Generally, the hormonal changes of menopause might make you more likely to gain weight around the abdomen than around the hips and thighs. However, hormonal changes alone don’t necessarily trigger menopause weight gain. Often, the weight gain is usually related to aging and some other factors mentioned below:
Estrogen levels may influence body fat distribution. Many women in the early menopausal years gain fat mass as their oestrogen levels drop. Women of childbearing age tend to store fat in the lower body, while men and postmenopausal women store fat around the abdomen. In animal studies, estrogen appears to help control body weight. With lower estrogen levels, lab animals tend to eat more and be less physically active. Reduced estrogen may also lower metabolic rate, the rate at which the body converts stored energy into working energy. It’s possible the same thing happens with women when estrogen levels drop after menopause.
Water retention is often linked to menopause because water weight and bloating decreases progesterone levels. Though this doesn’t actually result in weight gain, clothes can feel a bit tighter and a woman may feel as though she’s heavier. According to one study, a drop in estrogen and progesterone can increase a woman’s appetite and cause her to eat up to 67% more. An increase in appetite coupled with a slower metabolism with the onset of menopause can cause weight gain in women. This could, perhaps, account for the 12% jump in the number of women who are overweight in midlife compared to women in their 20’s and 30′
The amount of this hormone increases at the onset of menopause. It’s responsible for sending new weight to the mid-section instead of to the hips.
Testosterone helps a woman’s body create lean muscle mass out of the calories consumed. Muscle cells burn more calories than fat cells do, increasing metabolic rate. As testosterone levels drop, fewer calories are transformed into lean muscle mass, thus a woman’s metabolism winds down.
5. Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance can occur during the menopausal years. This is when a woman’s body mistakenly turns every calorie taken in into fat. Over time, processed and refined foods may make a woman’s body resistant to insulin produced in the blood stream.
You’re less likely to exercise during menopause. 60% of adults aren’t active enough, and this only increases with age. The rate at which you can use up energy during exercise declines. To use the same energy as in the past and achieve weight loss, you may need to increase the amount of time and intensity you’re exercising, no matter what your past activity levels were.
2. Muscle Mass
You lose muscle mass during menopause, which lowers your resting metabolism, making it easier to gain weight. Muscle mass typically diminishes with age, while fat increases. Loss of muscle mass decreases the rate at which your body uses calories, which can make it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight. If you continue to eat as you always have and don’t increase your physical activity, you’re likely to gain weight.
3. Genetic Factors
Genetic factors also might play a role in menopause weight gain. If your parents or other close relatives carry extra weight around the abdomen, you’re likely to do the same.
4. Other Sudden Changes
Sometimes factors such as the stress of children leaving — or returning — home, divorce, the death of a spouse, or other life changes might change your diet or exercise habits and contribute to menopause weight gain.
Ultimately, the more active you are, the less weight you’re likely to gain during your menopause period. A National Institutes of Health review showed that people who did aerobic activities every day for 10 or more minutes had 6 fewer inches around the waistline compared to people who didn’t exercise. And exercising while you’re in the process of losing weight — as well as after you’ve lost it — may be critical to maintaining weight loss.