Is The Menopause Making You Fat?

Woman in Active Wear With Squeezed Measuring Tape on a Gray BackgroundWoman in Active Wear With Squeezed Measuring Tape on a Gray Background
  • Reasons for unexpected weight gain include slower metabolism, hormonal changes & increased stress & bloating
  • Women need about 100-200 calories less a day when they hit menopause
  • Terri-Ann Nunns, creator of the Terri-Ann 123 Diet Plan, shares her top tips to avoid gaining weight during the menopause
Terri-Ann Nunns, creator of the Terri-Ann 123 Diet Plan

Terri-Ann Nunns, creator of the Terri-Ann 123 Diet Plan

For many women, reaching the menopausal stage is often not something that’s looked forward to. Hot flushes, chills, night sweats, changes in mood, problems sleeping – it’s certainly not the most enjoyable of experiences and to top it all off, many women find they end up gaining weight, without meaning to or even realising!

Throughout the years our bodies change in many ways and weight tends to be something that can fluctuate for many people. Terri-Ann  believes that as we get older, our bodies need to be fuelled in different ways. She said: ‘as we change and develop, what we put into our bodies needs to as well. It’s unhealthy to assume we can eat the same way in our 50s as we did in our 20s, mainly because we simply can’t and don’t burn as many calories when we get older. Ensuring you maintain a healthy diet during your menopause is important for your overall health – physically and mentally. Woman suffer enough during that phase, don’t let your diet suffer too.’

Woman's feet standing on scales

Pic: iStockphoto

Here are the top reasons why women gain weight during the menopause:

  • Metabolism is significantly reduced: as we get older, we become less active and our metabolism is reduced meaning that fewer calories are burned at rest and during physical activity. Of course, the way to lose weight is to burn off more than you put in – however, having a slower metabolism makes this increasingly difficult and often results in weight gain.
  • Hormonal changes: research suggests that oestrogen levels dropping can encourage you to eat more as well as increasing insulin resistance – which means it’s difficult for your body to handle sugars and carbs, often resulting in weight gain.
  • Increased stress levels: the changes within your body can be very stressful and when stressed, your body doesn’t respond in a normal way. You start to produce adrenaline and your body feels like it’s used too much energy, which results in two things. Your craving for food increases and your body begins to store fat around your stomach so that it can access this and turn it into energy quickly the next time you feel stressed.
  • Bloating: hormone changes often results in water retention meaning you’re more likely to feel sluggish and bloated.

To help combat the reasons why you may gain weight during the menopause- Terri-Ann shares her top tips to keep weight gain at bay.

Tip 1

Help to minimise bloating by reducing your intake of starchy carbs such as white bread, rice and pasta and swap them for whole grains and filling vegetables. Also ensure you drink plenty of water and even a herbal tea such as peppermint can be helpful to reduce bloating.

Glass cup of tea beside glass tea pot

Pic: iStockphoto

Tip 2

Try to stay as active as you can. Exercising is a fantastic way to boost your metabolism and of course is important for a healthy lifestyle overall – physically and mentally. This doesn’t have to be particularly strenuous, even going for a walk or a swim can be a great and fun way to exercise.

Happy women working out together in fitness exercise class

Pic: iStockphoto

Tip 3

Taking care of your mind is just as important as taking care of your body and finding time to relax and unwind can really help combat stress levels. If you have time to mediate and tune off for half an hour each day, this can be a really great way to reduce stress levels. You can find videos on YouTube for this and it can be a really positive way to start or end your day, helping you feel refreshed and relaxed.

Women relaxing in a bathtub

Pic: iStockphoto

Tip 4

Research has found that women need 100 to 200 calories less per day when they hit the menopause stage, compared to what they would eat in their younger years. If you find yourself getting hungry, rank your hunger on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being starving and 10 being stuffed. If you’re at a 4 or below, have a healthy snack. Stop eating when you reach a 7. If you are hungry, aim to enjoy healthy alternatives so if you’re craving chocolate, have dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate (more craving swaps provided below).

 Healthy swaps to beat cravings:

Food craving… Swap for…
Sugary sweets Low calorie jelly or frozen fruit
Crisps Rice cakes or popcorn
Ice cream Yoghurt or frozen yoghurt
Milk chocolate Dark chocolate
Sugar Sweetener or honey
Fizzy drinks Fruit squash


100 calorie snack ideas:


Sweet Savoury and fruit
2 jaffa cakes Low calories crisps
20g dark chocolate 2 crackers with lightly spread peanut butter
20g popcorn 2 celery sticks with 1tbsp of low fat cottage cheese
5 jelly babies Tinned low calorie soup
2 ginger biscuits 17g seeds
1 malt loaf slice 14 almonds
4 large marshmallows 35g raisons
2 breakfast biscuits 1 large banana
1 low calorie cereal bar 2 breadsticks and a tbsp of hummus


Moira Chisholm

I'm the Health Editor on My Weekly and am always interested to hear what's new in this fascinating field. I also deal with the gardening, shopping pages, general features, our website content and the Ask Helen problem page. I have a special interest in Christmas content because I'm on the team for Your Best Ever Christmas Magazine, too!