Nutrition for Menopause
- Weight gain
- Reduce muscle mass
- Lack of power
- Decreased endurance
These are common changes that women experience once they hit their mid to late forties.
Why does this happen?
As the female reproduction cycle starts to taper, there is a significant change in hormones that occur during the transition (peri-menopause), and then after menopause.
The consequences of the change in hormones is that many women feel they no longer have as much control over their weight, power, endurance and ability to sleep.
After menopause (when there is no longer production of Oestrogen and Progesterone) women are more insulin resistant, meaning they are more sensitive to carbohydrates. This can cause unwanted weight gain, rapid blood sugar swings and increased fat storage. Combined with this, the body is no longer able to use protein as efficiently – protein breakdown increases, and you are less sensitive to the typical muscle building stimuli of resistance training and increasing dietary protein.
On top of this when Oestrogen production is diminished, the body also reduces bone-building activity, and calcium absorption is decreased – which if not considered can lead to increased risk of Osteoporosis.
So…. should you just accept this new state and give up?
Yes, you should accept this new state, and celebrate it !! … and no, you don’t give up, you change to accommodate the new situation.
- Adjust your macronutrient timing and intake to match your training and focus on more complex carbohydrates (rather than simple carbohydrates) as part of your diet– such as vegetables, wholegrains, and a small amount of fruit. A typical balance of macro’s for post menopause athletes is around 30-40% carb, 25% protein and 35-45% fat. This is NOT low carb/keto …it is a balanced ratio of macros.
- Increase your protein intake to around 1.5-2kgs per kilo of body weight per day. So if you weigh 60kgs, you aim for around 90-120gms of protein per day. A supplement can be very helpful for this. Timing your protein intake around training can also help to maintain muscle mass and improve performance. Focus on increasing protein from both animal and non-animal sources.
- Adjust your training schedule to incorporate more strength and resistance – ideally 2-3 days per week
- Increase high calcium foods such as dark leafy green vegetables, beans and legumes - including soy/tofu ( these foods are also high in protein to help with point 2) along with reducing calcium leaching foods such as processed foods/high sodium foods like biscuits, flavoured snacks and processed meats and cheeses. Excess coffee is also known to reduce calcium.
- Check your vitamin D status via a blood test – this nutrient is essential for calcium uptake and absorption.
- Set yourself up for optimal sleep - adequate nutrition and hydration, rest and relaxation prior to bedtime, decrease exposure to blue light at night, and allow sufficient sleep to suit your training load - most athletes need 8-9 hours per night for effective recovery.
This article was written by Tamara Madden from www.madonnutrition.com.au
If you have any specific questions or would like more information regarding Nutrition for Menopause, then please contact Tamara directly.
Tamara has also very kindly supplied us with some Recipes for Menopause which you can download and print.