Perimenopause Weight Gain - Why the Pounds Pile on Past 40


So many women experience perimenopause weight gain. What lies behind this unwelcome expansion?

The perimenopause can kick off as early as your mid-thirties although it's more likely that you won't enter this phase until you're well into your forties.

It begins when you first notice the telltale signs of the menopause. Perhaps your normally regular menstrual cycle becomes a little unpredictable, or your periods become heavier, or scantier.

This stage of the menopause doesn't end until your periods stop, which happens on average at 52.

And it's during this phase when you're likely to notice the effects of perimenopause weight gain and other perimenopause symptoms such as perimenopause hot flashes.

Why do women gain weight during perimenopause?

Busy womenDuring this stage of your menopause, you could gain as much as 2-3 lb (approx 1 - 1.5 kilos) of weight each year. Given that the perimenopause can last from between five and ten years, that's a lot of weight gradually depositing itself on your body. Here's why it happens:

    • Your fat cells are working overtime to produce more oestrogen - good for reducing menopausal symptoms, but bad for your waistline.
    • Whenever you feel stressed, your body produces cortisol, which has the effect of building more fat deposits around your midriff.
    • Chances are you're experiencing stress and menopause all at once. You're probably very busy, with work, family and social commitments vying for your attention. You probably have a packed diary, with precious little room in it for regular exercise. A super-stressed life can have a serious impact on your waistline, because stress and belly fat are closely connected.
    • Your metabolism is gradually slowing down, which means that you can't use up the calories you consume as speedily as you did five or ten years ago. Even if you're careful about your diet and take some exercise, you'll probably notice a plumper belly appearing.
    • You're less active than you were. If you're a mum, you've passed the stage of tearing around after little children, so there's less exercise added on to your daily life.

    • Muscle mass is also falling. It happens naturally, and a largely sedentary lifestyle just makes it worse. But as your muscle silently slips away, it doesn't just rob you of strength and stamina, it adds to your perimenopause weight gain. How? It's because...
    • ...muscle is a wonderful fat-burning machine in your body. If you lose half a stone (3 kg) of muscle over 10 years of perimenopause, by the end of that time you've lost the ability to burn a massive 400 calories a day. And if those calories aren't used up in exercise, or reduced by eating differently, then they're quickly laid down in your body as - you guessed it - fat.
    • Have you spent any of your pre- or perimenopausal years going on and off crash diets? This kind of dieting not only forces your body to burn valuable muscle, but makes it harder each time you do it to lose weight, because your body adapts to a low calorie intake and stores fat in readiness to cope.

    How to tackle perimenopause weight gain

    There's plenty you can do to shed those pounds and get yourself a more slender shape.

    Remember, if your fat cells didn't plump themselves up at this time of your life, you'd suffer more with symptoms of menopause, your bones would be weaker (you might even develop premenopausal osteoporosis and your lifespan shorter.

    A degree of perimenopause weight gain is necessary to protect you, so make the decision now to take care of your body, give yourself the diet, exercise and calmer environment you need, and you will reap the benefits for the rest of your life.

    Go to Beat Menopause Weight Gain Home Page. Or go back to the top of Perimenopause Weight Gain.
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Facts about menopause

If at 55 you're still eating the same as you did at 25 you WILL gain weight - it's a given.

The reason? Your body now needs about 15% less energy than it did.


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