Weight Gain During The Menopause

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Why do we put on weight during the menopause of all times? What happens in the body? And most importantly: what can you do to prevent weight gain during the menopause?

Table of contents

The problem of weight gain during the menopause

Despite consistent eating behaviour, weight increases steadily during the menopause. The distribution of fat changes and prefers to accumulate in the centre of the body (around the stomach and waist). Essentially, the pear becomes an apple.

The percentage of body fat also increases, while muscle mass decreases. At the beginning, the weight remains the same, because muscles weigh more than fat. But muscles also burn more calories - which is why the loss of muscle mass in favour of fat is a problem.

As we get older, we become more sensitive to carbohydrates, so our blood sugar spikes up and down more easily and quickly. The consequence? Too much insulin in the blood. This in turn promotes the production of substances that favour inflammation and lead to extra kilos.

What happens when you gain weight during the menopause?

Weight gain is a typical phenomenon as women get older - especially during the menopause. On average, women in midlife (50-60 years old) gain around 0.7 kilos per year. Weight gain is most noticeable towards the end of the perimenopause and during the postmenopause.

Incidentally, the increased accumulation of fat deposits in midlife not only affects women, but also men.

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Menopause and weight gain - a common problem

In up to 90% of women between 45-55, the body fat percentage increases with the onset of the menopause.

Weight gain during the menopause is one of the issues that weighs most heavily on women during the menopause.

Why do I gain weight during the menopause?

Apart from ageing itself, women in midlife are exposed to other influences that promote weight gain. These include oestrogen deficiency, increased blood sugar sensitivity, mood swings and sleep disorders.

Weight gain during the menopause due to a decrease in muscle mass

Lean body mass, i.e. the muscle percentage, decreases. From the age of 30, the average loss per year is 0.25 kg of muscle mass. From the age of 50, the average is 0.5 kg per year. This makes it all the more important to counteract muscle loss with weight training.

As muscles consume more calories than fat, energy consumption at rest is also reduced. The body therefore needs less energy, i.e. food, to achieve this resting metabolic rate. If you then eat as much as you did in previous years, this can quickly lead to weight gain.

Weight gain during the menopause due to blood sugar fluctuations and insulin

As we get older, our bodies become more sensitive to sugar and other carbohydrates, so our insulin levels tend to rise as a consequence. Insulin is important for transporting sugar into the cells, where it is available to the body as an energy source. However, it is also responsible for fat storage in the body, can increase our sugar cravings, trigger mood swings and reduce our energy levels. Too much sugar and carbohydrates are never a good thing, but they can have a quicker impact on waistline fat and hormonal imbalances, especially after the menopause due to increased sensitivity.

Weight gain during the menopause due to hormonal imbalances

Many menopausal women have the feeling that their belly is getting bigger and bigger. This feeling is not deceptive, because the distribution of fat changes during the menopause. The ovaries hardly produce any oestrogen. This task is partly taken over by the abdominal fat cells. This is why the body now prefers to store fat here. During the menopause, abdominal fat deposits (visceral fat) increase from 5-8% of total body fat in the pre-menopause stage to 15-20% in the post-menopause stage. Welcome to the "meno-middle" - although we can't say we really enjoy welcoming it.

In the earlier phase of the menopause, the pre-menopause, oestrogen deficiency plays less of a role in weight gain than oestrogen dominance. In the case of 'oestrogen dominance', weight gain is more likely to occur in the hips and thighs, while water retention can also increase weight here.

Health risk of belly fat

Pants are tight and skirts pinch - admittedly, this is quite annoying and sometimes frustrating. But visceral fat is undesirable for a completely different reason:

  1. It produces hormones such as the stress hormone cortisol and inflammatory proteins (cytokines) 
  2. These force the body to release more insulin 
  3. Insulin in turn stimulates the appetite and increases fat storage 
  4. The abdominal girth continues to increase, insulin resistance can develop (risk factor for heart disease and type 2 diabetes)
  5. Incidentally, this is also a reason why chronic stress leads to more abdominal fat - even without the menopause.

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    Sleep, mental balance and stress are factors that should not be underestimated when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight:

    "In a study of more than 68,000 women, those who slept 5 hours or less gained more weight than those who slept more than 7 hours each night. Mood swings, which affect up to 1/4 of peri- and post-menopausal women, can interfere with a healthy lifestyle and thus contribute to weight gain." - Study Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2017


    Due to the close interaction between sex, stress and thyroid hormones, the thyroid gland can also play a role in unexplained weight gain. Hypothyroidism in particular leads to weight gain due to a slower metabolism. A check-up (blood test) of the thyroid hormones (TSH, T3, T4) is advisable.

    Sleep disorders can also contribute to weight gain during the menopause. Poor sleep promotes the release of the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates the appetite. At the same time, less leptin - a hormone responsible for satiety and appetite suppression - is released. As a result, cravings and appetite increase, which promotes weight gain.

    Taking various medications (e.g. antidepressants) can also lead to weight gain during the menopause.

    What you can do to prevent weight gain during the menopause 


    • Nutrition - the basics: Plant-based diet with lots of vegetables, pulses, wholegrain products, nuts and fruit. In addition, sufficient protein - ideally 30g per meal - (preferably plant-based protein such as in XbyX Daily Energy - Protein Superfood Shake), good fats (such as olive oil and linseed oil) fish, little or no meat - simply follow the Simple 7.
    • Vegetarian or vegan: Both diets lower cholesterol, inhibit inflammation and thus counteract the negative effects of belly fat.
    • Dietary fibre: Fibre from whole grains, vegetables, etc. is filling and important for intestinal flora and digestion. They also bind excess oestrogen - particularly important in the case of having too much oestrogen! We recommend 30-40g a day. If you are not used to it, you should build up slowly!
    • 1 portion of probiotics daily from kefir, yoghurt, raw sauerkraut & co: This makes your gut bacteria, which influences your weight more than your genes, really happy.
    • Maintain and build muscle: Make sure you get enough protein to maintain muscle and do strength training to build muscle. Just twice a week effectively reduces body fat.
    • High-intensity interval training (HIIT): High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is the most effective sport against the 'meno-pounds'. They are short but intense. In studies, obese women who did 10 minutes of HIIT 5 times a week lost twice as much weight as with normal endurance sports.
    • Hidden sugars: People often underestimate the calorie content of individual foods due to hidden sugars and/or saturated fats. Observe yourself in everyday life and analyse your unhealthy habits. Don't forget drinks such as alcohol or coffees. A journal can help you with this.
    • Don't cut calories too much: Don't eat more than you need, but don't cut calories too much either. Otherwise your body will go into "economy mode" and slow down your metabolism. This will cause your basal metabolic rate to drop further, allowing you to eat even less. If you then eat "normally" again, you will quickly store fat.
    • Dinner cancelling or moderate intermittent fasting: Eat only during a 12-hour window (7am-1pm), for example. Try out what works for you. Longer breaks from eating are good for the body! It improves blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, among other things. On the other hand, eating breaks that are too long put additional stress on the body, which means that strict intermittent fasting is often counterproductive for women over 40.
    • Regularly check your values: In addition to your weight, keep an eye on your BMI, W-H ratio and body fat content. You should measure your blood pressure regularly and have a regular blood check including thyroid values, insulin and blood sugar.
    • Get enough sleep: you should get 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
    • Actively reduce stress: Sport, meditation, relaxation techniques, a hobby to balance things out and, of course, sex are wonderful ways to reduce stress.


    • Plant-based protein powders: Proteins are not only important for losing weight. However, we often neglect them in our daily diet. XbyX Daily Energy not only contains all the essential amino acids, but is also enriched with fiber.
    • Bitter substances: Bitter substances not only support your digestive system, they can also help with cravings. Whenever you get a craving for sweets, simply put a few drops of XbyX Bauchgefühl on your tongue.
    • Adaptogens: As you now know, stress is a real weight loss brake. Adaptogens such as those in XbyX Take It Easy or XbyX Lust For Life support your body in dealing with stress.


    • Medical options: If you are very overweight, there are various medical options such as surgery. These are best discussed with your doctor.
    • Hormone therapy: Hormone therapy is not recommended for weight loss during the menopause. On the contrary: weight gain is more likely to occur.

    Did you know that you can influence how you feel during the menopause with a healthy diet and vital nutrients? Our innovative, plant-based products provide exactly the right nutrients to support you during the hormonal changes of the menopause.
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    Weight Gain in Women at Midlife: A Concise Review of the Pathophysiology and Strategies for Management

    Mayo Clinic Proceedings, October 2017Volume 92, Issue 10, Pages 1552–1558

    Obesity associates with vasomotor symptoms in postmenopause but with physical symptoms in perimenopause: a cross-sectional study BMC Womens Health. 2017; 17: 126.

    Published online 2017 Dec 8. doi: 10.1186/s12905-017-0487-7

    Association of Mid-Life Changes in Body Size, Body Composition and Obesity Status with the Menopausal Transition Healthcare (Basel). 2016 Sep; 4(3): 42.

    Published online 2016 Jul 13. doi: 10.3390/healthcare4030042

    Sedentary lifestyle in middle-aged women is associated with severe menopausal symptoms and obesity

    Menopause. 2016 May;23(5):488-93. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000575.

    Association between Reduced Sleep and Weight Gain in Women

    Am J Epidemiol. 2006 Nov 15; 164(10): 947–954, doi: 10.1093/aje/kwj280