For all women, menopause is a reality check that your body is changing. Unwanted weight gain is frustrating at any stage in your life, but if you’ve reached menopause you may feel as though there is no light at the end of the tunnel. During menopause certain hormones tend to drop (e.g. oestrogen). Falling oestrogen together with stress and poor sleep leads to women being more prone to weight gain, especially in their tummy area. During menopause women tend to lose muscle and gain fat. The bad news is that menopausal weight gain isn’t just annoying, it’s actually not so great for your health. Visceral fat that builds under the abdominal wall is particularly risky because it is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and insulin resistance, which can ultimately lead to diabetes.

Menopause can be challenging but the good news is that the weight gain doesn’t have to be inevitable. Ensuring you have an active lifestyle and follow a healthy diet, you can feel more comfortable during this stage of your life.


Some tips to help prevent that weight gain during “the change”:

Follow a healthy balanced diet

Small changes in your diet can help prevent menopausal weight gain. Once you hit the 50’s, you can actually nee 200 less calories a day to maintain your weight.

Try these healthy, whole foods that are beneficial for women in perimenopause or menopause:

  • Bananas, apricots, avocados and sweet potatoes
    • High in potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure.
  • Blueberries
    • High in fibre and low in calories. Blueberries are packed with of stress-snuffing antioxidants and vitamin C.
  • Dark, leafy greens.
    • Rich in calcium and vitamin K, which help support bone health.
    • Women over 50 should be taking in: 1200mg of calcium/day.
  • Salmon.
    • Rich in omega-3 which helps raise the good cholesterol.
    • Also a good sources of vitamin D, which helps with calcium absorption.
    • Vit D requirements: 600 IU/day (85g of canned salmon supplies + 465 IU).
  • Whole-grains and oats
    • A source of soluble fibre which may help your body remove cholesterol
    • Aim for about 21 to 30 grams of total fibre per day.
  • Water
    • Water helps move fibre through your system, keeps you hydrated and may mitigate hot flushes
    • Drink plenty of it!
  • Yoghurt
    • Rich in calcium
    • Contains probiotics that may aid digestion
    • Choose low-fat, low-sugar options


  • Menopausal women should watch their sodium/salt intake.

If you suffer from hot flushes:

  • Try cutting back on caffeine and spicy foods, which could trigger hot flushes in some people.

Liquid kilojoule bombs

Alcohol is high in calories and packed with empty calories and it therefore can contribute to weight gain.  Alcohol is best enjoyed in small amounts within a varied and nutritious diet.

Portion distortion

Watch your portion sizes! Try using a smaller plate, bowl and glass. Remember when eating out that portions tend to be very big. Consider sharing meals or ordering two starters.

Keep that body moving – Staying active in your 40s and 50s helps keep your metabolism humming.

As we age, we naturally lose muscle. If you don’t replace that lost muscle, your body will have less muscle and more fat, which will slow your metabolic rate. To boost that metabolic rate, you need to be active and incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. You should be doing a minimum of 2 ½ hours of exercise a week. Try to include a combination of aerobic activity as well as strength training exercises.

Strength training will help replace your lost muscle mass as well as slowing down mineral loss in your bones which can lead to osteoporosis.

Make exercise fun and find something that you enjoy doing so that it doesn’t become a chore. Pair up with a friend and commit to regular exercise sessions with you exercise buddy.

Keep smiling

Having your third hot flush for the day and feeling down, remember that menopause is a temporary state. Approaching menopause with a positive attitude as well as managing stress can help you get through this change.


Are you going through menopause and finding it difficult to shift that unwanted weight gain, why not book a consultation with us to get you on the right track.

Munchwize Dietitians are based in Claremont, Cape Town. To contact us, click here





Menopause and weight. S. MS, RDN. 2015