How to Finally Achieve Menopause Weight Loss

Why is menopause weight loss so difficult? It’s the number one complaint so many women have about this phase of life — because it seems like it comes on quickly, and then it feels impossible to get rid of that menopause tummy, doesn’t it?

Here’s the thing. Menopause weight loss is hard. That’s not your imagination. But it isn’t impossible.

Let’s discuss how your hormones during perimenopause and menopause are working against you right now. Then we’ll talk about how to counteract their negative effects so you can finally get off the menopause belly fat train.

How Does Menopause Cause Weight Gain? Does menopause cause weight gain? Yes, yes it does.

Here’s what happens.

First of all, your hormones regulate a lot of your metabolic processes.

And during perimenopause and menopause, those hormone levels fluctuate.

Here’s a basic, bird’s eye view of what’s going on:

Estrogen  Before menopause, estrogen helps regulate glucose metabolism, fat distribution, and lipid profiles. All crucial metabolic functions.

Then, during perimenopause and menopause, your estrogen levels decrease.

Because estrogen played such an outsized role in glucose metabolism before the big change — this drop can lead to increased insulin resistance. Insulin resistance makes it harder for cells to take up glucose. That means a drop in estrogen equals a potential rise in blood glucose levels.

And that means weight gain.

There’s also another problem that arises when estrogen drops. Testosterone can rise up and try to dominate the hormonal scene.

That’s a recipe for a massive shift in fat distribution. Before menopause, your body focused on storing fat in your hips and thighs, just in case you may want to have a baby. After perimenopause and menopause, your body shifts to a more androgenic pattern for fat storage — focusing instead on abdominal fat storage.

Which means: hello menopause tummy…the visitor you never wanted.

It also means an increased risk of osteoporosis, since estrogen affects how calcium is metabolized and helps regulate bone density. 

Progesterone Before menopause, progesterone works in tandem with estrogen to regulate the menstrual cycle. Progesterone also affects metabolism, because it promotes fat storage.

During perimenopause and menopause, progesterone levels drop significantly. This is because your body only makes significant amounts of progesterone after you ovulate. In perimenopause, you typically stop ovulating regularly — and that means a rapid decline in circulating progesterone.

This steep drop can lead to so many of the challenging symptoms menopause brings. Including mood swings, hot flashes, and changes in energy levels.

It’s this change in energy levels that can also have a significant impact on your weight. After all, when you have less energy and your mood is fluctuating and you feel anxious…that affects everything, right? You don’t feel like working out. You’re less active overall. And you’re more likely to turn to comfort foods, too.

This is a recipe for menopause weight gain in your stomach.

Your thyroid plays a huge role in your metabolism. Thyroid hormones regulate your basal metabolic rate (BMR) which is the baseline number of calories your body needs to sustain itself. (1)

Unfortunately, during perimenopause and menopause, thyroid hormone levels can fluctuate. This is partly due to changing levels of estrogen and progesterone, which interact with your thyroid hormones.

Low progesterone in particular can exacerbate thyroid challenges. Progesterone is the first hormone to take a nosedive in perimenopause…and for some women, that starts as early as age 35.

When your thyroid isn’t dialed in to its full potential, that can lead to changes in your BMR. Which leads to weight gain.

And it also makes you feel tired. Which again means you’re less active and less likely to feel like working out, which then contributes to menopause weight gain.

It also means you’re more at risk of developing thyroid dysfunction, such as hypothyroidism (a significant driver of weight gain).

Insulin When you eat food, your body breaks it down into glucose.

Insulin helps your cells use that glucose for energy. Insulin also helps your liver and muscles store glycogen, which is like a backup source of energy for your body. Insulin is the key hormone for lowering blood sugar levels.

What’s more, insulin also stimulates lipid synthesis while inhibiting fat breakdown.

That means insulin promotes fat storage.

And as you enter perimenopause and menopause, you are more likely to become insulin-resistant.

That’s right, reduced estrogen levels and lowered energy levels both help contribute to insulin resistance. (2)

This in turn makes it harder to control blood sugar levels. And since insulin promotes fat storage, this is one of the big reasons menopause equals weight gain. 

Cortisol Cortisol is another hormone that’s important for your metabolism.

Cortisol promotes protein and fat breakdown, helps maintain blood glucose levels, and has anti-inflammatory effects (when it’s not running amok due to chronic stress).

Cortisol plays a key role in stress response. And it also plays a part in how energetic you feel. Cortisol that’s too high or too low can mean fatigue.

Cortisol is produced by your adrenal glands, and when your adrenals are pumping out cortisol, that means they aren’t producing sex hormones. This spells trouble for your menopausal body — because it needs every bit of those hormones it can possibly access.

Too much cortisol production can also increase your appetite and cravings. Plus, high cortisol can lead to high blood sugar and insulin resistance, which in turn leads to fat storage as we discussed earlier (since insulin is a fat storage hormone). 

Leptin and Ghrelin Leptin and ghrelin are your hunger hormones. Leptin tells you that you’re full and regulates energy balance by inhibiting hunger.

Ghrelin stimulates appetite and promotes fat storage.

Together, they influence hunger, food intake, and energy storage.

The bad news? Leptin and ghrelin levels can change in menopause. (3) And they’re especially susceptible to disruptions in sleep , which are unfortunately very common in menopause.

That means these two hormones can make you feel hungrier and less full — which is likely to lead to consumption of more calories than you need, which leads to weight gain. 

Lose Weight In Menopause

Weight loss in menopausal women is a challenge. I hope this outline of how your hormones affect your metabolism helps you understand exactly why it’s so difficult.

But I’d like to stress this: it’s not impossible to get rid of menopause belly.

Here are my top recommendations for dropping the weight.

1. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

Hormone therapy for weight loss is a great idea for some women.

I’m a huge fan of bioidentical hormones to help tackle many of the most difficult weight loss challenges. Especially because bioidentical hormones, notably pregnenolone and progesterone, can also support your body through fighting hot flashes, night sweats, worry, and brain fog, too.

As I mentioned earlier, progesterone is a particular struggle for many perimenopausal and menopausal women, simply because it drops so significantly. This drop in progesterone can spell trouble for your thyroid, which in turn spells trouble for your metabolic health.

If you’re feeling like you could use a hand in the hormone balance department, and you’re gaining weight, definitely check out my Balance cream. It’s a wonder-worker when it comes to supporting healthy progesterone levels in menopause.

2. Monitor Thyroid Function

One of the most important things you can do to help keep your weight down during menopause is get your thyroid checked! Many women experience subtle thyroid symptoms for years before they get a proper diagnosis.

Regular check-ups can help detect and manage thyroid issues before they become a major problem. 

3. Diet And Exercise To Help With Insulin, Cortisol, Leptin, and Ghrelin

You know that diet and exercise can make a massive difference when it comes to weight loss in menopause. Studies even suggest that the more active you are, the fewer menopause symptoms you have. (4)

The main problem is figuring out exactly which diet to do — and finding one you can stick to!

So many women in my community absolutely love the Keto-Green diet and lifestyle for this very reason. This diet is one that I personally engineered to help menopausal women fight the underlying hormone imbalances that make weight loss so difficult.

It includes tons of healthy fats because your body needs cholesterol to make hormones. And it also includes tons of green veggies, because they help keep your body in an alkaline state and provide much-needed fiber and nutrients for a healthy body.

When you eat this way, it helps tackle issues with insulin resistance which is one of the main drivers of weight gain in menopause.

Regular exercise can help manage cortisol levels, as long as your exercise routine isn’t too intense.

What About Ozempic For Menopause?

I know that ozempic is all the rage right now, and a lot of people are turning to ozempic in menopause to help them lose weight.

Some recent research seems to indicate that ozempic shows promise for losing weight in menopause. But, so does hormone replacement therapy (HRT). In fact, in one small study, researchers found that HRT in combination with ozempic was more effective at inducing weight loss in overweight subjects than ozempic alone. (5)

This showcases exactly how much your hormones affect your weight in menopause. And it also suggests that addressing underlying hormone imbalances before resorting to weight loss drugs could be your best bet when it comes to menopause weight loss.

Plus, ozempic is quite expensive, especially if you don’t have great insurance. 

Best Menopause Supplements For Weight Loss

Because there are so many different hormones that affect your metabolism, I recommend taking a multi-pronged approach to jumpstarting weight loss in menopause.

My favorite supplements for menopause weight loss are, in no particular order:

Maca is a fantastic weight loss support, and my Mighty Maca® formula is loaded with the best and highest quality maca on the planet. Maca helps to support cortisol, blood glucose, energy levels, and, it supports your adrenals so they can focus on making hormones instead of stressing you out. Check out Mighty Maca here.

The Final Verdict: Menopause Weight Loss

Many women experience weight gain during perimenopause and menopause due to the many hormonal changes during this phase of life.

Changes to your hormones make it feel like losing weight in menopause is an impossible task.

But with the right hormonal balance support and a healthy diet, you can do this, Girlfriend!

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Dr. Anna Cabeca

Dr. Anna Cabeca

Certified OB/GYN, Anti-Aging and Integrative Medicine expert and founder of The Girlfriend Doctor. During Dr. Anna’s health journey, she turned to research to create products to help thousands of women through menopause, hormones, and sexual health. She is the author of best-selling The Hormone Fix, and Keto-Green 16 and MenuPause.

Learn more about my scientific advisory board.