Menopause can be a confusing time and trying to understand menopause and metabolism changes can certainly make a person feel like they are going mad.
A key part of aging, menopause is a natural process and you can equip your body to better handle this unique life stage. Learn how to reset your metabolism after menopause ahead, including the top menopause metabolism boosters.
Menopause and Metabolism: What Happens?
Menopause is an interesting time that affects every woman differently. Some experience mild symptoms or none at all and are simply glad their periods are gone and the chance of getting pregnant is diminished.
Other women can experience intense symptoms, which include but aren’t limited to:
• Changes in the monthly menstrual cycle (i.e. irregular bleeding)
• Hot flashes
• Mood or mental health disorders (i.e. depression)
• Sleep disturbances
The years leading up to menopause are called perimenopause or the menopausal transition. The symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flashes, are generally experienced during this period of time.
Menopause is technically defined as the point in time after 12 months without a period, usually occurring between ages 45 and 55. The use of certain medications or surgery may cause menopause to happen sooner than it would naturally.
Changes in Metabolic Rate (Metabolism)
Thanks to changing estrogen levels during menopause, the way the body uses energy and distributes body fat begins to change. During this stage of life, ovary function changes and the production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone from the ovaries decreases until it eventually stops.
Research shows that menopausal loss of estrogen is linked with an increase in central fat, commonly called abdominal fat or abdominal obesity. This can cause troubling and seemingly sudden changes such as high cholesterol levels, an accelerated rate of weight gain, and an increased risk of heart disease.
For those with high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes, weight gain can be a particular concern.
How to Reset Your Metabolism After Menopause
Fortunately, menopausal weight gain isn’t—and shouldn't be—inevitable. Lifestyle factors, like exercise and diet, can help mitigate potential symptoms and reduce the likelihood of gaining weight.
“Menopause metabolism boosters,” such as those listed below, can help you navigate this transition with ease. In other words, you’ll be thriving (instead of just surviving) in no time!
Diet and Supplementation
Diet and supplementation (as needed) play a role in managing menopause. Unfortunately, as a natural effect of aging, muscle mass is likely to decrease while fat increases. A loss in muscle mass can impact metabolism—how the body utilizes calories—and make it trickier to stay at a healthy weight.
To manage the changes associated with aging and menopause, you may need to increase the amount of exercise you do while reducing your calorie intake. Start slowly, by eating 200 fewer calories a day than you’re used to, and then make adjustments as recommended by your dietitian or doctor to achieve your desired results. Simply cutting out sweets—such as soft drinks or candy—can make this change possible.
If you’re eating for weight loss, start with a 500-calorie deficit each day. This can contribute to losing about 1 pound per week, which is considered a safe amount of weight to lose—as opposed to rapid weight loss). Paying attention to portion sizes and the number of calories in your meals and snacks can also assist in this effort.
Women are also prone to bone loss after menopause. Luckily, you can offset these losses by ensuring you’re getting enough vitamin D and calcium from food. If you aren’t ingesting or absorbing enough nutrients from food, supplementation may be suggested by your healthcare team.
Other changes, such as limiting alcohol and stopping smoking, can make managing menopause easier. Switching to a plant-based diet is often suggested, since many plant foods are lower in calories and higher in nutrients. The Mediterranean diet is just one example of a diet that might be right for you.
Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight by staying physically active is an important part of managing menopause. Women are more likely to lose muscle mass during menopause, so in addition to managing weight, it’s important to be building muscle, too.
If you’re looking to lose weight around your abdomen, be sure to incorporate aerobic exercise. This includes activities such as jogging, biking, or swimming. Strength training is equally important to reducing body fat, and includes activities like lifting weights or push-ups. Chores and activities like gardening may also “count” in this category.
If you don’t know where to begin, pick a form of movement you enjoy and try it for 30 minutes. Then, work your way up from there! Joining a class, such as water aerobics, with a friend can help keep you accountable to forming healthy habits.
As mentioned above, menopause can cause sleep disturbances and lack of sleep due to night sweats or hot flashes. Additionally, the aging process can cause the body's circadian rhythm, often referred to as an “internal clock”, to change. Insufficient sleep can make maintaining other healthy habits, like eating well and exercising regularly, more difficult.
If you have trouble sleeping, certain medications or sleep aids may be recommended. An over-the-counter remedy that may work for you is melatonin. For more serious issues, you may want to meet with a practitioner for prescription medication.
Looking for more natural remedies for menopause-related sleep disturbances? You’re in luck. Try the following tips and tricks for improved sleep hygiene:
• Avoid naps late in the day
• Create a comforting sleep environment by controlling light and temperature
• Don’t eat too close to bedtime, and avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening
• Follow a regular sleep schedule (sleep and wake around the same time each day)
• Limit sources of “blue light” (i.e. from computers or cell phones) and stop using electronic devices at least 2 hours before bed
• Start a bedtime routine (i.e. take a warm bath, meditate, listen to soothing music)
Recapping Menopause and Metabolism
It’s no secret that menopause is linked with metabolism changes. Luckily, being aware of these changes and adjusting your lifestyle accordingly can keep you feeling healthy through this transition.
In particular, diet, exercise, and sleep hygiene play a crucial role in thriving during perimenopause and menopause.
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Knight MG, Anekwe C, Washington K, Akam EY, Wang E, Stanford FC. Weight regulation in menopause. Menopause. 2021;28(8):960-965.
Ko S, Jung Y. Energy Metabolism Changes and Dysregulated Lipid Metabolism in Postmenopausal Women. Nutrients. 2021;13(12):4556.
Kravitz HM, Kazlauskaite R, Joffe H. Sleep, Health, and Metabolism in Midlife Women and Menopause: Food for Thought. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2018;45(4):679-694.
National Institute on Aging. Sleep Problems and Menopause: What Can I Do? National Institute on Aging. September 2021.
What Is Menopause? National Institute on Aging. Published September 2021.
Women’s Health. Mayo Clinic. Published March 2021.