5 Ways to Lose Weight During Menopause

Even though your body is changing, there are proven ways to drop those unwanted pounds.

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Along the menopause journey, it’s common for women to deal with a number of side effects, such as hot flashes, night sweats and weight gain. While a shift in body temperature is more of an inconvenience than a concern, carrying around extra pounds has been linked to numerous chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

OBGYN Lisa Ann Golik, MD, of Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno, California, explains that naturally occurring aging and hormonal changes are to blame. “A decrease in estrogen and progesterone levels can predispose a woman to gaining weight in the abdominal area,” she says. “Also with aging, there is a noted reduction in muscle mass and increase in fatty tissue mass.”

Here, Dr. Golik offers effective strategies for preventing or losing belly fat when your menstrual cycle comes to an end. 

Medically reviewed in December 2019.

Keep A Log

2 / 6 Keep A Log

Golik says that the first step in achieving a healthy weight is to take an honest assessment of your lifestyle habits. “Write down what you do for exercise and what you eat in a day,” she advises. In fact, a study from 2012 suggests that overweight and obese postmenopausal women who consistently maintained a food journal were more likely to lose weight—nearly 6 pounds, on average—compared to females who didn’t keep a food diary.

“You may find that there are extra calories finding their way into your diet that you didn't realize, and you may think that you are more active than you really are,” adds Golik.

Tailor Your Diet

3 / 6 Tailor Your Diet

While medical experts continue to debate the ultimate eating plan for weight loss, a 2012 dietary study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics drew a few compelling conclusions for post-menopausal women.

To determine the eating behaviors associated with long-term weight loss, medical researchers monitored 481 overweight post-menopausal women for four years. According to their findings, consuming fewer desserts and sugar-sweetened beverages was shown to be effective in both weight loss and maintenance. Also, eating more fruits and vegetables, as well as cutting down on meat and cheese, may help take—and keep—the pounds off.

Whether you're trying to maintain your weight or slim down, it's a good idea to consume a healthy, balanced diet consisting largely of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. Your eating regimen should be light in sodium, added sugars and saturated and trans fats, as well.

Schedule Activity Time

4 / 6 Schedule Activity Time

Make a calendar appointment on your smartphone to do something fitness related, encourages Golik. “It doesn’t have to be going to the gym,” she states. “It could be taking a group exercise class in a park or walking with friends.”

Keep in mind that exercise, even light activity, can make a big impact on managing your weight as you age. One 2015 study from University of Massachusetts Amherst suggested that women who were more active, including those who did light physical activity like walking and yard work, had lower BMIs and other body composition measures. The benefits were greater in postmenopausal women compared to those who were premenopausal.

While almost any regular physical activity helps improve overall health, to drop pounds—and keep them off—you should combine it with a strategy for healthy eating. Here are good ideas to get started.

Go For H2O

5 / 6 Go For H2O

Research on whether drinking more water leads to greater weight loss isn’t conclusive, but in terms of a healthy diet, H2O remains preferable to sugary beverages like soda and fruit juice. There's some suggestion that sipping a glass of water before breakfast, lunch and dinner may result in a smaller waistline, as well.

For one 2015 study, researchers gathered 84 obese adults and instructed half to drink about 17 ounces of water 30 minutes before mealtime. After the 12-week study concluded, the authors discovered that those who pre-loaded before every meal lost, on average, 9.48 pounds. Other volunteers—who consumed water before one meal each day or did not pre-load at all—only dropped 1.76 pounds, on average. 

It should be noted that people’s water needs vary greatly, depending on activity, temperature, humidity, and medical conditions—for some, drinking too much can be dangerous.

Lean On Others

6 / 6 Lean On Others

“If you need help, ask for it,” advises Golik. “Find a friend who also is concerned about their health. Keep tabs on each other and support one another during the process.”

One study published in 2015 suggests that exercising with a friend could lead to additional workouts, thanks to the emotional social support offered by the companion. “A fitness buddy will help you be more accountable,” adds Golik.

If no one in your inner circle is trying to slim down, consider seeking a virtual weight loss counselor. Participants who took part in an online intervention program were more likely to lose more weight—and keep the weight off one year later—compared to those who didn’t receive the guidance. To find a digital forum that’s right for you, ask your doctor to recommend an online nutrition coach or consider joining the Obesity Action Coalition’s online support group. 

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