Menopause presents a significant even in the lives of women. Many individuals seem to experience an increase in weight during this period and often report greater difficulty losing weight after menopause. This NutriWiki article will discuss how menopause affects weight loss and weight gain.
There are subtle changes in physiology that occur during menopause that shift the body composition toward higher body fat and lower lean mass. However, these changes can be mitigated and even overcome through proper lifestyle interventions.
There are some minors changes in basal metabolic rate that occur in menopause, but total daily energy expenditure does not appear to change due solely to menopause, these changes are more explained by moving less with age.
However, there does appear to be some evidence to suggest that the hormonal changes that occur during menopause to shift the female body toward a state that is more prone to fat storage and less prone to maintaining lean body mass. This appears to be largely based on changes in estrogen. These changes appear to be based on changes in body composition that are fairly small. Substantial changes in body weight appear to be mostly determined by changes in energy intake and energy expenditure, with most of the explanation coming from reductions in energy expenditure.
While there are hormonal changes that occur that can affect body composition, these changes do not appear to be so drastic that proper exercise and nutrition protocols can’t prevent or improve body weight. In fact, at least one long-term clinical trial (five years in length) demonstrated that simple exercise and dietary interventions are effective enough to double your likelihood of preventing a roughly six-pound weight gain at menopause (1). The study also showed that it prevented changes in waist size. These results were due to being more active and consuming less total calories. This is not the only study like this, other studies have shown that weight loss is also possible during menopause. In fact, one study demonstrated that through diet and exercise, it was possible to lose 1% of their total body weight per week for 15 weeks (2).
- Lifestyle intervention can prevent weight gain during menopause: Results from a 5-year randomized clinical trial.
- Weight gain since menopause and its associations with weight loss maintenance in obese postmenopausal women.
- Association of Eating Frequency with Body Fatness in Pre‐ and Postmenopausal Women.
- Traversing the Menopause: Changes in Energy Expenditure and Body Composition.
- Weight Control and the Management of Obesity After Menopause: The Role of Physical Activity
- Weight gain at the time of menopause.