Why Am I Gaining Weight So Fast During Menopause?

4 min readMay 21, 2024
Gain weight during menopause

You eat and exercise as usual, but you gain weight, especially around the middle of your body. What’s going on?

Many factors can cause weight gain during menopause, including changes in body shape, gut microbiome, and how your body metabolizes fat and sugar. Other factors are reduced exercise and quality of sleep.

Menopause begins when your periods stop for 12 months in a row. It’s a natural and healthy transition.
During menopause and the years leading up to menopause (the stage called perimenopause) physical and psychological symptoms are common. Many women report weight gain and changes in mood, mental clarity and sleeping habits. Your hormones change during menopause, and this may contribute to your weight gain, along with the factors listed above.

This is usually the worst time during the beginning of menopause, During perimenopause, you will continue to have menstrual cycles. However, this condition can change and be accompanied by symptoms such as hot flashes, mood changes, and weight gain. These symptoms may appear seven to 10 years before menopause and are caused by hormonal fluctuations in the amounts of estrogen and progesterone your body produces. These hormone fluctuations, as well as other factors, can lead to rapid weight gain.

Many women gain weight during menopause, but research shows that menopause itself may not be the cause.
Various factors can cause weight gain during menopause, including changes in: fat and sugar metabolism, body composition, lifestyle patterns, gut microbiome.

Body Composition
As you age, your body composition and metabolism change naturally. Lean mass, or muscle mass, decreases, while the rate of increase in fat mass increases.
While menopause does not directly cause weight gain, many experts believe that changes in hormone levels contribute to differences in fat mass and distribution.
Estrogen is one of the primary sex hormones in women. During menopause, estrogen levels start to decrease. When this occurs, fat accumulation and distribution changes. A new study found that while the number of fat cells in female participants actually decreased, the amount of fat stored in each fat cell increased.

Fat and sSgar Metabolism
Recent studies indicate that the way your body metabolizes fat changes during menopause. They found that during fasting and after eating, blood sugar, blood fats, and inflammatory markers were higher in postmenopausal women than in those who had not yet experienced menopause.
Understanding how menopause can impact your body’s metabolic response can help you avoid unwanted weight gain during the transition.

Menopause and The Gut Microbiome
Your gut microbiome is a collection of all the microbes that reside in your gut. They affect your body’s response to food and are important to your overall health.
Research shows that microbiome diversity is linked to estrogen levels and menopausal states in women. Because of the changes that occur in a woman’s body during menopause, there may be changes in the diversity of the microbiome as well.
The PREDICT ZOE study, the world’s largest in-depth nutrition study, explores the connection between the gut microbiome and women’s health. The results suggest that the gut microbiome is linked to the body’s metabolic response to food.
That’s why changes in the microbiome resulting from menopause can contribute to weight changes.

Change of Lifestyle
In addition to biological changes at menopause, behavioral factors can also change. As we age, some of you may lose sleep or have difficulty sleeping, and this can contribute to weight gain.
Night sweats before menopause can also make it more difficult for you to sleep.
Research conducted by scientists has found that your sleep affects blood sugar levels the next day, after you eat. In particular, a lack of sleep can cause a spike in blood sugar after breakfast.
This, in turn, may result in a larger drop in blood sugar, which increases the likelihood of eating more throughout the day.
Apart from that, rarely doing physical activity can cause weight gain.

When Will Menopausal Weight Gain Stop?
The number on the scale won’t keep increasing. It becomes stable. But it’s in perimenopause and the first few years after your last menstrual cycle that you see the most significant weight gain, which can have a serious impact on your overall health and well-being. The menopausal belly increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and respiratory problems. In addition, the extra load on the joints causes arthritic problems that limit mobility and make exercise difficult.

Perimenopause: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatments