Menopause brings about a lot of changes for women – both the expected, and the unexpected. As everyone’s experience of menopause is unique, it can be difficult to know what’s normal, and what you can do to feel more you again.

One particularly difficult symptom of menopause is weight gain. This weight tends to be distributed around the middle and can be very hard to shift, even with a healthy lifestyle and plenty of exercise.

Despite the widespread belief that weight gain during menopause is ‘inevitable’, ending this frustrating and demoralizing cycle is possible – with some expert knowledge and subtle lifestyle changes.

Why does the menopause cause us to gain weight?

Before we can understand how to lose weight during menopause, first we need to establish why weight gain occurs in the first place. Around this time, fluctuating hormone levels cause a number of changes in the body. Before, during and after menopause, estrogen levels drop and the metabolism slows, making it more difficult to lose weight, especially around the middle.

This process can begin during perimenopause, causing weight to slowly creep up over a period of time. This can of course significantly affect women’s confidence and self-esteem, as well as a sense of identity for those accustomed to being slim for most of their lives. The risks aren’t just associated with emotional discomfort, though – weight accumulation around the middle puts a person at much high risk of cardiovascular disease such as heart attack and stroke. With this in mind, it’s well worth addressing ‘menopausal middle’ and working to reduce weight overall. Many women have tried and struggled to do so – not because they haven’t tried hard enough, but usually because they haven’t been given the right techniques.

Why is menopausal weight hard to lose?

One of the most difficult things for women facing menopausal weight gain is the lack of sound advice available to help them achieve the weight loss they desire. Most women follow the usual script – they eat healthy and exercise regularly. But when hormones are behind our weight gain, doing these things alone usually isn’t enough to see significant results.

Weight loss tips for menopause

Using a combination of these tips should help to shed fat around the middle and bring menopausal weight gain under control.

1. Reduce stress levels

Stress is a huge contributing factor in the development of fat around the middle at all ages – but particularly during the menopause. The frustrating twist is that stressing about putting on weight directly influences the weight gain itself – so this can be a tricky cycle to break out of.

The stress-fat connection is specifically due to the hormone cortisol, known as the ‘stress hormone’, which when released can lead to increased amounts of fat being stored, particularly in the belly area. Originally this was a crucial component in the body’s fight or flight response, giving us a much-needed energy boost to respond to an imminent threat. But when we live in a constant state of high alert, chronically elevated cortisol levels can lead to insulin resistance and even type 2 diabetes, as well as increased fat deposits around the middle.

We all know that we should stress less – but achieving this can be much less simple. Focus on reducing stress one step at a time, introducing activities that help you to feel calmer and happier including nature walks, meditation, hobbies and exercise. You might also like to seek help from a therapist for any more complex issues that are causing your stress.

2. Increase exercise intensity and frequency

If you’re trying to lose weight, you’re probably exercising a couple of times a week at least. When you don’t see results, it can be disheartening – but often the key to addressing a menopausal middle is introducing the right types of physical activity. All exercise is good for us – but some in particular are better at reducing fat around the middle and combatting menopausal weight gain. These include:

*HIIT (High Intensity Training)




*Weight training

Be sure to change up your fitness routine every now and again too. Trying something new keeps things fresh from a mental perspective, but it also helps the body to continue to burn belly fat and respond to the hard work you’re putting in.

3. Balance your diet with protein and healthy fats

A balanced, healthy diet is of course beneficial at any age – but when we reach the menopause, loading up on nutritious foods each and every day can make a remarkable difference to the way we look and feel.

Eating well looks slightly different for everyone – but as a rule, loading up on protein and vegetables first is most effective when achieving weight loss. Tips to consider include:

*Significantly reducing your intake of any processed or refined foods (yes, even those labeled ‘diet’ or ‘sugar free’). They’re loaded with artificial flavorings, sweeteners and bad fats – as well as inflammatory triggers such as gluten and dairy. Taking a wholefoods approach to nutrition is a decision your whole body will thank you for.

*Choosing lean proteins and aiming for a serving at every meal – a minimum of 70-80g per day. Lean, grass-fed poultry, eggs, fish, seeds, legumes and tofu or tempeh are all great sources of protein.

*Concentrate on leafy green veg such as spinach, kale, broccoli and sprouts as well as herbs like parsley and cilantro to help with hormone balance through supporting liver detoxification.

*Lower your carb intake, particularly any refined carbs. Replace with quinoa, sweet potato, lentil pasta, squash and brown rice.

*Don’t go ‘fat free’. Good, healthy fats, such as those found in nuts, seeds, avocado and fish, are your friend during your weight loss journey and beyond. We need good fats to function – just be careful not to overdo them and avoid any processed or trans-fats which can directly influence your weight and overall health.

Remember – this isn’t a ‘diet’ or a temporary fix, it’s a lifestyle change which needs to be sustainable for you. Being able to enjoy treats now and again and feeling full, satisfied and enjoying your food on a daily basis.

SLEEP SAVIOR - Promotes a healthy night’s sleep by helping you relax.4. Focus on healthy sleep

Several studies have directly linked menopausal middle to poor sleep quality – which correlates with wider research linking lack of sleep to obesity. Inadequate amounts of sleep affect our energy levels during the day (leading to sluggishness and lack of exercise), whilst it also influences our hunger hormones, causing them to become dysfunctional and triggering overeating. Unfortunately insomnia is an incredibly common symptom of the menopause – so getting a good night’s sleep can be a lot harder than it sounds.

As a lack of high-quality sleep has been identified as one of the major contributors to menopausal weight gain, it’s crucial to find ways to help yourself sleep better. Sleep hygiene tips include:

*Switching off smartphones, TVs and tablets for at least an hour before bed

*Reading in bed with candles or low-level light to prepare you for sleep

*Investing in very comfortable, breathable and soft duvets, pillows and bedlinens

*Regulating the temperature of your room to soothe hot flashes

*Using a relaxing pillow mist or diffuser blend with lavender

*Avoiding eating too late (past 8pm)

*Taking Sleep Savior each night to support a sounder night’s sleep

Menopause support from East West Way

If you’re working to become healthier and happier during the menopause, we’re here to support you. Our Hormone Helper blend features myo-inositol, choline and maca, specially formulated by integrative doctor and women’s health specialist Dr Taz for rebalanced hormones and improved vitality, energy and sleep. Shop now >