How To Lose Weight During Perimenopause – 8 Best Ways To Try 2024

how to lose weight during perimenopause
Best ways to lose weight during perimenopause. Photo: Dmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock

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Perimenopause is the transitional phase in a woman’s body leading to menopause. In this period, there are a range of physical and hormonal changes in the body. One common challenge faced by many women during this time is weight gain. 

Fluctuating hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, can affect metabolism,[1] appetite, and body composition, making it difficult to maintain a healthy body weight. However, with the right knowledge and strategies, it is possible to navigate through perimenopause and manage weight effectively. 

In this article, we will explore how to lose weight during perimenopause. We will see the impact of perimenopause on weight gain and how to lose weight during menopause if you already crossed the threshold. We will also provide practical lifestyle changes that can help with losing weight during this phase of life.

How To Lose Weight During Perimenopause

Here are eight simple ways to help with weight management during perimenopause:

  1. Prioritize nutrient-rich foods.
  2. Control portion sizes.
  3. Engage in regular exercises.
  4. Manage stress.
  5. Ensure quality sleep.
  6. Stay well-hydrated.
  7. Limit alcohol intake.
  8. Seek professional advice on hormone therapy.

8 Ways To Lose Weight Around Perimenopause

Perimenopause is a natural phase in a woman’s life that typically occurs in her 40s or 50s. It is the transition period when the body starts preparing for menopause, which marks the end of menstruation. 

Many changes happen[2] during this period. Some symptoms include mood swings, irregular periods, and changes in libido. However, one common complaint during perimenopause is weight gain, especially around the midsection. 

This sudden perimenopause weight gain can be frustrating and challenging to manage. But what causes this sudden weight gain? 

A common culprit is estrogen imbalance,[3] where there is a lower level of estrogen hormone causing an imbalance in the regular levels. It may also increase the risk of metabolic syndrome[4] which is associated with type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity, and other conditions.

Insulin and cortisol are two other hormones that can influence weight during perimenopause. Insulin’s role is to regulate blood sugar levels, but hormonal changes can disrupt its effectiveness, leading to insulin resistance[5] and weight gain. Also, heightened cortisol levels, often associated with stress,[6] can promote abdominal fat storage and lead to obesity.

So, using this information, how can we lose weight during perimenopause? Here are eight best ways of losing weight during perimenopause:

Prioritize Nutrient-Rich Foods

One thing that women should be particular about as menopause approaches is diet. To manage weight during perimenopause, focusing on eating a healthy diet that supports hormonal balance is essential. 

Include plenty of whole foods in your menopause diet for weight loss,[7] such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Eating foods and supplements rich in phytoestrogens, like soybeans and flaxseeds, can also help alleviate some perimenopause symptoms.[8]

Also, opt for foods that provide essential vitamins and minerals without excess calories. These include leafy greens, berries, nuts, lean meats, and fish. Avoid processed and sugary foods as they can contribute to weight gain.[9]

Control Portion Size

Aside from eating a nutrient-packed diet, another factor for losing weight is portion control. If you want to know how to lose weight during perimenopause, then cutting calories should be your major goal. 

During perimenopause, it’s important to be mindful of portion sizes to prevent eating too many calories and minimize weight gain. 

Practice portion control by using smaller plates and bowls, and pay attention to hunger and fullness cues. Avoid eating out of boredom or emotional triggers and focus on nourishing your body with appropriate portions. You can also use diet pills to get your full nutrients in a small sized portion.

Engage In Exercise

Engage In Exercise
Exercise is an effective tool for weight management during premenopause. Photo: Harbucks/Shutterstock

Exercise is crucial during perimenopause for weight management and overall health. A sedentary lifestyle is one of the risk factors for midlife weight gain. Regular physical activity and workouts help boost metabolism, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Aim for a combination of moderate-intensity physical activity like cardio exercises, strength training, and flexibility exercises to maximize the benefits.[10]  Engaging in low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, and cycling are beneficial as a fat burner during perimenopause. 

Strength training exercises, such as lifting weights or doing bodyweight exercises, are also important for maintaining muscle mass and supporting the loss of menopause weight gain. 

Overall, to achieve long-term weight loss and management, it’s crucial to establish a consistent workout routine. 

Manage Stress

Perimenopause can bring about a whirlwind of hormonal changes that often lead to increased stress levels. Unfortunately, stress and weight gain seem to go hand in hand. 

When we’re stressed, our bodies release cortisol, a hormone that can contribute to weight gain,[11] especially menopausal belly fat around the midsection. So, how to get rid of menopause belly caused by stress? 

Finding techniques that work for you is key. Whether it’s practicing mindfulness, engaging in regular exercise, or indulging in a hobby you love, finding healthy outlets for stress can make a world of difference.

Ensure Quality Sleep 

Lack of sleep can wreak havoc on your weight loss efforts, especially during the perimenopausal period. Hormonal fluctuations and other physiological changes during this period often disturb sleep patterns, leading to inadequate rest. 

When we don’t get enough restorative sleep, our bodies produce more hunger hormones and decrease the production of hormones that regulate appetite. This can lead to increased cravings and a higher likelihood of overeating. A study called this idea, sleep debt and obesity.[12]

To ensure better sleep quality, establish a consistent bedtime routine and aim for seven to nine hours[13] of uninterrupted sleep each night. Creating a calm environment conducive to relaxation by dimming lights, reducing noise, and maintaining a cool room temperature can further aid in promoting restful sleep. 

Prioritizing regular exercise throughout the day will also contribute to improved sleep patterns. Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, heavy meals, and stimulating activities close to bedtime is also helpful because they interfere with falling asleep easily.[14]

Lastly, try natural remedies like herbal teas or relaxation techniques like deep breathing exercises or meditation before bed to help relax the mind and body.

Stay Well-Hydrated With Water

As hormonal changes occur, the body’s metabolism tends to slow down, and retaining excess water[15] becomes common. With a more adequate intake of water, you can counteract bloating and support weight loss efforts.[16]

Water not only helps to flush out toxins but also aids in digestion, preventing constipation that commonly occurs during this phase. Overall, a growing body of evidence[17] supports the importance of adequate hydration in maintaining proper health, especially for cognition, chronic disease, and weight management. 

Furthermore, replacing sugary drinks or high-calorie beverages with water can significantly reduce daily calorie consumption without feeling deprived. 

Limit Alcohol Intake

Limit Alcohol Intake
Excess alcohol intake is a risk factor for weight gain. Photo: Syda Productions/Shutterstock

Lifestyle changes might help you navigate menopause better. One major lifestyle change is limiting alcohol intake. Alcohol contains calories that can quickly add up and sabotage weight loss efforts.  

Additionally, excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to an increase in appetite[18] and cravings for sugary and unhealthy foods. By reducing or eliminating alcohol intake during perimenopause, you can create a caloric deficit needed for weight loss while also minimizing the negative effects on your metabolism. 

Instead of indulging in alcoholic beverages, it is advisable to opt for healthier alternatives such as infused water or herbal teas to support hydration and overall well-being while working towards losing weight during this transitional phase of life.

Seek Professional Advice On Hormone Therapy

As we already know, perimenopause can wreak havoc on our hormones, which can make weight loss even more challenging. That’s where hormone therapy comes into the picture. There are options like bioidentical hormone replacement therapy[19] or BHRT. 

This treatment involves using hormones that are similar to the ones naturally produced by our bodies to restore balance and alleviate symptoms of perimenopause. Keep in mind that BHRT is not a magical solution for weight loss[20] but rather a tool that could help regulate your hormone levels and make it easier for you to reach your goals.

So, don’t hesitate to discuss this option with an expert who can give you weight loss advice and guide you through the potential benefits and risks just for you.

Why Is It Harder To Lose Weight During Menopause?

During menopause, the body undergoes various hormonal changes, particularly decreased estrogen levels. This hormonal shift can lead to several factors that make losing weight more challenging. Some factors that make it harder to lose weight include: 

  1. Slower metabolism: As estrogen levels decline, the metabolic rate can slow down.[1] This means the body burns fewer calories at rest, making it easier to gain weight and harder to lose it.
  2. Distribution of body fat: There’s often a shift where the body stores fat mass,[21] moving from the hips and thighs to the abdomen. Abdominal fat, especially visceral fat around organs, is more metabolically active and harder to lose.
  3. Muscle loss: Muscle mass can decline with age and hormonal changes. Since muscle burns more calories than fat, a reduction in muscle mass[22] can contribute to a slower metabolism and make weight loss more challenging.
  4. Changes in appetite and cravings: Hormonal fluctuations during menopause can affect appetite-regulating hormones, leading to increased hunger and cravings for unhealthy foods, making it harder to stick to a weight loss plan.
  5. Reduced physical activity: Menopausal symptoms such as fatigue, joint pain, or mood swings can discourage physical activity, leading to a more sedentary lifestyle, which can hinder weight loss efforts.

Foods To Eat And Avoid

Diet is an underrated tool for menopausal women. Some dietary adjustments may help manage the symptoms of perimenopause. Here is an overview of foods you can eat and those you should avoid. 

Foods To Eat:

  1. Calcium-rich foods: Bone health becomes crucial during this phase. Incorporate dairy, leafy greens, almonds, and fortified foods to maintain bone density.
  2. Omega-3 fatty acids: Found in fatty fish like salmon, chia seeds, and walnuts, these can help reduce inflammation and support heart health.[23]
  3. Fiber-rich foods: Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes aid in digestion and can alleviate constipation, a common issue during perimenopause.
  4. Phytoestrogen-rich foods: Soy products, flaxseeds, and chickpeas contain compounds that mimic estrogen and might help alleviate some menopausal symptoms.
  5. Healthy fats: Avocados, olive oil, nuts, and seeds provide essential fats and can help maintain hormonal balance.

Foods To Limit Or Avoid:

  1. Caffeine and alcohol: They can exacerbate hot flashes, and night sweats and then disrupt sleep. Moderation is key.
  2. Sugary foods: High sugar intake can affect mood swings and energy levels. That’s why they are one of the major foods to avoid. Opt for natural sugars from fruits instead.
  3. Processed foods: These often contain excessive sodium and unhealthy fats, which can contribute to bloating and gaining weight.
  4. Spicy foods: Spicy foods might worsen hot flashes or night sweats for some.

Safety Tips 

Losing weight during perimenopause can be a unique journey and it is not without its challenges. To help you navigate it properly, here are some safety tips to consider:

  • Extreme diets: Avoid crash diets or extreme calorie restrictions. They can lead to nutritional deficiencies,[24] and metabolic slowdown, and are generally unsustainable in the long term.
  • Over-exercising: Don’t overdo exercise, especially if you’re new to it or haven’t exercised in a while. Pushing too hard too fast can lead to injuries or burnout.
  • Skipping meals: Skipping meals, especially breakfast, can slow your metabolism and lead to overeating later in the day. Aim for regular, balanced meals.
  • Relying on supplements alone: Avoid relying solely on supplements or weight loss pills for losing weight. They are not a substitute for a healthy diet and exercise.
  • Emotional eating: Avoid using food as a way to cope with emotions or stress. This can lead to unhealthy eating habits and weight gain.

The Takeaways

Navigating perimenopause weight loss can sometimes feel like treading through uncharted waters. But with the eight trusted tips we have outlined above, women’s health can be better. 

Still stuck? That’s where a trusted healthcare professional can step in. They will assess your unique situation and provide guidance specific to your needs. So, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for expert advice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to lose weight during perimenopause?

Yes, by focusing on a balanced diet, regular exercise, and lifestyle adjustments, weight loss during perimenopause is achievable.

What is the best diet for perimenopause?

A diet rich in whole foods, which includes fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, supports weight management and mitigates perimenopausal women’s symptoms.

How to lose 20 pounds in perimenopause?

Gradual weight loss through a balanced diet, portion control, regular exercise (aerobic & strength), and consulting professionals for personalized guidance can help achieve this goal.

How can I increase my metabolism during perimenopause?

Regular aerobic exercises, strength training, adequate sleep, and balanced nutrition, particularly with protein-rich foods, can help boost metabolism during perimenopause.

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EHproject has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We work mostly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure accurate information. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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Dr. Susan Adeosun (MPH, MD) is a medical doctor and public health enthusiast. She has over five years’ worth of experience in public health and preventive medicine and is a firm believer in the famous phrase… See More