Perimenopause and Fat Gain: The Change Up for Women 35+

Life after 35 comes with a unique set of challenges for women. You start losing bone density. Hormone changes mean your GI tract is not as efficient and you’re more prone to bloating, your period cycle can change, your sex drive can decrease, and—to add insult to injury—you can find it more difficult to manage your weight. It’s all part of  perimenopause, and it can be a tough pill to swallow. 

Suddenly, the exercise and diet you had been using to maintain a healthy BMI doesn’t seem to work and fat starts hovering around your midsection. Even if you know it’s coming it can still be a shock: perimenopause and fat gain go hand-in-hand for many women, but there’s no reason that it has to be like that for you. In fact, studies indicate that most of the weight you will gain as an adult will happen in your twenties, not your thirties, so while perimenopause can contribute to fat gain, you can breathe a sigh of relief: the worst is probably over and your thirties (in comparison to your twenties) can be a decade to tackle with the hard-won confidence, wisdom and calmness of the years. 

More good news: you may not have to take drastic measures to fight perimenopause and fat gain. If you already eat well and exercise regularly, you will likely just have to make a few tweaks. Read on for tips on avoiding perimenopausal fat gain.

  1. Exercise More

One surprisingly nasty fact of perimenopause? What worked before to keep you fit and healthy likely won’t work as effectively anymore, making it harder and harder to shed the weight. There are a few reasons why this happens: as you age, your muscle mass decreases, and your body starts to store more fat instead due to a combination of hormonal changes and the physical realities of getting older. While exercising alone may not cut it in terms of fighting weight gain, it will help your body build up muscle mass so that you’re still burning calories at rest. 

You’ll want to focus on a blend of strength training and cardio in order to see the best results, so that perimenopause and fat gain don’t undo everything you’ve worked for in terms of your health. As little as 12 minutes of HIIT a few times a week can fend off perimenopause and fat gain. If getting to the gym that often isn’t realistic with your schedule, try a home gym setup for easy, instant access.

  1. Eat More GOOD Food

The harsh reality of perimenopause and fat gain is that you can’t eat like you used to. Your weight can often be up to 90% governed by how you eat, and as you get older you simply can’t eat as much junk as you used to and still maintain the same shape. In order to stave off the weight gain typically brought on through perimenopause, keep your calories as clean as possible (a meal plan can help) to see the most effective weight management. If you find you’re eating healthy and are still gaining weight, a great option can be intermittent fasting, but it’s not necessarily a lifestyle for everyone. It involves restricting your eating period to a (typically) 8-hour window of mostly healthy food and then fasting for the other 16 hours. For more information, check out this guide (use promo code FASTED30 for 30% off) to getting started. You can also read this  intermittent fasting article on how to ease into IF.

The trick to overcoming perimenopause and fat gain with diet is to find something that works for you in the long-run, because crash diets aren’t sustainable and will leave you right back where you started.

  1. Stay Disciplined

Perimenopause can come with some brutal side effects aside from weight gain, like night sweats, mood swings, hot flashes, and less sleep overall. None of this helps you make good choices dailet. While you may have always been a fitness fanatic, it suddenly might become harder to make the effort or to overcome the temptation for that midmorning donut instead of a handful of nuts. This is when it’s most important to keep to a healthy diet and regular exercise; perimenopause and fat gain are no joke, and a few bad choices can start adding up quickly. Preventing weight gain during perimenopause isn’t just about aesthetics, but importantly, your health and well-being. Significant weight gain can increase your risk for many serious health disorders.

The final take-away from all of this is not to try to reverse perimenopause: you can’t do that. We’re all getting older, everyday. What you can do is use these strategies to help mitigate the reality of perimenopause and fat gain. Tweak your training, your diet and your attitude, and you can keep the perimenopausal pounds at bay.  

1 comment

It’s like you read my mind. I’m 35 and have been struggling with all the issues you hit on in your article. I have been doing body rock since it was a free video on YouTube and now use the SweatFlix app. Y’all are great and I recommend you to everyone I know. Thanks for always being positive and most importantly, real! 🙌

Sabrina Barrett August 01, 2019

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