Menopause weight loss: Dieting may not help get rid of fat – ‘Calories are not the enemy’

This Morning: Early menopause sufferer explains symptoms

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Crash diets are not a safe way to lose weight at the best of times, and experts advise avoiding them completely while going through the menopause.

The menopause is a challenge in itself; having to navigate through strange changes in the body that can make suffers feel very unlike themselves.

One aspect of the dreaded phase is weight gain, and it’s one many women fear.

Sufferers tend to notice they are gaining extra pounds around their waistline and on average, a woman will put on 5lbs during the menopause.

This sudden realisation could cause hasty decisions to embark on crash diets to aid quick weight loss, but experts have warned that they aren’t an effective way to lose weight at the best of times.

A drastic reduction in calories can actually work against the desire to shed weight and can even have long-term negative effects.

Experts at health science company Zoe, reveal that “calories are not the enemy” for women going through the change.

“Your body needs them for energy [and] when your body doesn’t get the calories it needs, it goes into survival mode and adapts to the situation,” said nutritionist Christina Vetter.

“It starts to burn less energy by lowering your metabolic rate.

“This can make long-term weight loss difficult to achieve and maintain.”

Instead, following a nutritional, balanced diet is the way forward.

This includes minimally processed foods such as:

Whole grains



Seeds and nuts


Lean protein

Healthy fats – olive oil

Healthy fat-rich foods – avocado

She advised to save ultra-processed foods such as baked goods, sugary drinks, crisps or similar snacks for occasional treats to enjoy.

“Eating the best foods for your individual metabolism can help you avoid weight gain during menopause,” Ms Vetter explained.

And while these numerous “appealing” weight loss diets marketed towards menopausal women are promising fast results, experts warn they’re not “evidence-based”.

Nanette Santoro, the chair of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora and a longtime menopause researcher explained: “Mid-body weight gain is almost universal among menopausal women.”

She noted that weight gain will differ from person to person, with a percentage of women experiencing “more rapid weight gain and more fat accumulating around the abdomen during the menopausal transition”.

“Still, little is known about why these women seem to have to work much harder on maintaining their body weight during this time,” she added.

Instead, she noted that sufferers should focus on one thing, and one thing only.

“What women should take from this is that they should be focusing on eating food – real food, not processed,” she said, referencing Michael Pollan’s advice from In Defence of Food.

“Mostly from plants and not too much.”

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