Perimenopausal Nutrition

Perimenopausal Nutrition

Perimenopause and menopause represent times of significant change that often come along with unwanted or undesirable symptoms. One of the common changes we see during this transition is weight gain or difficulty with weight loss. During perimenopause, hormonal fluctuations and the eventual decline in ovarian function leads to a reduction in estrogen and progesterone release. Estrogen, known for its metabolic protective qualities, aids in insulin sensitization, promotes lean body mass, and enhances energy metabolism. As estrogen levels fluctuate and decline, the risk of insulin resistance rises, influencing weight, it’s distribution, and overall metabolic health.

Beyond hormonal shifts; elevated stress, disrupted sleep patterns, and alterations in thyroid and adrenal function play pivotal roles in body weight fluctuations. When any of these systems fall out of balance or become depleted, the body interprets it as a signal to slow down metabolism, leading to weight gain.

Effectively supporting the body through perimenopause and into menopause involves a holistic approach encompassing nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress reduction. One common misconception is to reduce the number of calories consumed, but this can lead to potential weight gain over time. It’s important to instead focus on adequate caloric intake and protein consumption. Protein is crucial for muscle retention (which declines in menopause), blood sugar balance, and neurotransmitter synthesis. A daily protein intake of at least 80 grams is the minimum recommended for most individuals and much research shows 1.3 g/kg of weight is where we need to be. Emphasizing healthy fats, along with consuming eight servings of fruits and vegetables daily, contributes to satiety and diminishes cravings for refined carbohydrates, processed foods, and sugars—all of which contribute to weight gain.

In addition to dietary considerations, prioritizing eight hours of quality sleep each night and implementing stress reduction strategies are crucial for supporting a healthy metabolism and weight management.

It’s essential to acknowledge and embrace that perimenopause is a time of transformation, both for ourselves and our bodies, and it’s natural to experience changes in metabolism. That being said, proactive steps can be taken to support a healthy metabolism and mitigate excessive weight changes during this time. As naturopathic doctors, we are extensively trained and equipped to provide guidance on nutrition and offer tailored support to help you navigate the challenges of menopause with grace and resilience.

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