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Menopause, paleo diet and weight gain


I’m on a personal mission. I’m menopausal and my tummy is growing. I don’t like it and I don’t want it and I’d like to find a way to stop it.

My passion for nutrition started with a personal mission. I’ve changed my diet so many times over the years. To lose weight (crazy diets and diet pills in the late ’70 early, ’80s). To save the planet and the sea (vegetarian in the late ’80s).

The Zone diet in the mid 90’s marked a turning point, a plan that worked for me, and paleo choices in 2009 was the icing on the cake. Since then I’ve kept experimenting, the auto-immune paleo – best results ever – but so strict. (No alcohol – Is it worth cutting one of life’s small pleasures for a small gain?) I’ve tried 9 cups of vegetables a day as per the Wahls’ diet, but being little different from a fairly strict paleo diet with 5 cups or so of vegetables / fruit a day – I just felt uncomfortably stuffed after meals. I’ve gone back to about 5 cups a day and feel just great. I have berries, kiwi, sometimes a banana and a range of vegetables – all types and colours.

Nicole Carroll with her crossfit abs

I’m following a paleo diet, strictly gluten-free because I have Hashimoto’s (auto-immune thyroid disease), a little alcohol, occasional dairy. I keep on top of portion size and don’t overeat, and have kept my body fat within a range that I feel comfortable with – although I’m jealous of those girls at CrossFit that have visible abs.

I exercise – I was introduced to CrossFit in 2009 by Alex at CrossFit Auckland, for which I am totally grateful. I love it – CrossFit works for me, and I still go at least 3 times a week. I may not be the fastest (Frequently I’m the last finishing a workout – due to my totally sucky aerobic system – but I don’t care, I’m strong, my butt does not sag, and I feel fresh and way younger than my years)

Which brings me to where I am now. Menopause. I can’t quite believe this is the point I am in life. I don’t feel this old, and I don’t look this old. (Not that years of periods have helped me any – fertility was an issue and my 2 children are adopted) But yes – it has hit me. Last year – the missed cycles, the occasional hot flush. I discovered that being strictly gluten-free helped a lot, those waves of nausea and heat in the night evaporated when I became strictly gluten-free.

It’s 8 months since I’ve menstruated, hot flushes hit me like a blast of hot air up to 6 times a day, but they are not so bad. I occasionally drip with sweat, a strange experience as I’ve never been a sweaty person. I’m sure my diet helps. (Sorry boys if this is TMI, but one day a woman in your life might be going through this.)

I seem to be relatively free of other menopausal symptoms so far:

Sleep – I sleep like a log, magnesium malate (my favourite form of magnesium)- 2 tabs a day seems to help both the flushes and my sleep.

My mind is still intact, it’s a bit more foggy and I’m more forgetful – but nothing extreme, (I’ve got 50 + years of stuff in my brain, something has to fall out when new stuff goes in) it still works well enough to tackle post grad nutrition science assignments.

What I’m struggling to keep on top of is the belly fat. All of a sudden – I had an increase in hot flushes, an increase in appetite, a 2 kg (5 lb) weight gain, and 3cm waist increase. My skinny dress is tight, very tight.

Superficial? Maybe. But I think that as a nutritionist, it is important keep on top of my own issues – experiment, research and try out tactics that might help me, that then might help others.

I’ll be doing some research and self experiments and I’ll keep you posted – in the meantime – if you have found a strategy, a solution for yourself, please share. You might help me (I don’t know all the answers!), and others in my position.

More reading:

From Marks Daily apple: Dear Carrie: Hot Flashes

Paleo and the Wild Thing





  1. Well, another benefit of being a man, no menopause, but my sympathies for the process anyway 🙂
    I probably had some sort of andropause, and in my 60s no longer easy keeping the weight where it should be despite 50k plus running each week, some of it pretty solid, so always interesting to read of such journeys.
    Thanks for the blog, keep it up!

  2. Sorry, I don’t have any quick and easy solutions for the belly situation.

    I’m 57 and notice that keeping my own belly in shape is harder now than when I was a young man. It’s not a women’s only deal, as you can see when you look around.

    I suspect what’s needed is the same tricks that younger folks would use (the right exercises and low percentage body fat) – just more of it. It’s harder and less effective when you’re over 45, to the point that many people just give up the dream. But’s it’s not impossible.

    Thanks for sharing this very common problem. How about some “before and after” photos?


  3. Thanks for your honesty about your journey which probably paralells so many of us – although certainly in my case not so successful. However I know I am much healthier on a somewhere near Paleo diet but still lots of unnecessary fat. Good luck with your belly fat – if there’s an answer I’m sure you will find it.

  4. I am a 59-year-old postmenopausal woman. Through a combination of paleo, CrossFit, and bioidentical hormone replacement I’m fairly lean and have mostly lost the “menopot”: the pouchy belly and belly fat in my lower abdomen. What bugs me, though, is that none of the above have really helped with the waist thickening I experienced as part of menopause. It seems to be a different issue than the fat layer in the front of my belly. It’s very similar to what happened to me with each pregnancy: Both times, before I’d even had a pregnancy test my waist thickened, both at the sides of my body and across the back.

    Any thoughts?

  5. Perhaps it is time to get get help from a Naturopathic doctor or Chinese medicine practitioner. You don’t have to suffer through the hot flashes. Western or eastern herbs and acupuncture can help a lot.

    • Thanks,
      I didn’t mention – that I have talked to my GP, he’s old school – just said “Yes other women complain about the increased belly size too – not much you can do about it”
      I’ve also talked to a Holistic Doctor and have some recommendations for supplements for boosting metabolism and helping my brain keep on top of things. I’ll update when I have tried them.
      The hot flushes are very minor really – and if I eat well and limit alcohol and take my magnesium, they hardly bother me – and don’t keep me awake.

  6. I am 52 with 4 kids. I slide thru menopause without a hitch. I credit 30 years of HIIT High Intensity Interval Training for the aging gracefully thing. No chronic cardio. Paleo for the past 4 years has stopped inflammation, allergies, blood sugar issues. I have trained and counseled hundreds of menopausal women and this combination has worked. I truly believe it is HIIT combined with that is the magic menopause pill. My bodyfat range is 11-14 depending on the test used and I credit the HIIT cardio 2-3 times per week, HIIT weight training 3 times per week, and Paleo. I don’t take hormones and am on a mission to see how long I can hold onto this body. My own experiment is working on me and many other women. But you have to be tough. It is hard to eat and exercise with motivation all the time…especially when all the women around us just give up and blame menopause and aging, like they have no control over their bodies. Could it be that you need to up the quality/intensity of your training? I notice I have to remind myself to keep training with high intensity and not give in to the thoughts of ‘Oh we’ll, this is just what happens when you get old’ mentality. I try to block those thoughts and pretend like I am still 25…because I feel as if I am! Never Surrender girlfriend! Keep fighting like a girl! Train hard, win easy! Do your best and them some…that is all we can do.

    • Hi Penny,
      Up until this year – my weight has been around 51 (50 – 51.5kg) and my waist a consistant 27.5 – 28″ at navel. Unlike you – I have never been able to maintain a very low body fat, but have maintained it at a healthy level. I’ve been crossfitting for 3 years, 3 – 4 times a week. And paleo for 3, very strictly gluten free. I don’t weight or measure food, just eat what feels right, although I have a good sense of portion control that works for me. Then all of a sudden this year – Wammo – waist 29″. I’m almost 53, and up until this year – like you thought I was sailing through. Like I said -hot flushes are really minimal. Sleep well. Feel great in all respects. My Hashimotos is still symptom free, although my TSH has gone up a bit. It started the minute my periods stopped completely.
      I’ll play around with tightening up my diet, cutting alcohol, which I’m not really enjoying anyway, (another side effect of menopause?) supplements for the hashis and maybe herbs for the menopause symptoms. I’ve also started a pro-bioitic that has good clinical results for auto-immune / gut issues to see if that helps. More fermented foods.
      More exercise? Might have to look at a bit more. I feel I need to do more to keep my fitness up, which seems to be dropping in the last year.

      So thanks – I’ll keep up the fight! I dont want to succumb to aging. I’m inspired by all those others that keep physically fit and strong and keep eating smart (including my 80 year old parents)

      Any other tips gladly accepted.

      • I do not think HIT is the best for everyone, like I can not do it more than 1 in 7-10 days. When I was doing 3 times week my period had stopped, it just stressed my hormones too much. I go better with walking and some yoga and only once in while some hit training

      • Hi Julianne – you haven’t mentioned how tall you are. Have you read or listened to Dr. Raymond Peat? – some great information.

        I’m in my mid 60’s and damaged my health doing paleo for 15 years, now getting back on track implementing some of Ray Peats ideas.

        I’m 173cm and in my younger years weighed 55 – 60kg very slim (heavy bones) – paleo style eating was great for the first few years then wham – put on 30-40kg

        PUFA’s are responsible for puffy midriff (upper belly) Dr. Peat deals with thyroid issues and will help you get back on track – good luck

        • I’m 156cm 5’1.5″ tall. Yes – I’m familiar with Ray Peats work. I’ve been doing paleo now for 8 years. Still very happy with it. I don’t do high fat though – it doesn’t work for me. So I avoid Omega 6 PUFA. I don’t think high sugar will work either – gene wise I’m better on a low starch diet. I am fine with root veg, some fruit and avoiding all grains. If I dont take some fish oil on a regular basis I get inflammation (gene wise – I have massive tendency for this and fish oil makes such a difference) I’m VERY careful about which brand I take. Oxidation, poor quality is rife in fish oils.
          I do know that others though have benefited from Ray Peats approach.

    • Hi,
      I am a fitness Instructor and very passionate about exercise, and never feel tired of exercising. I also eat normal healthy vegetarian food, a non smoker, and non drinker too.
      I am 54, and my periods stopped at 52, and from that time, i have seen a sudden increase in weight, and inches, and I just can’t see myself in the mirror without feeling really awful.
      I am healthy with no health problems associated with / or the reason for my present problems.
      Although I have upped my exercise a little more, though my doctor says not to over do, for i might be defeating the purpose of my exercise, but well, I just love to exercise.
      Though I have a lot of stamina, my metabolic rate is showing that it has slowed down, though I feel no difference physically other than seeing my muscles turning into flab, despite working out with weights regularly, my upper back has increased in inches, and my abs are becoming rounder and rounder, and I have put a lot of inches there too.
      My lower body is perfect no weight gain there.
      I have two batches of aerobics classes in which I do a 25 minutes of low impact aerobics with my student and also do 20 minutes of weight training with dumb bells and ankle weights( 1 day we do lower body and 1 day the upper body), 2 times a day and for 5 days a week.
      After my class I also like to some more weight training, in the HIIT style also, and sometimes I also like to do Yoga for about 45 minutes which includes breathing exercises also.
      I also do a lot of rebounding.
      I feel I may be over doing it a little bit, but I don’t feel bored or tired by any of the things I do on a regular basis.
      And I had put on some 9 kilos, and have managed to lose only 3 kilos in 1 year, and for the past 6 months my weight is not budging from 67 kilos. i used to be 59 kilos.
      I am in control of my fitness level, but still i am not able to win in the battle of bulge.
      I have been taking mecafem for than 6 months now, and I didn’t notice any change in my weight, but I suddenly started having no hot/cold night flashes for almost 3 months, but now all of a sudden the hot/ cold flashes are back.
      My hair started thinning, so I have started taking Biotin which is really helping me with my hair and my .
      I drink lot of water and also drink lots of raw vegetable and fruit juices without sugar.
      I simply don’t know what else I can do.
      Well this is my experience with menopause.
      I wonder whether all fitness Instructors too go through the same problem or they have a way to tackle this problem.
      I no longer feel I look like a fitness instructor.
      Well, thanks for letting me rant here for a change , for actually I am a very positive person, and have lots of patience to wait for positive things to happen, it is just once in a while you just have to get it out of your system, and who knows I might find an answer to my problem.

      • I’m experimenting myself to see what works in terms of middle weight gain. I’ll update in a few weeks.
        Hormones play such a big role, testosterone, estrogen, growth hormone decreases all increase middle fat.

      • I just have a comment on menopause weight gain.

        Exercise and eating right is for everyone for healthy living, not just menopausal women. If you are a person that has been already doing the right things like exercising and watching what you eat, I would say relax and stop worrying about it so much. After reading several posts and talking to real people with the same issues, I have decided to just say ” it is what it is.”
        No one should have to work this hard to try to lose the weight with no luck. I have given up worrying about the bigger belly and like a lot of others, I had never had a weight problem until I turned 50 and started having hot flashes. Because I had a hysterectomy when I was 40 and never had a period for 10 years, I forgot about menopause even when I started getting the hot flashes. I gained about 25 lbs in the first two years. I couldn’t take the hot flashes anymore and went to a naturopath. She put me on bio-identical hormones because I didn’t have any at all and my hot flashes disappeared in the first week. I’ve always had a nice toned slim body until all this started. I haven’t been able to lose any weight and I am giving up on trying. I am still healthy and my boyfriend loves me for me so I am very lucky. I’m not about to turn my life upside down to try to lose my belly, I am just going to accept the fact that there really isn’t much you can do about it. I will still be happy and have fun and enjoy life like I deserve to. This is suppose to be the time to enjoy life not stress more about something that you will no doubt be able to change. Except for maybe the very lucky!!

        Thank you

        • Rosalie #

          I just have a comment on menopause weight gain.

          Exercise and eating right is for everyone for healthy living, not just menopausal women. If you are a person that has been already doing the right things like exercising and watching what you eat, I would say relax and stop worrying about it so much. After reading several posts and talking to real people with the same issues, I have decided to just say ” it is what it is.”
          No one should have to work this hard to try to lose the weight with no luck. I have given up worrying about the bigger belly and like a lot of others, I had never had a weight problem until I turned 50 and started having hot flashes. Because I had a hysterectomy when I was 40 and never had a period for 10 years, I forgot about menopause even when I started getting the hot flashes. I gained about 25 lbs in the first two years. I couldn’t take the hot flashes anymore and went to a naturopath. She put me on bio-identical hormones because I didn’t have any at all and my hot flashes disappeared in the first week. I’ve always had a nice toned slim body until all this started. I haven’t been able to lose any weight and I am giving up on trying. I am still healthy and my boyfriend loves me for me so I am very lucky. I’m not about to turn my life upside down to try to lose my belly, I am just going to accept the fact that there really isn’t much you can do about it. I will still be happy and have fun and enjoy life like I deserve to. This is suppose to be the time to enjoy life not stress more about something that you will no doubt never be able to change. Except for maybe the very lucky!!

          Thank you

  7. I’m looking forward to what you find. I’m in my 50s, and am fighting fat that’s distributed very differently than it was 10 years ago. I have to stay very low calorie to avoid gaining, no matter what I eat. To read what others (male) have written, one would think eating paleo/low carb/high fat is the perfect solution for everyone. Thank you for bringing up the topic of aging while female! 🙂 I was feeling kind of invisible.

    • So far, in terms of effects of food on hot flushes, I notice the more I eat – the more the flushes, also alcohol has an effect.
      Last night I had a bigger than usual meal and about 2 glasses of wine (maybe 3) and was woken by sweats about 3 times.
      Eating less food keeps me cooler. Especially sticking to vegetables/ fruit and protein.

      I’m analysing my intake this week to see what I actually eat, and restricting calories a little.

  8. Hi Julianna,
    I’m more of a reader then a poster on blogs, but this time I want to share what I found out for myself.
    I am 48 years old. I’ve never been overweight but started eating low-carb in January 2004 to support my husbands struggle to loose some weight. Since then I’ve never stopped eating like that: no more headaches or migraines, never had a cold or the flu anymore. Besides that I eat much tastier like this, I love the fat! Sometimes I cheat in holidays but no more than two or three days in a row.
    My point is that since two years the weight kept creeping up, nothing helped: extreme low carb, calorie restriction, increasec exercise, no alcohol. But I’m the person that never gives up, since a while I adapted my diet a bit to Paleo and started reading about IF (intermittent fasting). I play a little with it, sometimes 16/8 ours (leangains), sometimes 24 hour fast (from dinner to dinner), but mostly I just stop eating at 10 pm and skip breakfast then at around 2 or 3 pm a good lunch and dinner in the evening.
    To me that is THE SOLUTION, after two years of struggling I’ve started losing weight again, a few grams every day, sometimes even a pound. Even though I drink a glass of wine or two in the weekends. At first it was difficult not to eat but after a few weeks it has become natural to me, I even work out in a fasted state every morning without feeling weak. I hope this could work for you -and other women- too.
    B.t.w. I live in The Netherlands and paleo is more and more moving in the underground but is unstoppable I hope!
    Kind regards, Ilse

    • Thank you for your post. I have been paleo for some time (absolutely no gluten, grains, dairy, etc) and I have not seen a budge in my weight or measurements (hovering at 127 lb/57.7 kg) and I don’t know what else to try. I have been weight lifting and started walking 3 miles a day. Nothing. I have been reading more on IF and with your high recommendation am going to try it.

  9. I’m new to low carb high fat eating; it’s not strictly paleo as I do eat Greek yogurt and some cheese. I found your blog searching for info on menopause and paleo because I’m struggling with menopause, hot flashes and weight gain. I changed my diet about two months ago to LCHF to lose weight, I’m about 30 pounds (15 kilos) overweight. I’ve lost about 10 pounds in the last couple of months but my weight loss appears stalled. I noticed that I stopped losing weight two weeks ago when I started taking Estroven, a black cohosh supplement, for hot flashes and night sweats. Then I read that black cohosh can cause weight gain so I’ve stopped taking it.

    Still, even with my 10-pound weight loss none of it has been in my stomach. I’ve been exercising, cardo and weights, about 5 days a week. Workouts have been a struggle because of the hot flashes but I’m being pretty consistent.

    Anyway, I found your site looking for info on eating paleo and menopause. I’m wondering if I should be doing something more, different?

      • Hi Julianne,

        I am 49, started 2 years ago with mysterious joint aches and pains, then about 2 years ago came night sweats…rivers of water. I finally went on bioidentical hormones which totally cured the joint pain but the night sweats are a huge problem we are struggling to sort with progesterone dosage and adding DIM. I am not strictly paleo or primal yet (have been reading about it for the last few months) and working towards it, but have probably been fairly close anyway – more fresh food than processed, very little takeaway. It was low fat though, so I have flipped that around and lost the rest of the grains too (mostly rice, a little bread not much else). I feel better for that straight away, no more tired in the afternoons!

        I believe alcohol is an issue so it has gone as of last night (finished the red, so sad!). I am 163cm and have been 55kg for ?25 years? 4 kids, lots of exercise, on and off depending – martial arts, weights, mild cardio (I hate running!). I have also been reading “The Wisdom of Menopause” by Christine Northrup, and coffee has to go as well so I can see if thats a problem (its been decaf for months with not much difference!). All I want to do is SLEEP!!! The night sweats gives me freaky dreams (like a technicolor movie that won’t quit) and I wake up feeling like a wrung out dishrag. Hard to get to the gym at 6am feeling like that!!!
        I’ll update how it all goes….please that it GOES!!!!

        • I’ve been back on a 30 day strict paleo, without alcohol. I feel better, barely any sweats or hot flushes. I had a glass of wine last night. First for a while – not a smart idea, woke up at 4 am for a couple of hours.

          I’ve been taking green tea extract and maca, both seem to help.

  10. Thanks so much for the post. I am having a similar experience with the belly fat, but I has a different experience with the hot flashes. I am 49 and have been paleo for a couple of years. I started following the Leptin Reset and Cold thermogenesis protocol this Jan/Feb. All was going great when suddenly I started having non-stop hot flashes all day and night in late March. I was so sleep deprived I was walking around like a zombie and not eating well at all. I put on about 5-6 pounds in my belly. I tried manipulating diet, room temperature, fans etc to no avail. Nothing abated the night sweats. Then suddenly they stopped after 6 weeks. I am left with the extra weight in the tummy, and have had no period since March. I keep wondering if I stirred something up with the cold thermogenesis protocol from Jack Kruse, or that was my menopause and I am done? Who knows?!

  11. I am wondering whether hunter gatherer females beyond menopause have a ‘tummy’?

    If it is true that we are eating and exercising appropriately for our species, then we must trust that our bodies know what they are doing, right? Just like with your cat – you eat right, your body heals itself.

    I’m still definitely pre-menopause, but I’m curious about the basic assumption being made here, that all women of all ages will be lean, tight and young-looking when on a paleo diet. Perhaps this isn’t the case.

    I know that in all the National Geographic pictures I’ve seen of older tribal women, they look a bit saggy and have breasts to their knees. I don’t know if they were strictly hunter-gatherers, but maybe we should be just thankful we have access to good lingerie 🙂

    • Yes – I’ve wondered that too. I’m also interested in whether women in other cultures who dont overeat like Okinawans get extra padding as they age. I’ll be looking into it.
      Indeed good lingerie is a plus!
      I dont want to be bigger even if that is the case!

    • Yes – I saw that. She was able to get down with calorie control. She has previously been very lean. I wonder how much ones set point affects the potential to be lean. Still it’s a positive story. I am taking some tips from it.

  12. I’m a 54-year old perimenopausal, athletic woman (still occasional periods; I’ve been perimenopausal for 3 or 4 years). I’ve had “healthy habits” for many years, but gained weight during this time (10 lbs). What seems to work for me (amazing success in just 3 weeks, all my clothes fit now and tummy is way down) is Terry Wahls’ protocol for nutrition (especially with lean grass-fed meat, etc., and for now eliminate dairy and grain, though I do drink alcohol) AND substituting HIIT (high-intensity interval training) for a couple of my work-outs during the week. The HIIT actually saves a bit of time–it’s not about adding something else. I’m feeling great too, and nails are stronger. I’ve noticed I see the most improvement on days after HIIT, but I just don’t want to do that every workout. I mix things up a lot, but I do work out pretty intensely even when it’s not HIIT. I also do yoga to stretch out, along with different sorts of cardio and weights.

  13. I do health research for a living and I have found, so far, no good research on menopause and weight gain. Based on my own experience and that of others, you can think you are sailing through and then … wham!… literally within a week or two you gain 10-15 pounds and several inches. No change in diet or exercise. Although I had menopause at 51 the weight gain did not hit until 56. I did not diet, kept doing what I was doing, and then a couple of years later, it seemed to fall off as fast as it arrived. Waist is about 2 inches thicker (though I do have one) and I”m maybe 5 pounds heavier at 64 — but I haven’t worked at keeping my weight down or done intense exercise.

    Bottom line: I have not seen any diet or exercise program work to lose this rapid weight gain.

    Second Bottom line:
    However, I have been researching berberine which activates AMPK, the master “energy” sensor. There has been one small human trial with modest (about 5 lbs) weight loss. Berberine (1 – 1.5 g daily ) also lowers blood sugar equal to metformin (it works similarly without the side effects), also lowers cholesterol, triglycerides, and increases insulin sensitivity.

    Side effects of berberine are that about 5% of people get constipated. To get back to the topic, I’m trying berberine on some menopausal women friends who have just had the rapid weight gain experience and who are also on some type of low carb eating program. I’m curious if berberine will help lose this particular type of weight through its ability to affect the weight chemistry via AMPK. There is the possibility, of course, that this weight gain is the body’s way of transitioning through this hormonal change and there’s little we can do about it.
    You can go to pub med and search berberine for studies.

    • Thanks – I will have a look at that. My own experience is that weight gain is also linked to less tolerance of hunger. I used to be able to skip meals, (not intentionally – I just used to forget about eating at times, or hunger would not bother me) now hunger does bother me. I get irritable, like when I used to get low blood sugar.

      I came accross this today http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200404/menopause-and-the-munchies

      On a more positive note. My weight gain has stopped, but it’s hard to shift back down. But I’m being pretty strict eating wise (did another Whole30to get back on track), and doing CrossFit 4 – 5 times a week.

  14. Thanks for all the info here. I found this site through a google search of “menopause and paleo”
    I have been dabbling for the last year but have been inconsistent. But my symptoms are driving me nuts. I have hot flushes but they are the least of it…just inconvenient really. The real issues are the stupid un controlled weight gain and my very predictable monthly body aches and flulike symptoms..all which resolve completely after about a week. But that week…sheesh..I live on the couch and do google searches..hehe.
    I just started with the Maca and Remifemin and regular Magnesium.
    Thinking the Remifemin might be gone..more googling for me…
    Next..Strict Whole30-and maybe some HIIT.
    I will continue to follow here. There is not a lot out in google land so experiment of n=1.
    Thanks again

    • Let me know how you get on with a strict whole 30 and exercise. It is the best solution for me so far.

      Alcohol and overeating are definitely not great. The only thing I haven’t tried yet is no coffee, some women say this makes a big difference. My hot flushes are minimal now, and I’ve stopped gaining weight. Wouldn’t mind losing a little though.Some favourite clothes are a little too tight.

      • I can offer some insights re. giving up the coffee/caffeine and hot flushes, as I have recently just been through it. The positives first; really reduced hot flushes for me, from several a day and during the night to zero so far, and the quality of my sleep is to die for. I fall asleep almost immediately and rarely wake up before the alarm.

        The withdrawal symptoms need to be acknowledged, as it was a gruesome 2 weeks; headaches, sever flu-like symptoms, excessive tiredness (nearing exhaustion some days), I spent one weekend sleeping on the couch! Definitely not my usual self. I. Crossfitted through this (train 6 days most weeks) to keep myself sane, as I was grumpy and emotional too! Don’t make the mistake of drinking tea with caffeine, this just prolonged it. Cold turkey is best.

        Feel great now, clear head, good memory and don’t miss it at all.

        Just a note on weight gain and menopause, I eat as pure a paleo diet as I can and zone block as well and I don’t drink alcohol. In my younger days (I am 49) , I always noticed a week before my period started I would get super hungry and I would put on weight around my waist. I knew I ate more during those few days, so I always thought it was a combo of more food intake and natural swelling. The hunger I feel now, reminds me of the same feeling. Your observations on keeping diary notes on the amount of food and upping the training (muscle burns more calories) make sense to me.

        So glad I found your site, it is so important to share these experiences. Thanks.

    • Interesting. What finally drove me to get hormone (bioidentical) replacement was not the night sweats (which were terrible) & mood swings (pretty terrible too) but it was the whole body pain….I’d lie in bed with panadol & ibuprofen on board, unable to move or would have to have a hot shower at 2am to try & settle it down. When the hormones kicked in this went (2 years ago?). I had forgotten until I read this just how awful it had been! I’d choose night sweats over that pain any day! And I probably need to lose the coffee too!

  15. Like the earlier commenter questioned, I wonder if the assumption that paleo women aged without weight gain or physical decline is reasonable or logical. I’m visiting my 83 yo father and he has dementia and is winding down. He used to be a solid, robust man but now is very thin and frail. Perhaps extra weight gain during menopause is actually protective and allows us a few more decades of active life. To be sure, we won’t be hot babes anymore but maybe that is rather freeing as well.

    My question: I am 49 yo and in the past year or so have developed uterine fibroids that I believe are due to hormonal changes. Do you know anything about that and what nutritional strategies would help reduce them? They cause me no pain but feel heavy when I lie down.

    • Extra weight is useful – but only if it is muscle as far as I can see. Most people lose muscle and gain fat. As we age and growth hormone and testosterone drop we can lose significant muscle mass. Weight resistant exercise as we age in imperative in my opinion.

      Not sure about the fibroids – you could google paleo and fibroids to see if anyone has had success. My clients with these have usually had surgery, than gone onto a paleo diet.

  16. Hi Julianne,

    It was inspiring reading your story and seeing your picture. I too suffer from Hashimoto’s, endometriosis, adenomyosis, fibroid and sjogren’s. Losing weight is a constant battle for me so it helps to know Paleo does work. I tried it and lost 5 lbs so far. The minute I added caffeine back into my diet was the day I stopped losing weight, sigh, I dearly love my one cup of coffee a day:-( anyhow, I do feel less bloated when I stop drinking it. I’ve read tons on Paleo, menopause, bioidentical hormones and hysterectomy. Some women say they have to be brutal with the Paleo and only do meat, fat and vegetables or just meat and fat. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to go that far but after just a week with Paleo, doing only vegetables, protien and apples I started adding back other fruits. Big Mistake! I noticed immediately that my stomach was not pleased. I can’t even tolerate apples anymore. I guess I’ll be one of those nut jobs that exists on protien, fat and vegetables.

    Good Luck and glad to hear that it’s not hopeless!


  17. Your metabolism is slowed from years of low calorie dieting. Also, you probably have severe estrogen dominance (which also affects the thyroid) from using so much omega 3. Fish oil is a source of polyunsaturated fat and is not good, according to a biologist named Ray Peat. You might want to check his articles out: http://www.raypeat.com

    I did the Zone from ’96- last year. I also used Paleo nutrition for years. Both aged me and wore me down physically. Dr. Sears is right, starches are bad. The rest of his advice is generally wrong.

    • What have been your results since following Peats ideas. Zone and paleo have not aged me one bit. I have never felt better. since taking a small done of thyroxine, my weight is back down. I dont agree with eating dairy, it has a lot of potential health problems, and Peat promotes that.
      I think we each need to find what works best for us.

  18. ADD PLANKS –
    Hi, all. I am 52. No period for 8 months, and only 1-2x for the year before that. Like others my weight went up, I lost the weight, and have been maintaining a robust exercise schedule with swimming, HIIT, weights, walk/runs, etc. Even with the weight off, the waist was considerably thicker with a somewhat distended lower belly. Nothing helped….. until planks. I’m never going to have a six pack, but after 4 months of planks (I do them about 3-4x per week), my lower belly is no longer nearly as “poofy”. This exercise is hard as all get out, but seems to make a real difference

  19. Hi,
    Well I’m miserable. I’m in my early 60’s and each year is a nightmare in belly fat gain. I went through menopause at 54. It wasn”t until about 2 years later all hell broke loose. My hair began falling out and each year I have less. Then the wrinkles and dry skin and skin conditions and depression. It’s horrible. Around 60, although I only gained 3 pounds, my flat tummy was no longer and the deep 4 -5 inches of deep abdominal fat I have now is discusting. I am a real skinny fat person. I only weigh 99 pounds and look 4 months pregnant. Nothing works except starvation and I just can’t do it. I’ve tried 2 years of a whole foods plant based diet. No animal products, no oil, no sugar. Just ate lots of veggies, beans some whole grains like quinoa and fruit and under an ounce of nuts or seeds. Disaster! Now eat no grains but lots of veggies, fish, eggs chicken and some fruit. Not eating the carbs makes me irritable but hopefully that will pass and my belly fat can be used as energy instead of the whole grains I was eating. I’m desperate to get it off. The extra belly hurts my painful stenosis and knees. I am hungry all the time no matter what diet I eat. Menopause is a curse on woman. After you just get old and decayed. Prepare yourselves. Nothing good about it. Sorry to be so pessimistic but this is my story. I also have a huge amount of stress in my life with everyone dying around me so for sure my cortisol levels make matters worse. If we ever come back to live here again in another life, I never ever ever want to be a woman.

    • That sounds miserable. What works for me so far – is lifting heavy weights, I do bench presses, dead lifts, back squats and abs exercises. I do kettlebell work and sprints in the park. My weight is now stable although a little more that pre-menopause. I take remifemin, and testosterone cream. My hot flushes have pretty much gone.

      • I am reading this thread with much interest.I have had vile peri-menopausal symptoms in varying degrees since age 38. The last 2 years so bad that I finally got bioidentical progesterone and DIM (buffers inversely raised oestrogen caused by low progesterone). Its helping but I have crazy hormones and have to be on top of how I feel to monitor the dose fluctuations to match. I tried Remifemin (?7 years ago) but I needed double the recommended dose and that gave me raised liver functions so I had to stop. I used to lift weights regularly and trained regularly in a martial art but the last 2 years my motivation has dropped in my boots so the gym has gone by the wayside and change in work shifts killed off the martial arts. My exercise now is heavy garden work, lots of walking at work and generally being active any way I can that is FUN! The lack of motivation is more debilitating I think than anything. Makes it hard to want to do anything, hard to get to the gym, even harder when you add in the bad winter we have had (Australia, SA)!

        About 1-2 years ago my partner & I dropped the processed grains (no more bread or pasta etc) and we don’t eat junk much anyway, never have, and that made a big difference to energy levels overall – no more afternoon brain fuzz and post-lunch sleepies!! We also added in more red meat to the food intake, and that has probably helped too. I can’t drop to low cars as I ache all over and can’t sleep, so we use sweet potato, white potato & rise for carbs and that helps, and eggs from my chooks! We are simple boring eaters and food is as important as fuel in the car! (pathetic!) But, I fortunately still remain the same weight as I was at 24. On the down side though, I have noticed the results of lack of weight training….floppy, less muscle density, just feel crap generally compared to 2 years ago! (how much is mental, hormones, physical, diet? Thats a hard one!)

        HOWEVER…I do recognise that surviving and being comfortable with the ageing process is as much mental as it is physical! Those oldies I see at work in their 80’s & 90’s who are thriving all have active social lives, regular exercise, eat fairly clean & don’t get all bent out of shape about wrinkles, the natural changes in shape as we age, and have a healthy mental approach to those changes. I am a work in progress, and need to kick my own butt as well! Lol!

          • Oh thanks for that info! I find the lack of motivation a killer! Hot sweats (swimming in wet sheets at night, all night) have settled (thank goodness!!) but for a once highly motivated overactive, sporty, driven overachiever, I am presently the opposite! I do understand why, and I know I need to kick my own arse….but I do find it hard to be bothered! Lol! My partner at least is in the same boat so we can commiserate with each other….then kick each other too. I might ask the docs about the testosterone! At least I know a great deal of this will eventually GO! Please, will it go??? Lolol!

  20. I too am in the same situation. I am 53 years old, teach six exercise classes a week, have been post menopausal since 2007 and despite eating healthy most of the time, my waist continues to grow. I am allergic to dairy so have been pretty much dairy free for 15 years. I have also been almost grain free for that amount of time. I do cheat every now and then and have a slice of ezekiel bread or my favorite cheat meal, Mexican food with chips and salsa. I am told often that I don’t look my age, so I don’t agree with statements that Paleo ages you.

    • I don’t agree that Paleo ages you either – I’m 55 and neither my body shape or face look anything like that. Eating a high nutrient plant based, low sugar, protein adequate diet is the best way to ward off aging

  21. I’m there with ya; I’ve found going carb free has really helped with the weight. Plus I’ve reached a good heavy weight range of lifting and am seeing a nice range of success with it.

    Aging sucks, but we’re all headed in the same direction.


  22. hi this website is very informative however I am possibly too far gone to regain any ground lost but am starting right now – was on heavy steroid treatment for brain surgery right at menopause (am 59 now) – gained twenty plus kgs -lost any desire for exercise (or sex) and struggle to have motivation – the cycle is a downward spiral but I feel a glimmer of hope now – I started maca two weeks ago and now searching for a good supply of progesterone which I will self medicate – my GP views my weight issue as related to diet only which has no effect except confuse my digestives and the neurosurgeon avoids discussing any possible side effects that I had from the treatment – so a very frustrating few years behind (literally) !

    Believe it or not I am pleased to read of other similar situations simply so I now know I am not alone – because I live with the part of tumour that was inoperable I try to keep exercise as controlled exertion to avoid possible fatal outcomes (warned by neurologist) although I do walk every day 10k upwards plus drink 2-3litres water – gluten free – vegetables raw and steamed – no dairy and no caffeine off and on – it does make a difference to weight gain I am sure – so started on dandelion tea, apple cider vinegar, ginger and ginseng recently for brain fog which has helped – I practice the intermittent fasting and lean toward Paleo – would like to consult with a good naturopath however have found my pockets empty and no results in the past so trying to do this myself now – any advice or comments gratefully received !

  23. I have an answer….might not be for everyone….worked for me.

    I am 51 years old and at the end stages of pre-menopause; almost into full fledge menopause…yeah, me!!! Every year for the past 10 years I have noticed that the scale and the belly fat (and back fat) were creeping up and on. Nothing touched it…not vegetarian, not vegan not even paleo touched the scale or the waist.

    That being said: in the past 2.5 months (yes, months) I have gone from a not-budging 134 to 112 lbs. No worry, no exercise (normal work load and no stress). How? I took the paleo diet one more step in the right direction….I put myself into nutritional ketosis. High fat, moderate protein and low, low, low, carbs. No hunger, no hot flashes, no waking up at night and the weight and belly are gone. For anyone interested check out Keto Clarity by Jimmy Moore.

    My guess is that the high workout load along with a “healthy” low fat diet is causing many of you guys to not loose the weight or the belly. You have to eat fat to loose fat. It worked for me and my husband. Now that I’m down to my ideal weight I can start building those ab muscles. Again, might not interest all but it works with your body and there are no negative side effects (except I threw out my size 6 out of frustration a year ago and I had to go buy some more). Good luck and best wishes for all.

  24. Since I am also having the problem with all of my weight in my stomach since I had a hysterectomy in 2007, I am interested in the ketosis option. How many carbs is low, low carbs? I teach six fitness classes a week, and I’m a little worried about not having enough energy if I limit my carbs too much.

  25. Hi ladies,
    Wow, you are all super healthy. I try to eat healthy but don’t do much exercise these days as I have 4 kids and a full time job. I am 42 and post menopausal (no periods for 14mths). Minor hot flushes for 2 years but other peri symptoms for about 6 years. I noticed a 2kg weight gain without changing anything. 51kg up to 53kg now. I just think that I’m eating too much. I wonder if we need to eat less as we get older? I’ve always been a big eater without putting on weight. I wonder if paleo woman just ate one small meal a day at this time in their lives especially since we no longer need to bleed or grow the uterus for a potential pregnancy. I haven’t tried to lose the weight but perhaps I will try a reduction in calories.

  26. Ok Im late to weigh in on this one but searching the page on the two main factors involved in menopuase – namely Iodine and Estrogen – I see many could do with a deeper understand of what menopause is and what its purpose is. Yes it has a purpose and treating the symptoms can actually make matters worse. So here’s an excerpt from Dr. Kruse on the menopause deal.

    “In women, iodine is also critical in making breast milk, tears and saliva. The higher your estrogen level, or the lower your SHBG level, the more likely your eyes, mouth, skin and vagina will be dry. You also won’t make a lot of breast milk to feed a child. Your ability to sweat will also be altered.

    I personally believe this is why women go through menopause now. It is because of their evolutionary design. No one seems to have a clue why menopause exists. I think I do. Women need to lower their estrogen levels as they age, to reclaim their total body iodine levels, to help them have a longer lifespan as they age, by being able to cool their surface semiconductors with sweat protecting the PUFA’s in synapses (DHA) from oxidation by increasing their ability to myelinate to increase their regenerative DC current by increasing their iodine absorption. This also helps explain why diabetic women have a higher incidence of peripheral neuropathy than men do. They have less myelin, so any further decline in iodine assimilation impairs ketogenesis to regenerate myelin and diminishes their ability to heal and regenerate. This is where the decreased immunity seen in diabetes rears its ugly head for those with metabolic syndrome.

    This also helps explain why women in menopause get hot flashes and night sweats. Iodine stimulates uncoupling proteins and it stimulates the sweat glands. When they had their menstrual period, they did not have the stimulatory effect of iodine, but now without their cycle they do, rather suddenly. It is not from a lack of estrogen, as most physicians believe, it is from more iodine in their bodies. Sweating is a new evolutionary design in hominids. Primates do not have the sweat gland we do. It is a change to the mammalian body plan unique to humans. This was done to be able to cool our bodies down to save energy, because they transmit energy when their surfaces are better cooled down by sweat because it increases semiconducting currents. In this way, they are able to return entropy back to the environment best by heat transfer from their dural venous system in their brains. This is why humans lose most of their heat through their head.

    Primates use vitamin C as an endogenous antioxidant but humans evolved to use iodine as their peripheral antioxidant. We have large brains so we have a lot more semiconductors to cool everywhere on our body. Iodine also helps lower the oxidation of DHA in synapses in humans. This is why the brain has its own thyroid hormone control system because we have way more semiconduction circuits in our brain. When we lose our iodine function in the brain we lose the ability to offset some of the inflammatory cytokines in the brain circuits. this is when we see high IL-6 levels in the brain and altered salivary cortisol and melatonin levels on lab assays. In the frontal lobes these change can cause ADHD or depression and in the leptin receptors it causes an inability to sense energy balance and leads to obesity. When humans become energy inefficient they usually gain weight, as I laid out in EMF 2 and recently in Energy and Epigenetics 4, using Kleiber’s law.

    Sweating is another buffer that we use to become more energy efficient, before we need to expand out fat mass to have the same effect. This is why women gain fat mass in menopause too. It happens because they are less energy efficient because of their loss of progesterone and prolactin from their hypothalamus. This reflex sweating, seen in humans, is done to cool down women’s newfound rediscovery of efficient semiconduction, as their estrogen levels fall in menopause. Women with hot flashes usually have abnormal sweating as a result. Once they acclimate to their new increased iodine absorption, their symptoms resolve because they adapt by increasing their myelination and their DC current improves. Many menopausal women get placed upon estrogen and sometimes their symptoms of hot flashes goes away, but so does their ability to reclaim iodine to myelinate. Here is where a supplement might not be wise. This implies they can alter their immune balance as they age. Iodine happens to increase neurogenesis in humans, so when iodine is low, cognitive haze is also a result. The brain has its own thyroid hormone system to control neurogenesis even if the body stores are low. This is an example of how the brain controls energy partitioning for itself, over vegetative systems that dominate in the thyroid gland to control the body. This pattern of energy distribution and loss is what we see in atoms too. Atoms tend to lose valence electrons before they lose nuclear protons.

    So if you get placed upon estrogen, or happen to be estrogen dominant for any reason at all, male or female, you may get cognitive haze. Iodine increases our ability to become ketotic to myelinate and regenerate our immune system and our brain because of the MHC 1 evolutionary connection. If you do not eat a ketotic diet when these changes happen these benefits will be hidden from you. For most of the blogosphere they remain a mystery.” http://jackkruse.com/energy-epigenetics-7/

    Hope some find this useful

  27. A bit more that should have been at the front of the above post.

    “Iodine, Estrogen and Ketosis: The Wake-Up Call for Menopausal Women

    Iodine is the link back to autoimmunity and the neurogenesis connection of the MHC 1 gene. Iodine absorption falls in the human gut when estrogen levels rise from any cause. This helps explain why women have much higher rates of autoimmune diseases like Multiple Sclerosis and hypothyroidism than men. It also explains why women have less myelin formation than men in adulthood. Remember from Energy and Epigenetics 1, we must be ketotic to make myelin in humans. Women have less iodine absorption by design. Women have higher estrogen levels to bear children. Lower levels of myelination allow women to be “more sensitive” to environmental triggers to pass that information to their offspring’s DNA. Myelination also happens to be a proxy for mammalian regeneration. This was proven by Robert O. Becker, as set forth in his The Body Electric Book. This now explains why women also make T2 thyroid hormone from their ovaries and breasts. This helps them offset their decrease ability to absorb iodine from their guts.

    Biology Geeks: Until recent years, T2, because of its very low affinity for thyroid hormone receptors (THR), was considered an inactive metabolite of thyroid hormones. However, several recent studies indicate that T2 is more important than originally thought. In fact, T2 is necessary for production of the deiodinase enzyme that converts the less active T4 into the potent T3 in the body. Early studies on diiodothyronine revealed its ability to stimulate cellular/mitochondrial respiration during the activation of the Pentose phosphate fat burning pathway by a receptor-independent pathway. Mitochondrial and energy-releasing mechanisms seem to be major targets of T2, although outside the mitochondria T2 also has effects on carriers, ion-exchangers, and enzymes.

    Significant increases in the liver actions of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase and malic enzyme were found in studies cited below. These enzymes are
    necessary for fat metabolism and liberation of energy in the form of beta oxidation. T2 exhibits significant increases in Growth Hormone release from the pituitary have been found in studies. Both T2 and T3 increased Growth Hormone release by 5-fold. This makes sense when you consider women need growth hormone to stimulate their breast and ovarian tissue for fertility and reproduction.” http://jackkruse.com/energy-epigenetics-7/

  28. So the above in a nutshell . . .

    1. Falling estrogen during menopause allows for increased iodine uptake.
    2. Increased iodine uptake stimulates uncoupling proteins.
    3. Uncoupling proteins allow you to burn energy as free heat (hot flashes)
    4. These hot flashes are the alternative to weight gain.
    5. The hot flashes will stop once you get used to the increased iodine levels.
    6. The cognitive haze will also abate with the higher iodine levels.
    7. The higher iodine levels help reclaim your longevity because:
    a) Iodine is a powerful antioxidant
    b) Coupled with a ketotic diet it allows re-myelination of nerves
    8. A ketotic diet is best during this time for myelination
    9. Increased myelination also allows for increased DC current of regeneration (Bowker)

    Note that almost anyone increasing iodine levels may experience hot flushes, headaches etc. until they get used to the increase – and many idodine supplementation protocols do in fact advocate a gradual increase in dosage for this reason.

    Just putting it out there so people might work with their physiology better lest they may be unknowingly working against it.

    • Personally I do not want to go on a ketogenic diet, I feel so much better with starchy root veg and little added fat to meals.
      Thanks for all your comments Sandy.

      I need to do a paleo menopause update, but briefly:

      I have very few hot flushes now.
      I take a little testosterone as cream each night – it’s made a massive difference to how I feel and increased my strength which was decreasing
      My weight is stable, I did gain about 1-2 kg, and a couple of cm on my waist, but no more. It stopped at this point
      I keep up weights and a boot camp programme – muscle mass is so important
      I’ve reduced stressors in my life (sent the teen to boarding school :))
      My thyroid seems to be stable – levothyroxine amount has not changed for over a year. TPO antibodies down on last measure – but could go down a lot further.
      Selenium daily helps.
      I am very disciplined with eating most of the time – but occasionally I go through a period where I just crave more food – that is when the weight goes on. Not sure what that is about yet. Then it passes and I eat better and weight goes down again.
      I sleep really well – unless I’m worrying about something.

      Will do a proper post soon 🙂

      • Julianne,
        With respect, if you have never gone on a Ketogenic diet, how could you be able to compare how you feel. I understand not wanting to try something (goodness knows I don’t want to try bungee jumping and feel better with my feet on the ground) but you really can’t compare how much “better” you feel on just Paleo if you’ve never been on the Keto diet for at least 30 days. Here’s my keto update:

        I have no hot flashes.
        I do not take any testosterone.
        My weight does not fluctuate.
        I do light walking, am on my feet all day (I work 6 days a week/ 10 hours a day in retail) and frankly, for not being toned I am a size 6.
        My thyroid, which was confirmed inactive in my 30s is functional today at 52. My doctor is confused.
        I do not take vitamins or any other supplement.
        I eat until I am satisfied. This satisfaction comes on fast since I eat a ton of fat with every meal.
        I have lost 20 of the last few pounds I had in two months, ALL in the tummy area. All without being hungry and all without trying.
        I don’t watch what I eat because what I eat allows my body to burn fat as fuel. Eating non-keto is like knowing your car burns gas but mixing a little gas with water and expecting it to run normally. It’s not going to happen even if the water contains vitamins.
        My blood sugar is stable at 69-79 and only rises to 89 when I enjoy an occasional sweet potato. Is it hard? No. Not because I have a high will power, I just don’t have the cravings. Sugar in any form breads cravings for sugar.

        I will always be grateful to Paleo for showing me where to start but this is the next step. The point has to be high fat/ low carb (0-5% a day) and only moderate protein. Keto could help a lot of folks out there (male or female)

      • Hi Julianne, How disciplined is disciplined? My friends would consider my diet disciplined by their standards but I wonder if I am is disciplined enough. My goal is to get through menopause with minimal if any weight gain. What is a normal portion size, how many times a day do you eat on average?

  29. Just to make it absolutely clear.

    The hot flashes are the burning off of excess energy that would otherwise be stored as fat. Once your body has learned to control this uncoupling process you should be able to burn off excess energy by generating bodyheat in a more consistent and controlled manner without the extreme flashes.

  30. Just a little more background

    :Women and Transgenerational Epigenetics

    During child bearing years, women are designed to be more sensitive to environmental triggers by evolutionary design, to pass environmental information on to their offspring. But once women have exhausted their egg supply from their ovaries, their estrogen levels plummet, and this allows them to increase the absorption of iodine from their gut. This is why an Epi-paleo Rx is vitally important to a post menopausal women. This is also why autoimmune diseases tend to improve as women become post-menopausal and when they are pregnant. Progesterone predominates in both situations, and it supports BDNF and NGF and myelin repair. It also will give many women pause before they jump to take birth control pills which mostly have some real or fake estrogens in them. This is also why breast cancer walks hand and hand with low iodine and low vitamin D levels. This is another reason I am not a big fan of estrogen replacement for post menopausal women, and I favor progesterone instead. Excessive carbohydrate diets cause us to raise estrogen levels in both sexes. Iodine and progesterone favor water retention, ketosis, and brain growth. This is why high progesterone levels are favored in the third trimester of human pregnancy. This also supports myelin regrowth and ketogenesis that you read about in Energy and Epigenetics 1. Consistent high progesterone also favors subcutaneous fat growth for the child, so a women can not go hog wild with exogenous progesterone supplementation in menopause. Women need ketosis more then men do as they age, because of these factors. I have been consistent at saying this for some time, but now in this series it may have a new meaning for you ladies. Fat men have the same needs because they have excess estrogen due to the aromatization of testosterone by fat cells.”

    As a guy in my mid/late 40s, I drink green tea as an aromatase inhibitor to try to help conserve testosterone and keep estrogen levels down.

    • Wow Sandy. I think I should print out your comments & bring thm to my MD. I’m sorry I’m not a medical professional & you lost me. Are you saying (just so I can understand?) Get rid of all carbs, try to bear with the sweats, use progesterone in some dosage? I’m not too worried about having the body of a 25 year old. I’d like to drop 30-40 lbs. I’m 50 & still have regular periods, but notice the furnace firing at night from time to time.I’m following Paleo/whole foods – no dairy, soy, gluten, extra sugar, corn, grains. No processed foods from a factory. I don’t excersize as I should. Have recently become more strict & cut out alchohol. in 3 weeks I’ve only lost 5 LBS…2 years ago It would have been 10. I’m a bit worried as these lovely ladies are warriors compred to me! Am I screwed? (sorry). I don’t know what a “aromatase inhibitor” is. I’ll start doing my planks again THAT is for sure!!

    • Sandy, Thank you for the links I’ll have a look. I love seafood so adding more isn’t an issue 🙂 Luckily for me, I have friends that fish often in the Summer. They are happy to share their catch as long as I listen to the story about the one that got away! Fair trade for free fish.

  31. A pertinent post although reading all the comments has left me a little unsure of what action to take. Even on paleo my weight has always swung about 2 to 3 kg, seemingly without explanation although I now think it is related to sleep and stress. I am 50, had a hysterectomy at 42 and for the last few years have had relatively short bouts of night sweats from time to time, nothing that I felt especially bothered by. Now with 3 months of working 7 days,doing 6 days a week of Crossfit and a month of poor sleep and night sweats and I have gained 4 kgs around my tummy. I am a bit worried about continuing to gain weight and wonder if I haven’t mucked my hormones up with too much stress on my body. I have a two year contract and I am doing a PhD so the opportunity to reduce work hours for the next 20 months is limited. I am considering bioidentical hormone replacement and have just had blood tests done to check inbalances. I am also going to experiment with reducing the number of days of cross fit to 5 or even 4 days a week. Does any one have a comparable experiences or suggestions?

  32. Julianne – just wanted to thank you for starting this thread! There is so little available on this subject.

    Thanks also to all of you who have posted. Thanks especially to Sandy for the good info on the processes at play during menopause. So much info here to sift through, but much of it looks very helpful. I recently realized my LF, low-cal raw vegan diet of the past 3 years was completely lacking in iodine and began supplementing with drops but did not ease into a higher dosage. Suddenly I started flushing every 1/2 hour, which is not fun. Love the idea that I am burning calories and fat during these bouts, but would be a lot happier without them. I will cut back on the iodine a then gradually work back up while working with my ND and monitoring levels. I’m also battling depressed Mg and Fe, but supplements seem to be working.

    • Here are some good tips from Metabolic effects https://pa136.infusionsoft.com/app/hostedEmail/21066702/9d20254875ac5f95?inf_contact_key=332a44e62ff0ad5306922c432e02e77d9267c478afdef26bdbe35951f48523d4
      One of the most distressing things about menopause is the spread of weight to the middle. Even women who do not gain much weight during this time notice increased fat storage around the middle and/or a more difficult time getting rid of menopausal belly fat.


      There are three main reasons triggered by the loss of estrogen and progesterone. They are:

      1) Insulin levels rise. This is because insulin makes the female body more insulin sensitive and when it is gone, insulin resistance sets in causing increased hunger and increased fat storage.

      2) Cortisol impact rises. This is because estrogen and progesterone are anti-cortisol hormones and without them the menopausal female becomes exquisitely sensitive to stress.

      3) Dopamine, serotonin & GABA levels change. These brain chemicals are closely tied to estrogen and progesterone. They impact mood, hunger and cravings. This makes it more likely a menopausal woman will eat more and feel less satisfied all during a time where any extra calories will be stored in the middle of the body.

      A Story

      In order to deal with this you have to STOP treating your body like it is a 25 year old male bodybuilder or a 30 something female fitness model.

      Here is a story of a client of mine. Let’s call her Debbie. She was 47 and loved to exercise and was a health and fitness fanatic. She was three years into the menopausal change and was incredibly distraught about what was happening to her body.

      In her case she was not gaining weight, but her body was changing. She was getting softer and flabbier all over and noticed a fat distribution shift from her butt and thighs to her midsection.

      When she came to me she had gained almost 4 inches around her midsection despite doing 2 to 4 extra hours of exercise a week compared to three years prior. She had also just had a bone scan show she was showing early signs of osteoporosis.

      Here is what a typical day in her life looked like:

      Mon-Wed-Fri= Crossfit
      Tuesday-Thursday= Bikram Hot Yoga
      Saturday & Sunday= 3 mile run

      Her diet consisted of a paleo style diet. Lots of eggs and bacon and coconut oil & butter. Lots of salads and vegetables and low starch eating. Except she kept finding herself overindulging in wine and chocolate on most nights of the week. She also could not sleep.

      The Fix?

      The solution for Debbie was a pretty dramatic turn around. But before I tell you what we did, lets cover why.

      Here is how to deal with the three issue above:

      1) To deal with insulin balance carbs. Not too much, but not too little either. The trick is just the correct amount at just the right time.

      Debbie’s change? We added a large helping of carbohydrates at night. We kept her diet the same otherwise.

      2) To deal with cortisol. It is about switching from exercise to rest, recovery and relaxing movement while doing something to raise HGH to keep the body tight and protect muscle and bone.

      Debbie’s change? We took away her running. Moved Crossfit to twice per week only and had her walk every day as well as do hot epsom salt baths and/or sauna as often as possible.

      3) To deal with the brain chemistry changes. You need something that can raise these brain chemicals back up.

      Debbie’s solution. After dinner, she had a cocoa drink much like our new ME Craving Cocoa. She made this with organic cocoa, cinnamon, and unsweet almond milk.

      What happened?

      Almost immediately Debbie started to sleep better and her nighttime sweet and alcohol habit disappeared. It took about another 3 weeks for her to see any other changes, but then she started to notice a quick turn around. Over the next 4 weeks she lost close to 4 inches in her waist, almost the exact amount menopause had caused her to gain!!

      Her weight? Barely changed at all. Pretty remarkable right?

  33. I was so pleased to find Julianne’s page as there appears to be very little information for menopausal or older women. I was also ‘softening’ and thickening around my mid-section without an lifestyle explanation which I found quite distressing. I followed some of Julianne’s suggestions and while while I feel like I need to keep a really fine balance, my weight stopped creeping and my body is shifting back to my previous lean and muscular.

    I cut cross-fit back to 5 times a week with no more than 3 consecutive days (felt counter-intuitive to train less but is working), I walk most days, got a standing desk and added starchy veg to one meal a day, usually the evening, added more protein to breakfast and finally (after much procrastination) added bone broth and probiotics such as kefir and fermented veg. Epsom salt foot-bath before bed and Metagenics Femme Oestroplex seemed to have knocked the periodic night sweats and fragmented sleep on the head.

    It seems that a tailored fine-tuning of a Paleo lifestyle is needed for each woman depending on their bodies and circumstances.

    Thanks again Julianne, great page and info.

  34. I am having the same issues. I had a hysterectomy in 2007 and have been on the vivelle dot patch since early 2008. A year ago I started putting on weight and have now gained 20 pounds. I went to a dietitian in the Spring, and she indicated I probably have a hormone imbalance of some kind. She prescribed a vitamin regimen, milk thistle, vitamin D drops, Omega 3, CLA and iodine. It has not helped and I’ve gained 5 more pounds. I workout 4-5 days a week, doing PiYO twice a week ( a fast paced combination of yoga and pilates), lift weights 2-3 days and do 20-30 minutes of light cardio 3-4 days. I tried doing nothing but light weights and walking for a few weeks, but gained weight during that time as well. I drink Shakeology (a healthy mix of fruits, vegetables and protein), for breakfast, 1% cottage cheese mid-morning, either stir fry with brown rice or quinoa or a salad with chicken, sometimes a little cheese, and homemade dressing (vinegar and olive oil or homemade with almond milk), dinner is generally a lean meat of some kind with a vegetable. Sometimes I eat a baked sweet potato for dinner. I have an apple with natural peanut butter in the afternoon, almonds or low fat greek yogurt. I rarely eat sweets. I do allow myself to indulge in a glass of red wine on Friday and Saturday nights. I actually completely did away with the wine for two months and didn’t lose a pound. I am beyond frustrated. I weighed myself this morning and was up 5 more pounds from when I weighed myself two months ago. I might add that I am also up two bra cup sizes which I know is from the weight gain.

  35. I’ve never been a fitness buff. But, I’ve always been tall and lean (5’8″-or 173cm and around 150 pounds or 68 kg) despite having 8 natural childbirths.

    Widowed at 38, los t a child in a house fire at 41, had child #8 4 months later. All that triggered Lupus. Ick.

    Past 2 years strictly paleo. Weight stayed same, but got tireder and groggier, and slower in mind, body, and spirit.

    My mom died a couple months ago and made it all worse so I started the popular Thrive by Le-vel. It helped a ton. But…

    No periods for 4 months now and my belly is gross. I look 7 months pregnant all the time, none of my clothes fit, and I’m miserable. I started walking at yoga for the first time EVER -but only twice a week.

    I still have 4 teens at home, a 7 year old, an alcoholic husband, I teach full time, no money, all stress, no mama (boo-hoo—feel sorry for me, hahaha) and I’m about to chuck it all and just devour 10 Hershey bars and a gallon of whiskey and buy all new second hand clothes in size 28.

    Please tell me there is hope. Please tell me the walking and yoga will help.

    I cry daily. And avoid mirrors. I gross myself out.

  36. Aww…it sounds like you have so much going on. Wow. your stress level must be through the roof! With out money it’s hard. Sounds like exercise will help. I’m sure a good MD can check various hormone levels & adjust. Let us know what you’re trying & if it helps. I bet there are many who would benefit from your experience. I vote no to the chocolate & whiskey.

  37. It seems the amount of ‘help’ women get from medical people, social etc, varies a lot depending on where you live. My doctor has been relatively useless over the years. From misdiagnosing, to refusing (needed) treatment, to refusing tests and/or referrals to specialists being just a small sample.
    After years of struggles, I eventually got the needed Thyroxine replacement, only for the doctor to mess up my prescription, leaving me dangerously under-medicated. Followed by even more issues as I approached menopause. My symptoms were shrugged off by the medic as ‘probably’ menopausal. As it happened, they were not. I suffered further years before – finally – a multitude of ailments were diagnosed. I needed urgent surgery on 2 of them, and medication for 2 others. Yikes.
    Why didn’t the medical people take me or my symptoms seriously? Probably because I’m a single Mom, caring for my severely disabled son. For many years, symptoms were dismissed as ‘stress’ or something related to being ‘overwhelmed’ as a single Mom. My Hypothyroid was dismissed as ‘something read in a woman’s magazine’. Yes, the doctor actually said that.
    So here I am, after all these years, still struggling to get the doctors to take my symptoms seriously.
    I recently lost my younger brother to cancer; the same type that claimed several other relatives. But still my doctor says ‘irritable bowel’ because ‘everyone has it’. What does it take?
    Anyway, to cut to the point, I have had to take charge and seek help directly from the specialists – self-referral – and also radical change to my diet. I’ve been following the prescribed diet without any beneficial results. And from my research, it’s clear that the high carbohydrate/low fat recommended is by far the worst I could have been following. High Cortisol levels, Insulin resistant etc. (Also diabetes in the family)
    Luckily my veg and protein intakes are good (but only because I ignored the doctors instruction on that bit). And thankfully, I came across these postings to offer insight, info and guidance to help me adapt to my new Keto lifestyle in menopause and beyond.
    Notes: I used to be super-fit; swimming and lifting weights; 118lb of mini muscle. I miss that.
    Best wishes to Kathleen. Do what you need to, to get where you want to be. x

  38. Hello everyone I’m 48 and over the last 2 years I have got so frustrated with gaining this kangaroo pouch. I love there rest of me but I have never ever strugglEd with this. I work out hard with Olympic lifting and crossfit & I have tried paleo, zone and other things. I lost weight o zone but not that dang pouch. Any suggestions?

    • I don’t have an answer sorry – I think it is linked to hormonal changes. The best I’ve found for me is reducing stress, doing enough exercise but not doing stressful amounts – Crossfit knocked me around too much. A high protein high vegetable and lower fat paleo also work better for me – that is mainly protein and veggies.

  39. This is an older thread, but I am going to chime in. I am just now 40. I am about 5’3″ and always looked pretty good around 125-130 lbs. I was a size 4-6 at that weight (dense bones, thank God). I had a partial hysterectomy 5-6 years ago and packed on over 20 pounds within a year or two. At my heaviest I was 158. Paleo has helped lose about half of that. I weight train 2-3 days a week for about an hour and am fairly active on the weekends. I do have hypothyroid, which compounds things. I do think I am carrying quite a bit more muscle than fat, as I lift pretty heavy for a female, but I can’t seem to get the love handles to budge. I have been eating more recently, and I am almost positive my blood sugar is back up. I’ve been craving ice cream, which I usually don’t do, unless pregnant. I get night sweats lately and they wake me up. My cycle is not as regular as it used to be, and the symptoms of PMS are more pronounced recently. Just a few observations:

    I do think hormones are responsible for the way we use food, both fats and carbohydrates in particular. Conversely I think diet has a huge impact on our hormones. Research supports this.

    A few extra pounds, up to 10 for most people, does have a protective effect. I am a nurse, and the patients with a few extra pounds seem to recover faster and with fewer setbacks after prolonged illness, injury, or surgery. Go too far in either direction weight wise and that effect changes.

    Since paleo stalled me out around 140 pounds, I added exercise. My intake has increased apace with this. Of course, my muscle mass has noticeably increased, as well. I am now between 142-145 lbs and can lift almost as much as when I was in high school. My butt and legs look pretty good, if a little thicker than pre-hysterectomy. Interestingly, anytime I do much cardio, I wind up with intense food cravings and hunger, so I try to avoid it.

    Since my hysterectomy, my back pain has increased quite a bit. I have spinal stenosis and sciatica, and it has gotten quite a bit worse with the hormone changes. I think my estrogen production has decreased quite a bit the past 2-3 years. Again, the weight training helps with this and the added muscle mass and strength helps compensate for the spinal deterioration.

    Since I would like to lose another 10 pounds, I am thinking it might be time to visit the OB/Gyn and talk about HRT and see if this is my missing piece. The endometrium does play a role in hormone production, and mine is gone.

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