Fatigue is a symptom of menopause that affects many women in the various menopause stages. A study of 300 women found that 46.5% of perimenopausal women experience fatigue, whereas 85.3% of postmenopausal women experienced it. It is also noted as THE most common symptom of menopause – more pervasive than the hot flashes about which women often talk.
Part of the reason for menopause-related fatigue stems from the loss of estrogen and its effect on sleep habits. The stress hormone, cortisol, can be elevated during menopause which can make relaxing more difficult, further leading to fatigue.
No one wants to be perpetually exhausted, as it only exacerbates the other symptoms women may already be dealing with, including weight gain as you’re less inclined to eat well and exercise when tired, and feeling grumpier as happens with less sleep.
So, how can energy levels be improved in midlife?
- Choose the right type and amount of carbs. The type of carbohydrate you consume can impact how quickly your blood sugar rises. Simple carbohydrates (sugar-sweetened beverages, desserts) can cause a quick spike and then drop in blood sugar, contributing to feelings of fatigue. Complex carbohydrates (beans and lentils, whole grains) cause a more gradual and moderate rise in blood glucose without a crash that leads to fatigue. Combining any carbohydrate with protein or fat will help slow the absorption and reduce the rollercoaster effect.
- Exercise. This may sound counterintuitive, but getting your blood pumping and lungs expanding with oxygen will increase your energy levels after the workout. It will leave you feeling more alert and energetic. Get out and move every day.
- Watch the caffeine intake. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends no more than 400 mg of caffeine a day, equivalent to 4-5 cups of coffee. It takes your body 4-6 hours to metabolize half the amount of caffeine consumed, so drinking coffee late in the day can impact your ability to fall asleep and your sleep quality, leading to tiredness the next day. If you consume caffeine, do so earlier in the day.
- Protect your bedtime. Be vigilant with your bedtime habits. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day if possible. Your body needs consistency to be most efficient and, hence, preserve energy.
- For exercise enhancement, consider a supplement. While food and fitness are always the recommended first choice, sometimes supplements can help reduce the fatiguing impact of hormone decline, especially while exercising.
- Creatine is an amino acid historically suggested for helping with exercise performance. According to exercise physiologist Stacy Sims, MSC, Ph.D., the quantity of creatine is typically 70-80% lower in women than in men making supplementation ideal. Research suggests that menopausal women can receive energy-boosting benefits during exercise from supplementation with creatine. Research suggests considering 3-5g per day for 4 weeks as the optimal dosage. As a side note, this research also suggests that creatine can have a stabilizing impact on mood in menopause.
- Taper the alcohol intake. While it may feel relaxing to grab that glass of wine before heading to bed, the reality is that alcohol has been shown to have disruptive effects on our sleep quality. Instead, try meditation before heading to bed, to create a relaxing environment.
While changing hormones can definitely have an impact on energy levels, all is not lost. You may find that just a dedicated focus on bedtime practices or a shift in diet can help you feel better quickly.
Here’s to more energy!
Chedraui P, Aguirre W, Hidalgo L, Fayad L. Assessing menopausal symptoms among healthy middle-aged women with the Menopause Rating Scale. Maturitas. 2007 Jul 20;57(3):271-8. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2007.01.009. Epub 2007 Feb 27. PMID: 17329046.
How Much Caffeine is too Much?
What Time Should I Go To Bed?
Sports Supplements – What Works for Women
Alcohol disrupts sleep homeostasis
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Do you experience joint pain during or after your HIIT workouts? It can be frustrating when you want to push yourself to run that extra mile or do the unmodified versions of a jump lunge, but your knees start talking to you. If this sounds all too familiar, you could consider trying Kinesio tape to give those aching areas some extra support.
This week, Pam Sherman, 55, our Master Trainer here at b-untethered chats with us about staying strong into our later years. She has been a certified instructor and coach for over 25 years where she has helped thousands discover the right balance of movement, mindful eating, and motivation. We are so thrilled to have her on the team to help our ladies become the best version of themselves.