I haven’t changed what I eat or how I move but my weight keeps increasing, what is going on?
This is such a common question I hear from many women in their 40s and 50s.
The weight gain during perimenopause and menopause is one of the most frustrating and confusing elements of this phase in a womens life.
Blood sugar balance is the key to avoiding weight gain at any age and is particularly important as we approach this significant phase of life. The changes in hormones creates an environment in our body where managing blood glucose needs to be done more carefully and thoughtfully.
Balancing our blood sugar across the entire day is a game changer for feeling more energised with no energy slumps, less snacking and less weight gain
Perimenopause can start for a women 2-10 years before menopause so what many women don’t realise is that their body is already changing shape during this time which is completely normal. However if you are not adjusting your diet and lifestyle to support your body and hormones during this transition then the weight changes can feel unexpected and significant.
During perimenopause there is a decrease in the production of estrogen and progesterone, which plays a major role in blood sugar fluctuations. As these hormonal levels go up and down, blood sugar levels also sway. The hormone insulin helps control the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood and women become particularly vulnerable to insulin resistance during perimenopause/menopause.
With insulin resistance, the body’s cells don’t respond normally to insulin. Glucose can’t enter the cells as easily, so it builds up in the blood. Chronically elevated blood sugar over time can result in insulin resistance.The result of this metabolic dysfunction is less energy, more inflammation, and a greater tendency to gain fat, especially around the middle. Insulin resistance can also cause high cholesterol, triglycerides and fat accumulation in the liver.
Estrogen is good for insulin sensitivity so with the natural decline of estrogen in late perimenopause and Menopause there is a risk factor for developing insulin resistance which can make the symptoms of perimenopause / menopause much worse
What are the symptoms?
The common symptoms I see of blood sugar imbalance include
- Needing to snack often
- Feeling hungry after eating
- Weight gain around the middle
- Sugar cravings
- Skin tags
- Poor sleep
What you can I do to manage blood sugar?
Balance your macros
I have found this to be so important at any age but during perimenopause it also helps with the moods, sleep and keeping up energy all day. We really cant get away with skipping meals and eating on there un anymore.
Protein this is a must at every meal and snack. This is what keeps us feeling balanced and satiated. Protein is found in meat, legumes, eggs, diary, seeds and smaller amounts in nuts. I recommend approximately 60g minimum of protein per day across the day – not just at dinner
Complex carbs – carbs are so important and also help maintain blood sugar balance but it’s the complex carbs we need to include in our diet. Whilst bread, rice crackers, cakes, slices and biscuits are all very delicious they will not help your blood sugar and I recommend these to be occasional foods. Focusing on the nourishing carbs such as black/brown rice, rolled oats, sweet potato, potato, pumpkin, quinoa and barley will keep you feeling energised.
Fats – Fats round out our meals perfectly and are important for absorbing nutrients. They provide a satiating mouth feel and usually a beautiful flavour. Fats are important for feeling satiated and balanced and good choices include extra virgin olive oil (dressing), ghee, avocado, feta, seeds and nuts
Avoid processed food
This seems obvious but I see many women eating processed foods every day without realising. They are so easy and accessible it can be hard to avoid them but they do not suit our body or hormones or blood sugar
Muscle mass declines in women from the age of 40 so its important for so many reasons to work on building muscle. Muscle tissue plays a significant role in managing blood sugar and also increasing insulin sensitivity.
Support gut health
this should always be a daily work in progress as the gut is linked to every aspect of our health. Fixing any underlying gut problems is key because dysbiosis from the gut can cause insulin resistance and blood sugar imbalances.
Sleep is king when it comes to balancing blood sugar and eating well. Decreased sleep is a risk factor for increased blood sugar levels. Even partial sleep deprivation over one night increases insulin resistance, which can in turn increase blood sugar levels. A good night’s sleep does become much more challenging during this transition so its important to find a good night routine that works for you.
Supporting your circadian rhythm
helps with blood sugar balance. Adequate sleep, eating at the same time most days and ensuring your eat protein in the morning – not just coffee are just some of the way to support your blood sugar
Magnesium deficiency is a significant contributor to insulin resistance and taking mangesium glycinate has been to improve insulin resistance. Magnesium is also great for women in the phase as it can improve sleep, curb sugar cravings and reducing inflammation.
If you need personalised help please contact me here