Complete Symptom Guide to Menopause Weight Gain | Stella

Menopause weight gain


Unwanted weight gain during menopause is a symptom many get frustrated with. While some gradual weight gain is normal, especially around your middle, it doesn’t help that this may affect your confidence or self-esteem. Read on to find out how to manage menopause weight gain.

Menopause and weight gain

Weight gain during and after menopause is slightly different compared with weight gain pre-menopause. The extra pound or two gained before menopause tends to settle more evenly over your hips, bottom, thighs, and arms as an all-over weight gain. At this time of life, any weight gain tends to head to your middle, known as the middle-aged spread.

For many, weight gain and middle-aged spread tend to be fairly gradual across the menopausal transition. It is partially due to hormonal changes, but also other factors that aren’t directly related to menopause such as not enough exercise and diet.

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  • Research shows a weight gain between 5-10 pounds on average during menopause and this is mostly around the middle
  • Some may gain more weight during perimenopause, especially those who are already struggling with their weight
  • The age at which menopause occurs can also be a factor

Read more about the stages of menopause.

Other reasons for weight gain

Stress and big life changes, such as a newly empty nest, divorce, or moving to a new home

Sleep issues

Stopping smoking or drinking

Certain medications such as antidepressants


Have you noticed that your usual nutrition and exercise are no longer working? As you get older your metabolism slows down, so in essence, even if you eat the same and do as much exercise as you used to, you are bound to put on weight. 

As unfair as this is, you have to eat more healthily and do more exercise to keep up! There is no quick fix or magic bullet. Many enter menopause already overweight, and the falling estrogen levels affect how and where you store fat. Try to target this with specific exercises and changes in what you eat and drink. Here are five things you can try.

1. Take care of your diet

Eat well and enough – now is not the time for very low-calorie fad diets or trying to exclude major food groups. You could make your health worse. Track what you are eating and aim for a varied diet low in saturated fat with plenty of fiber, protein, leafy vegetables, and fruit. Pack in those nutrient-rich, menopause-friendly foods.

2. Increase exercise

It is never too late to start exercising. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (brisk walking or cycling) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity (running) each week. You can also pack in short bursts of very vigorous-intensity exercise, such as sprinting or stair climbing to boost your exercise minutes.

Read more about the best exercise for menopause.

Find an exercise that you enjoy and if you are mainly sedentary, start by walking every day and slowly increase your steps and pace. You don’t need an expensive gym membership to start being active.

If you are already in an exercise routine, build in strength training. It burns calories and helps prevent the loss of muscle mass. 

You can combine moderate and vigorous-intensity exercise and this helps prevent and manage weight gain. It also prevents and lowers your risk of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, mental health problems, musculoskeletal conditions, and some cancers. Exercise also has a positive effect on wellbeing, mood, sense of achievement, relaxation, and release from daily stress.

3. Manage stress

Keep an eye on triggers and use techniques to keep your mind from racing at a thousand miles an hour. You might roll your eyes, but yoga and meditation really can help – the scientific evidence is there!

4. Track your sleep

Your mind and body need quality sleep for a chance to rest and repair. It’s very hard to prioritize your wellbeing when you are feeling exhausted too. Menopause can interfere with falling and staying asleep and this disruption in sleep cycles can mess with your hunger hormones.

5. Be kind to yourself

Lifestyle changes are difficult and you may fall off the wagon many times. Try not to punish yourself and recognize your intention to be more healthy and the effort you are putting into your health. 

Does hormone therapy (HT) make you gain weight?

No. Although some report weight gain with HT there is no clear evidence to support this. Currently, it is thought that weight gain during menopause is related to several factors including aging, poor sleep, lack of exercise, and stress.

Menopausal weight gain FAQs

Weight gain around your midsection or all over is very common during menopause. Here are some of the reasons why:

Your hormone leptin controls your feelings of fullness and appetite. It can be impaired by fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone and ghrelin, the hunger hormone.

Weight gain can happen as part of the overall aging process. Some research has shown that age-related loss of muscle mass coupled with gaining belly fat may account for weight gain.

Eating well, exercising, getting plenty of rest, and managing stress are important to keep healthy but are increasingly difficult when estrogen levels fall.

Your genes can play a key role in how you approach menopausal weight gain. Chances are, if your mom gained weight during menopause then you may well too.

Just remember though, menopause is a highly individual experience and is different for everyone. While some weight gain can be attributed to menopause, other factors make keeping your weight in the advised range more difficult, such as:

  • Particularly stressful periods
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Big changes in family dynamics – children leaving home or divorce
  • Job or relationship issues
  • Quitting smoking
  • Frequent alcohol consumption 
  • Taking certain medications where weight gain could be a side effect, such as antidepressants

Some weight gain during your menopause is rarely something to worry about in the long term if you can manage it effectively. Significant weight gain just before menopause, usually during your 40s, and during menopause can increase your risks of:

  • Cancer especially breast and colorectal
  • Depression
  • Cardiovascular disease – high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes
  • Type 2 diabetes

If you already have a chronic or long-term condition, such as type 2 diabetes or hypothyroidism, weight gain can worsen the symptoms.

You may find it hard to maintain your weight during menopause even with lifestyle changes. If this sounds like you, it might be a good time to see your healthcare provider who can figure out if there are any underlying health issues you’re not aware of.

Eating better? Well, that’s my nemesis. If I’m tracking every day and planning meals, I am usually fine. Yet, if there is anything in the house that looks tempting, the struggle is real


  • Australian Family Physician, Obesity and weight management at menopause
  • Healthline, Weight gain and menopause 
  • Healthline, Why some women gain weight in menopause
  • Lizcano F, Guzmán G. Estrogen Deficiency and the Origin of Obesity during Menopause. Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:757461. doi:10.1155/2014/757461
  • Lovejoy JC. The influence of sex hormones on obesity across the female life span. J Womens Health. 1998;7(10):1247-1256. doi:10.1089/jwh.1998.7.1247
  • Sowers M, Zheng H, Tomey K, et al. Changes in body composition in women over six years at midlife: ovarian and chronological aging. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007;92(3):895-901. doi:10.1210/jc.2006-1393
  • Wing RR, Matthews KA, Kuller LH, Meilahn EN, Plantinga PL. Weight gain at the time of menopause. Arch Intern Med. 1991;151(1):97-102.
  • Zsakai A, Karkus Z, Utczas K, Biri B, Sievert LL, Bodzsar EB. Body fatness and endogenous sex hormones in the menopausal transition. Maturitas. 2016;87:18-26. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2016.02.006


Oat & Almond Pancakes

Our recipes with the best foods for menopause. Read more

Reasons to reduce processed sugar during menopause and how to do it. Read more

Best exercise for menopause. Read more

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