Why Women Gain Weight During Menopause

A common experience among menopausal women is weight gain. Many women are frustrated that they have tried every program to lose weight: cut carbs, cut sugar, went vegan, went paleo, and tried keto. Nothing is working. Little do women know there are many reasons why women gain weight at this stage of her life.

Hormonal changes is one reason but there are other common reasons, which include
adrenal exhaustion (prolonged stress) where we put on belly fat, low metabolism where we put on weight all around, low circulation where we swell up, and a loss of muscle tone.

They feel uncomfortable and self-conscious. Not wanting to go out and socialise because clothes don’t fit well. They can’t put on those jeans anymore because of a muffin top. Their frustration affects their relationships with family, friends and colleagues. To make matters worse, their loved ones around them may be unware of what menopausal women go through.

Modern medicine treats symptoms of menopause with drugs or medical intervention. But it isn’t always effective without looking into the root cause. Ayurveda, an Indian holistic science with 5,000 years of wisdom behind it, sees menopause as a life stage. Women experiencing discomfort during menopause is simply because the body is out of balance at this stage in life.

Woman standing on scales

Stages of Life

Ayurveda recognises three major stages of human life - childhood, adulthood and elderhood. Each stage is associated with one of the three doshas (body types).

Childhood is from birth to about 20 years and this stage is associated with ‘Kapha’ dosha. The Kapha stage of life is where we grow and develop. The main element in our body is earth and water. It’s a robust stage and we see this when we see children bounce and recover easily when they fall over.

Adulthood is between the ages of 20 to 55 and it is associated with the ‘Pitta’ stage. Pitta is the time where we achieve and accomplish, such as starting a family or pursuing a career or business. The main element in our body at this stage is fire and water and it’s a very energetic stage of life.

A lot of women try to do it all with career, family and driving to succeed. Some may overdo it or be too goal-oriented. That’s where the damage is done in this stage, why women have many symptoms at this change of life. They get exhausted.

Elderhood is from age 55 to death. This is the letting go of the ‘needing to achieve’ stage , which allows for insights and wisdom to grow from deep reflection on the life they have lived. This stage is associated with ‘Vata,’ the dosha of air and ether.

Most of us want to maximise our achievements in adulthood at the Pitta stage and sometimes we overdo it, or we are too goal-oriented. Women today have to do everything such as taking care of the home and career, thus they get exhausted during this life stage.

When a woman enter menopause, she transitions into a Vata-dominated stage of life, which should be the stage of self expression. The air and ether elements in the body should make us creative, and blossom but some of us may experience dryness and shivering instead due to imbalances.

The Science of Menopause

During menopause, the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone drop. With less oestrogen in the body, the body experiences more dryness. When oestrogen is low, calcium does not absorb properly in the body, which impacts women with bone issues such as lower back and muscle pain. Some may even get arthritis and osteopenia.

The hormonal realignment in the body during menopause affects our energy and weight. Leptin is a hormone that regulates hunger by providing the sensation of satiety. As the leptin level decreases during menopause, our body does not feel full as it used to. Therefore, we tend to eat more food, which can lead to weight gain.

When our metabolism is not running optimally, it also gives rise to weight gain. When our digestion is not functioning properly, the body is not absorbing the nourishment from the food, thus we tend to gain weight around the abdomen.

If we constantly live a stressful life, the body will release more cortisol, the stress hormone. The increased level of cortisol will increase our hunger, thus it will make us consume more food.

Simple Solutions

We can proactively change our diet and lifestyle to control weight gain. Look at the diet that is right for your body type in your stage of life. We need to detox the inflammation in the body that has accumulated in the body. Having a good quality sleep. A rejuvenated body after a night of restful sleep gives us better energy to handle daily tasks.

Some tips to improve the quality of sleep:
- Stop using digital devices 30 mins or an hour before bed to wind down the mind.
- Do some breathing exercises before bed to tame the busy mind.
- Take a warm-water bath adding essential oil to relax the body.

Practising yoga and meditation will also lower stress levels.

For your diet, choose foods that are close to nature, whole foods, nourishing fibre, and easy-to-digest food. Adding some spices such as ginger to stimulate the digestive enzymes will improve our digestion.

For more practical and effective tips for relieving menopause, join our upcoming Menopause Masterclass where you'll learn how to take back control of your body, quickly and naturally, even if you've tried prescription medication or other over-the-counter solutions that didn't work.

You'll hear some real-life success stories, like Gail, who lost 9 kgs (20 lbs) and is experiencing stable weight for the first time in her life.