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Nutrition for Menopause

It's taken me quite a while to get to this topic. And it's a HUGE topic! Although I've interviewed a number of experts on the information pertaining to diet and menopause, I was really motivated to write something simple and easy to implement after my podcast interview with Lisa Walker, Clinical Manager and Lead Researcher for Be Pure Wellness. Here's how the shift in hormones affect gut health and impact on menopause symptoms:

  1. As progesterone gradually declines and oestrogen goes on a rampage, this messes with the gut microbiome, negatively impacting on gut health, the immune system and mood. Symptoms include digestive pain, bloating, nausea, diarrhoea, allergies, inflammation, anxiety and mood swings.

  2. As oestrogen declines, this increases the inflammation response in the body. You might notice this with joint pain, muscle cramps, fatigue and skin issues.

  3. And then the clincher - the effect of lowering oestrogen and the increase in insulin resistance, increasing fat gain and lowering metabolism.

Top Nutrition Tips that Lisa and I discuss to support your menopause symptoms:

  1. Eat the right things at the right time for longer lasting energy and sleep support.

  2. Understanding that if you eat less than what your body needs to optimally function, your body will begin to burn less fuel and hold onto fat stores.

  3. Eat more alkaline foods that are gentle on your digestive system. 

  4. Eat slow release carbohydrates at night, for example, sweet potato, butternut squash, quinoa, brown rice, lentils. 

  5. Unlimited nutrient dense foods are “non-starchy” carbohydrates: spinach, kale, chard, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, asparagus, celery, cucumber, onions, carrots, cabbage.

  6. The lowest sugar fruits are berries and citrus fruits and have the highest nutrient density.

And now for PROTEIN

When it comes to eating protein during the menopause transition, protein (and fibre) are a girls’ best friend.  Protein bumps up the list of macro's as women in menopause lose muscle rapidly during the menopause transition. Having available and frequent stores of protein in the body can slow that down. Along with strength training.

(To understand the dynamic between protein intake and resistance training, check out my blog on Muscle in Menopause).

The recommended amount of protein for a woman in menopause who is fairly active (4-5 exercise sessions/week that includes weight training) is 1.5 - 1.8 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight. For example, a 65kg women, would aim to get 90 - 110 gms of protein/day. It sounds like a lot, but it possible! Even if you are a vegan or vegetarian. I’m a pescatarian and I can get that level of protein with supplementation. 

Examples of protein include lean beef, poultry, fish, shellfish, plant and paleo protein, pea-based protein, eggs, dairy products (if you can still take them), beans, chickpeas, seeds and nuts.

High quality protein is essential for muscle maintenance, repair from exercise and training and maintaining essential bodily functions. One of the key amino acids that helps with protein synthesis and muscle repair is leucine, so aim to injest protein sources that have a minimum 2.5mg leucine per serving. If you are using supplementation to boost your protein levels, then check the label on your protein powder - leucine should be high up there.

High leucine foods include chicken, beef, pork, fish (tuna), tofu, canned beans, milk, cheese, squash seeds, and eggs.

For a protein powder, this will be one of your best tools to access the minimum amount of protein needed. When looking for a protein powder, keep the following in mind - less than 5gms of sugar per serving. Good options are whey and pea-based protein that deliver 20-25 gms per serving.

More Sexy Ageing Podcast episodes that focus on nutrition:

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