- Carbohydrate utilization declines. What does this mean? Estrogen is a transport vehicle to move sugar from your bloodstream into your muscles and liver. Without it (hello, Menopause), sugar does not move as expeditiously as before.
Suggestion: Move to a 40% carb nutrition plan. This is a reduction as the average woman consumes 50% of her calories from carbs today.
- Front-load the day. Since we no longer move carbs as easily, our physical movement is used as an aid. The worst thing we can do is eat a carb-laden dinner and then sit on the couch and watch TV.
Suggestion: Consume 70% of calories (and carbs) before dinner, during the parts of the day when you are more active.
- Double up on protein: Protein has been the darling of the media for 10+ years, yet, few are talking about the criticality of it for peri and post-menopausal women. What is the importance? We need a continuous supply of amino acids to support both healthy brain function and muscle maintenance.
Suggestion: Consume 30% of your calories from protein and spread them evenly throughout the day.
- Long slow exercise plods don’t work: When it comes to weight loss and general cardio health, endurance exercise is not the key. Instead, we need to stretch our heart muscle by undertaking high-intensity exercise. This means that for most of us our heart rate should be somewhere north of 150 BPM. If done correctly, this triggers the creation of a substance that acts like estrogen (feeling increased energy already?).
Suggestion: Do three high-intensity interval classes(HIIT) per week .
- Pick up heavy things: Because we lose muscle faster and build it slower, we need to do strength training. We need more than just incorporating 5lb dumbbells. We need the grunting and groaning type of weightlifting. The good news here is that weight bearing activity carries additional benefits – it can help relieve joint pain by providing some relief to the pressure your joints feel and can help improve bone density (which also declines with menopause).
Suggestion: Lift heavy weights a minimum of 2x per week.
Instead of despairing over midlife, figure out where you want to go.