I have had a lot of interest in the impact of the menopause on nutrition and sport so I thought I would share some information with you.
Hormonal changes during the peri-menopause are the cause of many of the symptoms associated with the menopause such as hot flushes and tiredness as well as a reduction in muscle and bone density. Not all women are affected by these symptoms and research has suggested that exercise can help reduce the impact of some of them. It is therefore really important to include exercise as part of your daily routine.
Symptoms, such as tiredness and mood changes can often lead to women reaching for quick fix high energy foods which can make symptoms worse and lead to weight gain. Studies have shown that this eating pattern alongside a reduction in exercise, again often due to tiredness, is what causes the weight gain as opposed to it being a direct result of going through the menopause.
Below is information on the key elements of your diet and what to choose to help you get through:
· Carbohydrates – slow-release carbohydrates are best (such as granary bread and wholemeal pasta): these will also make you feel fuller and stop you reaching for quick fix high energy foods. High sugar foods such as chocolate and biscuits cause energy highs and lows which will make tiredness worse.
· Protein – to maintain and hopefully build muscle women should ensure they are having a good source of protein 3-4 times a day. It is especially important to have a good quality protein source after exercise to aid muscle repair and growth. This could be a glass of cows or soya milk, a peanut butter sandwich or a main meal with a protein source such as chicken, fish, tofu or lentils.
· Fat – this is an important part of your diet. Unsaturated fats are beneficial for heart health. These can be found in nuts, seeds, avocados and oily fish. Foods high in saturated fat can contribute to heart issues and weight gain if eaten regularly and therefore should be kept to a minimum.
· Calcium and vitamin D – are very important for bone health and requirements for calcium do increase post menopause. Dairy is an excellent source of calcium, most plant-based milks and yoghurts are now fortified with calcium too but always check the label. Vitamin D works alongside calcium to keep bones strong, a supplement is often beneficial, please see my previous post for recommendations.
· Hydration is really important to mitigate the impact of night sweats especially if you also exercise and lose fluid through sweat. Being dehydrated can lead to tiredness and loss of concentration and make ‘brain fog’ even worse. The temptation to reach for a drink containing caffeine is often hard to resist but can make matters worse if you are dehydrated and also result in increased tiredness afterwards, once the caffeine wears off.
If you have found this blog interesting and would like to know more including what this means practically for you, please get in touch to arrange a 1:1 appointment or let me know you would be interested in a group talk on the subject.