How To Fight Menopause Weight Gain

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated February 20, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Menopause may bring with it a range of symptoms, and weight gain is often among the most frustrating ones to face. It can happen due to hormonal and lifestyle changes, and a gain of about five pounds tends to be the average. You may fight menopause weight gain with hormone replacement therapy, exercise, a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, and stress management techniques. Your doctor and a licensed therapist may help you through this process, particularly when it comes to managing stress.

Why does menopause weight gain happen?

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The side effects of menopause can be overwhelming

Many people experience weight gain as menopause approaches or once it has begun. An increase of around five pounds tends to be the average. Part of why this happens can be hormonal changes in your body. These hormonal changes may lead to weight gain around the hips, thighs, and abdomen. However, hormonal changes are not usually the only reason why menopause weight gain happens.

When a person reaches menopause, lifestyle changes may occur alongside the natural aging process. For example, as you age, it can be normal for fat to increase and muscle mass to decrease. The less muscle mass you have, the fewer calories you may naturally burn, which usually makes it harder to maintain or lose weight. If you don't change your eating and activity levels, it may become difficult to prevent weight gain.

It can also be normal to struggle with getting enough exercise and sleep as you progress in age. These factors tend to be linked, as exercise can improve your sleep quality, and healthy sleep habits can help your energy levels.

Should you be concerned about menopause weight gain?

Weight gain during menopause is usually no different from putting on pounds at other points in your life. It can come with the same risks, including the development of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, pain, mental health concerns, and osteoarthritis. 

Research has also found that excess weight can increase your chance of certain types of cancer, such as endometrial, breast, and colon cancer.

How to fight menopause weight gain

The same techniques and strategies that work for losing weight or stopping weight gain at other life stages generally still apply to menopause weight gain. Aging may make it harder to accomplish some of the things you used to do, but other changes may make it easier for you to stay active or lose weight.

For example, parents may experience menopause around the same time their children leave home. This can free up additional time to take up new hobbies and activities to keep yourself moving.

Understanding your options may help you feel confident as you work to counteract menopause-related weight gain. Here are some ways you can work to maintain or lose weight as you approach or experience menopause. 

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may prevent weight gain and encourage weight loss during menopause. HRT generally consists of a prescription for estrogen, progesterone, or testosterone designed to ease the symptoms of menopause.

If you're interested in trying HRT to fight weight gain during menopause, ask your healthcare provider about your options and potential side effects.

Stay active

Exercise typically causes your body to expend more energy, which can help prevent weight gain and encourage weight loss. There can be many different types of exercise, potentially enabling you to find ways to stay active that you enjoy. Here are some of the many options: 

  • Aerobics classes
  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Hiking
  • Strength training
  • Dance
  • Bodyweight exercise
  • Swimming
  • Yoga
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Working with a personal trainer can help you stay safe, learn proper form, and remain accountable for your workout routine. You might also look for free classes at your local recreation center or find an online training program. 

Exercising and building muscle usually boosts your metabolism, which can make losing or maintaining weight easier. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) usually recommends getting 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise and two days of strength training each week. 

However, it's usually best to speak with your doctor before beginning a new workout routine to find out what's best for you based on your health and lifestyle. 

Eat a healthy diet

Menopause and aging are generally considered natural processes that usually cause your body to require less food than before. For example, people in their 50s typically need to eat about 200 fewer calories per day than those in their 20s. 

You can speak with your doctor for caloric recommendations and ask if they recommend that you track your calories from food intake. Most people can naturally decrease their caloric intake if they eat more of the following foods: 

  • Fresh fruits
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Lean proteins (e.g., skinless chicken breast and plant proteins like tofu)
  • Whole grains 

Eliminating your intake of the following foods can also help you consume fewer calories:

  • Processed foods
  • Sugary foods (e.g., baked goods, sweetened coffees, soft drinks, and fruit juice)
  • Fatty protein sources (e.g., red meats like beef, lamb, and pork)
  • Alcoholic beverages 

Get more sleep

Menopause may make it more challenging to get the sleep you need, but your hormones may become imbalanced if you aren't getting enough sleep, and this can lead to weight gain. Good sleep hygiene habits can help you improve your sleep. For example, the CDC recommends the following: 

  • Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day
  • Keeping your bedroom dark, quiet, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature
  • Removing electronic devices like computers, TVs, and smartphones from the bedroom
  • Avoiding large meals, alcohol, and caffeine before bed
  • Exercising during the day

Reduce your stress levels

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The side effects of menopause can be overwhelming

Even without menopause, chronic stress may be linked to weight gain. Reducing your stress levels can help with weight maintenance or loss. One way to work on this may be with therapy. A licensed professional may spot causes of stress in your life and offer advice to reduce or eliminate that stress. 

Benefits of online therapy

If you’re experiencing side effects of menopause that make it challenging to get out of the house for a therapy appointment, or if in-person therapy simply isn’t convenient or comfortable for you, online therapy may be a helpful alternative. You can connect with a therapist who has experience helping others with similar concerns and attend sessions from the comfort of your home at a time that fits your schedule.

Effectiveness of online therapy

Online therapy is generally as effective as in-person therapy, according to a large body of research. For instance, one study investigated the efficacy of online cognitive behavioral therapy in treating sleeping difficulties for participants going through menopause. It found that the online intervention typically improved sleep quality, insomnia, total sleep hours, and sleep efficiency.


Weight gain during menopause can be common, but it's not necessarily inevitable. You can fight it with healthy lifestyle changes like eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep. However, menopause has the potential to bring on more than just weight gain. You might encounter new stressors associated with transitioning into this new stage of life. If you experience this, consider reaching out to an online or in-person therapist for help.
Understand how menopause impacts the body and mind
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