How to Lose Menopause Belly Weight

Medically Reviewed By Carolyn Kay, M.D.
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“Menopause belly” is a term used to describe weight gain around the stomach area that occurs during menopause. Some people believe hormone levels in menopause affect body fat distribution. Lifestyle factors also play a part in gaining weight around the midriff during and after menopause. Weight gain can begin during perimenopause, the time when a person begins to transition into menopause. This typically occurs from around the age of 40, when estrogen levels in the body begin to drop.

While excess weight around the waist or stomach area can happen due to hormonal changes, lifestyle factors are also important. There are solutions to managing menopause belly, including exercise and changes in diet.

Although weight gain may occur during menopause, it is important to note that menopause is a natural and healthy transition for females.

Read on to find out more about possible solutions for managing an increase in abdominal weight during and after menopause, as well as what causes menopause belly and how to prevent it.

How to lose menopause belly

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Menopause belly can begin to develop when a person stops menstruating and estrogen levels in the body drop, resulting in the redistribution of body fat. There are solutions to losing excess weight around the stomach, with a focus on lifestyle changes both during and after menopause.

Regular exercise

Exercising regularly can help you to lose weight during menopause. This may include several sessions of moderate exercise or fewer sessions of more intense exercise, as well as muscle-strengthening exercises twice a week.

Examples of exercises that may help with losing menopause belly include:

  • walking
  • swimming
  • jogging
  • cycling
  • dancing
  • aerobics
  • organized sports
  • yoga

Regular exercise can also have other health benefits in addition to weight loss, including:

Contact your doctor if you are unsure of which type of exercise is best for you.

Healthy diet

You may be able to lose weight by changing your diet. To lose a menopause belly, this may involve making changes to both what you eat and how much you eat.

After menopause, your body stores more calories than it burns. You may need to reduce your daily calorie intake by around 200 calories compared to your daily intake before menopause to prevent weight gain.

It is also important to not eat too little. Significantly reducing how much you eat over a short period of time can result in a slower metabolism and increased weight gain.

Other tips for a healthy diet during menopause include:

  • maintaining a balanced diet low in saturated fat
  • eating whole grains, fruits, and vegetables
  • limiting intake of processed foods with excess sugar and simple carbohydrates
  • reducing or eliminating alcohol intake

View our article on the best foods to eat during menopause for more information.

Reducing stress

Symptoms of menopause can worsen due to stress. By taking steps to reduce stress, you may be able to better manage your symptoms while reducing the likelihood of comfort eating and improving your general mental well-being.

Tips for reducing stress during menopause include:

View our article on managing stress for more information.

Improving sleep

A 2021 study suggests a link between lack of sleep and weight gain during menopause. It is important, therefore, to ensure that you get enough sleep each night, and that your quality of sleep is not disturbed.

Certain symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and changes in mood, may contribute to poor sleep. Tips for sleeping better during menopause include:

  • going to bed and getting up at the same time each day
  • avoiding napping in the afternoon
  • relaxing before bed, such as by reading a book or listening to music
  • avoiding using devices such as computers or mobile phones before bed
  • keeping your bedroom at a comfortable temperature
  • avoiding eating large meals too close to bedtime
  • avoiding caffeine later in the day

Cosmetic procedures

Some individuals decide to have a tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, later in life to remove excess fat around the stomach area. However, if you are considering having a tummy tuck to lose a menopause belly, it is important to note that the risks of complications may be greater, particularly once you are over the age of 65.

If you are considering a tummy tuck, contact your doctor to discuss whether or not they think this is an option for you.

What causes menopause belly?

Weight gain occurs during menopause for several reasons:

  • The body changes the way it handles calories, burning fewer than previously and storing more. It also loses muscle mass, meaning that the metabolic rate, or the rate at which fat is burned, slows down.
  • A change in hormone levels, such as a decrease in estrogen, results in a change in weight distribution. Instead of distributing more evenly, any weight gained now focuses on the abdominal area.
  • Lifestyle factors such as diet or a lack of physical activity may also contribute to weight gain.
  • A negative emotional state during menopause can lead to emotional eating or eating larger portions more frequently.

While changes in hormones may mean that fat is mostly stored in one part of the body, it is suggested that there is no scientific link between menopause and weight gain.

It is possible to lose weight during menopause by making healthy lifestyle choices, such as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.

Does hormone replacement therapy cause menopausal weight gain?

Hormone replacement therapy is not known to cause weight gain during menopause. It is possible that the therapy may cause bloating or breast fullness at the beginning, but these symptoms typically disappear after around 3 months.

Will menopause belly go away naturally?

As noted previously, there may not be a correlation between menopause and weight gain. However, if you gain abdominal weight during menopause, menopause belly will not go away on its own. As the body ages, it loses muscle mass and gains more fat. This slows down your metabolism, meaning that it takes longer to burn off the fat.

However, as a review article highlights, menopause belly can go away by taking the right steps. These steps include regularly exercising and eating a balanced diet with a reduced calorie intake.

Refer to the steps outlined earlier in this article for more information on how to lose weight from menopause belly.

Is my weight gain due to menopause?

Weight gain during menopause often occurs due to changes in hormones and the way the body stores fat. If you are between the ages of 40 and 58, weight gain around the stomach area may be related to menopausal changes in the body.

However, weight gain may occur for other reasons, and it may not be an indicator that you are transitioning or have transitioned into menopause. Other symptoms of menopause include:

If you experience any of these symptoms alongside weight gain around the abdomen, the weight gain may be associated with menopause.

Contact your doctor if you are concerned about recent weight gain.

Can I prevent menopause belly?

The body’s metabolism, or the rate at which it burns fat, slows down by about 5–10% with each decade as you age. However, by regularly exercising, you can give your metabolism a boost and burn calories to help prevent menopause belly.

Exercises can have additional benefits too. Examples of suitable activities include:

  • exercises that increase balance, such as yoga, Pilates, or tai chi
  • weight-bearing exercises that strengthen bones and increase muscle mass
  • cardio exercises that reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
    • walking
    • running
    • swimming
    • cycling

By combining exercise with a healthy and balanced diet, you can take steps to prevent menopause belly and weight gain during menopause.

Summary

“Menopause belly” refers to the excess weight gain around the stomach area when a person transitions into menopause. This may occur due to a combination of changes in how body fat is stored and lifestyle factors such as a lack of physical activity.

It is possible to get rid of menopause belly by regularly exercising, eating a balanced diet, reducing stress, and improving sleep. It may also be possible to prevent menopause belly by adopting these habits before transitioning into perimenopause or menopause.

Contact your doctor if you are concerned about weight gain or if you would like advice about diet and exercise plans.

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Medical Reviewer: Carolyn Kay, M.D.
Last Review Date: 2022 Mar 28
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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