Understanding Weight Changes during Perimenopause

“I just can’t shift the weight!”

“It is so hard to lose weight now that my hormones are changing!”

You know what? I hear you loud and clear! These are the two most common concerns I get from the women I work with at my clinic who are in perimenopause. Trust me, I totally understand how utterly frustrating and downright challenging it can be to try and lose those stubborn extra kilos when your hormones are doing their crazy dance. That is why I have written this blog, to help you understand weight changes during perimenopause.

Peri-menopause recap:

Let’s talk about perimenopause, that transitional period leading up to menopause when our hormones start playing tricks on us. If you’re not sure whether you’re in this phase or not, I’ve got a great resource for you to check out first, 3 signs that may indicate you are perimenopausal. 

Now, during perimenopause, weight and body composition can go on a rollercoaster ride. You might notice your waistline expanding and your muscles feeling less firm. It’s all thanks to those hormones, including oestrogen, progesterone, and even cortisol.

Then there is the emotional and mental impact of these changes on a woman’s body and lastly, we delve deeper into the other things to consider from a health perspective during this time.

There are a few key areas that we can look at together, so you gain an understanding of weight gain during perimenopause. Let’s look at these key areas:

What hormones effect weight?

Firstly, let’s start with hormones and how they can mess with your weight during perimenopause.


First up, we have oestrogen. This hormone is like the conductor of the female reproductive system orchestra. It has many functions. But during perimenopause, oestrogen likes to go on a wild rollercoaster ride, and that can have some interesting effects on your weight.

Oestrogen and metabolism:

You see, oestrogen has a hand in regulating our metabolism. When its levels start to decline, our metabolic rate can take a hit. It’s like our body suddenly forgets how to burn calories as efficiently as it used to. And guess what? That can lead to weight gain, especially around the belly.

Oestrogen and fat storage:

Oestrogen also has a say in where our body stores fat. Normally, it likes to hang out in our hips and thighs, giving us those lovely curves. But when oestrogen levels drop, fat decides to set up camp in the abdominal area instead. It’s like a surprise relocation, and you’re left wondering what happened to your hourglass figure.


Alright, let’s move on to our next hormonal player in the perimenopause weight game: progesterone. This hormone likes to join the party and shake things up too!

Progesterone, like oestrogen, goes through its fair share of ups and downs during perimenopause. And believe it or not, it can indirectly have an impact on our weight. Here’s how:


First off, progesterone acts as a natural diuretic. It helps keep our body’s fluid balance in check. But when progesterone levels take a nosedive, water retention can become a sneaky side effect. And you know what that means? Temporary weight gain and the dreaded bloat.


Progesterone also has a role to play in the land of sleep. It helps promote restful sleep, which is like a magical elixir for your overall well-being. But when our progesterone levels drop and our sleep gets all wonky, it can mess with our hormones and even lead to weight gain. It’s like a double whammy!

Cortisol and its Influence on Weight during Perimenopause:

Alright, let’s talk about cortisol, aka the “stress hormone,” and its sneaky influence on weight during perimenopause. Brace yourself for some fascinating info!

Stress hormone:

You see, cortisol likes to show up when we’re feeling stressed, whether it’s physical stress or emotional turmoil. But unfortunately, it can also wreak havoc on your weight. Here’s how:

First off, cortisol can mess with your appetite. It’s like a hunger switch turned on full blast. Suddenly, you find yourself craving all those high-calorie, carb-loaded goodies, especially sugar. Those sugar cravings can lead to overeating and, you guessed it, weight gain, especially around the belly area. Here are some tips on how to beat the sugar cravings.

Cortisol is also a mastermind when it comes to belly fat. It loves to promote the storage of visceral fat, the kind that hangs out deep in our abdominal cavity. Some even call it the “menobelly” because it can be quite the stubborn companion. So, even if you’re eating a stable number of calories, cortisol can still work its magic and give you extra belly layers.

Oh, and let’s not forget about cortisol’s impact on our muscle mass. When cortisol levels are high, it can lead to muscle breakdown and a decrease in muscle mass. And guess what? Muscles are our secret weapon for a faster metabolism. So, when cortisol messes with your muscles, your metabolic rate takes a hit, making weight management even trickier.

The emotional and mental impact of weight changes during perimenopause:

Let’s take a moment to talk about something that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves: the emotional and mental impact of weight changes for women during perimenopause. It’s time to shine a light on this important aspect.

First off, let’s address the elephant in the room: societal influences. We live in a world that bombards us with unrealistic beauty standards and heaps of societal pressures, especially with the rise of social media. It’s like women are expected to have the “perfect” body, whatever that means. So when perimenopause throws weight changes our way, it’s no surprise that we may start feeling inadequate, experiencing body shame, and taking a hit to our self-esteem. We start comparing ourselves to those idealized images and wondering why we can’t measure up.

Body image, self-esteem and mental health:

And let’s not forget about body image and self-esteem. Weight changes during perimenopause can mess with our perception of our own bodies. Suddenly, we may look in the mirror and not recognize the person staring back at us. It’s like our body has gone through some mysterious transformation. And when our body image takes a hit, our self-esteem can take a nosedive too. It can impact our confidence in the workplace, our friendships, and even our intimate relationships.

Plus, weight changes and hormonal fluctuations can also have an impact on our mental health. It’s like a rollercoaster of emotions. We may find ourselves riding the mood swing express, feeling more anxious, and even battling with bouts of depression.

The Role of a Low-Carb, Higher Protein Diet:

Figuring out the best diet to follow can feel like trying to untangle a giant knot of information online. And to make matters worse, sometimes the advice you find is just downright contradictory.

I’ve got some good news for you. If you’re looking for a good place to start, a low carb, higher protein diet is your friend. Here’s why:

Protein is like a superhero when it comes to keeping us full and satisfied. It’s more satiating than carbs or fats, which means it can help control those pesky hunger pangs and keep us from mindlessly snacking on all the wrong things. And when we feel satisfied, we’re less likely to go overboard with our calorie intake. It’s a win-win!

But that’s not all. Higher protein intake also supports the preservation of our precious lean muscle mass. During perimenopause, hormonal fluctuations can cause a decline in muscle mass, which can slow down our metabolism and make weight management even trickier. By upping your protein intake, you give your muscles the love and support they need to stay strong and keep that metabolic fire burning.

First, let’s talk about blood sugar. You know those spikes and crashes that leave you reaching for the nearest snack and feeling like a rollercoaster of emotions? Well, a low-carb diet can help keep your blood sugar levels stable. By cutting back on refined carbs and sugars, you’re avoiding those quick sugar rushes and subsequent crashes. And guess what? That means fewer mood swings, fewer cravings, and less weight gain to worry about during perimenopause.

Plus, high carbohydrate diets can send insulin levels on a wild ride, and that can wreak havoc on your hormone balance. But when you adopt a low-carb diet, you’re giving your body a chance to regulate insulin levels more effectively. And when insulin is happy, other hormones fall into line and do their thing.

Speaking of hormones, then there is oestrogen dominance. This hormonal imbalance can rear its head during perimenopause and contribute to weight gain and other hormonal issues. A low-carb, higher protein diet can help. By reducing carbohydrate intake, you can promote a more balanced oestrogen-to-progesterone ratio.

Weight changes and the increased risk for diseases:

Another significant aspect to consider when discussing perimenopause is the increased risk of certain health conditions, namely osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and metabolic conditions. These risks become more prominent during this transitional phase.

Bone health and osteoporosis:

Firstly, bone health and osteoporosis. During perimenopause, the decline in oestrogen levels can accelerate bone loss and put you at a higher risk of osteoporosis. Engaging in weight-bearing exercises, like strength training, can help you maintain bone density and keep your bones strong.

Heart health:

Next on the list is heart health and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Excess weight, especially around the belly, can increase the risk of CVD, high blood pressure, and other related conditions.

Lastly, balanced blood sugars and metabolic conditions. Weight changes during perimenopause can mess with our insulin sensitivity and increase the risk of these conditions.

Weight changes during perimenopause are a common concern for many women, but they need not be a source of frustration and distress. It’s all about taking a holistic approach. That means focusing on healthy eating, regular exercise, stress management, getting enough sleep and exploring natural remedies. It’s about creating a toolkit that works for you to support you on this journey.

As a women’s health naturopath, I’m here to guide and support you on this journey towards finding balance and relief from perimenopausal symptoms. Remember, every woman’s experience is unique, and finding the right strategies that work for you is key.

Ready to take control of your journey towards a healthier you? Book a free health chat now and let’s navigate the path to wellness together.

Embrace the changes of perimenopause and achieve your weight goals with personalised guidance and support.

Your transformation starts here!

Leave a comment


Areas of interest:
- Perimenopause
- Menopause
- Hormonal and cycle changes
- Burning Mouth Syndrome
- Low Energy Levels

Contact Info

Email: hello@chantellebell.com.au
Mobile: 0403 489 632

Follow Me

Online Booking

© 2023 Chantelle Bell Naturopath.