WHAT IS PERIMENOPAUSE AND MENOPAUSE?
PERI-MENOPAUSE Levels of estrogen and progesterone rise and fall in the body, menstrual cycles can lengthen and shorten
Poor sleep, hot flushes, mood changes, vaginal and bladder problems, low libido, vaginal dryness increased risk of osteoporosis, a rise in bad cholesterol (LDL) and a reduction in good cholesterol (HDL)
At what age:
Any time from mid 30's although typically more likely from 40's onwards
When a woman has stopped having her periods consistently for 12 months
Symptoms of peri-menopause may continue including brain fog, joints and muscles feeling more achy and stiffer, and gaining weight around the middle, headaches, heart palpitations, dry hair/skin
FITNESS AND PERI/MENOPAUSE
Peri-menopause is the ideal time to be introducing a regular training regime of heavy weight lifting (bone density and fat burning)
HiiT (High Intensity Interval Training) or SiT (Sprint interval training- think tabata)
Plyometrics (short bouts of springy work)
LISS (Low Impact steady state cardio – think walking, cycling, swimming)
The greatest body composition and metabolic changes happen during the peri-menopase
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU BE TRAINING?
Regardless if you are peri or menopausal, resistance training at least 3x a week is essential in order to maintain muscle mass
Sprint Interval Training – 10-30secs efforts for a total of 20mins max (as done on a spin bike or out running) can help to maintain fat burning metabolism and body composition
Implementing plyometrics once a week is a great way to get your high impact work done in a short space of time (think, plyo lunges, pop squats, burpees) its great for bone density and will take no more than 10mins or less
Ensure you are doing enough Low Impact Steady State Cardio such as cycling or swimming or High Impact Steady State Cardio such as walking or running at least 5-7hrs a week.
Improving our aerobic capacity and in the case of walking or running our bones.
NUTRITION AND PERI/MENOPAUSE
Increasing our protein requirements is a must! At least 35-40g of protein in each meal predominantly through whole foods rather than supplementation (around half this for snacks)´
Ensuring we are consuming enough carbohydrates through fruits and vegetables is essential for women.
Avoid ultra processed food and sugar
Consume plenty of healthy fats as these contain essential fatty acids ie nuts, avocados, olive oil, cheese, 70% dark chocolate, chia seeds, eggs, oily fish (mackerel, salmon, sardines etc) full fat yoghurt
Kisspeptin is a neuropeptide that’s responsible for sex hormones and endocrine and reproductive function, which also plays a significant role in maintaining healthy glucose levels, appetite regulation, and body composition, If we don’t consume enough carbs there is a decline in this neuropeptide resulting in an increase in appetite
Carbs also help us maintain a healthy immune system and stress response to exercise as well as potentially avoiding iron deficiency and anemia.
Carbs provide prebiotic fibre, anti-inflammatory nutrients and phytonutrients and antioxidants.
Implementing a predominantly plant based (mediterranean) diet can benefit from improved BMI, lower body fat, better blood sugar control, increases diversity of gut microbiome which in turn can improve your metabolism, energy availability during exercise and recovery after workout as well as reducing the symptoms often associated with the peri/meno pause.
This doesn’t mean you have to cut out meat but making sure the majority of your plate should be fruit/veg and to introduce oily fish at least 2-3 x week.
Avoid caffeine, alcohol and sugary snacks and drinks
Increase your water intake to make up for those hot flushes, night sweats and of course if you're training, you should already be drinking at least 2ltrs of water. It will also help with symptoms of fatigue, dizziness, joint pain and inflammation, mood and so much more.
When should I speak to a Dr and what other natural supplements are out there?
When you start experiencing any of the symptoms, ask for your doctor to do a full hormonal check. Women are often under the illusion that the menopause doesn’t start until their mid forties or frankly told they are too young to be going into peri-menopause…which just isn’t true!
There is a tendency by some doctors to fob you off with antidepressants or simply refuse to give you HRT due to outdated understanding of scientific studies or they initially may not believe you are going through peri-menopause and think you are simply suffering low mood/depression. Please note: you may be offered these if you are unable to take HRT as these can help with hot flushes
The overwhelming body of evidence shows that HRT is incredibly safe and effective and is offered in a variety of form such as patches and gels. If you are taking supplements such as those below you MUST advise your doctor to avoid contraindications.
Some natural adaptogenic supplements that can also be considered:
Ashwaganda powder – do not use if on thyroid medication
Schisandra – to stimulate the CNS
Maca Root – from reducing hair loss to controlling hormonal imbalances this is a centuries old supplement
Also, dependent on blood tests you may need to top up on certain vitamins such as vitamin B6 (Necessary for the release of serotonin) and B12 (promotes bone health, red blood cell production, and brain function) vitamin D (crucial for calcium absorption) and vitamin E (nuts, seeds, wheat germ, broccoli, spinach, and shellfish) Omega 3 (decrease your risk of depression, osteoporosis, heart disease, hot flashes, and other menopause-related symptoms).
NUTRITION TIMING If are an active individual, ensuring you consume a light carb and protein snack approx 30mins prior to training i.e a wholemeal rice cake with peanut butter and banana and then consume at least 35-40g of protein within 30mins post workout to avoid muscles being catabolised (eating away lean muscle tissue) is recommended.
Macros for ACTIVE women should consist of : 2-3.5g/carbs per kg of bodyweight 1.8-2.4g/protein per kg of bodyweight 1-1.3g/fat per kg of bodyweight
Your balance of macros is more important than watching your calorie intake in this instance if you are already very active. Try to consume food in regular intervals throughout the day to avoid a crash or overeating.
REFERENCES https://www.mayoclinic.org https://www.drstacysims.com/blog/what-women-should-know-about-adaptogens https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614576/ https://www.drstacysims.com/ https://mymenoplan.org/ https://cdn-links.lww.com/permalink/meno/a/meno_29_4_2022_01_20_smithryan_meno-d-21-0028 https://www.womens-health-concern.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/11-WHC-FACTSHEET-HRT-BenefitsRisks-NOV2022-B.pdf *https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/10/221025150257.htm (Latest research on IF and pre and post menopausal women) https://www.everydayhealth.com/womens-health/what-midlife-women-should-know-about-intermittent-fasting/ https://www.positivepause.co.uk/all-blogs/good-hydrations-why-drinking-water-is-important-for-menopause-symptoms