Why Can't You Lose Weight During Menopause?

Menopause is a natural, hormone-related condition that marks the end of a woman's childbearing years. Changes associated with this condition can lead to weight gain and make it noticeably more difficult for you to drop unwanted pounds. Still, weight loss during or after menopause is not impossible as long as you make certain adjustments in your exercise routine and diet.

Hormone-related changes can make weight loss harder during and after menopause. Credit: Plush Studios/Blend Images/Getty Images


During menopause, your ovaries stop sending eggs to your uterus, you produce less of the hormones progesterone and estrogen and you menstruate at lowered frequency before stopping menstruation altogether. The hormonal changes associated with menopause have a number of effects, including reducing your body's ability to efficiently use the calories in your diet and causing you to gain body fat in your abdomen instead of your hips, arms and legs. In turn, significant increases in your abdominal fat levels can increase your risks for a variety of serious health problems, including breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes and colon cancer.


Despite the changes in your body, you can reverse menopause-related weight gain. Exercise-related changes that can help you lose weight include getting regular aerobic exercise and performing strength-training exercises like weightlifting, which improve your metabolism by increasing your supply of calorie-burning muscle. For aerobic exercise, try brisk walking, cycling, dancing or water aerobics. In addition to weightlifting, you can build muscle with calisthenic exercises or resistance bands. Get at least half an hour of aerobic activity most days of the week and build your muscles at least two days a week.

Changing Your Diet

Menopause can reduce your daily calorie requirements by as much as 200 calories. Just to avoid gaining weight, you need to drop your calorie intake by roughly this same amount. To encourage weight loss, lower your calorie intake even further and/or reduce the portions you eat at mealtimes. However, don't skimp on healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, and keep your daily calorie consumption at or above the recommended minimum of 1,200 calories. Avoid foods and food substances that promote weight gain, including refined wheat products, sugar and saturated fat.


Women who gain as little as 4 or 5 lb. in their 50s or later may increase their breast cancer risks by as much as 30 percent. You probably have significantly elevated risks for belly-fat related ailments if your waist size measures 35 inches or more. Fortunately, belly fat starts to disappear relatively quickly once you start regular exercise. Get support from your family and friends to encourage your weight-loss efforts and talk to your doctor before you begin a new exercise program.

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