During menopause women tend to gain weight. While this isn't great, it is pretty common. Here are two reasons why women gain weight during menopause.
- Reason #1: Reduced muscle mass. Muscle mass uses energy (burns calories) so when we have less of it, the body burns less energy leading to weight gain. Unfortunately, this weight gain may appear as increased belly fat.
- Reason #2: Feel hungrier. During menopause, there is an increase in the hunger hormone ghrelin. With an increase in this hormone comes the tendency to feel hungrier. Menopause also decreases the satiety hormone leptin, which helps us feel full after eating. More ghrelin and less leptin leads to increased hunger and a decreased feeling of fullness...now that’s a problem!
What does all of this have to do with breakfast?Eating the right type of breakfast has been shown to help maintain muscle mass, balance levels of leptin and ghrelin, aid weight loss and maintain that lower weight.
What makes a food optimal for breakfast in menopause?Foods that help to increase metabolic rate, fill you up, and keep you feeling fuller longer. Let's have a look at the characteristics of these optimal foods.
ProteinMake sure to get protein in the morning as eating protein is critical for women in menopause. Protein helps to slightly increase metabolism and give your muscles the amino acids they need to stay strong. Protein also helps keep you feeling fuller longer which is great to try to offset that hunger hormone ghrelin. It also helps to reduce bone loss that can happen very fast during this time. Which foods are high in protein?
- Meat and poultry
- Fish and shellfish
- Beans and lentils
- Nuts and seeds (contain more fat than protein but still a great source of amino acids)
FiberFiber is very important to help stabilize your blood sugars to reduce cravings. The reason this is particularly important in menopause is because the risk of diabetes and heart disease increases after menopause due to an accumulation of visceral fat in the abdomen. (Yes, I'm talking about the infamous “belly fat”). Also, did you know that certain fibers you eat actually feed your friendly gut microbes? The ones that help you digest food and even make certain nutrients for you. Which foods are high in fiber? Here are just a few of the items you could add to your diet to increase fiber intake.
- Vegetables (squash, peas, sweet potato, artichokes, collard greens, pumpkin, parsnips, Brussels sprouts etc.)
- Fruit (pears, avocados, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries etc.)
- Nuts (almonds, pistachios, macadamia, hazelnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, walnuts, dried coconut etc.)
- Seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, chia, flax etc.)
- Gluten-free grains (oat, quinoa, wild rice etc.)
- Beans and lentils
Conclusion:What are optimal foods for breakfast in menopause? Ones that give you protein and fiber. Bonus Recipe: Maca Power Porridge (Vegan) Maca is a turnip that grows high in the Andean mountains. It is well known for its endocrine balancing properties. I have consistently witnessed people reduce and in many cases even eliminate hot flashes by just adding Maca to their diet. Personally, I went from taking a tablespoon daily to now only taking 1/2 teaspoon a week to manage my hot flashes. This recipe is high in vegan sources of protein and fiber as well is rich in Omega-3's which are also helpful for reducing hot flashes and inflammation.
- 3-5 tablespoons chia seed
- 2 tablespoon hemp seed
- 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts*
- 1 tablespoon raw cacao
- 1 tablespoon goji berries
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon maca powder
- honey to taste
- 1 cup hot water
- Place all ingredients into a bowl
- Pour water over ingredients
- Stir until combined
- Let sit for about 3 min