Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Avoiding Midlife or Menopause Weight Gain?

Is weight gain at menopause inevitable? I've put on 14 pounds and can't seem to lose them. Any suggestions?

Answer (Published 9/17/2007)

Menopause doesn't necessarily lead to weight gain, but the hormonal shifts underlying this change of life definitely affect body fat distribution. Weight tends to shift out of the hips and thighs to the abdomen, turning some "pear shaped" women into "apples." I've read that the average woman puts on two to five pounds during the menopausal transition, but I know that many women complain of greater gains.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging - Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet! - Everything you need to get started eating a healthful, satisfying diet is here - including eating and shopping guides, over 300 recipes, and an exclusive version of Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid! Start your 14-day free trial now - and start eating anti-inflammatory today!

Part of this problem has to do with issues that are unrelated to menopause. First of all, as we get older, we need fewer calories because there's a shift from lean muscle mass to fat and a consequent slowdown in metabolism. If you want to maintain your weight as you get older and avoid menopause weight gain, you have to cut back your food intake by about 200 calories per day; this applies to men as well as women.

The other part of the equation is exercise. Ample evidence suggests that regular exercise prevents menopause weight gain. And at this time of life exercise is particularly important for a number of other reasons: weight bearing exercise such as walking can keep your bones and heart strong and also lower your risk of breast cancer. Regular physical activity may also help reduce hot flashes, counter depression, sharpen your thinking, and promote good sleep.

Calcium and vitamin D supplements may also help prevent postmenopausal weight gain. A study published in the May 14, 2007 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine found that women who took both supplements gained less weight than those who didn't. Researchers from Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Oakland, studied more than 36,000 women of ages 50 to 79 enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative, a large U.S. government-sponsored clinical trial. The women were randomly assigned to take either 1,000 mg of calcium plus 400 IU of vitamin D or a placebo daily. They were weighed every year during the seven year course of the study. Although the differences at the end of the study were not large, the women who took the supplements had a lower risk of gaining small amounts of weight and a higher likelihood of staying within 2.2 pounds of their initial weight.

I recommend that women take 500 to 700 mg of calcium citrate in two divided doses taken with meals, for a total daily intake of 1,000-1,200 mg from all sources and 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) with the largest meal.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Read more of Dr. Weil's menopause articles.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here