Causes Of Midlife Weight Gain & Ways To Avoid It

Many of us struggle with the midlife weight gain problem. Now, what exactly causes midlife weight gain and how to avoid midlife weight gain? To know about these, read the following sections of the article.

Causes Of Midlife Weight Gain & Ways To Avoid It

Causes Of Midlife Weight Gain:

There are several reasons why weight gain happens during midlife and probably related to aging, menopause and the loss of the ovarian hormone estrogen in women. Due to the changes in hormones, the lean body mass reduces with age in women and men; and also because of changes in lifestyle (More of inactivity during midlife). As we age, we lose muscle mass, and we burn fewer calories at rest and also when we exercise. This is why you may weight gain may occur during your midlife. Know about it in a clearer manner and also about several other causes of midlife weight gain in the current section.

Metabolism Slows Down Due To Muscle Loss:

With aging, our calorie requirements reduce. This is because as we age, the muscle mass start to decrease, especially if we begin to deteriorate our exercise habits. We know that muscle burns more calories than fat. So, having fewer muscle mass means, we burn fewer calories. If we continue eating the same amount of calories as we used to eat before midlife, those excess calories now will get stored up as our body fat. This is what typically referred to as a slower metabolism of our body

Moreover, as there is a reduction in the estrogen hormone in a woman’s body, her body’s metabolism begins to slow down further. This happens at a rate of about 5% every 10 years. This slower metabolism of the body will result in gaining you more of weight.

Due To Stress Or Overeating:

Many of us eat more during our midlife, than we used to eat before our midlife or during our young age. This may be an emotional eating or maybe because we are stressed out. The high and low phases that can be commonly experienced during menopause phase can result in more irregular eating behavior and cravings for foods that are high in fat, or the comfort foods. More over other mid-life problems such as shifting to new place, job change or a divorce, or similar other problems may be causing the stress. In addition, when the estrogen hormone levels are normal, they act in supressing the appetite. However, during menopause or midlife periods, there is a decline in the level of estrogen hormone, which can actually increase a woman’s appetite.

Cortisol hormone is also released due to stress and elevated levels of the hormone cortisol can contribute to abdominal weight gain and also elevated glucose levels and levels of insulin.

Because Of Inactivity:

Due to physical inactivity there is a loss of muscle mass. So, as you may be losing half a pound of muscle mass each year, you may also find that you are gaining fat of one and half pounds. It is important not to avoid exercise or physical activities, due to any occasional pains and aches that we all start to feel during midlife

Due To Deficiency In Calcium And Vitamin D:

Calcium and Vitamin D deficiency also result in midlife weight gain. Recent research studies show that when women having calcium and vitamin D deficiency, were supplemented with 1000 mg calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D, they became 11% less likely to gain weight. In addition, it was also found that there the bone loss was slowed down and the risk of fractures from Osteoporosis was also lowered with this supplementation.

Other Causes Of Midlife Weight Gain:

Few other factors also play role in midlife weight gain. Certain medications, such as antidepressants (which are commonly prescribed to midlife women and men) can also promote weight gain.

Apart from this, during midlife age, there may be sleep disturbances and problems with mood and that may affect the ability to adhere to a healthy diet and regular exercise program. This in turn may lead to midlife weight gain.

How To Avoid Midlife Weight Gain?

Consume Fewer Calories Daily:

Give up dessert or sweet dishes, iced coffee drinks and try to consume fewer calories daily. However, make sure not to cut down the calorie intake rapidly or drastically, as your body will respond by conserving energy and your body’s metabolism will further slow down. So, reduce the calorie intake slowly. Be sure to consume fewer high-fat foods and consume more of nutritionally dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains, fiber-rich foods, and low-fat dairy products.

One more way to keep the body’s metabolism speeding along is to eat several times daily. Eating a healthy snack in between your meals can keep your metabolism be active along and this can help you prevent overeating primary meals. Apart from this, drink a lot of water that helps you feel full.

Relax With Healthy Stress Reduction:

As we already talked above that stress can also be the reason of midlife weight gain, you need to try out ways to deal with the common stress issues. Do not adopt bad habits only because you are stressed. Learn to relax and also to deal stress in a healthy manner, by some relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga and working out at the gym.

Stay Active:

Physical inactivity during midlife can also cause weight gain in you. So you must stay active. Combine aerobic exercise and activities such as, walking, biking and hiking, which keep you feeling younger, stronger and also more active, with a strength-training regimen.

Strength training will help you build lean muscle mass, which in turn will help you burn more calories. The aerobics will get your heart pumping and also help you enhance your body’s metabolism. Set as your goal of working out at least 30 minutes every day.

Exercise or any other kind of physical activity not only helps in preventing midlife weight gain but also help in the production of increased level of LDL or the good cholesterol, which reduces LDL or the bad cholesterol, lowers the risk of diabetes, and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.

Take Calcium And Vitamin D:

We already know that vitamin D and calcium deficiency may result in midlife weight gain. So, apart from exercise, you also need to take calcium and vitamin D supplements or foods rich in calcium and vitamin D.

Choose Healthy Eat Habits:

It is true that, what we eat really matters! Diet is always important and it is the key part of being healthy. However, in midlife it can be exclusively important in keeping the extra belly fat at bay. Choose a healthy eating habit that works for you and your lifestyle and make sure it is one you can stick to. Find out the best foods that suits you and for your age and lifestyle.

Eat More Of Fiber- Rich Foods:

It is true that fiber fills you up. However, fiber itself does not provide any calories because your body cannot absorb or digest it. As per a German study, it was found that for every gram of fiber that we eat, we eliminate about 7 calories. This implies, consuming 35 grams of fiber every day could essentially eliminate 245 calories. Fruits and vegetables that have an edible skin or seeds or lentils, beans, and whole grains including oats, popped popcorn and wild rice, are best sources of fiber that you can add to your daily diet.

Consume More Of Plant-Based Diets:

It is good to go vegetarian. If not full time, even part-time vegetarian meals can help you avoid weight loss during midlife.

Replace Concentrated Sources Of Calories:

Always chose fresh, whole foods than the processed versions. For example, you can eat 1 cup of fresh strawberries for the same number of calories in just 1 tablespoon of strawberry jam.

Maintain A Journal:

Keeping a food journal can double the weight-loss result. One reason why it is very effective is that, many of us get into a habit of a lot of mindless eating, or take more of food than we actually require as per our physical activity and age. So, maintaining a journal keeps you aware, and can allow you to identify any sort of unhealthy eating patterns or habits and help in changing them and replacing with the healthier eating patterns.

Start Early:

The basic formula for maintaining a healthy weight during midlife is to remain active, eat more healthfully, and exercise more before the midlife phase. So, start checking your weight early and maintain a healthy lifestyle far before you reach your midlife.


It is true that midlife weight gain is a common and frustrating problem during midlife, and it can also result in obesity and increased risk of chronic medical conditions. So, understanding the underlying causes of midlife weight gain is very important and also lifestyle modification and other practices to prevent or get rid of midlife weight gain, is highly important. Talk to your doctor if you suffer from excessive weight gain during your midlife that must be strictly checked.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 17, 2019

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