Medically Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on May 17, 2022
Why The Weight Gain?

Why The Weight Gain?

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Wondering where those post-menopausal pounds came from? Join the club. Women gain 5 pounds on average after menopause. Age and genetics play a role, but it’s largely due to the hormone-metabolism connection. As your estrogen levels decrease, your metabolism slows down. This makes you gain weight — even if you haven’t changed a thing about the way you eat or move — and makes it harder to lose weight.

Forget the Fads

Forget the Fads

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Post-menopausal weight tends to settle around your stomach. This ups your risk of heart and breathing problems and type 2 diabetes. Excess weight overall also increases your risk of breast, colon, and other types of cancers. Healthy weight loss isn’t a goal — it’s a routine. Skip the pills and fad diets and stick to healthy food and exercise.

Get Your Numbers Right First

Get Your Numbers Right First

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Your metabolism will continue to slow down as you get older. This means you need fewer calories to lose or maintain a healthy weight. Use the USDA’s MyPlate Plan to figure out how many calories you need daily based on your age, gender, height, weight, and activity level.

Choose Healthy Foods

Choose Healthy Foods

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Once you know your new target calorie range, make every one count. Choose fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy (olive and vegetable) oils. Avoid carbs like bread, pasta, and baked goods, which are harder to burn off. Steer clear of calorie-filled alcohol, sodas, and coffee drinks too.

Be Realistic

Be Realistic

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The weight loss methods that worked in your 20s, 30s, and 40s may not work with your post-menopausal body. If you see something you want to change, change it, but know it may not happen as quickly as it did before.  Don’t think of it as a fight. Instead, accept it as part of the normal aging process and work with what you have.

Rethink Exercise

Rethink Exercise

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Don’t feel like jogging or kickboxing anymore? Take a walk instead. Or an hourlong dance or water aerobics class. Aim for at least 2.5 hours a week of moderate aerobic exercise. Work in some strength training, like light weight lifting, twice a week

Talk to Your Doctor

Talk to Your Doctor

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If you’ve checked all the boxes of diet and exercise, and still aren’t seeing any changes, talk with your doctor. Something could be working against you, like thyroid issues or certain medications that cause weight gain. Your doctor may also be able to recommend a board-certified nutritionist who can guide your food choices.

Try a Food Journal

Try a Food Journal

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Sometimes there’s a big difference between what you think you’re eating and what you’re actually eating. Even if it’s just for a week or two, write down everything you eat and drink daily. This will give you a clear picture of places you can cut back if the weight won’t come off. Jot down your exercise too.

Get Good Sleep

Get Good Sleep

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A solid night of sleep is always good for your body. But it’s even more important when it comes to weight loss. Though more research is needed, recent studies show hormone-based connections between lack of sleep and weight gain. To keep your sleep hygiene in good shape, keep a consistent bedtime, make sure your room is quiet and dark, and shut off all screens.

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SOURCES:

Office on Women’s Health: “Weight Loss and Women.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Menopause Weight Gain: Is It Inevitable?”

Mayo Clinic: “Menopause Weight Gain: Stop The Middle Age Spread,” “Is Too Little Sleep A Cause of Weight Gain?”

CDC: “Losing Weight,” “Tips For Better Sleep.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture: “MyPlate Plan.”

Better Health Channel: “Menopause and Weight Gain.”

National Institute on Aging: “How Older Adults Can Get Started With Exercise.”