How Do I Stop Menopausal Weight Gain?

I started menopause about 6 months ago, it's affected my weight. What sort of diet should I follow to get my weight down?

Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D.

Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D.

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Hi there! Most women find weight gain an even bigger struggle at menopause. This whole "change of life" - which by the way is a normal part of a woman's lifecycle - means that there's a lot of hormonal changes, as well as lifestyle changes (like the "empty nest", aging parents) that all can influence weight. From the biology side, hormonal changes can stimulate appetite, and also cause interrupted sleep (fatigue can make you overeat). From the behavior/lifestyle side, we often overeat from boredom, stress, mental fatigue, as well as cut down on activity, both which promote weight gain.

The good news is that studies show weight gain is NOT something that needs to occur with menopause. You can take control - and here's how.

First, keep a food record to look at your eating patterns. Aim for regular and consistent, structured eating - 3 meals a day and one or two snacks. You want to be in the 1400-1600 calorie range for starters. A realistic goal for a mid-life woman is about a 1/2 to 1 pound a week of weight loss. To lose a 1/2 pound a week (2 pounds a month) you need to trim about 250 calories a day (from both eating and exercise).