Losing weight after menopause may seem daunting, but it’s entirely possible with the right weight loss plan in place.

A sharp decline in estrogen production plays a role in weight gain after menopause.

Knowing more about losing weight after menopause helps you beat the odds and achieve a figure you’re proud to show off!

What Causes Weight Gain After Menopause?

Menopause occurs in women when their menstrual cycle permanently ends and they haven’t had a period in 12 months.

It often happens in your 40s or 50s.

The average age of menopause in the United States is 51, when estrogen and progesterone hormones in your body decrease.

Hormone fluctuations associated with menopause can lead to:

  • Hot flashes
  • Mood disorders
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Urinary problems
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Slowed metabolism
  • Weight gain

There’s no doubt about it, overweight and obesity after menopause in women are common.

A study published in 2017 in Przeglad Menopauzalny found that obesity among women ages 40-65 in the United States is about 65%, and in women over 65 is nearly 74%!

However, menopause and hormone changes aren’t the only reason most women in the U.S. are overweight or obese.

The 2017 study in Przeglad Menopauzalny found that the following factors play a role in obesity, increases in abdominal fat, and decreases in lean body mass in women over 40:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Hormone changes
  • Poor nutrition
  • Low levels of physical activity
  • Certain diseases, such as thyroid disorders
  • Taking some medications, such as insulin

Most weight gain after menopause occurs as a result of numerous factors, not just a single cause.

Losing Weight After Menopause: Steps to Make it Possible!

Don’t get discouraged if you struggle to lose weight after menopause.

Following a few simple tips greatly increases your chance of weight loss success!

Have Your Hormones Tested

Before you begin a weight loss program, check in with a doctor to find out if your hormone levels are within a normal range.

For example, low thyroid hormone often leads to weight gain but is a highly treatable condition.

If estrogen levels are too low, ask your doctor if hormone replacement therapy is right for you.

While menopausal hormone therapy may not by itself lead to weight loss, the Mayo Clinic says it does help redistribute body fat away from your abdominal area.

If you’re deficient in certain vitamins or minerals, such as iron, vitamin B12, or vitamin D, and experience chronic fatigue that hinders weight loss as a result, a simple blood test helps your doctor make a diagnosis.

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Get More Sleep

Sleeping problems often happen during and after menopause, which is one reason weight gain is common post-menopause.

Studies show that insufficient sleep alters hormones associated with your appetite, making it difficult to control calories for weight loss.

If you’re not sleeping well or aren't getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep in each night, try the following:

Consider Melatonin Supplements

Melatonin is a natural supplement that enhances sleep quality.

According to a 2017 study published in Neurological Research, melatonin supplementation is well tolerated, doesn’t cause adverse side effects, and improves the onset, quality, and duration of sleep.

Create a Sleep Schedule

To get into a regular sleep routine, create a sleep schedule.

Go to bed at the same time each night whenever possible (allow yourself 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep) to avoid sleep deprivation and weight gain associated with it.

Sleep in a Cool, Dark Room

Sleep in a cool, dark room to enhance sleep quality.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends sleeping in temperatures between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit to achieve optimal sleep.

Draw the blinds or close curtains to avoid waking up before your 7-9-hour sleep window.

Use a White Noise Machine

Sounds during the night (or day if you work the night shift), such as thunder, sirens, barking dogs, and loud family members, can disrupt deep sleep and decrease overall sleep quality.

Consider a white noise machine, a loud fan, or even guided sleep meditation to block out loud sounds and get a better night’s sleep.

Reduce Stress

Stress makes it difficult to fall and stay asleep, and contributes to hormone fluctuations that increase appetite.

To help control stress, try yoga, meditation, tai chi, regular exercise, massage, walking outdoors, or taking a vacation from the busy hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Increase Fluid Intake

Studies show that the average American consumes just 4 cups of water daily, which is less than half of the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation of 16 cups of fluid daily for men and 12 cups per day for women.

Set a water intake goal and stick with it.

Bring a water bottle with you wherever you go, and track how much you’re drinking.

Black coffee and unsweetened tea count toward your daily fluid intake goal!

Avoid sweetened beverages, such as soda, lemonade, juice, sweet tea, sugar-sweetened sports drinks, and beverages containing added sugar.

Even low-calorie diet drinks aren't a good choice for weight loss, because they taste sweet and can increase sugar cravings.

Instead stick with water, coffee, and unsweetened tea.

Enhance the flavor of water by adding ice, fruit chunks, or both to it!

Make Dietary Changes

Changing up your diet can drastically improve your chance of losing weight after menopause and keeping the weight off for life.

Safe, effective weight loss involves eating 500-1,000 fewer calories than you burn off in a day.

Try the following tips and tricks to make weight loss after 40 successful!

Create a Regular Meal Schedule

Having a meal schedule in place can enhance weight loss.

Try eating smaller meals every few hours so you don’t feel deprived.

Many women over 40 safely lose weight by eating 1,200 calories daily, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

If you’re very active, eating 1,500 calories for weight loss might better match your individual needs.

A simple 1,200-calorie meal schedule for weight loss in women might look like this:

  • When you wake up: 2-4 cups of water
  • Breakfast: 300 calories
  • Snack: 150 calories
  • Lunch: 300 calories
  • Snack: 150 calories
  • Dinner: 300 calories

If you’re eating 1,500 calories daily to lose weight after menopause, your meal plan might include:

  • When you wake up: 2-4 cups of water
  • Breakfast: 350 calories
  • Snack: 225 calories
  • Lunch: 350 calories
  • Snack: 225 calories
  • Dinner: 350 calories

Record What You Eat

Studies show that writing down what you eat, even if you don’t record calories, helps control and reduce your intake for weight loss.

Seeing the food you eat on paper makes you more aware of the volume of food you’re putting in your body daily.

Tracking calories is an excellent weight loss strategy too if you have time for it!

Try the U.S. Department of Agriculture's free Food Composition Database, MyFitnessPal, or FatSecret to get started.

Avoid Certain Foods

If can eliminate certain foods from your diet entirely, do it!

Foods on the list below can hinder weight loss, increase your risk of chronic diseases, or both:

  • Processed meats (hot dogs, deli meats, ham, bacon, etc.)
  • Fatty cuts of red meat, or meat with lots of fat marbling
  • White bread, white rice, regular pasta, and other refined grains
  • Potato chips
  • Greasy, fried foods
  • Baked goods
  • Most fast foods
  • Highly processed packaged foods, including most TV dinners
  • Sweets
  • Sugary drinks
  • Alcoholic beverages

If you regularly consume foods on this list, consider some healthy food swaps.

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Make Healthy Food Swaps

It can be difficult to alter eating habits to lose weight after menopause, but swapping out your favorite foods with similar (but healthier) options can prevent you from feeling deprived.

Examples of food swaps to consider include:

  • Eat protein- and fiber-rich bean chips instead of regular potato chips
  • Choose grilled chicken or fish in place of fatty cuts of red meat and processed meat
  • Eat nuts or seeds instead of popcorn, pretzels, and other salty snack foods
  • Replace regular cheese with reduced-fat cheese, cottage cheese, plain kefir, Greek yogurt, low-fat milk, or plant milk
  • Eat fresh fruit or frozen fruit smoothies (plus protein powder) in place of sweet treats
  • Choose low-sugar or whole-food protein bars instead of granola bars
  • Drink unsweetened tea in place of sweet tea
  • Choose grilled meats instead of fried meats
  • Use olive oil or avocados in place of butter
  • Pick clear soups instead of cream-based soups
  • Choose dark-chocolate-covered almonds over candy bars

Making these simple swaps can help curb junk food cravings and keep you full longer!

Increase Protein, Fiber, and Healthy Fats

The combination of protein, fiber, and heart-healthy fat boosts satiety, making it easier to cut calories for weight loss after menopause.

An example of how to fill your plate is:

  • Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables: salad greens, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, zucchini, celery, or green beans
  • Fill one-fourth of your plate with fiber-rich starches: sweet potatoes, corn, peas, lentils, black beans, other legumes, quinoa, brown rice, whole-grain pasta, whole grain Ezekiel bread, oatmeal, or other whole grains
  • Fill one-fourth of your plate with nutritious protein foods: grilled chicken breast, fish, seafood, eggs, very lean cuts of red meat, tofu, or seitan
  • Choose 2-3 servings of dairy foods: low-fat milk, low-fat cottage cheese, plain Greek yogurt, reduced-fat cheese, plant milk, vegan yogurt, or protein shakes
  • Consume a healthy fat at each meal: olive oil, other plant oils, avocados, nuts, seeds, nut butters, olives, hummus, or fatty fish

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Take Supplements for Women Over 40

Taking supplements for women over 40 helps prevent nutrients deficiencies and keeps energy levels high during your weight loss journey.

Examples of supplements to consider include:

  • Multivitamin supplements
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Fiber supplements
  • Probiotics supplements
  • Melatonin for sleep
  • Protein powder
  • Protein bars

Use protein powder for weight loss protein shakes. Combine milk, plant milk, or water with fruit, protein powder, ice, and nut butter if you’d like – and enjoy!

Weigh Yourself Daily

In addition to eating right, weigh yourself every day to boost your chance of successfully losing weight after menopause.

Studies show that daily weigh-ins are more effective and lead to greater weight loss than weighing yourself less frequently.

Record your results in a journal to track success over time!

Change Your Workout Routine

Begin working out to effectively lose weight and body fat.

If you currently have a workout routine, change it up often to maximize results.

Consider the following weight-loss workouts for women:

Weight Training

Weight training workouts are crucial after menopause because they increase lean muscle mass, boost metabolism, and prevent abdominal fat gains associated with menopause.

Train each major muscle group, including your legs, arms, back, shoulders, chest, and abs, at least twice weekly to achieve optimal results.

HIIT Training

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, burns fat and gives your metabolism a boost.

To complete a HIIT workout:

  • Choose jogging, cycling, rowing, stair climbing, or another cardiovascular exercise
  • Complete a 5-minute warm-up
  • Alternate 1 minute of high-intensity exercise with 1-minute recovery periods or 15-20 minutes
  • Cool down for 5 minutes

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Long Continuous Cardio

Choose long continuous cardiovascular exercise 1-2 days each week.

Pick your favorite aerobic workout, such as walking, using an elliptical machine, or cycling, and exercise for 45-60 minutes at a moderate pace.

Yoga or Pilates

Switch up your exercise routine by choosing yoga or Pilates regularly.

While these workouts are usually slower-paced, you’ll still expend a significant number of calories, reduce stress, and build strength, flexibility, and balance!

Circuit Training

Circuit training often combines resistance training with aerobic movements.

Complete each circuit training exercise for 30-60 seconds and immediately move on to the next exercise.

Try push-ups, burpees, jumping jacks, medicine ball squats, alternating jumping lunges, planks, rope jumping, battle rope exercises, kettlebell swings, and more!

The key to fat burning is changing up your routine often to work lots of different muscles!

Try a Weight Loss Program to Lose Weight After Menopause

Utilize a weight loss program to boost your chance of losing weight after menopause and beyond.

The Fit Mother Project 30X (FM30X) is a plan specifically designed for busy moms of all ages who struggle with weight loss.

FM30X was developed by health experts and has helped thousands of busy mothers achieve the body weight and figure of their dreams.

You’ll receive:

  • Health coaching from medical experts
  • Custom weight loss meal plans
  • Daily fat-burning workouts
  • Weekly newsletters
  • Recipes
  • Accountability
  • Fit mom community support

Watch the weight melt off using FM30X during your journey to losing weight after menopause.

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Erin Coleman, B.S. - Nutritional Science, Registered Dietician, Licenced Dietician

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 15 years of freelance writing experience.

She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Prior to beginning her career in medical content writing, Erin worked as Health Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Internal Medicine.

Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s currently working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife, and a Mom to two beautiful children.

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on losing weight after menopause.

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