About 90% of women going through menopause experience some amount of weight gain. On average, women gain between 12 and 15 pounds between the ages of 45 and 55 as they enter and live through menopause. Unfortunately, if and when it happens, this weight gain usually occurs around your midsection and can elevate your risk for various undesirable health conditions such as metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
However, weight gain need not be a natural and common aspect of aging and there are ways of maintaining a healthy weight as you age. In this article, I am going to shed some light on the hormonal influx and imbalances caused by menopause so that you can be better equipped to combat the effects of weight gain during this time.
Hormonal Weight Gain
For a lot of us women, the remedy or deterrence to weight gain during menopause can be as simple as correcting our hormonal balance. It is almost unavoidable not to put on a few pounds when your hormones fluctuate. Remember the times when you were pregnant? Therefore as your body prepares to enter menopause which is going to be a permanent reduction in your hormone levels, weight gain is a huge concern.
When the level of estrogen and progesterone in your body drop your appetite can increase causing you to overeat. One study claims that some women can overeat by as much as up to 67% more. An increase in appetite and a corresponding drop in your metabolism rate are common side effects of menopause and you can see how it can be a recipe for disastrous weight gain.
Your body has many different types of hormones. Any shift in any one of their levels can disrupt your delicate balance needed to maintain a healthy weight. Let’s learn more about each of these hormones so you can be better equipped to keep them in check.
The Network of Hormones in Your Body
Estrogen is probably one of the most well-known female hormones. It refers to any of a group of steroid hormones that promote the development and maintenance of female characteristics of the body.
Declining estrogen levels may be one of the biggest factors besides lifestyle habits contributing to menopausal weight gain. As you age and your ovaries produce less estrogen needed for the maintenance of the female organs. When that happens, your body will attempt to find the hormone in other places such as your fat cells, to do its job. And when that happens, your body starts to work harder to convert calories into fat in order to increase its production of these estrogens. However, the bad news is, fat cells do not burn calories as efficiently as muscle cells do, hence the drop in estrogen from your ovaries as you enter menopause causes weight gain, especially around the midsection.
Progesterone is an endogenous steroid and progestogen sex hormone are involved in your menstrual cycle and pregnancy. It also helps to maintain a healthy level of water retention in your body to control your body’s water weight and bloating. This hormone is also produced in your ovaries. They are also produced in your adrenal glands. Generally speaking, when your body enters menopause, your levels of progesterone will drop even more than your levels of estrogen. The dramatically diminishing levels of progesterone can cause excess water retention that not only creates much discomfort but also making you look and feel heavier than you actually are.
Pregnenolone is an important hormone produced in the adrenal glands that is the source of many other hormones such as progesterone, DHEA, testosterone, and estrogen that help control weight gain. It is little wonder then that more and more weight loss clinics are now using pregnenolone to naturally boost your body’s testosterone levels as well as counter those hormonal imbalances that contribute to weight gain. Besides weight loss, pregnenolone use has also been shown to boost mood, increase sex drive, energy, and metabolism.
Although androgen is the hormone that regulates the development and maintenance of male characteristics in your body, it is also natural to the female body and is produced in your ovaries. In fact, they are present in higher amounts than estrogens because they are converted into estrogens by your body. The main androgens in your body are testosterone and androstenedione.
The amount of this hormone increases at the start of menopause and is responsible for sending new weight to the midsection instead of to the hips, creating the so-called “middle-age spread”.
This hormone helps your body create lean muscle mass from the calories you consumed. Muscle cells burn more calories than fat cells do. As testosterone levels drop, not only do fewer calories get transformed into lean muscle mass, which in turn slows down your metabolism, more sugar and protein in your diet are also converted to fat, causing undesirable weight gain.
Therefore, managing your testosterone levels will help your body direct more of this hormone to build muscle as opposed to fat, thereby helping maintain a healthy weight or achieve weight loss.
Melatonin is another often overlooked hormone thought to regulate metabolism and weight loss. This hormone is produced by the pineal gland that controls your body’s biological clock. The hormonal imbalances cause by declines in levels of estrogens, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and other hormones in your body, all contribute to a decrease in melatonin. Low levels of melatonin cause insomnia which is often typical of menopausal symptoms. Prior to menopause, around age 40 your body’s production of melatonin starts to decrease. Melatonin helps to reduce cortisol (the nasty stress hormone) in your body and increases your metabolism. A lack of melatonin when you are in your menopause can be blamed for increased appetite and fat deposit.
If you suspect you are low in this critical player in your hormonal picture, then I highly recommend taking Melatonin SRT™ two hours before bedtime to help restore and maintain the hormonal balance your body needs.
7. Insulin and the Pancreas
The hormone insulin is produced in your pancreas and is responsible for regulating your metabolism, determines how your body uses the carbohydrates, proteins, and fats you consume and ultimately, the storage of sugar in your body. Hence a proper level of insulin is vital to maintaining a healthy weight. 
Insulin-resistance is a common hormonal imbalance experienced by menopausal women. When a normal level of insulin is not enough to do its job properly, a higher level of insulin is needed to maintain metabolism. This is what is commonly known as “insulin resistance”, “metabolic syndrome” or “syndrome X.”
Leptin is a relatively new kid on the block in the overall network of hormones. Leptin is the hormone that sends messages to your brain to let it know how much fat is stored and in turns have your brain act accordingly to regulate the amount of energy in your body.
This messaging system can malfunction when your body’s estrogen levels are low. When this messaging system malfunctions, your brain does not get the message that you are full or satiated, it therefore tells your body to slow down your metabolism rate and to continue to eat, leading to undesired weight gain. This condition is also known as Leptin Resistance and is often detected if you are overweight or in menopause.
Ghrelin or lenomorelin, is known as the “hunger hormone” and is produced by the ghrelinergic cells in your gastrointestinal tract and functions as a neuropeptide in your central nervous system. In layman terms, like leptin, this hormone regulates your appetite and plays a key role in determining how your body distributes and how efficiently uses the energy (i.e. calories) that you consume. Leptin tells your brain you feel full while ghrelin tells your brain that you are still hungry.
A recent study has found that ghrelin tends to increase when you are in menopause due to the imbalance of the production of other hormones in your body. For some women, ghrelin can decrease causing a loss of appetite, but this is usually due to other health conditions such as depression, anxiety etc. A simultaneous increase in ghrelin and a decrease in leptin is a perfect disastrous recipe for weight gain during menopause. 
Now that you are a little more familiar with the different types of hormones in your body and how they all work hand in hand to keep your weight in check, I hope you also took away the message that undesired weight gain during menopause if a very treatable symptom. Like I said at the very beginning of this article, weight gain does not have to be the natural and common aspect of aging.
The key is to find that right balance through natural hormone balancing supplementation, lifestyle changes, like reducing stress and having good dietary habits that work for you and your body composition.
Click here to learn more about the different Diet Options available to losing weight during menopause.
Click here to learn more about the 12 Diet Tips for Hormonal Balance.
Looking for ways to feel better during the hormonal transition, read my articles about the following:
My all-time favorite supplement to recommend for women experiencing the change is FemGuard + Balance™. It is a perfect hormonal balancing combination supplement including black cohosh, chaste tree extract, calcium, magnesium and more.
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A balanced diet and healthy lifestyle can help you look and feel your absolute best during menopause and beyond. CONTACT ME today and let’s work together in finding the dietary and supplement solutions for your unique needs.
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1. PubMed. 1992 Oct:83 (4):489-94, Ageing and the response of plasma insulin, glucose and C-peptide concentrations to intravenous glucose in postmenopausal women.
2. Pub Med. 2018 Mar 21;49(2):140-146, Decreased Serum Levels of Ghrelin and Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor in Premenopausal Women With Metabolic Syndrome.