Menopause and weight gain

Experiencing Menopause and Weight Gain? You’re not alone.

With 34 recognised symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, you’re bound to notice your own set of physical and mental changes throughout your experience. And we know there are plenty more symptoms that aren’t officially recognised!

For many women, weight gain is one of the most unwelcome. 


Why is weight gain common in menopause?

While it’s not a bonafide scientifically-proven symptom, menopausal weight gain is real and experienced by many of us going on our own perimenopause and menopause journeys. 

And there are several reasons why that probably is:

  • One: We’re using less energy than when we were teens, young women and parents of little ones  While we begin to move a little less, our energy needs decrease, too. However, we tend to continue eating the same amounts
  • Two: It’s natural to lose muscle tone (lean tissue) at this life stageIn fact, 8% every decade after 40. And muscle burns more energy, so: less muscle mass, fewer calories burned, leading to more weight gain.
  • Three: Our metabolism slows down right about now – Thanks to hormones, how we process our energy and store fat changes. It’s common to see a shift in where our bodies store fat, around our middle rather than on our hips.
  • Four: We were raised in the ‘fad diet’ era – While you may not subscribe to those methods now, you may have gotten caught up in them previously.
    Yo-yo diets, aka denying yourself food, develop a natural bodily response to turn more of what you consume into stored fats to keep you from ‘starving’. And now, as we embark on our menopause journey and the changes to our bodies, we may find ourselves considering these options once more out of pure frustration. 
  • Five. We’re coping with a lot – Think about it; we’ve gone through a lot. Our children may now be moody teens, and we may be caring for elderly parents. Our jobs may be demanding. All of these put us under pressure when our patience and clarity are already tested, thanks to those pesky 34 (and counting) symptoms.

    Or, on the opposite end, we may have retired, or our kids might have left home, leaving us with more time to ourselves and more chances to question our self-worth. We may be looking for solace or an outlet. And that might be reaching for the snacks.  


With all these factors staked against us, it hardly seems fair.


Gaining weight during menopause and the protein puzzle

The truth is, there’s no specific evidence to link the two together. But, there are enough women’s health advocates and scientists who are certain they are linked and are currently undergoing research and trials to support these views. 

In fact, researchers at Sydney University's Charles Perkins Centre have been studying the relationship between protein and menopause for some time.

They have found that the FGF21 hormone, originating from the liver, elevates during the perimenopause transition. This brings a craving for protein, usually a desire for savoury food. 

This sensation drives us to eat more calories to satisfy the requirement for protein, thanks to the FGF21 hormone increase. This is a completely natural reaction in our brains, but one at odds with our life stage, where we typically require less food to function. We might feel hungrier and prefer processed foods; however, this won't fully satisfy our body’s protein needs.

In perimenopause, we require an additional 6 grams of protein daily and fewer carbs to keep this mechanism in check. Why the lower carbs? Because we generally begin to burn fewer as we enter this stage.

We can stave off the effects of the cycle by choosing more leaner protein foods, like:

  • tofu, 
  • chicken, 
  • fish, 
  • nuts, 
  • yoghurt, 
  • pulses, or 
  • eggs. 

These foods are also high in zinc, which assists the brain with memory and concentration.

However, if you’re feeling like no matter what you do, you are losing sight of the body you once had, there are some simple lifestyle tweaks you can introduce:


What can I do to minimise weight gain during menopause?

While there’s still a lot we don’t know about all the symptoms of menopause and why it affects some of us more than others, we do know there are ways to support your body through this time.

1. Exercise:

Leading an active lifestyle is the best thing you can do for any of your menopause symptoms. Doing something you enjoy that gets you moving is key to releasing dopamine, the feel-good hormone. Regular exercise also encourages a reduction in bone density and muscle loss, better rest and overall improvements to your health and well-being. 

2. Rest:

Rest is best. And if sleep is an issue, thanks to hot flushes and insomnia, then finding a little piece of calm for yourself is vital. Yoga, breathing exercises or mindfulness are all great tools to help bring peace and rejuvenation.

3. Protein-Rich Diet:

As we covered above, studies have shown that a diet with additional protein can work to control weight gain in perimenopause by feeling fuller for longer. And just as we would recommend for any other symptom, adding leafy greens, fruits and foods high in calcium to your diet will keep you feeling healthy and happy. 

4. Healthier Drink Choices:

Swap sugary drinks for sparkling water, herbal tea or a delicious smoothie! Not only is alcohol linked to many health issues, but it can also cause havoc during menopause. Regular consumption can raise your core temperature, cause impaired judgement and make your perimenopause and menopause symptoms—insomnia, hot flushes, weight gain and irritability—worse. You can read more in our blog about menopause and alcohol here.

5. A Supportive Supplement

Natural active ingredients can support you through your unique stage and combination of symptoms and get you feeling like yourself again. For instance, green tea extract - found in our Focus blend - can boost metabolism, helping your body burn calories more efficiently. Additionally, adaptogens like schisandra, siberian ginseng, and licorice root  - found in our Focus, Energy and Foundation formulas - have been found to assist in hormone balance, particularly stress hormones like cortisol, which can influence weight gain.



You deserve to feel happy and confident in your body

If you are concerned about your weight gain, or something doesnt feel quite right, please discuss this with your GP. They can help you rule out other health problems that may be causing your symptoms and offer advice on alternative therapies. 

Remember that we are all wonderfully unique, what might work for your sister, co-worker, or friend may not work for you. 

And lastly, spend more time with friends and family that make you feel good. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people who understand can be the most important step.



Discover our range of clean evidance-based supplements developed to support your body and your needs before, during and after this transitionary life stage.

 This article has been reviewed by our expert advisory team.

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