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Why do some women gain weight during the menopause?

Julie, our registered associate nutritionist, helps you to understand how and why weight gain can occur during menopause.

All of us ladies are heading for menopause at some point in our lives, and with over 60% of women in the UK being overweight or obese, this is certainly a cause for concern (1). Many women feel that as they get older they struggle to maintain the same weight that they did in their 20’s and 30’s, even though their diet may not have altered considerably. Why is this?

 Women and the menopause

As women hit their 40’s they often tend to experience trouble sleeping, multitasking, thinking straight and generally coping with everyday life. This can be very stressful and cause depressive symptoms for many women, along with losing zest for life, and many women resort to using antidepressants.

Avoid the fad diets

With so many ‘fad diets’ on the market there is no wonder that many of us revert to them for a quick fix, and yes I have also been there! In fact, the average person will start two diets per year, which often results in them being abandoned after just 6 days, and over a lifetime an average person tries a whopping 126 different fad diets! (2). This type of dieting very rarely leads to long term weight loss that is sustainable and can lead to a feeling of demoralisation, and gaining more weight than we initially lost in the first place. So many women are already struggling with weight loss when they hit menopause!

Our energy requirements change

In addition, some women may move a lot less than they did, joints may become stiff and less energy is used, and indeed we need less energy than we did when we were in our teens or during pregnancy for example. On average women need around 200 kcals less per day than in the past (equivalent to a small block of cheese, 50g). As you can imagine it is very easy to eat an extra 200 kcals every day. We also lose muscle mass too, which is known as sarcopenia, this is around 8% per year from the age of 40. This is more of a problem if we are inactive.

Women walking

Our hormone balance changes

On average women can gain around 8-10 lb in weight, this is due to changing hormones(reduction in oestrogen) around the time of menopause. In addition, it can also affect the way we store fat, this tends to be around the middle rather than on the hips, making you more of an apple than a pear shape. Fat around the middle is more likely to be associated with heart disease, diabetes, liver disease and is worth avoiding if you can. In addition, the drop in oestrogen levels can lead to osteoarthritis.

We also shouldn’t forget the other reasons that can influence our lifestyles such as stressful jobs, looking after family members, whether they are elderly relatives or stroppy teenagers….. All of these can add extra pressure leading to stress as well as overeating.

How we can help?

But don’t despair. Once you realise there are many reasons why the weight creeps on, you can do something about it and think about a change of lifestyle that is sustainable and achievable.

Why not book a free 15-minute discovery call with Julie today to talk about your individual requirements?

Julie is an Associate Registered Nutritionist and believes in providing a personalised approach to her clients to help them reach their health and lifestyle goals. Julie has experience working with clients on a one to one basis to support digestive disorders, weight management and women’s health, in addition, Julie is a qualified chef and lecturer, and is able to support clients with their culinary skills, education and training.



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