This Morning: Early menopause sufferer explains symptoms

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The menopause and weight gain quite often go hand in hand for most women and for those who have experienced the scales creeping up every week, it can lead to feelings of discomfort and discontent. But doctors have advised eating lots of one macronutrient daily in order to slow down the “inevitable” midlife weight gain.

From extensive research, there is evidence that certain foods can help relieve some of the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, poor sleep and low bone density.

And protein is one “essential” food group medical experts recommend upping during this life phase

“If women don’t have good quality protein every day, the decrease in muscle mass that occurs as oestrogen levels drop is accelerated,” said Zhaoping Li, MD, PhD, Director of the Center for Human Nutrition and Chief of the Division of Clinical Nutrition at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

This decline in oestrogen is linked to decreased muscle mass and bone strength, so consuming more protein could aid weight gain significantly.

Registered dietitian Lauren Panoff added: “This is one reason that protein is a critical part of the diet, to combat these effects – in addition to engaging in regular physical activity.”

Guidelines currently recommend that women over 50 eat 20–25 grams of high-quality protein per meal or 0.45–0.55g per pound of body weight per day.

“An excellent place to start is to incorporate protein sources into your diet in a more balanced way throughout the day, starting with breakfast,” Panoff explained.

“Many of us often load up with protein in the morning, but not again until dinner time.”

She recommended making high-quality protein a part of every meal rather than just once or twice a day, as this has been shown to promote muscle repair and growth.

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“It’s especially important to not skimp on protein after a workout when it can contribute to building muscle mass,” she warned.

“You don’t need to fear looking like a bodybuilder merely from working out and eating protein.

“An average day’s protein consumption might include five or six ounces, or around 20-25 grams, of high-quality protein spaced evenly throughout meals and snacks.”

But she advised that overdosing on protein can do more harm than good.

“Excessive amounts of protein will typically be stored as fat (not muscle), so you’ll actually gain weight, and any unused amino acids will just be excreted,” she continued.

“Other effects of too much protein include increased cancer risk, especially diets that are high in red meat, heart disease, and calcium loss.

“If you have any kidney impairment, it’s especially important to monitor your protein intake as too much protein can be burdensome in this scenario.”

A person can improve their protein intake by consuming foods packed full of the macronutrient, such as:

Lean meats – beef, lamb, veal, pork, kangaroo.

Poultry – chicken, turkey, duck, emu, goose, bush birds.

Fish and seafood – fish, prawns, crab, lobster, mussels, oysters, scallops, clams.


Nut butters

Greens – lentils, beans, green peas

Dairy products – milk, yoghurt (especially Greek yoghurt), cheese (especially cottage cheese)

Additionally, slimmers can add protein powders to smoothies to their diet.

According to Healthline, the recommended macronutrient distribution range for protein is 10–35 percent of total daily calories.

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