If you're over 40 you may have noticed some pretty major physical changes. One of those is our belly areas storing more fat than usual and all the things we have usually done in the past not shifting it.

This is because when you hit perimenopause (generally for any woman over the aged of 40) our metabolism starts to slow down thanks to dropping oestrogen levels which in turn leads to (male hormone) androgen dominance.

Studies suggest that this can cause metabolic syndrome in perimenopause and menopausal women.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions, (including a larger waist circumference - Ed) that together raise your risk of coronary heart diseasediabetesstroke, and other serious health problems.
Metabolic syndrome is also called insulin resistance syndrome.[Source}

Perimenopausal hormonal imbalances may also cause new cravings.

As we move through perimenopause, body mass is also shifting, from fat being deposited to our hips to our abdomen.  This is thanks to decreased oestrogen levels that would usually signal that fat needs to be dropped on our hips thankyouverymuch.

We've heard from many women that the belly fat factor of peri can be really upsetting.  Much like the puberty years we experienced back in our teens where we had to slowly accept the changes in our bodies, slowly coming to terms with the changes that come with peri will serve you well.

 What can really help is to look at all the ways your body has, and continues to, serve you over the years and now.  Notice the things you have done and can do thanks to your body. It's pretty incredible when you think about it.

Whilst acceptance is definitely a factor when it comes to our peri bodies, it's also important to look at what you can do to support your body to minimise any health risk factors.

How To Increase Your Metabolism in Perimenopause

  1. Daily Movement - we're talking movement that brings you joy - let's face it, we have enough chores to flippin' do!  Whatever that fun thing is that involves moving your body, do that.  Every day.

    It might be something like yoga, walking with friends, swimming, dancing in the lounge room, getting back into ballet...

    As well, wherever you can, fit in incidental exercise everyday like taking the stairs not the lift, parking in the furthest away spot in the supermarket carpark, parking your car 30 minutes from work and walking in instead.   

    It’s really more about the incidental exercise you do every day than the 3 times a week you go to gym and do 30 mins on the treadmill.

    A note about high intensity exercise:  if high intensity exercise is your thing, remember that recovery is just as important as the gym days - you must give your body time to rest and recover.   If you are stressing out your body with too much exercise you could be increasing your cortisol levels which in turn can cause weight gain.

    There's some helpful info here and here about exercise in Perimenopause.

  2. Protein with every meal including snacks - as we age our muscle mass starts to decrease, so we need to increase our protein intake to maintain what we have.

    Muscle mass is important to protect our bones from injury and maintain our metabolism particularly as we age.

    New research from researchers at the University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre suggests as we age we naturally crave more protein and if we don’t consume enough protein, we will keep craving more calories until we get what they need. Read more here about the importance of Protein in Peri.

  3. Enjoy nutrient-rich carbs but don't overdo it - find the right balance with your macronutrients. Make sure you are having enough protein and not over consuming carbs from nutrient deficient sources such as cakes, white bread, pasta and biscuits. 

    We need carbs in peri so pick the ones that are going to pack a nutrition-punch and help you feel good such as sweet potatoes and pumpkins. 

  4. Reduce stress levels and inflammation - this is a massive one.

    Focusing where you can on reducing stress levels and inflammation in the body will help you manage weight gain.  We know it's easier said than done sometimes - life is oh-so-stressful.  Sometimes it can be taking a moment and making a decision that your health and wellbeing is now your #1 priority (where it may have been waaaayyyy down the priority list for many, many years).

    Eating a diet high in vegetables, berries, turmeric, oily fish, nuts and seeds such as chia and flaxseeds will help reduce inflammation. You could also consider taking in a yoga class, breath work and meditation to decompress from our busy lives.

    Our Peri Chai Latte is loaded with inflammation-busting turmeric. Find out more here.

  5. Cut out the sugar - too much sugar can trigger for hormonal imbalances which can as we know, lead to belly fat and bloating. Get those sugar cravings in check and support your hormonal system as you move through perimenopause.  More here about sugar in peri.

  6. Prioritise Sleep - As many of us will know, perimenopause can be a challenging time for sleep, making it hard to fall sleep and stay asleep. 

    Getting good sleep helps release the hormone leptin. Leptin helps regulate the long-term balance between your body's food intake and energy use. It helps prevent hunger and regulate energy balance so that your body doesn't trigger a hunger response when it doesn't need energy. When you don’t get a good night's sleep the body is more prone to releasing the hormone ghrelin which is know as the hunger hormone and the cause of unhelpful cravings.

    SheBANG!'s Peri Chai Latte and Peri Hot Choccy Sleep 'n' Soothe have been formulated by SheBANG!'s Clinical Nutritionist to target a great night sleep for perimenopausal women.

Doing Everything but Nothing Changing? 

1. Get Your Thyroid Checked 

If you're doing all the right things and just not getting anywhere, see your GP and request a blood test to get your thyroid hormone checked out including your antibodies.

The thyroid's main function is to manage your metabolism, so if it’s out of whack it could be causing you weight gain.  Hypothyroidism is common in women of perimenopausal age.

2. You Could Be Insulin Resistant

Insulin resistance in perimenopasual women is common and a big topic in perimenopausal health. 

Insulin Resistance can develop because of the weight gain around our middles and when testosterone and androgen hormones are more dominant than oestrogen and progesterone.

As oestrogen and progesterone have anti-inflammatory and metabolism stimulating properties, being perimenopausal and menopausal can put you at risk of insulin resistance.

When we eat, our digestive system breaks down our foods into glucose, amino acids and fatty acids. Insulin is the hormone that promotes the absorption of glucose (our main energy source) from the blood into the liver, fat and skeletal muscle cells to make us function.

When there is insulin resistance there is a build-up of blood glucose and the cells of our bodies don’t get the energy they need. Our brain then signals that we are still hungry, which can lead to weight gain.

Testing for Insulin Resistance

When testing for Insulin resistance you need to ask your health professional for a fasting insulin or an oral glucose tolerance test (GTT) with insulin. 

Find out more about Insulin Resistance in Perimenopause.


Love and support your changing peri body: 

  • Move her daily
  • Eat truckloads of whole foods
  • Reduce stress levels wherever you can and
  • Prioritise sleep.

    Focus on a healthy weight range as any weight gain in your peri years will go to your abdomen and extra weight around the abdomen will turn in to insulin resistance which in turn can turn into diabetes and other metabolic syndrome conditions and worsen perimenopausal symptoms.





Relative Androgen Excess During the Menopausal Transition Predicts Incident Metabolic Syndrome in Mid-Life Women: SWAN


November 20, 2022 — Angela Greely

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