of Pittsburgh study of 465 overweight and obese post-menopausal women showed that women who ate more fruits and vegetables while reducing desserts, meat, and cheese not only lost weight, but also maintained that weight loss for four years. Work in some time to speak to your doctor or a nutritionist, you don’t have to give up all of the foods you enjoy, just be aware of where that extra slice of cake (handful of chips) might end up.

Understand Your Genes

This is one case in which you really do get it from your mama. Women in the same family often have similar experiences with menopause-whether it’s hot-flashes or weight gain. Have a chat with your mother, aunts, and sisters about how they were affected by menopause, who better to help you prepare for it than someone close to you who has already been through it?

Manage Your Stress

Menopause is a time of change not only in our bodies, but also other parts of our lives, we see changes in our families, with children moving out or older relatives passing away, as well as increases in responsibility at work and strains on their marriages. All of these changes often create higher stress levels, which have been linked to increased appetite and a lower rate of exercise in all people. Finding a way to eliminate or manage stress early is a good way to ensure that you keep those inches off. If you’re already exercising it will go a long way toward relieving stress, but there are other simple things you can do to lower your risk.

Make an effort to spend time with your friends and family, and use that time to laugh and decompress.  Laughter stimulates circulation and brings more oxygen into your blood and organs while simultaneously releasing endorphins and relaxing your muscles. If you prefer to take a little “me” time, meditation is a great way to calm your heart rate and even improve your mood and memory retention (and we all know how stress can make us scatterbrained).

Just remember that you are not alone in this, all women go through menopause at some point and there’s a good likelihood your friends are also struggling with some of the same issues. Work together to ease the strain and keep each other motivated. You can do it and opening up to your friends and family about your experiences can help you understand and cope with all of the changes you’re going through.


KegelSmart: Regain Pelvic strength

Please note that advice offered by Intimina may not be relevant to your individual case. For specific concerns regarding your health, always consult your physician or other licensed medical practitioners.


Can Vibrators Help with Symptoms of Menopause?

While the changes to your sex life are not always at the forefront of your mind when you reach menopause  – thank you, distracting hot flashes  – changes to your vagina during menopause will indeed affect your intimate life. But menopause doesn’t herald the end of your sex life, just changes to it – and [...]

Read more »


HRT for Menopause Explained – A Quick Guide to Hormone Replacement Therapy

Deciding if you want to have hormone replacement therapy is something that most women of ‘a certain age’ will have at some point considered. Being menopausal is described in many ways, but ‘glamorous’ and ‘enjoyable’ are not usually the first words that spring to mind. HRT offers many women a Get Out of Jail Free [...]

Read more »

Reasons to celebrate menopause

6 Silver Lining Symptoms of Menopause: It Ain’t All Bad!

There is a lot to be said about menopause and let’s face it, nearly all of it is negative. This is understandable as there are some pretty hefty downsides, for example mood swings, loss of libido and those dreaded hot flashes – not cool (get it?) With so much doom and gloom surrounding the “change” [...]

Read more »

woman with red hair staring out into the distance

We Need to Talk About Premature Menopause

Navigating the choppy waters of menopause is hard enough in the middle of one’s life, never mind the little-known prospect of menopause before 40. Premature menopause affects many young women and because of the lack of awareness surrounding it, can be a lonely and confusing position to be in. With understanding, we are better placed [...]

Read more »

Peri-what? – Perimenopause Explained

The word “menopause” is a loaded one. For many women, it conjures up feelings of anxiety and confusion because most of us don’t talk about it openly or frequently enough. Then, to add to the uncertainty, friends and the media start talking about “perimenopause” – what is that? Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated or [...]

Read more »

The Hard Truth about Menopause and Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is often called the “silent disease” because it usually progresses without physical symptoms. Many with osteoporosis don’t even realize they have it until a sudden fall, bump or strain that wouldn’t normally be serious causes a fracture or break. The relationship between bone density and estrogen levels also means women over the age of [...]

Read more »

Avoiding Vaginal Atrophy

Vaginal Atrophy: 3 Proactive Solutions

With the average age of menopause being 51, most of us will spend at least 1/3 of our lives beyond menopause. This is all the more reason to take care of our bodies; we still have a lot of living to do and many years of happiness after our fertility has waned. Lower or non-existent [...]

Read more »

Menopause and Loss of Libido: How to Regain Your Desire

Menopause and Loss of Libido: How to Regain Your Desire

Before we discuss loss of libido, let’s look at the brighter side of sex after menopause. Menopause means no more periods, and no more need for contraception. It comes at a time a lot of women are comfortable in their own skin, more confident, and maybe in a long-term relationship. Children have usually moved out [...]

Read more »

Vaginal Changes in Menopause

Vaginal Changes During Menopause: How To Overcome Them

As we get older we often worry about the effects of aging, scrutinizing each wrinkle and fretting over every jiggle, but we sometimes forget about what’s happening to the parts we can’t see – like our vaginas. First and foremost it’s important to recognize what’s causing most of these changes. As we approach menopause our [...]

Read more »

5 Tips for Amazing Sex During Menopause

5 Tips for Amazing Sex During Menopause

We often hear from women who are worried that their sex life will end when they reach menopause. It’s something that society as a whole has taken to be a given; that women will or even should stop having sex when the ‘change’ happens. Thankfully, it’s definitely not the case! Two thirds of women find [...]

Read more »

  • Sign Up. It's Rewarding!
  • Join our newsletter list today.
  • Enjoy 10% off your first order.
  • *Email address
  •  Birthday
  • *Required field
      View our terms and conditions
INTIMINA uses cookies to improve our service to the customer. By continuing to browse our site, you agree to our use of cookies detailed here . ACCEPT