Updated: Nov 8
Ahh! I am so frustrated, my diet hasn't changed, yet I keep gaining weight.
No matter what I do, I can't seem to lose weight.
I feel seriously 'blobby', and none of my clothes fit anymore.
Do you recognise any of these comments?
Oestrogen is involved in energy, metabolism, and how and where we store fat.
Progesterone does have an impact, but not nearly as much.
Keys points to consider are:
Oestrogen fluctuations influence where we store fat. It moves from our boobs, hip, and thighs to our stomach and waist, known as visceral fat. Visceral fat does not just sit there and be annoying. It is active, producing hormones, affecting inflammation and insulin sensitivity. The less of this stuff, the better. We might not actually physically gain weight – but we almost certainly change shape.
Metabolic changes. As women age, their metabolic rate naturally slows down, especially as oestrogen falls. This decrease in metabolism can make it easier to gain weight and more challenging to lose it.
Body composition changes. With age, there is a gradual loss of muscle mass and increased body fat. Since muscle burns more calories than fat, this change in body composition can contribute further to weight gain.
Eating habits. Oestrogen is involved with hormones affecting our appetite, and the loss can create more cravings.
Sleep is often impacted. Lack of sleep can affect blood sugar balance, hunger, satiety, and cortisol. This is a bidirectional process, so controlling blood sugar and stress is super important.
Other hormones, such as thyroid hormones, have a greater tendency to go awol around this time of life. Many symptoms are similar to menopause, so I always recommend getting this checked out.
Lifestyle factors. Menopause often coincides with other life changes, such as increased stress and decreased physical activity. These factors can contribute to weight gain if not appropriately managed.
Mood fluctuations. The emotional and psychological changes that can occur can affect our eating habits. Insulin resistance increases, so it is more important than ever to balance everything as much as possible.
So, while it is not true that menopause CAUSES weight gain, there is no doubt that the traditional approach that we have used may well not work in the same way.
However, it is not all doom and gloom.
Positive steps that we can take include;
1. Regular physical exercise, preferably both cardiovascular and strength training. The most important aspect is that you do something you enjoy that is sustainable. Even walking for 30 minutes a day is beneficial, especially after eating.
2. Don't diet. Eat a healthy diet that balances your blood sugar levels. Aim for a mix that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, plenty of lean protein, and healthy fats. Limiting processed foods and refined sugars is kind of obvious.
3. Portion Control. Pay attention to portion size to prevent overeating. The changes in hunger or cravings can be very real (to which I can attest!). Mindful, slow eating is essential. If cravings hit, try to find better alternatives, such as fruit with nut butter.
4. Stress management. Be aware and find ways to manage stress, it is easy for it to creep up
. Yet again, sustainability and regularity are crucial.
5. Get enough sleep. If you are struggling, revisit your sleep hygiene techniques.
6. Be open and honest with yourself about your snacking habits. This is not about beating yourself up but rethinking the times when you tend to reach for the biscuit tin. Do something different, go for a walk, anything to change the habit. It will take time, but it can be done.
7. Stay hydrated. It is easy to confuse the sensation of thirst for hunger. Staying fully hydrated can also bizarrely help with any bloating.
There are lots of small steps that we can take to help manage any weight gain.
If you're ready to make some long-lasting diet and lifestyle changes and would like some accountability, I'd love to book you in for a free 30 minute introductory consultation. The link to book a call is here: