Staying In Shape After 50: How To Lose Weight During Menopause

Women are generally worried about their looks as they get older, and the problem of how to lose weight during menopause is a big concern. Hormonal changes, lifestyle adjustments, aging, and genetic factors can cause women after 50 to struggle with additional weight.

Losing weight during this period isn't as easy as it is at a younger age. However, with the right approach, it's possible to keep your body healthy and in shape.

In this article, you'll learn how to lose weight during menopause and keep it off to enjoy a higher quality of life longer.

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Why do women gain weight during menopause?

Many women believe that weight gain during menopause is attributed solely to hormonal changes, such as the reduction in the production of estrogen. However, while this does play a role, it is not the only factor involved.

Menopause-related weight gain¹ usually occurs due to several reasons, including the following:

Aging

As you age, your metabolism slowly decreases, causing your body to require fewer calories. When you keep eating as much as you did when you were younger, this can lead to weight gain.

Lack of activity

As women get older and enter menopause, they usually stop being as active as they did at a younger age. In the USA, about 80% of jobs² are sedentary. As your metabolism changes, the lack of activity becomes more obvious.

Stress

Women in their 40s and 50s experience a significant amount of stress related to their jobs, families, and health. Chronic stress can lead to high cortisol levels, stimulating your appetite and increasing the likelihood of you eating too much³.

Genetics

If you have a family history of obesity, chances are you may have a harder time as well trying to maintain a healthy weight during menopause.

Medication

As you get older, you are more likely to be taking medications for various chronic conditions. Some of these, such as antidepressants, diabetes meds, and blood pressure meds, could be contributing to weight gain⁴.  Always seek personalized advice from your GP and report any side effects including weight gain.

Overall, women don't usually gain weight during menopause just because their hormones change. It happens because of various age-related factors, conditions, and lifestyle adjustments.

Why is it difficult to lose weight during menopause?

Losing weight during menopause can be a challenge. Here are some reasons why staying fit becomes harder when you get older.

Age-related muscle loss (sarcopenia)

As you age, your muscle mass decreases. After you turn 30, sarcopenia occurs at a rate of 3% to 8%⁵ per decade. The decline is even more drastic after the age of 60. Muscle loss slows down metabolism, making it harder to lose weight.

Activity restrictions

Women lose their stamina and develop certain health conditions as they age that prevent them from exercising vigorously. As a result, this may make it harder to lose weight.

Physiology

According to a recent study⁶, lipid turnover in fat-storing tissues decreases as you age, making it harder to remove fat from your body.

Sleep problems

Women who go through menopause often experience sleep problems due to hot flashes, sweats, mood swings, and even sleep apnea. Continuous problems with sleep can lead to weight gain for many reasons, including changes in hunger-regulating hormones and fatigue-related lack of activity.

While it may be difficult to figure out how to lose weight during menopause, failing to do it could be dangerous. Excessive weight gain after menopause can increase the risk of:

What is the average weight gain during menopause?

The average weight gain during menopause is 10 to 15 pounds. However, the amount of weight you gain depends on numerous factors including:

  • Initial weight

  • Activity level

  • Diet adjustment, and

  • Medications.

Thankfully, with the right approach to lifestyle changes, it's possible to maintain a healthy weight during menopause and beyond.

How can you lose weight during menopause?

Losing weight during menopause doesn't have to be hard. Making small and sustainable lifestyle changes can help.

Ideally, start implementing them during perimenopause. This way you can have an easier time adjusting to the new period in your life.

Reduce calorie intake 

As you get older and enter menopause, you don't need as many calories as you used to. Unfortunately, women don't understand their changing body needs and continue eating the same amounts of food. During menopause, you need about 200 fewer calories a day than you needed before menopause. It doesn't mean you have to eliminate tasty high-calorie snacks altogether. You can simply downsize your portions.

Here are some foods to avoid during menopause:

Processed foods

These contain sodium and added sugar, which forces your body to retain water, inducing fatigue and making you feel bloated.

Alcohol

Alcohol has a high calorie and sugar content. Having more than one or two drinks per day could also interfere with your sleeping patterns, making weight loss much harder.

Fatty meat

This kind of meat is high in saturated fat and calories, making it harder to lose weight and increasing your risk for heart diseases.

As you enter menopause, pay more attention to the following elements of your diet:

Fruits and veggies

These foods are low in calories but high in nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber. Focus on dark green leafy veggies like kale and broccoli as well as eggplant, tomatoes, and carrots.

Fatty fish

Fatty fish is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which can positively contribute to your cardiovascular health. It also contains vitamin D, which can assist you in maintaining adequate vitamin D levels, reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis.

Protein

A diet rich in protein can assist in preserving your muscle mass. Protein also helps you feel full, which can help prevent overeating. Eggs, chicken breast, Greek yogurt, and tuna fish are great sources of protein.

Besides making diet changes, you need to drink a sufficient amount of water. Keeping your body properly hydrated can assist with weight loss and absorption of nutrients.

With age, the body replenishes fluids at a lower rate⁷. This can cause dehydration, worsen menopause symptoms, and keep you from exercising properly. 

Change your exercise routine

Staying active during menopause is the key to losing weight. Since metabolism slows down, your body isn't as good at burning calories when you are inactive.

Try to incorporate these activities into your weekly routine.

Aerobic exercises

Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise per day. It can include jogging, biking, swimming, or brisk walking. Invest in a fitness bracelet that counts your steps and try to achieve 10,000 steps per day.

Strength training

Since you are losing muscle mass, you need to work hard to maintain and regain it. That's where strength training comes in. Aim for doing strength exercises at least twice a week.

Flexibility and balance training.

While helping you lose calories, such training helps increase your range of movement and prevent injuries. Consider doing yoga or tai chi at least once a week.

Be careful about overwhelming yourself with strenuous workouts. If you've never exercised regularly before, take it slowly and increase the load gradually.

Make other lifestyle changes 

Besides adjusting your diet and implementing sufficient exercise, you may want to consider the following lifestyle changes:

Overall, when deciding how to lose weight after menopause, you need to consider a healthy lifestyle. Unhealthy eating, lack of exercise, and bad habits can have a negative effect on women who are going through menopause.

Tips to keep your weight healthy during menopause

Once you lose weight during menopause, you need to maintain it. Doing this may not seem easy. However, with time, you'll develop new habits that prevent you from gaining weight.

Here are a few tips that can help you maintain a healthy weight in the future.

  • Set realistic workout goals and reward yourself for reaching them. (Take note: Avoid using food as a reward!)

  • Find an exercise buddy. Working out with someone keeps both of you motivated and makes exercising fun.

  • Take up a cooking hobby. It can help you create healthy meals at home and reduce the frequency of eating out.

  • Hire a personal trainer to help you set up an individual workout routine.

  • Eat breakfast. Skipping it could lead to weight gain.

If your weight loss efforts are failing, talk to your doctor. Uncontrollable weight gain during menopause may be caused by underlying health issues. Knowing about these health problems and eliminating them could help you maintain a healthy weight.

While many older women struggle with excess weight, it doesn't mean you will. Learning how to lose weight during menopause is easy. Make a couple of timely lifestyle changes, adjust your diet, and stay active.  When this forms into a habit, you can enjoy a high quality of life during menopause and beyond.

Have you considered clinical trials for Weight management?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Weight management, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

Joining community groups and exercise programs for my condition made me feel empowered – but I want to be part of finding a cure.
Peter, 64

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