What is it?
Menopause is a natural aging process that women experience, marking the end of their reproductive period. Most women experience this in their 40’s or 50’s. The sudden drop of estrogen can bring a wide variety of possible symptoms that can appear before or after a woman stops menstruating.
What kind of symptoms can you experience?
There are over 35 symptoms one can experience during menopause. The most common ones are:
Increase in appetite, decrease in appetite, or a change in your appetite pattern
Mood swings, anxiety or depression
Fatigue and memory loss
Irregular periods or stopped periods
Incontinence and UTI’s
Muscle tension in neck and shoulders and joint pain
Weight gain (especially abdominal)
What does menopause do to my fitness and weight?
As we age the body will lose lean muscle mass in a natural process called sarcopenia. You will lose to 0.5-1% of muscle mass per year with the same amount of exercise after 50. This muscle mass is then replaced by fat tissue. After menopause this percentage will be even slightly higher.
With the same amount of exercise postmenopausal women will also lose bone density and gain weight, mainly in the abdominal area.
What can I do?
Exercise is the most effective tool to treat many symptoms you can feel or not feel during menopause. EMS training specifically can be of great help as it raises your metabolism to 4.5 days (as opposed to 36 hours with a conventional workout), is very effective at improving bone mineral density, strengthens muscles and their ligament, strengthens the pelvic floor treating incontinence and helps prevent further weight gain. Whatever you do, don’t stop exercising!Weight gain is common symptom of menopause that comes as a surprise to many women. The hormonal changes that occur with menopause not only make it difficult to lose weight, but can also diminish muscle and lean body mass. These changes can cause fat to redistribute, often collecting in the abdomen. During menopause women should exercise regularly, including weight-bearing exercises, and practice good dietary habits to revitalize and maintain muscle tone and a strong metabolic rate. It will also prevent cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis, which menopausal women are at increased risk for.
- Change your nutritionCalcium:
A lower level of oestrogen is linked to a decreased bone density. Strength training has been proven to be the most effective tool in increasing the density of your bones, with studies showing EMS being the most effective fitness method. To build those strong bones, calcium is a key nutrient, as is Vitamin D. Talk to your doctor or dietitian for advice for a proper supplement or dietary change.
To counter the sped up sarcopenia process and to repair your muscles, protein intake is very important in combination with strength training (EMS). Studies show that an increased need of 1.2 mg/kg bodyweight per day is needed as opposed to 0.8 mg/kg per day. You should offer your body a portion of lean protein every couple of hours to maximize muscle repair and muscle growth. Studies show that added collagen as a protein showed great improvement in symptom relief for skin and joints in menopausal women. It also increased their bone density.
Lower carb intake:
Out dietitian advises that a postmenopausal metabolism responds better to a low (and healthy) carb diet. Don’t exclude carbs entirely (as is done with Keto diet), as it is still a very important food group to eat on a daily basis. However, if possible try to change the portion size and select more complex carbs. Ask your Fitin20 trainer for our low carb diet example booklet!
Phytoestrogens are plant derived nutrients that are very similar to the natural hormone of estrogen. Taking these foods can decrease menopause symptoms in some women. Examples of food products high in these natural hormones are: beans, bean sprouts like alfalfa, humus, soy products, flax seeds, fruit, vegetables and grain.
- Ask your doctor for helpA supportive doctor can really help you with your symptoms and prevent secondary medical and weight gain problems. In some cases a form of Hormone Replacement Therapy can be recommended. And often he/she will suggest some blood tests to rule out other possible diseases before suggesting therapy. He can also be of great assistance recommending a reputable source for complementary therapy. This way you know you spend your money wisely, plus you will not unintentionally develop any serious side effects like liver problems or kidney issues.
- Supplements and complementary therapiesUnfortunately it is well known that the alternative medical circuit has used the desperation around the symptoms of menopause to sell expensive products that are not effective. However if you are open to it, in Australia there are several options of complementary therapies that work in conjunction with the advice of your healthcare provider. Examples of these are: Chinese medicine, acupuncture or osteopathy. Please note that herbs and natural medications can counteract with any other medications you are using. Always source your herbal supplements from a trained and registered practitioner and inform your doctor about what you are taking to prevent serious side effects. Our advice is to first talk to your doctor about the right choice of complementary therapy.Red clover supplements (Promensil) contains natural estrogen and are worth a try.
The research is inconclusive if it really works however.
The popular progesterone cream has been researched to be ineffective.
Would you like some support in starting a low carb meal plan? We advise not to diet, but to eat balanced. We can help you with an example meal plan or refer to a dietitian.
Please ask your EMS trainer with your next visit!