Forgive me if I am stating the obvious here. The likelihood is that if you’re reading this, you’ve researched the menopause front to back.
Whether you are peri-menopausal or comfortably (or not so comfortable) into the menopause, this post is for you to add (positevly) to your bundle of research.
You see, in my coaching I draw my methods primarily from an evidence-based perspective. Sprinkle in a little more compassion and holistic perspective – and bam. That’s me. And for those who are reading this post, I am offering a 3 free week coaching trial! More information on that at the end of the post – so stay tuned.
Alongside Jacqui’s (for those of you who don’t know.. AKA my Mother) aromatherapy recommendations for support during menopause, these nutritional considerations should be taken into account.
It turns out, women are complex
The issue with being an “evidence based coach” and working with women,
Is that researchers are a bit stingy when it comes to studying specifically women.
And that’s because we are a complex bunch and hormonally, no two are the same.
Think about it – I’m sure you’ve experienced different menopausal symptoms to our other friends.
So it’s not so simple to conduct research and studies.
What changes are happening?
Essentially what happens in menopause is a reduction in sex steroid hormones. We get a big old drop of oestrogen levels.
As a coach, what I often hear from women as one of the more challenging changes from a physical perspective, is the redistribution of body fat.
It is more likely (not always) we will see our bodies redistribute fat from the legs and bum to around our mid-section.
Which when you are struggling with the other side effects of menopause (such as low mood), can be incredibly challenging for our body image and self confidence.
It is often regularly presumed that menopause ruins our metabolism and that is why we gain body fat during this time.
This is not really the case.
When oestrogen drops, our appetite will likely increase. Therefore we have a physical drive to eat more.
We are also a lot likely to move less if we are having poor sleep, low mood and lacking in energy.
Great – so we are eating more and moving less. And it’s largely out of our control!
But there are areas that we can control…
If there was ever a time to focus on your diet, it’s now.
Okay so I know there is a general assumption that a high protein diet is for body builders and gym junkies.
But what if I told you that the population who would benefit the most from a high protein diet are the elderly?
And then I would say women going through the menopause come in a close second.
Yes protein does support muscle mass. Which why in an elderly person it is important. Think about it – more muscle mass, less likely to slip and fall. More likely to move around independently as they age. More muscle literally equals a reduce in all cause mortality (dying).
So why is protein important during menopause?
Remember that drop in oestrogen? That also causes a quick decline in the amount of muscle mass and strength we have.
If you want to maintain muscle mass (and I’m not talking from just an aesthetic angle here), getting regular servings of protein in each day is going to be incredibly important.
Alongside exercise and specifically strength training… You are on to a winner and you in 30 years time is going to thank you.
What is protein?
The recommended daily amount of protein per day is widely considered in the health and fitness industry to be too low.
It is 0.8g per kg of body weight. So that means someone who weighs 60kg should have 48kg per day.
Now let me point out that that is the minimum amount to avoid deficiency.
If you are looking to support and improve muscle quality – we should be aiming for more like 1.6-2.2g per kg bodyweight. So that would be 96-132g per day if you weight 60kg.
Protein doesn’t just support muscle mass, it is used for all the cells in our body and supports:
- Immune function
- Transport around the body
- Regulation of DNA
- Quality of skin, hair & nails
Some examples of protein:
Chicken breast (100g = 26g P)
Rump Steak (100g = 36g P)
5% Beef Mince (100g = 27g P)
Cod (100g = 18g P)
Salmon (100g = 21g P)
Tuna (90g = 20g P)
Egg whites (190g = 20g P)
0% Greek Yoghurt (200g = 20g P)
Quorn Chicken Pieces (200g = 30g P)
Tofu (200g = 26 P)
Chick peas (200g = 16 P)
Lentils (200g = 12g P)
There is some evidence that behind phytoestrogens supporting changing that occur during menopause.
Phytoestrogens are naturally present in plant foods.
Think flax seeds, soy beans, legumes and berries. The evidence shows they may help reduce bone loss and the frequency of hot flushes.
Disclaimer though – if you are taking HRT clear with your medical professional that it is safe to include these foods in your diet in larger quantities. Just to be safe!
Fruit and Veg
I think we are all aware that the classic 5 a day isn’t really cutting it.
I don’t think I really need to spend time banging on about the importance of vitamins and minerals we get in fruit and veg.
But where it can also come in handy during menopause is the amount of bang for your buck you get with vegetables.
You can get a huge plate of vegetables for a lot less calories than you can compared to something like a small bowl of nuts.
This is not only good for fibre and vitamins,
But remember when we mentioned your hunger levels can be impacted?
Bigger portions means feeling more full after meals.
So ensure you are aiming above and beyond the 5 a day recommendation!
Ultimately, the most important thing for you to tackle at this time – is self compassion.
It’s a huge change for our bodies that mentally can be a struggle.
It’s frustrating when all the methods you have used in the past to change your shape, may not work in the same way now.
It is more important than ever to be journalling, practicing meditation, and calling yourself out on negative self talk.
My coaching hones in on these areas to ensure that you are at a positive place mentally – to get the most out of the physical changes.
Free 3 Week Coaching Trial
A bit of background on me:
I have been working in the fitness industry since early 2019 as a personal trainer.
Remember March 2020? When the world turn upside down?
I moved most of my business to online. Which is still a relatively new way of coaching – but incredibly popular.
Now, I coach a small handful of women (and men!) face to face down in Brighton. The rest of my clients I work with remotely.
The beauty of online coaching is there are no time commitments & no location restrictions.
We mutually decide on targets and actions with your exercise, nutrition and more that will progress you to your ultimate goal.
You are then held accountable to these by myself throughout our coaching journey.