Menopause and Weight Gain/Loss

It has been shown that 90% of all women experience some amount of weight gain between the ages of 35 and 55 during perimenopause and menopause. Here are the main reasons for weight gain during menopause.

Estrogen: It is common for estrogen levels to diminish during menopause causing cessation of ovulation. The decreased production of estrogen by the ovaries causes a woman’s body to search for other sources of estrogen. Another source of estrogen is fat cells, so your body learns to convert more calories into fat, in order to increase estrogen production. This means weight gain.

Progesterone: It is also common for progesterone levels to decrease during menopause. Progesterone’s role in weight gain is more deceiving; low levels of the hormone do not actually cause you to gain weight, but instead cause water retention or bloating.

Testosterone: Testosterone in a women works to build and maintain muscle mass among other things. These muscle cells work to burn calories in your body and cause a higher metabolism. Levels of this hormone decrease during menopause causing the loss of muscle mass and hence result in lower metabolism. This also results in weight gain.

Androgen: Androgen production increases during menopause sending the extra weight to the abdomen instead of the hips and thighs.

These are problems that are just not your fault!  You can’t help it if your body turns on you!

How huge of a weight gain are we talking about, anyway? On average, women gain between 10 to 15 pounds during the 10 year stage of life when menopause occurs as a result of hormones.  That’s 10 to 15 pounds; there are no 1’s or 0’s missing.  That equates to about 1 pound to 1 ½ pounds per year.  That’s it.

Women in their forties and fifties need about 200 calories fewer per day than women in their twenties and thirties or need to exercise a little more and that 1 to 1 ½ lbs. per year is nipped in the bud.

Has your weight gain been more than that?  If so, what could cause that extra weight gain?


Maybe you’re Insulin Resistant.  Insulin resistance causes a woman’s body to incorrectly convert every calorie into fat.  How do you become insulin resistant?  Insulin resistance can be caused, over time, by eating a diet high in carbs.  Simple carbohydrates found in white bread, pasta, processed snack foods, beer and wine all raise blood-sugar levels and effect the metabolism.

Too much sugar in the diet has the same effect as too many simple carbohydrates.  Sugar causes blood sugar to rise, causing the pancreas to release too much insulin which causes the body to turn calories into fat.  The body seems to treat artificial sweeteners the same as it does sugar so artificial sweeteners are as guilty as sugar.

It also seems that the things that cause insulin resistance are things that really pack on the pounds, too.

How do you end insulin resistance?  You stop eating the things that caused it in the first place and exercise a little.

Maybe you have Hypothyroidism:  Women with an underactive thyroid often experience wait gain because their metabolic rate slows down as a result of the condition. In some cases, hyperthyroidism can also cause weight gain, but that is rare. Thyroid hormones essentially regulate calorie consumption in the body. With an underactive thyroid, fewer calories are burned and converted into energy. Instead they are stored in the body.

The good news is that this is a very common condition and your doctor would have diagnosed it when a sudden weight gain or the other dozen or so symptoms were noted.  You have been prescribed a medication to completely turn that problem around and your thyroid is working just fine now.

Maybe you’re getting Hormone Replacement Therapy:  HRT does in fact cause weight gain.  It can cause astounding gains of 10 lbs. per month — of water weight retention for the first months.  Once your body adapts to the treatment, that side effect goes away and so does the water weight.

For Men, menopause is called Andropause.  The effects are essentially the same.  The weight gain causes are the same.  Get over it.  Eat less and exercise more. 

The point is, the main cause of weight gain in menopausal women (and andropausal men) is eating and drinking more and exercising less than they did at younger ages.

How do you get rid of the rationalizations?   How do you lose all the weight you want and keep it off?

To see how go to: