Losing Weight During The Menopause - Why It's So Difficult

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Losing weight during the menopause is often much more difficult than losing weight when we were younger. But why is it that we an't shed the pounds as quickly as we used to? Here, we'll talk you through the most important weight loss obstacles during the menopause and tell you what you can do about them.

Table of contents

‘I used to be able to eat whatever I wanted - now I put on weight just by looking at food.’ ‘I haven't changed anything about my diet and I'm still putting on a lot of weight.’ ‘I pay so much attention to my diet and still don't lose a gram.’

Does any of this sound familiar? You're not alone!

Why is it so difficult to lose weight during the menopause?

In addition to hot flushes, mood swings and sleep disorders, unwanted weight gain is also a problem for many women during the menopause. Of course, it would be okay if you could simply get rid of those annoying pounds. But losing weight during the menopause is no easy task. And it often doesn't matter whether you want to lose 10kg during the menopause or whether only a few pounds separate you from your current self and your feel-good weight!

But why is it that the kilos just won't budge? During the menopause, five major blockages make it difficult for us to lose weight.

Fill yourself up with protein
During the menopause, we need to prioritise our protein to ensure we maintain our muscle mass - which can help us enormously with weight loss. Protein also promotes satiety, making us less hungry throughout the day and more likely to stick to our calorie goal!
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Weight loss blockade #1: Degredation of protein utilisation and increased muscle loss

Making sure you have a good supply of protein - that's what bodybuilders have to do, right? No, it's not just them, because proteins are just as important for menopausal women as well. From our 40s onwards, our bodies can no longer utilise the proteins we consume as efficiently.

The amount of protein you used to consume is no longer enough to supply your body with sufficient protein. If you don't increase the amount in your diet now, your body will simply ‘steal’ the substances it needs from elsewhere: unfortunately mainly from your muscles.

This is bad, of course, because 1. You need strong muscles, especially as you get older, and 2. Your muscles burn a lot of calories. Dwindling muscles also make it more difficult to lose weight.

During the menopause, muscles are already increasingly broken down. This is due to falling oestrogen levels. Oestrogen is a hormone that stimulates muscle building. If you consume too little protein, your muscles suffer twice as much and so does your progress in losing weight.


If you want to lose weight during the menopause, you should definitely make sure you get enough protein on your plate. And at every meal, not just once a day.

Weight loss blockade #2: Decreasing insulin sensitivity

With the menopause, our body becomes more sensitive to the effects of the hormone insulin. Insulin is responsible for ensuring that the sugar from our food gets out of the blood and into the cells. Here the sugar is then available to the body as a source of energy.

You can think of insulin as a key that opens the lock to the cell for the sugar. During the menopause, however, the lock begins to jam a little. As a result of this reduced insulin sensitivity of the cells, too much sugar remains in the blood.

The body tries to counteract this by producing more insulin - with moderate success. The increased production of insulin stimulates fat storage in the body and the excess blood sugar also provides the right fat for storage. You can probably guess what this means for your weight loss programme.

If you want to lose weight during the menopause, it is therefore not only important to pay attention to your protein intake. The amount of carbohydrates you consume should also be scrutinised. If you continue to eat the same way as you did all those years ago, your weight loss plan will fail during the menopause.


Focus mainly on complex carbohydrates from fruit and vegetables, which cause your blood sugar levels to rise only slowly. Combining them with proteins can also prevent blood sugar levels from rising too sharply. Avoid simple carbohydrates, such as those found in sugar or white flour.

Weight loss blockade #3: Hormonal changes - especially oestrogen

Difficulty losing weight during the menopause - surely hormones have a hand in this? Yes, hormones are at least partly to blame. In the early menopause - the perimenopause - it is primarily a (relative) excess of oestrogen, known as oestrogen dominance, that prevents you from losing weight. Water retention on the scales also often has an impact here.

If the body then produces less and less oestrogen, the distribution of fat changes first and foremost. The abdominal fat deposits increase significantly - even if you no longer eat at all. In up to 90 per cent of all women between 45 and 55, the percentage of body fat increases with the menopause. And this extra fat is unfortunately also quite stubborn.


Pay attention to your hormone balance. Do you suspect oestrogen dominance? Are you in the advanced stages of the menopause and your oestrogen is dropping? If so, it might be time to address it.

Weight loss blockade #4: Increase inflammatory processes

This abdominal fat is not only annoying and stubborn - it is also dangerous. It produces pathogenic messenger substances that not only promote high blood pressure, but can also trigger underlying inflammation.

This increases the risk of arteriosclerosis, diabetes and even cancer. Inflammatory processes also make it harder for you to lose weight during the menopause. Why is this?

Firstly, inflammatory processes in the body block our satiety hormone, leptin. If your body doesn't release enough of it, you don't feel full and you may eat much more than your body actually needs.

Secondly, inflammatory processes increase the level of our stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a real weight loss killer - the hormone not only promotes fat storage, it also stimulates muscle breakdown.

However, the inflammatory processes are not exclusively the result of increasing abdominal fat; stress can also favour the development of chronic inflammation. And we often have a lot of stress during the menopause.


If you want to lose weight successfully during the menopause, you should tackle the inflammatory processes. The biggest lever here is an anti-inflammatory diet.

Balance your body
With so many changes during the menopause, it can often leave us feeling out of whack. Weight gain is often one of only many symptoms that leave us feeling less like ourselves. Restore some balance into your life with our Balance Bundle.
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Weight blockade #5: Changes in the intestinal flora

Did you know that your gut has an influence on your body weight? Our gut flora not only determines how strong our immune system is or how balanced our hormone system is. It also (partly) determines how easily you can lose weight during the menopause.

People with a high weight and weight loss difficulties often have a high proportion of so-called firmicutes bacteria in their gut. These are super good food utilisers and extract around 10-12% more energy from food than their bacterial colleagues in the Bacteroidetes group.

However, our intestinal flora often has a hard time with our modern diet - too much sugar, fat and additives and too few probiotics and prebiotics. In addition, the hormonal changes during the menopause do not have a particularly positive effect on digestive performance and the composition of the intestinal flora.

So if you cut back not only on calories during the menopause, but also on the digestive fibre that is so popular with our gut bacteria, it will be difficult to lose weight.


Make sure you get enough fibre. It should be at least 40 grams per day. Fibre is found in almost all plants. So make your plate as colourful and fresh as possible -then you'll easily meet your needs.

Losing weight during the menopause - difficult, but certainly not impossible!

The fight against extra kilos doesn't get any easier after your 40s. But if you know the most important weight loss blockades of the menopause, you can counteract them in a targeted manner:

  • Protein with every meal
  • Medium carb
  • Daily pro- and prebiotics
  • A good supply of all micronutrients
  • Regular sport and recovery phases
  • Treating your body with respect. Because losing weight is no longer a sprint, but a marathon that takes time.

Get your protein in without the added bits!
Wanting to pack your protein in without any of the additives - look no further than Daily Energy Plain!
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Sources & References

Short- and Long-Term Eating Habit Modification Predicts Weight Change in Overweight, Postmenopausal Women: Results from the WOMAN Study Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Diabetics, Vol 112, Issue 9, P1347-1355.E2, Sept 01, 2012

Healthy Eating Plate, Harvard Health

Low Dietary Protein Intakes and Associated Dietary Patterns and Functional Limitations in an Aging Population: A NHANES analysis.J Nutr Health Aging. 2019;23(4):338-347. doi: 10.1007/s12603-019-1174-1

Protein synthesis and quality control in aging J Nutr Health Aging. 2019;23(4):338-347. doi: 10.1007/s12603-019-1174-1

Diabetes Hits Women Hard at Menopause: Beat It Back Aging (Albany NY). 2018 Dec; 10(12): 4269–4288., Published online 2018 Dec 18. doi: 10.18632/aging.101721

A metabolic view on menopause and ageing NAMS - North American Menopause Society

Weight regulation in menopause, Knight MG, Anekwe C, Washington K et al., Menopause, 2021, 28(8), 960-965