NutriSense Blog
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Science Backed Tips for Menopause-Related Weight Gain

June 16, 2022
Written by
Team NutriSense
Yumna Farooq
Reviewed by
Katie K.
RD

Menopause can be tricky to navigate. Was “that’s an understatement” your first thought while reading that sentence? If so, this article is for you.

One of the more challenging aspects of menopause, aside from all the hormones that do a complete 180, may be weight gain.

Whether it crept up on you slowly or seemed to happen almost overnight, menopause (or even perimenopause) related weight gain can be challenging to lose. But it’s not impossible. In fact, with the right tools and support, you can lose weight and keep further menopausal weight gain at bay without all the frustration you’re probably feeling right now.

Read on to learn more about what causes weight gain during menopause and review some science-backed tips to help you with weight loss, weight management, and overall wellness during menopausal transitions.

What Causes Menopausal Weight Gain

Person weighing themselves on a scale

During menopause, your body undergoes many changes, and there may be various reasons you may be gaining weight during this time (as well as during perimenopause). One main reason is all the hormonal changes that occur during this time, especially with lowered estrogen levels.

As the North American Menopause Society notes, although menopause may not be directly related to weight gain, it does have associations with changes in body composition and fat distribution. 

As women age, they may start to exercise less, their metabolism slows down, and they’re more prone to issues like wider waistlines and abdominal fat.

So you may find that along with the night sweats, mood changes, and other symptoms of menopause, you’re also putting on weight. It can happen even if you stick to a healthy diet and keep up with physical activity.

There are a few reasons for this. A review of research on menopause and weight gain found that hormonal changes during menopause were associated with increased abdominal fat.

The authors also conclude that hormone therapy with estrogen and estrogen-progestin may help prevent excess weight gain during menopause. Again, this suggests that the weight change is hormone-related (for example, due to declining estrogen levels).

Another study illustrated that it’s not necessarily that menopause leads to general weight gain, but more specifically, abdominal obesity. The researchers in this study found that women in menopause had a greater waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio during this period.

Like the other study, these researchers found that women on hormone therapy did not experience an increase in waist circumference or waist-to-hip ratio.

While more research is needed on the direct associations between menopause and weight gain, it’s a good idea to spend a little more time on weight management if you do find yourself gaining weight during this time.

How Menopausal Weight Gain Affects Women’s Health

A trio of women embracing each other

All that excess weight you’re putting on during menopause can be challenging to deal with emotionally, but there’s more to consider here.

Unchecked menopause weight gain can impact your health, and excess body mass can cause a range of health issues, including but not limited to:

  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Various types of cancer

So, for overall health and wellness, focusing on weight management as you go through these natural changes is a good idea. Consider a few tweaks to an already healthy lifestyle, like making dietary changes and getting enough sleep. Here are a few tips to help you out:

1) Consider Hormone Therapy

The next logical train of thought would be to wonder whether hormone therapy is the key to managing weight gain during menopause (or preventing it altogether). It's a controversial topic. And while it’s something you should always discuss with your doctor, it isn’t as black or white as some think.

The verdict from early 2000 studies on hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, was that there was more harm than benefits for HRT.

Later re-analysis said the opposite: when done properly and in early menopause, HRT can help with menopausal symptoms and improve cardiovascular health and all-cause mortality.

If you work with a functional medicine doctor, you may know HRT is one option for menopause support. If you don’t, you can bring this topic up with your healthcare provider and determine if this would be a beneficial option for you.

2) Focus on Whole Foods

A board of olives, olive oil, crackers, and fruit

While we don’t recommend specific diets, you can work with a healthcare professional to find foods that can help you during menopause. For some, research finds that the Mediterranean diet may be beneficial for managing menopause-related weight gain. If it suits you, it may be a good idea to work with a dietitian to incorporate it into your lifestyle.

One study investigated how a Mediterranean diet (MD) would affect weight and other health markers in menopausal women. In this study, they had menopausal women follow the MD, mimicking the diet of people living in Nicotera, a southern Italian town. It included lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, protein, and (of course) good quality olive oil.

Specifically, the macronutrient breakdown was:

  • 50-60 percent of calories from carbohydrates
  • 10-15 percent of calories from protein
  • And less than 30 percent of calories from fat

There were variations in how much each person ate of what. Everyone is different, so work with your nutritionist to find the right ratios for your needs.

The authors found this diet may benefit more than just menopausal women’s waist circumference. These women experienced significantly improved body mass index or BMI (read our article on BMI to learn why this may not be the most reliable marker) and reduced overall body weight and fat mass. They also improved metabolic health markers such as LDL, HDL, triglycerides, and total cholesterol.

Improved metabolic health may have helped these women lose weight and become healthier, as that improvement has helped their bodies turn off their fat-storing mode.

If you’ve found it challenging to manage your weight so far (especially belly fat), incorporating foods from the Mediterranean diet may help give your body a gentle nudge.

3) Engage in Aerobic Exercise and Strength Training

Physical activity is another great way to lose weight and build muscle mass. However, some women exercise less and less as they enter menopause, which can also contribute to weight gain during this phase.

Metabolism also decreases, as does muscle mass. And when there’s less muscle mass, your body may burn fewer calories, and you find yourself putting on body fat more quickly than you did before.

The answer is to get a little more exercise. But you want to ensure you’re doing a mix of different workouts. Aerobic exercise can be beneficial, and so can strength training.

Aerobic exercise, or cardio, includes running, swimming, jogging, and even walking. It gets your heart rate up, pumps feel-good hormones in your body, builds endurance, and burns calories. Aerobic exercise can also be good for the heart.

Strength training includes using weight training (including your own body weight) for different exercises such as squats or deadlifts. It can help increase muscle mass, which we lose as we age (age-related muscle loss is known as sarcopenia). 

You can always start small, for example, by getting in those 10k steps daily. And then progress from there.

And if you already get enough steps in and are running or jogging weekly, it may be time to incorporate a little bit of strength training into your regime.

Physical exercise helps manage menopausal (and general midlife) weight gain and menopause-related symptoms like back pain and hot flashes.

A general recommendation is to get in at least two hours of combined exercise each week for menopausal and postmenopausal women.

A word of caution: high-impact repetitive exercises like running are not recommended for those who have osteoporosis

Also, activities that may make one prone to falling or injury are not recommended since they can lead to bone fracture. This is why a bone mineral scan can be important for women in menopause. 

Adding some low repetition jumping exercises to your routine can actually help maintain bone mineral density and prevent progression to osteoporosis. 

4) Reach Out For Support

Group of women in workout wear and talking

Last but certainly not least, here’s a tip that’s a little less science-focused but more heart-centered.

Even though it feels like you’re on a mission, you’re not alone. Women around the world feel the same way.

So don’t be afraid to reach out to your community or loved ones for support.

If you don’t relate to those in your immediate surroundings or they find it difficult to understand what you’re going through, you can join a support group that resonates with you. Some great menopause support groups include:

Finding one may take time, but you can search for support groups in your local area that meet up in person. Or, if you’d like to keep things virtual, there are some great ones on social media platforms (like the ones linked above). You can even create your very own menopause support circle!

Another great idea is to have a workout buddy or accountability group where you can check each other’s progress and cheer each other on.

You can also lean into your healthcare team or nutritionist for support. Many people find that nutritionists, functional medicine doctors, or other alternative medicine practitioners can offer motivation and behavioral support for longer-lasting change and health benefits.

Track Your Menopause Weight Loss Journey with NutriSense

A great way to track your weight loss journey during menopause is to utilize 24/7 glucose data from devices such as CGMs. 

The best part of the CGM Program with NutriSense is that you can use the monitor with an innovative app that tracks your blood glucose levels. There’s also a team of credentialed dietitians and nutritionists who help you understand the data and work with you to help you achieve your health goals

Click here to listen to the podcast.
Listen to the full podcast:
Science Backed Tips for Menopause-Related Weight Gain
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What You Need to Know About Neuropathy

Neuropathy, or nerve damage, can cause pain, discomfort, and interfere with daily tasks. Explore effective ways to prevent and manage it.

Story
9
min
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The Health Benefits of Adding Fermented Foods to Your Diet
The Health Benefits of Adding Fermented Foods to Your Diet

Fermented foods have a range of health benefits. Read on to learn more about what they are and why you should be adding them to your diet.

Story
12
min
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13 Healthy Ways to Relieve Stress
13 Healthy Ways to Relieve Stress

Stress can negatively affect your entire body. Here are thirteen different ways to reduce stress in your life.

Story
12
min
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Best Physical and Mental Health Apps Available in 2022
Best Physical and Mental Health Apps Available in 2022

Here are the eleven best physical and mental health apps available in the app store.

Podcast
33
min
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Improving Metabolic Health with Carlee Hayes
Improving Metabolic Health with Carlee Hayes

On this episode of Passionate Pioneers with Mike Biselli, Carlee Hayes, Nutrition Manager at NutriSense, discusses the company’s digital platform that aims to help others discover and reach their health potential.

Podcast
40
min
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Carlee Hayes talks Metabolic Health with Rejuvenaging
Carlee Hayes talks Metabolic Health with Rejuvenaging

In this episode of Rejuvenaging with Dr. Ron Kaiser, Carlee explains how to cut through the online nutrition industry's noise, why we shouldn't look for a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to nutrition, and how CGMs work.

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6
min
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Fruit Juice or Whole Fruit? What You Should Pick and Why
Fruit Juice or Whole Fruit? What You Should Pick and Why

Should you be drinking your fruits? Read on to find out more about juicing, whole fruits, and why one may be better for you than the other.

Story
7
min
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Meet the Blood-Glucose Friendly Rambutan: What It Is and How to Eat It
Meet the Blood-Glucose Friendly Rambutan: What It Is and How to Eat It

Do you know what a rambutan is? Learn more about this blood-glucose-friendly tropical fruit and why you should add it to your diet.

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13
min
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Organ Meats: Should You Be Adding Them to Your Diet?
Organ Meats: Should You Be Adding Them to Your Diet?

Learn about the health benefits and risk factors of adding organ meats to your meals, and try our favorite recipes using these nutritional treasure troves. 

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6
min
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Five Cancer Research Developments of the Last Five Years
Five Cancer Research Developments of the Last Five Years

Read on to learn more about five of the most promising developments in cancer research.

Story
8
min
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A Quick Look at Meditation and Blood Glucose 
A Quick Look at Meditation and Blood Glucose 

Learn more about meditation, how it positively impacts blood sugar, and how you can start incorporating it into your routine.

Story
7
min
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NutriSense Dietitians Recommend: Tasty, Nutritious Salads You'll Love
NutriSense Dietitians Recommend: Tasty, Nutritious Salads You'll Love

Salads don't have to be boring! Our Nutrition Team recommends nine delicious, nutritious salads to help you find your favorite.

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7
min
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Do You Need More Vitamin D?
Do You Need More Vitamin D?

Most people get the vitamin D they need from exposure to sunlight, but if you don't spend enough time outdoors, you may not be getting enough of this vital nutrient. Read our article to learn more.

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6
min
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Your Mother's Day Gift Guide
Your Mother's Day Gift Guide

Can't decide on the perfect gift for Mother's Day? Pick from a list of ideas to find a healthy, but still exciting gift this year.

Story
8
min
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Can Soy Really Prevent Diabetes?
Can Soy Really Prevent Diabetes?

Some research suggests that eating soy may reduce your risk of developing diabetes. Read on to learn whether that's true and find out more about the other health benefits of soy.

Story
9
min
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Living with Autoimmune Conditions: Celiac Disease
Living with Autoimmune Conditions: Celiac Disease

Did you know that 23.5 million Americans live with autoimmune conditions? Learn more about the symptoms and causes of celiac disease and what you can do about it.

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7
min
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Positive Thinking May Affect More Than Your Mental Health 
Positive Thinking May Affect More Than Your Mental Health 

It's no secret that positive thinking can improve your mood and help you cope with difficult situations. Review our article to see how a positive outlook may also benefit your physical health.

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10
min
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The Best Diet for Menstruation
The Best Diet for Menstruation

When it comes to your menstrual cycle, what you eat can significantly impact how you feel. Read on to learn more about the best foods to add to your diet to help during that time of the month.

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8
min
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9 Unusual Health Conditions You May Not Know About
9 Unusual Health Conditions You May Not Know About

Though most of us may never encounter these, these health conditions are still fascinating to learn more about. Read our article to find out more about nine of the most fascinating, unusual health conditions.

Story
10
min
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The Positive Impact Weight Lifting Has on Blood Sugar 
The Positive Impact Weight Lifting Has on Blood Sugar 

Here is everything you need to know about the relationship between weight lifting and blood sugar.

Podcast
17
min
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Two to 80 Employees in Just Two Years
Two to 80 Employees in Just Two Years

In this 20-minute conversation, Dan shares how he’s putting a Rockstar in every seat. And mistakes to avoid along the way.

Podcast
45
min
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Understanding how Glucose Effects our Metabolic Health with Kara Collier
Understanding how Glucose Effects our Metabolic Health with Kara Collier

Kara, registered dietitian, and co-founder of NutriSense, discusses how blood glucose levels are a core marker of metabolic health. She dives into the health consequences of fluctuating blood glucose levels, and what levels to look fasted compared to post-meal.

Podcast
57
min
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Using Real-Time Data to Improve Metabolic Health with Kara Collier
Using Real-Time Data to Improve Metabolic Health with Kara Collier

Today on the podcast, Kara Collier, RDN, LDN, CNSC, discusses revolutionizing preventative healthcare. It’s her mission to empower people with the knowledge to effectively monitor, optimize, and sustain their own metabolic health.

Story
10
min
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11 Simple and Effective Weight Loss Tips for Men
11 Simple and Effective Weight Loss Tips for Men

Losing weight is typically easier for men than women, biologically speaking, but it's still challenging! Here are 11 simple yet effective tips for losing weight for men.

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9
min
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What are the Best Times to Eat for Losing Weight?
What are the Best Times to Eat for Losing Weight?

Review our helpful article where we discuss the best times to eat if you are trying to lose weight.

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10
min
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NutriSense Dietitians Recommend: Best Books on Metabolic Health
NutriSense Dietitians Recommend: Best Books on Metabolic Health

Whether you're looking for weight loss tips or to learn more about metabolism, a little reading material can go a long way. To help you get started, here’s some books on metabolic health, recommended by our Nutrition Team.

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9
min
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Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT): Can It Replace Your Workout?
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT): Can It Replace Your Workout?

NEAT can’t replace the benefits of intense cardio or strength-training workouts but like any physical activity, it has many overall health and fitness benefits. Read on to find out everything you need to know about NEAT.

Podcast
40
min
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NutriSense CGM Program Review
NutriSense CGM Program Review

On this week's episode, Shannon describes the comfort, cost, usability, and education she experienced using the continuous glucose monitor program from NutriSense.

Podcast
25
min
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Track Your Health in Real-Time with Dan Zavorotny
Track Your Health in Real-Time with Dan Zavorotny

On this episode of the Making Bank podcast, Dan Zavorotny discusses how he started the company “NutriSense” and how it reached a 150 million dollar valuation in 26 months.

Podcast
37
min
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Can a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) Help You Lose Weight?
Can a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) Help You Lose Weight?

Carlee Hayes talks to This Podcast Burns Fat! about the important role blood sugar plays in weight management.