It’s undeniable.

By the time you reach your fifties, fat seems to gather in your midsection with ease.

Worse yet, the old tricks that used to work to get the pounds off no longer work.

The fact is that it is easier to gain weight as you age, and it has to do with the hormone shifts of menopause.

Menopause and Weight Gain

To best understand the link between menopause and weight gain, let’s take a look at the hormones involved, namely estrogen and progesterone.

During a woman’s reproductive years, she experiences predictable monthly fluctuations of these two hormones, which bring about ovulation and her period.

Her ovaries make most of the progesterone and estrogen in her body with smaller amounts coming from the adrenal glands, which are small glands that sit on top of the kidneys.

Estrogen is also made by the fat cells, and this is true for men as well as women.

As the years pass, women notice that their periods are less predictable. For instance, a woman might have her period for three weeks in a row, and then miss her period for the next three months.

This irregularity is due to the first stage of menopause, which is called perimenopause or premenopause.

When a woman goes twelve months without a period, she has reached menopause. So, menopause is a one-day event that marks the anniversary of the woman’s last menstrual period.

At menopause and beyond, the ovaries no longer produce significant amounts of estrogen or progesterone, but the body still craves estrogen, so it turns to its secondary source, which is the fat cell.

It’s easy to see that the body likes to carry around extra fat after menopause because the extra fat cells are making some of the estrogens that it’s lacking.

The fat cells can never match the estrogen-producing capacity of the ovaries, which sets up a metabolic shift in the body. This metabolic shift changes the way fat is distributed on the body.

Fat is no longer easily packed onto the hips and thighs; instead, it’s easily deposited on the belly, which creates the menopausal belly fat problem that is so common in women over the age of fifty.

How to Lose Weight After Menopause

While it might be easier to gain weight after menopause, it doesn’t have to happen. You can lose menopausal belly fat by adhering to a high-nutrient diet, creating a small shift in your eating pattern, and adding some resistance training to your exercise routine.

A high-nutrient diet that is heavy in plant-based foods helps to keep blood sugar and insulin levels low, which prevents fat storage. Plant-based foods include leafy greens, non-starchy vegetables, beans, and nuts and seeds.

Creating a 12-hour time-restricted eating pattern, puts your body into a fat burning state on a nightly basis.

For time-restricted eating to be effective, you want to contain your eating to a 12-hour period, and then fast for the remaining 12-hours. The easiest way to shift your eating to this new pattern is by fasting at night for three hours before bed, and then delaying breakfast until 12 hours have passed.

This fasting period lowers your insulin level, which causes the fat cells to release fatty acids for energy.

Maintaining muscle mass is important to combating menopausal weight gain because muscle burns fat. Therefore, it’s important to add some resistance style exercises to your weekly exercise routine. Resistance exercises include weight lifting, using gym equipment, or performing bodyweight exercises.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC is the founder of Dr. Becky Fitness, LLC.