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Updated: Nov 18, 2023

If you're approaching or over 40 and getting into the perimenopause season of life (totally normal and natural) and finding that what used to work for you no longer is, all while gaining more weight around your midsection no matter what you have changed, or haven't you might be left wondering... what's going on?

Well, if you are gaining weight for no apparent reason, your hormones are likely to blame.

Here are 6 common signs of hormonal weight gain.

1. Despite eating clean, healthy foods, you’re still gaining weight

2. You're experiencing "moodiness" more frequently

3. You’re too stressed

4. You want to sleep more but don't feel rested

5. You crave sugar way more than you might normally

Despite eating clean, healthy food, you're still gaining weight.

This kind of rapid weight gain usually occurs around your waist and in the belly area. If you are eating clean and still packing on the belly fat, it's time to look at your hormones.

You're moody frequently.

Hormonal weight gain brings with it a cocktail of emotions. You may notice that you are sadder or more frustrated than usual. Chances are that your moods have been affected because your hormones are all over the place. Hormonal mood swings affect both younger and older women.

You're too stressed.

Your adrenal glands are responsible for secreting cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol also plays a role in regulating your body's metabolism, managing inflammation, and regulating blood sugar levels. When you are too stressed, the adrenal glands will produce more cortisol in your body. High cortisol levels mean an increased appetite, high blood sugar, and of course, belly fat.

stressed woman in perimenopause, weight gain

You want to sleep more.

Do you often find yourself constantly wanting a nap? A poor sleeping pattern can lead to many health effects, from lack of muscle gain to increasing your appetite.

Lack of sleep affects three main hormones:

· Cortisol (the stress hormone).

· Leptin (the hormone responsible for making you feel sated when you eat).

· Ghrelin (the appetite hormone).

This means you'll find yourself feeling more stressed and eating more, leading to rapid weight gain.

You crave sugar.

Everyone wants a cookie now and then. That's normal. However, if you can barely function without your daily sugar-fix, your cravings are likely caused by hormonal imbalance issues. Chances are you are dealing with leptin resistance. Leptin is the hormone that is responsible for regulating your appetite. It tells your brain when you have had enough to eat. When your brain ignores leptin signals, you have leptin resistance. Leptin resistance leads to weight gain [4]. Talk to your doctor if you do not feel full despite eating big meals.

You may also be dealing with insulin imbalance. If you are experiencing sugar cravings, sudden weight gain, and lack of focus, the insulin level in your blood may be too high. If you are concerned about insulin issues, bring them up with your doctor.


Apart from hormonal reasons, here are a few other reasons why you could be gaining weight:

Unhealthy eating habits.

There’s no argument that most foods saturated with trans-fat, sodium, and refined sugars are bad for you. Therefore, try eating less of such foods and replace them with high-protein and fiber-rich snacks.

weight gain, perimenopause

Too many calories.

You may want to keep a food diary or have a calorie counter to help manage your daily diet. However, if you struggle with eating disorders, tracking what you eat may be triggering. If so, consider focusing on mindful eating instead.

One too many cocktails… drinking calories!

Alcohol is full of empty calories. It also lowers your inhibitions, making it harder for you to say no to another round or another plate. On top of that, it places additional stress on your liver and digestive system. All these factors can lead to weight gain. So, drink less, drink water between drinks, and know your limits.

Lack of exercise.

If you are eating and not burning those calories, it adds up and leads to weight gain. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, consider adding movement to your daily routine. Go for a walk, dance, or jog around the house. It'll be a huge help!

Vitamin D deficiency.

Some studies have shown a link between obesity and vitamin D deficiency. Of course, getting more Vitamin D won't make you magically shed the extra weight. However, if you think you are deficient, talk to your doctor about supplementation.


So, what can you do about hormonal weight gain? Well, your plan of action will depend on what hormones are out of whack. However here is how you can start tackling hormonal weight gain:

Chill out.

When you are stressed, your body produces lots of cortisol to help alleviate the stress. That's why cortisol is called the stress hormone. Chronic stress can lead to weight gain insulin resistance, among other issues. Therefore, your first step to dealing with hormonal weight gain is to deal with the cause of your stress. Meditate, do yoga, practice mindfulness. Whatever you do, try to relax. The less stressed you feel, the better.

Get some rest.

If you have poor sleeping habits, it's time to work on that.

People who sleep less have been shown to have higher BMIs. Try to get 7 or 8 hours of sleep a night. This will help regulate your hormones, returning your system to a healthy rhythm. Your body and your brain need to rest and reset.

This is the only way to get your hormones back in working order.

sleep, perimenopause, hormone balance, hormone nutrition balancing, weight gain

Eat less sugar.

When trying to regulate your hormones, there is no room for blood sugar spikes. A low glycemic diet (packed with foods that take longer to be turned into sugar) is a great way to start the journey towards taming your weight gain. Women who gain a hormonal belly due to PCOS have also shed extra weight by consuming less sugar. As you eat less sugar, consume more protein and fiber simultaneously. This winning combination is a sure-fire way of dealing with that rapid weight gain.

Drink less alcohol.

Studies have shown that alcohol consumption affects hormones in several ways. Research has demonstrated how it boosts estrogen levels in premenopausal women. If you suspect that you might be having hormonal weight gain, try ditching the alcohol for about a month. Does it make a difference? If it does, then you have found your culprit! No more evening glasses of vino for you!

Eat more hormone-balancing foods.

Your diet also plays a significant role in your hormonal health. When hormones like insulin go out of whack, your body reacts by storing too much fat or even developing type 2 diabetes.

The good news is that regularly eating high-fiber foods can help resolve this. Buy and eat more hormone-balancing foods like lean proteins, chickpeas, broccoli, and sour cherries.


If you found this information helpful and would like to get a copy of my FREE 17 page Hormonal Weight Gain Guide PDF that comes with a 3-day hormone diet plan to help you jump-start your efforts, please click below.

Download PDF • 294KB

If you'd like some 1 on 1 personal support related to fitness through perimenopause, nutrition guidance and how to get a handle on things please reach out or feel free to book a coaching call with me. You won't regret it!

Book a 30 or 60 minute coaching call with me: HERE

Have a blessed day in health,

Julie xo

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