Menopause and Weight Gain - is it protective against osteoporosis?

menopause and weight gain

Are you finding that menopause and weight gain seem to belong in the same sentence? If you're going through menopause, have you been noticing a few extra pounds sneaking their way and hugging mainly around your belly?  Have you ever wondered why?


Does this menopause and weight gain story sound like yours? "After I turned 47 I was started to gain weight. My Doctor said it was because I was going into menopause and that because my body was changing there was really nothing I could do. I was dejected and pretty much just gave up trying. Now my self-esteem has plummeted and I'm disgusted with myself. I spend about two hours a day at the Y doing cardio and the machines. My biggest fear is that if I don't see a difference at my next weigh in I won't know how to cope and will quit." 



This may be a small solace, but you're definitely not alone. 

As I write this I'm 46, and I definitely have noticed that I seem to have MAS (Middle age spread which, I might add, is also middle-body spread..all around my middle).

And psssst... don't tell anyone but weight gain at menopause isn't the only thing I have going on. One of these days I'm going to have to start a chin hair acceptance society too!


Weight Gain at Menopause isn't your fault

But here's the thing: weight gain at menopause, as well as a change in your body shape (more towards being apple-shaped) is a symptom that's happening not only to me, but apparently to about 90% of menopausal women. Here's the only thing I know for sure - Mother Nature usually knows best what my body and my biology need, because with all the conflicting advice we get about fat being bad we only know what our culture feeds us. But there are so many weight loss advice myths out there that often what we need more than anything is a diet of self love. A diet of self love literally changes your body's chemistry and how it functions. 

But here's the good (or bad--depending on how you look at things) news: Menopause and weight gain are not your fault and newer research is finding it might even be protective of your health!  Yes- you read that correctly.  It seems we need a higher percentage of body fat at menopause to be protective against osteoporosis.  *Dieting any time is bad for you, but in pre-menopausal women, in particular it leads to a loss of bone mass.

For example--here's what I can tell you with absolutely certainty:  I AM NOT EATING ANY MORE CALORIES OR EXERCISING ANY LESS! My body suddenly seems to have developed a mind all of it's own, it's getting larger.

Of course, that doesn't stop people (usually those who haven't been through menopause) telling me: "Of course you must be eating more or exercising less." I usually don't even bother to argue. 

Weight gain during menopause is one of those times when people love to point an accusatory finger at you (and you do that to yourself as well) menopause and weight gain have to do with hormonal changes and not gluttony or being more lazy.  It's a time though when our cultural ideals and our biology clash because they want different things.


*

Bacon L, Stern JS, Keim NL, Van Loan MD: Low bone mass in premenopausal chronic dieting obese women. Eur J Clin Nutr 2004, 58:966-971.

Van Loan MD, Keim NL: Influence of cognitive eating restraint on total- body measurements of bone mineral density and bone mineral content in premenopausal women 18-45 y: a cross-sectional study. Am J Clin Nutr 2000, 72:837-843. 


Why does menopause and weight gain happen to so many?

Women around the world, regardless of ethnicity or levels of thinness/fatness have a steady upwards curve in weight from about age 45 until about the age of 55-60 before it starts tapering off again.

Now here's the question I find myself asking:  If menopause and weight gain happen across cultures and everywhere ...is this not what nature intended? This is a time to remember that you can be healthy at every size. 

(And yes I know I might well be shot down in flames for daring to ask something that seems to go so against everyone handing out tips for weight loss during menopause). 

If weight gain at menopuase for most women is around the waist - is that not where it is meant to accumulate at this time in a woman's life cycle? I mean, we don't question where weight accumulates during pregnancy which is also a time of hormonal fluctuation. Is there perhaps not some protective function about belly fat at this time of life that we haven't considered because all we ever read is that all fat around the middle is bad! bad! bad!

Most women with weight gain during menopause will gain about 10 to 15 pounds. Most of this weight sneaks up gradually - maybe even as little as a pound a year starting at peri-menopause (the earliest stages of menopause proper). 

If you're one of those women who have experienced early menopause or surgical menopause (eg. a hysterectomy) you may experience more rapid and extreme weight gain. Middle-aged spread can be tough or us to live with.


You may feel frustrated and even fearful when you start to experience that extra padding that accompanies weight gain during menopause. But ten chances to one, it's your body's hormones that affect not only your appetite, but also your metabolism and fat storage. It certainly isn't a time you want to be messing with dieting which changes you body composition and turns your body into a better fat storage container.

No matter what you do, fluctuating levels of sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and androgen levels will fight you all the way when it comes to weight gain and menopause. 

Do you want to make peace with your body, stop dieting and fall in like with yourself? 


Have your menopausal weight gain rant here....

Here's the perfect place to rant about your changing body... Or just tell your story, or share your self-acceptance tips, or tell us what you think about this post....

Have your menopausal body rant here

Here's the perfect place to rant about your changing body... Or just tell your story or share your self-acceptance tips....

[ ? ]

Upload 1-4 Pictures or Graphics (optional)[ ? ]

 

Click here to upload more images (optional)

Author Information (optional)

To receive credit as the author, enter your information below.

(first or full name)

(e.g., City, State, Country)

Submit Your Contribution

  •  submission guidelines.


(You can preview and edit on the next page)

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to read the rants, stories and tips of others...

Thirty pounds and hope 
Thirty pounds. Thirty! But that wasn't the worst part. The worst was when I went to the doctor for help with my rapid and unexplainable weight gain …

Rina 65 jaar 
Ek het 6Kg opgetel en voel absoluut goor dit voel net vir my my liggaam wil nie meer saamwerk nie. Help????

Hoo Boy menopause isn't for sissies 
Breasts, upper abdomen,tummy and arms..... they all seem to have expanded... it's almost as if some wicked elf stopped by one night and wrapped an extra …

Menopausal Weight Gain and Hypo-thyroid problems 
your site..it is just fantastic...I have forwarded it to my girlfriends and sisters as we are all in the midst of menopause and the chronic complaint about …

Menapause weight gain and loss Not rated yet
I gained over 20 pounds from age 50 to 55. Now I am slowing loosing weight. I noticed my weight loss coincided with the reduction of hot flashes. I'm convinced …

Menopausal Merry-go-Round Not rated yet
I keep a bar of chocolate, in my office drawer uptown, And all day long I look at it, I never scarf it down. But then when time has finally come, …

Click here to write your own.

Want to live better longer?  Get our free ebook!