How to Lose Weight During Menopause

By Robynn Lowe
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
August 22, 2022

People transitioning through menopause may find themselves gaining weight and having a more difficult time losing it or keeping it off. 

Weight gain during this life transition occurs partly because of a drop in estrogen. 

Other factors such as stress, slower metabolism, and age-related loss of muscle tone can also cause an increase in body weight, especially in the stomach area. 

The good news is that weight loss, while perhaps more difficult during menopause, is possible.

There are some tried and true methods that people have found to work for this challenge.  

In this article, we go over details about menopause and why your jeans may be fitting tighter during this life’s phase. Then we share some tips for how to lose weight during menopause. 

Understanding Menopause and Weight

Menopause is a critical event in a person’s life. During this time, people with vaginas experience psychological and physical changes in their bodies.  

Menopause officially begins 12 months after a person’s last period.

However, years leading up to that point, during the perimenopausal period, a person may already be experiencing changes such as

  • Altered monthly cycles
  • Hot flashes
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Trouble sleeping, including night sweats
  • Dry vagina, including discomfort during sex
  • Mood swings
  • Weight gain, including change in fat distribution
  • Loss of muscle tone
  • Aching joints

The menopausal transition years usually begin between the ages of 45-55 and may last 7-14 years. 

Research shows that menopausal symptoms are more pronounced in people who are obese compared to those who don’t. 

It also shows that people who lost weight, improved their symptoms, especially hot flashes, mood swings, and sleep disruptions.

During menopause, the ovaries stop producing eggs, estrogen, and progesterone hormones. Along with the decrease of estrogen, there is an increase in circulating testosterone. 

This change in hormone levels causes a shift in fat distribution from the hips to the waistline. 

Decrease in estrogen levels

Estrogen affects many other parts of the body, including: 

  • Regulating the menstrual cycle
  • Maintaining bone health
  • Regulating cholesterol levels
  • Your physical appearance, including fat distribution

Natural aging process

There are also natural aging processes and lifestyle changes that contribute to weight gain. 

As people age, their metabolism naturally slows down, and usually, they become less physically active. These changes lead to a decrease in muscle mass and an increase in body fat. 

Other natural changes that may occur at this time include:

  • Problems with short-term memory
  • Decrease in breast tissue
  • Lower sex drive (libido)
  • Increased risk for bone loss
  • Loss of pelvic muscle tone

How to Lose Weight During Menopause

So now that you understand a little better about what is going on inside your body. Let’s talk about how you can start to lose this extra weight while you move through menopause. 

Increase exercises you enjoy

Regular exercise has several benefits during menopause, including:

  • Promoting weight loss
  • Maintaining muscle tone that naturally wants to decrease
  • Maintaining bone density health

There are so many types of exercises promoted these days, so let’s break it down into what the best exercises are for menopause.

Research shows that people in menopause should get 150 minutes of exercise each week. 

The exercise should include moderate-intensity physical activity such as:

  • Aerobic exercises (walking, swimming, jogging, and cycling)
  • Resistance training 2-3 times a week
  • Balance exercises

The combination of these three types of exercise prove to be the most effective at managing menopausal weight gain. 

Here are some practical tips for incorporating these activities into your week. 

  1. Start with a warm-up which includes full body stretches and walking for 10 minutes. This helps prepare your muscles and joints. 
  1. To incorporate aerobic exercise, start by taking walks at a comfortable pace. As your endurance increases, begin adding in other aerobic activities such as dancing, cycling, or swimming. 
  1. Incorporate resistance training by using resistance bands, weights, or your own body weight. Try to do these exercises daily, but alternate which muscle groups you work out. For example, one day, work out your arms and shoulders, and the next day focus on your legs and glutes. The following day work your abdomen and back, then start your rotation over again.
  1. Practicing yoga and stretching helps you remain flexible in older age. Try to get in a yoga or stretching session a few times a week. Stretch when you wake up and before you go to sleep. 
  1. Balancing exercises will help your posture and decrease your risk for falls. Some great balancing exercises include tai chi, Pilates, and some functional exercises. 
  1. End each exercise session with some cooling-down exercises such as walking, relaxing poses, and stretches to reduce muscle soreness. 

Eat nutrient-rich foods

Every day, your body uses energy while you go about your activities. How much energy you use depends on how physically active you are. 

Your food fuels your body with good vitamins and minerals but also gives you energy, in what we call calories. 

A person who eats a diet high in calories takes in excess energy that the body doesn’t need at that time, so it stores it as fat.

During menopause, it’s important to eat foods that are high in nutritional value but low in caloric value. 

One study found that people who followed a Mediterranean diet while going through menopause were more likely to lose body weight but maintain their muscle mass. 

Along with drinking two liters of water a day, split your food intake into three meals a day with two snacks. 

Foods to focus on eatingFoods to avoid
Vegetables
Fruits
Legumes
Whole grains
Extra virgin olive oil
Fish
Lean meats
Herbs and spices
Nuts
Salt
Animal fats
Eggs
Sugar
Processed foods
Carbonated beverages
Spicy foods
Alcohol
Caffeine

Prioritize sleep

High-quality sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy weight and your overall health. 

Research shows that low-quality sleep may lead to weight gain along with altering other metabolic disturbances such as your:

  • Energy
  • Sex hormones
  • Appetite hormones
  • Body fat composition

Try to make it a routine to go to bed at the same time each night. Set an alarm for yourself to start a nighttime routine that helps you relax.

Make sure to go to sleep at a time that allows you plenty of rest during the night. 

Control portion size

You may notice that portion sizes these days are much more than a person needs. 

When setting up your plate for a meal, make sure that half of your plate contains green vegetables. Then fill the other half with lean protein and whole grains. 

When eating out, think about ordering a small appetizer or sharing an entree with someone else. Go easy on the bread and chips and if getting an entree, skip the appetizers. 

When eating a snack, measure the food out rather than eating from the bag and avoid eating in front of the television. Sit at your table instead. 

Support from family and friends

Having people around you that support your goals and lifestyle changes are an important part of your weight loss journey. 

If you don’t enjoy working out, or even if you do, having a workout friend can help you stay motivated and keep you on track. 

Consider alternative therapies

Currently, there is not much research into which alternative therapies are effective in treating menopausal symptoms. 

However, there are people who claim these therapies help them, and you may find some relief in trying them out as well: 

  • Yoga
  • Medication
  • Herbal treatment
  • Hormone therapy

How K Health Can Help

Did you know you can get affordable primary care with the K Health app?

Download K to check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and if needed, text with a healthcare provider in minutes. 

K Health’s AI-powered app is HIPAA compliant and is based on 20 years of clinical data.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I take to lose weight during menopause?
If you are interested in taking something to help you lose weight during menopause, speak with your licensed medical provider about what options are available. You can also try getting regular exercise that included aerobics, resistance training, and balance training, which are proven to decrease fat during menopause.
Why is it hard to lose weight during menopause?
During menopause, your body is going through a hormonal shift. Estrogen levels are decreasing while testosterone levels are increasing. This causes a change in your body fat composition, and fat that used to sit in your hips may now move to your waistline. There are other factors at play that cause weight gain, such as naturally slower metabolism, decreased activity level, and lower muscle mass.
How do you get rid of menopause belly fat?
There are several things you can do to decrease your belly fat during menopause. Focus on eating foods that are high in nutritional value and low in calories. Work on getting 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week that incorporates resistance training, aerobics, and balance exercises. Lastly, get quality sleep each night.
Does menopause weight go away?
Menopause weight does not usually go away on its own, but it can go away when you fuel your body with good nutrition and give it regular exercise.

K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Robynn Lowe

Robynn Lowe is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner with over 15 years in the medical field. Robynn received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Florida Atlantic University and has been practicing in rural family medicine since. Robynn is married to her college sweetheart, Raymond and they have three awesome children. When Robynn isn't with patients you can find her shopping, coaching her kids sports teams, or spending time on the water.

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