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Putting on weight is a natural part of the menopause but it doesn’t have to be something we’re stuck with. Here Karen Newby, a registered nutritionist with over 10 years’ experience coaching women through this midlife stage, shares her tried and tested top tips.
For many of my clients, sudden weight gain is a real problem. Suddenly we lose our waist and we start to shift to what’s known as a male pattern of weight gain (around the middle) due to declining oestrogen levels. Our metabolic rate slows and our insulin sensitivity declines due to lower levels of oestrogen. Plus our stress levels are often super high as we’re spinning many plates, which leads to the worry waist – regardless of perimenopause! More stress leads to that frazzled feeling which means we reach for more stimulants and less helpful food to get us through the day. If this wasn’t enough, research into the hunger hormone ghrelin has shown that it can be hyper-stimulated at perimenopause, meaning we’re more hungry and susceptible to cravings. Leptin, our ‘we’re no longer hungry’ hormone can also be impaired according to published research, so we have no off switch!
The problem is that central weight gain at perimenopause increases inflammation and also affects our ability to control insulin. It also is a risk factor for breast cancer. So getting weight- gain in check is incredibly important and will help support your midlife vitality no end.
We have to approach weight loss differently at midlife. No amount of calorie-counting or cardio exercise will shift that weight round the middle – it’s because of our hormones! These central fat cells start to interfere with our hormones and our immune system. They are not the same as other traditional fat storage cells found in the hips or butt or legs. This is why our weight-loss toolbox from our 30s and early 40s just doesn’t work any more!
Fat is your friend! Especially essential fatty acids like omega-3. Fat is essential for our satiety levels and for the absorption of certain vitamins (A, E, D and K), which need fat in order to be absorbed. Blood-sugar control is also so important.
No need for calorie counting, but portion control for carbohydrates such as white rice will help – aim for a handful of dried rice per portion. When you consume your calories is very important: eat with the path of the sun. Breakfast is key and has a positive effect on the number of calories consumed later in the day.
If you are taking HRT or birth-control medication, or are on any other medication or under medical supervision, consult your healthcare practitioner before taking any food supplement. Please note that the supplement section is merely a selection of suggestions that might help a particular symptom – not all of them are to be taken at once. Do get in touch with a nutritional therapist registered with the British Association for Nutritional and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) for a tailored protocol, taking into account your unique health needs: bant.org.uk.
Extracted from The Natural Menopause Method by Karen Newby, published by Pavilion. For more information visit karennewby.com
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