Two Lifestyle Hacks to Help You Keep Off That Extra Perimenopause Weight.
Reviewed by Dr. Lisa Czanko MD, MPH
Mirror Mirror on the wall, will perimenopause cause sudden weight gain after all?
If you’re heading into your 40’s or notice your period becoming a bit more irregular, this question may be top of mind. Weight gain is a very real and common symptom of perimenopause. But it doesn’t have to throw you off your happy weight.
Perimenopause is defined as the transition time leading up to menopause. Common perimenopause symptoms can include weight gain, sleep problems, irregular periods, and changes in sexual response.
We know weight isn’t exactly everyone’s favorite topic, especially if you have a challenging personal or family history. In fact, it can be a bit triggering for some. But as it turns out, there are many different reasons why people sometimes gain weight around perimenopause, and not all of them are what you might expect.
This article will explain why perimenopause can be associated with sudden weight gain and how to avoid any unwanted weight gain that's a symptom of perimenopause.
What Habits Can Help Prevent Sudden Weight Gain During Perimenopause?
With the changes of perimenopause comes the need to change some lifestyle habits as well. Two of the best ways to prevent sudden weight gain during perimenopause are exercise and healthy eating!
- Move and groove
Maybe it’s been on the to-do list for a while or perhaps the daily routine could just use a fresh take. There are so many great ways to exercise and show the body some love, and it's one of the best ways to keep any extra weight off during perimenopause.
Pilates, walking, cycling, and swimming are all great ways to keep the body moving and provide a full body workout. And if none of those appeal, research has shown that strength training can be a great way to increase muscle, improve blood sugar, and help further independence throughout aging. A person could even do some low impact workout exercises while watching a favorite TV show! As a general rule, it is important to speak to a medical provider prior to starting any new exercise program.
2. Fill that plate
Another great way to mitigate sudden weight gain during perimenopause is sticking to a healthy diet. Some tips include:
- Focusing on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products
- Including a variety of lean protein sources such as seafood, beans, nuts, soy products, lean meats, eggs, and seeds
- Decreasing intake of saturated fats, trans fats, added sugars, cholesterol, and salt
Studies show that some people don’t adjust their eating habits to fit into a more sedentary lifestyle, which can lead to unbalanced diets and choosing convenience food over healthy meals.
For people who continue to gain weight despite making healthy changes in their lifestyle, speaking to a healthcare provider may be helpful to rule out other medical conditions.
Remember you are more than your weight. Aging is a beautiful opportunity to try out some new routines or refresh your healthy ones!
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What Can Cause Sudden Weight Gain During Perimenopause?
For better or worse there are three main reasons people tend to gain weight during perimenopause, and they’re totally normal (albeit maybe unwelcome).
- Natural aging
Aging itself can slow down metabolism, decrease lean body mass, and increase fat storage. So while putting on a few pounds might not always be directly related to perimenopause, it may show up around the same time. As people age, fat begins to spread out a little differently as well. Weight can tend to collect more around the abdomen and waist line rather than distributed throughout the body.
2. Hormonal shifts
Scientifically speaking, when the body goes through perimenopause, estrogen levels slowly decline. The lower estrogen levels may contribute to weight gain through further slowing down of metabolism.
3. Lifestyle changes
However, some aspects of weight gain can be attributed to lifestyle factors rather than physical ones. Changes in behaviors, such as exercising less or regularly eating unhealthy food, have also been linked to weight gain as a perimenopause symptom.
Not to worry. Building in healthy habits before and during perimenopause can significantly impact weight gain and emotional wellbeing. You have the power to manage weight gain as a symptom of perimenopause! But first, let’s get you armed with the facts.
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Chopra, S., Sharma, K. A., Ranjan, P., Malhotra, A., Vikram, N. K., & Kumari, A. (2019, October). Weight management module for Perimenopausal women: A practical guide for gynecologists. Journal of mid-life health. Retrieved January 20, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6947726/
Lovejoy, J. C. (2009, April 26). Weight Gain in Women at Midlife: The Influence of Menopause. Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Publishers. Retrieved from https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/obe.2009.0203
Keller, C., Larkey, L., & Distefano, J. K. (n.d.). Perimenopausal obesity | Journal of Women's Health. Perimenopausal Obesity. Retrieved January 21, 2022, from https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/jwh.2009.1547?journalCode=jwh
Seguin, R. A., Economos, C. D., Palombo, R., Hyatt, R., Kuder, J., & Nelson, M. E. (2010, April). Strength training and older women: A cross-sectional study examining factors related to exercise adherence. Journal of aging and physical activity. Retrieved January 31, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4308058/
Lovejoy, J.C., L. (n.d.). The influence of sex hormones on obesity across the female life span. Journal of women's health. Retrieved January 24, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9929857/