Can menopauses actually be a time to get in the best shape of your life? There's no need to let menopause hijack your metabolism. The right eating plan can help you to lean into menopause with strength, grace, and fitness. There's something strange I've noticed in my work as a female nutritionist, women's health advocate, and certified personal trainer. I don't actually hear from many female clients over the age of 45. The reason isn't because women in this age group aren't struggling with weight gain. The reason is actually because women in this age group often give up on the idea of losing weight because they believe mainstream misconceptions about inevitable weight gain during menopause, which I've learned in our Wellness for Womanhood Community. That's why I'm so excited to talk about the Menopause Diet 5 Day Plan for losing weight.

Stay tuned to learn how to steer clear of weight gain during menopause as well as menopause belly bloat. This isn't a starvation diet. It's an eating plan focusing on feeding your body the right way as you navigate the biological changes triggered by menopause. I strongly believe in macronutrients as the best way to control weight management. So, we'll focus on high protein foods that have proven benefits for women of all ages. Let's begin!

Menopause: What Is It?

Menopause isn't just "the end of an era" in terms of your reproductive ability. It also marks a shift into a new biological reality for all of your body's systems. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. Let's break down exactly what's happening when your body goes through menopause.

We all know that women experience natural declines in reproductive hormones when they enter their 40s and 50s. The beginning of menopause marks the end of your menstrual cycles. In the United States, the average age of menopause is around 51. However, there's no "set" age for when you might begin to experience menopause symptoms. Menopause is official when you've gone 12 months without a period. Your "final" period may come after years of changes to your monthly cycle. In fact, menopause can last anywhere from two to 14 years!

You can't stop menopause. It's a natural biological process that is a normal part of aging. However, you can set up the right conditions to feel your best before, during, and after menopause. The big thing to know when setting up a plan to thrive throughout menopause is that the body begins to use energy differently upon entering menopause. Some common symptoms experienced during menopause include:

  • Disrupted sleep
  • Hot flashes
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Loss of bladder control (incontinence)

It would take the expertise of a doctor specializing in reproductive health to discuss all of the ways that estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones activate some of these symptoms. As a nutritionist, my main focus is on explaining how the changes that occur during menopause lead to weight gain. Let's dive into why staying fit becomes so hard after menopause!

Why Do Women Gain Weight During Menopause?

Data shared by the University of Washington Medical Center states that women gain 5% to 8% of their baseline body weight during menopause! I don't know anyone who is thrilled about packing on up to 8% of their body weight. Women don't have to accept weight gain as a part of menopause. However, most assume that it's inevitable because they haven't been shown the right way to eat to counteract the "thickening" effects of this big change!

The hormonal changes of menopause make women more susceptible to gaining weight around the abdomen, hips, and thighs. It's not your imagination if it suddenly seems like your metabolism is stuck in slow gear. In addition, we know that muscle mass typically decreases around menopausal age. Losing muscle can be devastating because lean muscle burns more calories than fat. That muscle loss also makes us more susceptible to injuries because we lose our strength and balance.

Yes, it's true that hormonal changes alter the way our body converts food to fat. However, some lifestyle factors that kick in around menopause can also be to blame. Shifts in mood and energy levels can stop many women from working out. They may also find themselves "comfort snacking" in response to the changes they are experiencing. The lack of sleep that often accompanies menopause can also trigger the urge to snack. Research shows that sleep patterns influence an appetite hormone called ghrelin. In fact, sleep-deprived adults tend to have higher ghrelin levels, more hunger, and less feeling of fullness compared to adults who get at least seven hours of sleep per night.

Trust me when I say that you don't get any judgment from me if you've found yourself overindulging while dealing with the whirlwind of menopause. However, I want to remind you that there's so much you can do to feel differently using some simple diet changes. Of course, you may be gaining weight simply because your hormones are changing how your body handles fat. Let's talk about how to steer clear of weight gain in all scenarios!

How to Steer Clear of Weight Gain During Menopause

The simple truth is that you have to be willing to make changes if you want to glide through menopause without "losing yourself." That means making some big lifestyle changes. I know that it can feel unfair that you need to adjust the way you eat just because your body has decided to play what feels like a cruel trick on your metabolism. However, the secret is that being "forced" into eating better may actually be the best thing that happens to you. While my Menopause Diet 5 Day Plan to Lose Weight is focused on helping you to avoid menopause-related weight gain, the changes being introduced can actually set you up for a healthier, more vibrant body as you progress in the aging process. That means having more energy, looking better, and being active during the next phase of life. I promise that you may actually be thanking menopause for forcing you to focus on your eating habits by the time you see the changes!

Healthy Nutrition

As a nutritionist, I recommend healthy nutrition as the first order of business for clients in any stage of life. Even people who are at an ideal weight can benefit from developing healthy, whole eating habits. I've seen the way nutrition changes bodies. Women going through menopause need to lean on nutrition even more than the average person.

Eating the right amounts of the right foods can set your body up to burn fat, build lean muscle, and get a lean, streamlined look that resembles what your body looked like during what you might call your "peak." Knowing what to avoid is just as important as knowing which foods to eat while going through menopause. My biggest piece of advice is to always go in with a plan. I'll tell you why.

The thing I see sabotaging plans for weight loss time after time is a lack of a plan. Life happens. We end up grabbing for whatever is available because we simply need to "get through" meal time to get to the next thing in our day. That's why so many women with the best of intentions end up relying on fast food, takeout, vending machines, or the snack drawer when it's time to fuel up. In addition to resulting in empty calories, this method of having your back up against a wall at mealtime also ensures that you're never getting the right balance of protein, fat, carbohydrate, and micronutrients.

There's nothing more important than planning everything you will eat at least a week in advance. This ensures that you don't give in during weak moments. It also takes away the excuse of being "too busy" to eat healthy that so many of us fall back on.

Pay Attention to and Track Macros (Protein, Carbs, Fats)

Tracking macros is one of the most effective ways to stay on track with a good diet. Tracking macros isn't complicated. It simply means that you're logging your protein, carbohydrates, and fats using some type of macro tracking app, journal, or website. Women going through menopause should ideally get up to 35% of their calories from protein. I know that keeping track of exactly how much you're consuming of every macro category can be difficult. That's why I lay out specific food choices in my 5 day planner below.

Avoid These Foods

What foods should you avoid if you want to lose weight during menopause? There's something I want to make clear before I dive into this category. As a nutritionist, my focus is always on realistic, no-starvation diets. I very rarely "ban" specific foods or food categories from my clients unless we're dealing with food allergies. I don't want you to feel like you're in a constant battle against foods that make you happy. The foods that I'm telling you to avoid should be viewed as being okay as occasional treats. My list of foods to skip during menopause includes:

  • Heavily fried foods
  • Greasy foods
  • Overly salty foods
  • Candies
  • Processed meats
  • Processed snacks
  • Desserts
  • Fatty meats
  • Alcohol
  • Sugary drinks
  • Smoothies with empty calories

I generally let my clients make up their own mind when it comes to the topic of spicy foods. Many spices can actually help with overall weight loss and vitality. However, spicy foods have been known to actually exacerbate the hot flashes associated with menopause for some women.

The Menopause Diet 5 Day Plan To Lose Weight

Below is a loose example of a meal plan that I might give to a menopause client who is looking to lose weight and kick off healthy, sustainable habits. Keep in mind that this is totally customizable and can be altered to work within your needs and preferences.

When I put together meal plans for clients, I am not only considering nutritional and weight loss benefits, but convenience. I know it’s not easy or time efficient to cook three meals per day every day which is why I like to meal prep some meals in advance and utilize leftovers so that you get a break from cooking and can enjoy the ease of repeating meals that you like or simply warming something up in just a few minutes.

Day 1


Macro Friendly Overnight Oats - Full recipe is linked (make 2 servings for tomorrow’s breakfast)


4 oz. Deli Turkey Breast, 1 low-carb pita or wrap, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and one serving of veggies with one serving of hummus (I like to do carrots and celery sticks)


4 oz. Chicken breast, cauliflower stir fry rice (can be found in your grocer’s frozen sections), one serving of brown or white rice (about 1 cup), and low-sodium soy sauce to taste.

Day 2


Macro Friendly Overnight Oats - This should be pre-prepped in the refrigerator from yesterday.


Large salad with 4 oz of chopped chicken breast and one serving of Greek Yogurt Salad Dressing (I recommend Bolthouse) and one serving of Pita chips or Popcorner chips.


Macro-Friendly Chili - Full recipe is linked

Day 3


Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Shake - Full recipe is linked


Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup - Full recipe is linked with one serving of pita chips or Popcorners


Left over Macro-Friendly Chili from day 2

Day 4


Protein oatmeal with berries and one serving of almond butter.

  • 1 scoop protein powder (I recommend 1st Phorm Level-1 or Clean Simple Eats)
  • 1 packet of oatmeal (I recommend Better Oats)
  • 1 serving of unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice
  • Top with almond butter (American Dream Nut Butter or Clean Simple Eats Off Beats Butter)


Left over Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup from day 3


Buffalo Chicken Pasta Bake - Full recipe is linked

Day 5


Protein oatmeal with berries and one serving of almond butter.

  • 1 scoop protein powder (I recommend 1st Phorm Level-1 or Clean Simple Eats)
  • 1 packet of oatmeal (I recommend Better Oats)
  • 1 serving of unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice
  • Top with almond butter (American Dream Nut Butter or Clean Simple Eats Off Beats Butter)


Large salad with 4 oz of chopped chicken breast and one serving of Greek Yogurt Salad Dressing (I recommend Bolthouse) and one serving of Pita chips or Popcorner chips.


Buffalo Chicken Pasta Bake - Leftover from day 4.

My Top Menopause Weight Loss Tips

You're going to be more than on your way to seeing weight loss if you follow the diet above for just one week of your life. However, I also want to add some "hacks" for dropping pounds during menopause that will make all of the work you're doing on the "eating" end go much further. My tips below are the same ones I share with my own clients.

Drink Plenty of Water

Hydrate like it's your job during menopause! First, all of the extra sweating you might be doing could be leaving you dehydrated. Researchers have found that increased hydration is associated with weight loss. The science behind why drinking water makes you lose weight has to do with the fact that drinking water increases the amount of calories you burn as part of your resting energy expenditure. In fact, resting energy expenditure has been shown to go up by as much as 30% after drinking water. One study published in 2014 found that drinking more water led to weight reduction, body fat reduction, and appetite suppression in overweight female participants. Another study found that water-induced thermogenesis led to decreases in body weight, body mass index (BMI), and body composition scores among overweight subjects who increased water intake.

The easiest way to start drinking more water is to get an oversized reusable water bottle that you can take everywhere. My hack as a nutritionist is to drink cold water whenever possible! Your body actually burns more calories while bringing cold water up to your body temperature.

Movement, Exercise, and Fitness

I personally don't think that anything plays a bigger role in weight loss than diet. However, you can get faster, more dramatic results from all of the good work you're doing with your eating habits by exercising. Exercise is especially important for menopausal women due to the way hormonal changes begin to strip away muscle mass and bone density. According to researchers, the ideal exercise program for postmenopausal women should include endurance exercise (aerobic), strength exercise, and balance exercise. Aim for a routine that includes at least three hours of moderate aerobic activity each week.

Get Optimal Sleep and Rest

I mentioned the link between poor sleep and weight gain earlier in this post. If menopause is interrupting your sleep, it's time to get intentional about reclaiming good sleep hygiene. Avoid screens, caffeine, and heavy meals just before bed. Try to go to bed at the same time each night. Your preferred bedtime should set you up to get between seven and nine hours of sleep. Lack of sleep can sabotage your diet plans by making you endlessly hungry. It's all owed to the fact that neurotransmitters called ghrelin and leptin that are responsible for appetite and hunger are activated by lack of sleep.

Stop Stressing Out!

Researchers believe that stress causes us to gain weight. In addition to increasing our appetite, stress may also slow down our metabolism. Getting trapped in fight-or-flight mode due to stressful circumstances actually pauses ordinary bodily functions. One of the systems put on pause is your metabolism! It's so important to focus on stress-reducing techniques when you're making diet and lifestyle changes.

Conclusion & Take Home Tips

You can get through the changes of menopause by changing the way you eat! I've seen the way that diet can help women sail through some of the trickier parts of menopause. The truth is that it's time to stop telling women that menopause is a time to "give up" on fitness! My big takeaway tips are to show up prepared by having a meal plan, prioritize hydration, focus on getting quality sleep, and be consistent with high-intensity workouts! Menopause can become a new day for your relationship with your body if you're willing to see it as a fresh start instead of the end of something!

About the Author
Tami Smith, CPT, Nutritionist

Tami Smith is a certified Nutritionist and an ACE certified fitness trainer, specializing in pre and post-natal fitness. She studied business and earned her bachelor's degree in Business Economics. Tami is a mom of two and women's health advocate. Her passion is to help people live a fit, healthy life through proper nutrition and exercise!

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