Your menopause questions answered

Emma Brown - Nutritionist | 21 Oct, 2021

We recently asked you in our members forums, if you have any questions relating to the menopause. Many common themes emerged such as weight challenges during this time, as well as mental health concerns. We have covered the most common areas in a series of blogs recently which you can find below….

Menopause and weight

Diet and menopause

HRT and weight

Menopause and health

Members questions

We also had a few more specific questions raised, which we've answered below. Hope these are helpful!

Barbara3010

"So my question is how I do I know once I am at my goal which is still 9/10 lbs away how many calories I need to maintain as I assume normal calorie maintenance won’t work if my body is still changing?"

We'd recommend updating your personal details in your Profile at this time, and the system will calculate an appropriate calorie allowance for you. Your age, weight, height and activity levels are all factored in, so this should still be an appropriate estimation for you, as changes that happen as we age are factored into the calorie allowance formula.

That being said, it's always a bit of trial and error to find the exact calorie allowance that's appropriate for you personally to neither gain nor lose once you reach maintenance. We recommend gradually increasing your calorie intake, by around 100-200 calories per day when you first reach maintenance. Keep logging your intake and weighing yourself weekly. If you find your weight is still dropping or is staying the same, you can then up your intake a little more the following week. Eventually you will find a level that is just right for you – where you neither lose nor gain.

Elementary

"Any tips on losing belly weight much appreciated. I am considering more protein, but I find this difficult as a very picky vegetarian."

Targeting fat loss from specific areas isn't really possible I'm afraid. Where our body chooses to store fat or lose fat from is governed by our genes and hormones to a large extent. That said, focussing on getting to a healthy weight, should mean that excess fat starts to reduce from around your mid-section naturally. As we've learned, it's more common for us to store fat around our mid-section during and after the menopause – but following certain lifestyle factors to try and limit the weight gain associated with menopause can really help to reduce this.

It's really about sticking to an appropriate calorie allowance for weight loss (if this is necessary for you); staying active – particularly trying to include resistance and weight bearing exercise, as well as some high intensity bouts of exercise, which may help to limit fat storage around the mid-section; and eating a diet high in fibre and protein, and low in added sugars, to help balance insulin levels which may also promote fat storage around the middle.

Stress levels are also particularly important as it's believed having high levels of the stress hormone cortisol can promote extra fat storage around our middle. If your stress levels are up, now is the time to address these with exercise, dietary changes, lifestyle changes and getting quality sleep!

Getting plenty of protein is a good way to manage our appetite. Great vegetarian protein sources are milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, pulses, Quorn, tofu, nuts and seeds or vegetarian protein powders.

Jackie Bullock

"My periods are back and regulated with HRT but brain fog still around and pains in my legs and hips can be quite bad. The joys of being a woman!! Anyone got any advice to help with these pains?"

Sorry to hear you're suffering with additional aches and pains – this can be a commonly reported side effect of the menopause unfortunately. This isn’t an area that’s very well understood in terms of what causes these issues, so it can be tricky to combat. That said, there are certainly things you can do to try and reduce your chances of suffering with aching joints and muscles. I've made a few suggestions below:

  • Remain at or work towards a healthy weight: Being overweight will put extra pressure on joints, so maintaining a healthy body weight will reduce these issues.
  • Work on mobility: While it may be hard to want to exercise when you're feeling uncomfortable, keeping mobile with activities such as walking, swimming or yoga can help to keep our joints mobile and less uncomfortable as long as we're not overdoing it. Low impact exercises like swimming and yoga can be comfortable options to try.
  • Self care: Make sure you're taking it easy when you need to and try and enjoy warm baths with muscle relaxing bath oils. Also, why not book in for a relaxing massage to help ease any tight muscles? Now’s the time to treat yourself.

As well as these lifestyle approaches, your doctor should be able to help with specific treatment options depending on the severity of your discomfort. Make sure you don't suffer in silence and make an appointment with your GP to discuss your options.

Nutritionist Emma Brown (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.