Frustrated with Menopause Weight Gain

July 23, 2022

Menopause usually occurs when women are between the ages of 45 – 55 and it is estimated that 1.3 billion women worldwide will be in menopause by the year 2025. One of the most common complaints we hear in clinic is the sudden weight gain, as if a switch was flipped overnight. The tried and true ways of losing weight in the past don’t work the same way and, for these women, it feels like a different kind of struggle with weight in their 40s, 50s, 60s. In this show, we’ll talk more about what the main causes are for this weight gain and what lifestyle changes can be done to reverse a slow metabolism.

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KARA: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition. Today's show is brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. We are a company specializing in life changing nutrition education and counseling. My name is Kara Carper. I'm a licensed nutritionist, certified nutrition specialist. Coincidentally, next week, I'm going to turn 52. And the reason that that's relevant is because that's the average age most women go into menopause is 51, 52.

And that's what our topic is today. You know, growing up when I heard the term menopause, for some reason, I always pictured someone older, you know, maybe late sixties, maybe even seventies. In reality, menopause usually occurs when women are between the ages of 45 and 55. And I know at 51, 52, I certainly do not feel old. So I'm not sure why I had that misconception when I was growing up.

CASSIE: Well, don't you think though, when we're kids, all adults seem old, don't they?

KARA: I think you're right. I mean, our parents when we were teenagers.

CASSIE: Yes. Yeah. No matter if they're, you know, 35, 40, 75.

KARA: Yeah.

CASSIE: But now that you and I are the ages that we are, we know that 50 is the new 30, right?

KARA: It definitely is.

CASSIE: And honestly, you cannot be old enough to be in menopause, Kara. That doesn't seem right. Maybe you switch those numbers around: 52, 25. I don't know.

KARA: Thank you, Cassie.

CASSIE: And, and you have a daughter, you have to feel young and keep your energy up because you have a daughter in elementary school.

KARA: That's right. I mean, I was a little bit older when I did have my daughter. She's going into sixth grade. So I am one of the older moms at school, but I know I'm not alone. I know other, you know, moms of elementary and middle school age children who are also, you know, menopausal age. In fact, just last week, I was talking with another mom at school who's 45 and she's been in menopause for a little while. So for her, it, you know, it happened before the age of 45.

CASSIE: Oh, even before 45. And I have a neighbor too, that was late thirties. So, you know, you mentioned the age range, 45 to 55, but certainly we're all individual. Some ladies might experience menopause earlier and some might experience it later. You know, on this topic of menopause, I am betting we have a lot of women listening who are frustrated with that dreaded, unwanted menopausal weight gain. And if you're one of those frustrated women, this show is for you because over the next hour or so, Kara and I will be talking about the science behind why this weight gain often occurs. And more importantly, we'll be giving you solutions to combat the weight gain. And if you haven't recognized my voice by now, I'm Cassie Weness and I'll be the cohost today along with Kara Carper. I'm a licensed dietitian. I'm also a corporate nutrition educator for Nutritional Weight and wellness. And I'm really excited to be on air with you this morning, Kara. It's been a long time since we've done the show together.

KARA: It has. And it's really nice to just be back doing, you know, all in person shows. And it has been, it's been a while. You and I have, we've been around Nutritional Weight and Wellness for quite some time together. So this is going to be a great show.

CASSIE: Yeah. I think we started, we were talking about that before the show started today. I think we started at Nutritional Weight and Wellness about the same time. Does that sound right?

KARA: It does. Yeah.

CASSIE: Cause for me it was about 15 years ago.

KARA: Yep. And for me maybe like 16 or so.

CASSIE: Isn't that crazy?

KARA: Yeah.

CASSIE: That time has flown by, but that makes me say, feel old to save 15 years. Now, the upside to that is that both Kara and I have a lot of experience to share with you being that we've been working here at Nutritional Weight and Wellness for over a decade. So with that, let's dive into this topic, and I will tell you that when I first got the information from the bosses that our topic today was going to be that unwanted weight gain that can come along with menopause, my first thoughts were of all the different clients I've had over the years who would hit that age of 45 or 50, and they'd come into my office and complain about that weight gain around the middle. And many times they would say, it feels like it just happened overnight: this spare tire that's showing up.

KARA: Yeah. And we do, we hear that about the abdominal, the weight gain in the midsection. I'm, I'm hearing this from some of my friends too, who are my same age and just some like examples of things that they would complain about, you know, “My pants started feeling tight and just stopped fitting as well when I turned 48, 49.” Sometimes women tend to notice more of a gradual weight gain. They don't feel like it's overnight. And they might say ever since I went into menopause, I feel like I gain about a half pound every month. And I just, I can't stop this cycle and I put 15 pounds on and I'm so frustrated.” These are just examples of the stories that we hear.

CASSIE: That we've heard. And just to hear you say that, half a pound, you think, oh, well, no big deal. But then if that is adding up month after month.

KARA: Could be that 10, 15, 20 pounds.

CASSIE: Yeah. It, a couple years fly by. And then you are really frustrated with yourself. And I think for a lot of women, this weight gain feels like a switch was flipped overnight. And for you listeners struggling with this, you know that the tried and true ways of losing weight that maybe worked for you in the past don't work anymore. For a lot of women in their forties, fifties, sixties, losing any unwanted weight is definitely a different kind of struggle than it was in the past.

Research surrounding menopause


KARA: Correct. Yeah. And I mean, this is affecting a lot of women. It's estimated that 1.3 billion women, now this is worldwide, will be in menopause by the year 2025.

CASSIE: That's a lot. And so we want to educate those women. Right? What I find really interesting is that a lot of women that are that menopausal age or coming upon that age are kind of in the dark about a lot of what goes on during menopause. I know this from clinical experience. I also know this from the research. I came across the “State of Menopause” study when I was preparing for today's show. This looked at over a thousand women between the ages of 40 and 65. First of all, I found it surprising that it showed that about a third of women before going into menopause seek out information. I guess I'm someone that likes to know.

KARA: It's not a huge number.

CASSIE: Yeah. I was surprised cause I thought it would be bigger. This particular study also stated that half of the women in the study didn't even know the difference between perimenopause and menopause. And there was a lot of other information lacking amongst these women between the ages of 40 and 65 when it came to matters of menopause. And I think maybe partly that's because unfortunately it's still sort of a taboo topic for some women, but we feel that women deserve to have the right information. And that's really the goal of our show today. Kara and I want to inform and educate women who are in menopause and, and maybe struggling with some symptoms or side effects that this time of life often brings.

KARA: And Cassie, as you know, a nutritionist and a dietitian, you and I know that our metabolism, it does slow down at midlife if we compare metabolism to earlier in life. And Dr. Christiane Northrup states in her book, The Wisdom of Menopause, that the metabolic rate slows about 10 to 15%, and it becomes easier to store body fat, kind of the, you know, age 50, it kind of that medium age.

So here is something kind of interesting regarding that statistic. Nature actually designed us this way. So if we think back to hunter gatherer days, if a woman was getting older and she, at that time may have been less able to fend for herself, while having a menopausal body that was good and efficient at storing fat would have been helpful. You know, if it were hard to access food out in the wild, for example, however, Cassie, this is not very helpful for our modern day lifestyle.

CASSIE: No, no, it's not. It's not when we have food so readily available right; at every turn.

KARA: And that's part of the, the issue is the, just the processed foods and…

CASSIE: Yep. That are right at our fingertips all the time. So we don't need help storing fat. But I do think that is really interesting that the body is really an amazing machine in the way that it was designed. But also we do know that that slow down in metabolism that you were just talking about, Kara, is a small part of why women tend to gain weight in menopause.

Insulin resistance is major cause of weight gain for women


Insulin resistance is really the biggest cause of this frustrating weight gain for most women. And as our longtime listeners likely know, insulin resistance is often that step before prediabetes. And it certainly doesn't go away once prediabetes shows up. Insulin resistance kind of goes hand in hand with prediabetes. And interestingly enough, that's a common diagnosis during menopause: prediabetes. You know, it, it might be some of you can probably relate to this.

For years and years your lab work was always good when you went in for your checkup. Now you're in menopause. You go in for an annual, you know, physical and you get your lab work back, and the doctor or nurse calls you to tell you that your blood sugar numbers have crept up into that prediabetes range. Can any of you relate to that? Now, if you're wondering what that prediabetes range is, if your fasting blood sugar is anywhere between a hundred and 125, that's classified as prediabetes. And I want to talk more about why this often happens during menopause when we get back from this commercial.

KARA: You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Today's topic is about that frustrating weight gain that happens to a lot of women during menopause. Getting adequate sleep is very important, especially for women in menopause. And something I came across a statistic that even one night of being sleep deprived can increase insulin resistance, which Cassie mentioned, and we will come back and talk more about. But one night of being sleep deprived can increase insulin resistance by up to 33%. And so that's really that connection between lack of sleep and weight gain. So you want to stay tuned for more information on that when we come back.


Importance of sleep to prevent insulin resistance


CASSIE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. If you're just tuning in I'm Cassie Weness. I'm a licensed and registered dietitian. I'm in studio today with Kara Carper, who's a licensed nutritionist. And before we went to this last commercial break, Kara was talking about the importance of sleep and how if you're not getting enough sleep that over time can contribute to insulin resistance, which then leads to that unwanted belly fat around the middle. Now I should back up a minute and say, what do I really mean here when I say enough sleep? The research shows that most adults need at least seven and a half hours of sleep most nights of the week. So that's really what we're talking about here. This is such a big piece of the puzzle, this sleep piece, that we really don't have enough time in this short hour to dive into it.

But we have done several podcasts on the topic of sleep and unwanted weight gain in the past. So I just want to direct you to look at, look into some of our past podcasts if you're not sleeping well. Because you'll learn more about the why's and you'll also learn some tips for getting you sleeping better. In fact, we just aired a show called “Sleep and the Weight Connection” last month. So if you go to Dishing Up Nutrition, wherever you get your podcasts, whether it's Apple or Spotify or on our website, you'll want to look for the June 22nd podcast. So that was June 22nd, 2022. It's called Sleep and the Weight Connection. And you will, like I said, get the why’s and the how’s of getting a good night's sleep. Now I was talking about prediabetes before we went to break. And I mentioned that if your blood sugars, your fasting blood sugars get into that range of 100 to 125, that's prediabetes.

So I really encourage everyone if you get time later today, look up your lab work if you're not sure what it is, and see what that latest fasting blood sugar was. I know for my husband, when he, and now he's got his numbers in a good range, but he reached that prediabetes range and nobody red flagged it. Like he went in for his doctor appointment. I went in, you know how you can look, you have a password in the system.

KARA: MyChart.

CASSIE: Yep, look at MyChart and look at the numbers, cause of course, I'm interested in all these different numbers. I'm the one that went in and looked and I'm like, oh my gosh, husband of mine, you have prediabetes. And I called the nurse and questioned her. Like, why wouldn't you alert somebody to this? And she really had no answer for me, but it was really frustrating because when you catch it early, when it's in that prediabetes stage, it's easy to reverse.

But I guess my bottom line here is you need to look out for yourself. So know what your blood sugar numbers are. Personally, as a clinical dietitian, when I was seeing clients in practice, I wanted that fasting glucose at 90 or less. Once that fasting glucose, that fasting blood sugar starts to creep up toward 100, that's a sign that you're experiencing at least some level of insulin resistance. And maybe, Kara, we should explain why does insulin resistance lead to prediabetes?

KARA: Yeah. Yeah. That's a, that's a great idea. Maybe we can try to paint a picture, kind of give our listeners a visual, cause you and I know this stuff because we teach it.

CASSIE: Right.

The biochemistry of insulin resistance


KARA: But not everybody knows what's biochemically going on with insulin resistance, but we just want to, Cassie and I want to emphasize this isn't something that happens overnight. It's it does happen when somebody is consuming too many sugar, too much sugar, too many carbohydrates, usually in the form of like a starchy white carbohydrate, like pasta, bread, bagels, cereal chips; that type of thing.

CASSIE: Granola bars, pancakes. You name it. Like it just goes on and on.

KARA: And usually there's a combination of like an unhealthy oil, maybe like a soybean or a cotton seed. So think kind of all those boxed and frozen processed foods, fast food. These are the things over time that can lead to insulin resistance. And typically that happens because when we eat a meal with bad fats and too much sugar and carbs, our blood sugar goes up too high.

CASSIE: Right. And I always visualize, so we're spiking that blood sugar too high and too fast. One meal, not a big deal. You know, if you do that Thanksgiving and on your birthday, whatever, that's not what we're talking about. But if you're doing that day in and day out, spiking that blood sugar too high, it's almost like just for simplistic, a simplistic visual here. It's like those high blood sugars start to create this crust around the cells in your body.

So visualize that all your cells, particularly your muscle cells have this hard crust. And so now, because there's this coating around your cells, now, even if you stop and eat a really healthy balanced meal, the little bit of sugar that let's say the sweet potato turns into on your plate, when you're eating healthy, that little bit of sugar from that sweet potato can't even get into your muscle cells for energy because you've created this crust. In other words, insulin resistance.

KARA: Right. So then the body has, first of all, it has this excess glucose or blood sugar circulating. We have excess insulin circulating and the glucose has to be dumped somewhere cause the insulin can't get it into the cells. So guess where it gets dumped?

CASSIE: But, but let's back up; before we dump it, this is where the doctor tests your blood sugar.

KARA: Yes.

CASSIE: Like Kara said that excess sugar, now it's just circulating because you have this hard crust. You can't get it into your muscle cells for energy. You go to the doctor and test your blood sugar and you're in that prediabetes range.

KARA: Yeah. And there you are. You're at one fasting glucose of 120 maybe.

CASSIE: Yep. And then I love where you were going next.

KARA: Yeah. Well then it has to be dumped somewhere. And so unfortunately this is where it gets stored as body fat. Too much insulin becomes a fat storing hormone.

CASSIE: Yes. So you get that double whammy. You have too high of blood sugars potentially in that prediabetes range and you're storing your calories very easily as fat.

KARA: Much more easily as back when you were a teenager. So this is the pattern that a lot of menopausal women are experiencing. We just wanted to explain the biochemistry and that it can take decades for this to happen. But it, it often does start in the forties, fifties, and sixties.

Signs of insulin resistance


Some other signs of being insulin resistant: we talked about the high fasting glucose, that weight around the midsection. Also high triglycerides. Triglycerides is a measurement, it's a cholesterol measurement. We would like triglycerides to be closer to a hundred or lower. Because if you have high triglycerides, that's just more sugar circulating in the blood. And it just means that your body isn't efficiently burning up, you know, those sugars and those carbs. And because of that low energy is another very common sign of insulin resistance.

CASSIE: Yes. And none of these signs that you just mentioned are good, are they? And when it comes to that weight gain around your midsection, what I see as the most frustrating part for a lot of women is that they think it's either their fault or that it's an inevitable part of getting older and going through menopause. But truly women can successfully battle this menopausal weight gain if they're willing to make some adjustments. So it is possible. That's the upside of this story.

It is possible to maintain a healthy weight throughout menopause and certainly in that post-menopause stage with the right adjustments. And Kara, you were before we went on the air, you were reminding me of a famous quote out there and, and maybe this is a good time to say it. There is a lady by the name of Jesse Potter. She was a family counselor and an educator on family relationships. And at this women's conference back in the eighties, she was quoted as saying, “If you always do what you've always done, you always get what you've always gotten.” Now I'm sure Ms. Potter was talking about that in relation to you know, families and family relationships, but we can apply this to our diet and our lifestyle habits too.

KARA: Sure. Yeah. We that's a transferable quote. Definitely. I love it. So it sounds like what you're saying is that if somebody is listening and they're frustrated with having gained weight during menopause or around that time, it's, it might be try time to try something different, not the run of the mill diet advice that historically has not worked. We're kind of talking about the low-calorie, low-fat approach that just has not worked for women. And we also, we’ll say it once. We'll say it again, but insulin resistance can take years, sometimes decades to manifest and start having weight gain. So it, it takes some time to heal those cells and the cell receptors to reverse that insulin resistance. So, you know, we just want to say be patient. You will likely start having more energy first and some other benefits.

CASSIE: Patience is key, isn't it? But it makes sense when you think about, like you said, Kara, that insulin resistance doesn't happen overnight. It takes years to develop. So it's logical that it's going to take some time to heal. But right, there are some side benefits that you most likely will see in the short term and energy is one of them; improved energy, but I'm going to talk about some additional positive effects of eating in a way that heals that insulin resistance when we come back from commercial.

KARA: So you're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition and in today's show, just to recap, we're talking about menopausal weight gain and how insulin resistance is really the cause behind that. So in addition to keeping blood sugar balanced, and we recommend doing that by eating a balance of animal protein, healthy fats and vegetable carbohydrates, another great tool is to add in a high quality omega three supplement, you know, that can really help to heal those cell receptors while we're eating a balanced diet of course. And as our cell receptors heal, they are going to become more responsive to this insulin. And that's when women will start noticing that they're dropping pounds. So we'll be right back after break.


Steps to heal insulin resistance


CASSIE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. So we're talking about that unwanted weight gain that comes along with menopause for many women. And we've kind of set the stage for the fact that the most important thing, well, maybe we haven't yet set the stage, so maybe I'll do it now. I think we've set the stage for the fact that insulin resistance is the biggest piece of the puzzle that's leading to that unwanted weight gain. What we really haven't talked about yet is that the two things that over time lead to insulin resistance are the processed carbs and the manmade fats. Kara mentioned that briefly, but I don't know if all the listeners caught it. So years of eating too many processed carbs, like the bread and the pasta and the French fries, along with the bad fats, like canola oil, corn oil, cotton seed oil, over time, that's what creates that hard crust around our cells that Kara and I were talking about, which is just a good visual for insulin resistance.

So it makes sense, doesn't it, that in order to heal insulin resistance, you want to cut back or maybe even avoid altogether the processed carbohydrates and the manmade unhealthy fats. In addition, it's a good idea to add an omega-3 fish oil supplement because this can really help to heal those cell membranes, to heal that insulin resistance. And I, I just find the research on omega threes astonishing, even though, you know, I've known them for a long time, but even the most recent study published on our intake of omega-3 fish oils; this comes from last year, 2021. This study showed that 68% of adults do not get enough omega threes. That's a big chunk, and 95% of kids in this country don't get enough omega threes on a regular basis.

So certainly make sense to consider a supplement, especially if you're perimenopausal or menopausal. And I know when I was in clinical practice, I always had clients start out at 3,000 milligrams because what I found was that that was the lowest starting therapeutic dose that helped to heal insulin resistance. You could certainly take more. You could safely bump that up to 6,000 milligrams. Just make sure it's a high quality omega-3 fish oil supplement. And again, I'll just reiterate what Kara said. None of this is an overnight fix. Healing insulin resistance takes time. And so that weight loss is going to take some time too, but just know that as you heal insulin resistance, you're also reducing other risk factors, like your risk factor for heart disease, your risk factor for cancer, and even for Alzheimer's disease.

KARA: All inflammatory conditions, which insulin resistance is also inflammatory.

CASSIE: Yeah. So makes sense. Doesn't it? The dots, the dots connect. And the upside here too, is that as you heal that insulin resistance and wait for the weight loss to come, you're going to have positive side effects. Kara mentioned more energy. Most people notice they start sleeping better. Your moods usually get more even keel. A lot of my clients have told me that that brain fog lifts as they start to eat in a way that heals insulin resistance, so, and eating in a way that heals insulin resistance really is just getting back to real food, right? Protein, vegetable carbs, healthy fats.

KARA: Yeah. And you know, there, we're going to talk about kind of the three most common patterns or habits that women tend to kind of get stuck on. You know, and this can start maybe when they're even a teenager. Maybe it starts in their twenties or thirties, but it's the decades of doing these three particular things that we feel are the most common reasons to get this mid, like the midlife menopausal weight gain.

CASSIE: So I want listeners to really perk up their ears.

KARA: Perk up their ears serious. Here's the three. Get your notepad.

CASSIE: Can you check all these off?

Common reasons for menopausal weight gain


KARA: So the first one, number one is just growing up with a history of eating a lot of processed, more convenience foods instead of growing up with, you know, a home prepared meal. Number two is women that just kind of do a lot of the yo-yo dieting, on and off dieting. Most of that tends to be low fat eating, low calorie eating, kind of that calorie counting approach. Number three is having a tendency to skip meals. And what happens is the blood sugar gets very low in, in those circumstances. And then women tend to overeat the less than healthy foods that can lead to insulin resistance. So those are kind of the three and we're just going to touch briefly on each one of those.

CASSIE: And I bet a lot of listeners can say yes to all three of those.

KARA: Yeah. We, a lot of our clients have struggled with most of these.

CASSIE: Yeah, yeah. You know, and just to be real, Kara and I know that likely everybody listening to our show today knows one or two or three or more women in that menopausal age range that have never struggled with weight. And maybe that seems unfair to many of our listeners, but we are all unique. We have a different, each of us has a different genetic makeup. And for some of us, our genes are just, they allow us to, to better handle carbs.

KARA: Mm-Hmm, that’s right.

CASSIE: To burn, burn carbs more efficiently versus a lot of women probably feel like they can just look at a loaf of fresh baked bread and they gain weight. There are those few women that can handle a lot of carbs and they just burn it rather than storing it as body fat, but they're not the majority.

KARA: That's right. And so maybe we could start with that number one bullet point. Just kind of think to yourself, are you someone who grew up eating a processed foods diet?

CASSIE: Right. And when we say processed food, I feel like it's really the era that we grew up in Kara. Right? And our parents didn't know that they were feeding us in a, you know, somewhat unhealthy manner. I mean, a processed food diet is cold breakfast cereal in the morning. I mean, raise your hand if you had that most mornings of the week and you probably poured some skim milk.

KARA: I'm raising my hand.

CASSIE: Right. I bet a lot of our listeners are too. You probably poured skim milk over the top and maybe had a piece of toast with it

KARA: And a banana.

CASSIE: Oh my gosh. It's a lot of sugar, high sugar fruit. And then maybe a sandwich at lunchtime. You know, when we say processed, anything that you could not theoretically grow in your garden or pick from a tree is processed, right? So cold breakfast cereal, the bread for the sandwich. Maybe you had pasta for dinner very often, whether it was spaghetti or lasagna. This is a processed food diet. And I do think it's what a lot of us grew up on. So you're not alone if, if this is you.

KARA: Yeah. No, it's really common. And really, really want to emphasize no judgment for anyone. You know, I, I grew up eating a lot of cold cereal for breakfast. No blame to parents who may have fallen into this pattern, but we do want to educate today and just let everyone know that that is considered a processed foods diet, the cereal for breakfast, grabbing Lunchables, pasta for dinner. You know, those types of foods do set the body up to be in fat storing insulin resistance mode.

And you know, what, what comes to mind is two of our wonderful and knowledgeable staff members, Nell and Nikki. And now I, I feel at liberty to share this because they've both been on air and shared personal stories about how they grew up not eating the healthiest foods, maybe grew up in a processed foods diet. And because of that history, to this day, they do kind of have a, an ongoing challenge with insulin resistance. And they both eat very well. And, but they do have to be careful and they're unable to overindulge in some sugars and carbs because that history and having the insulin resistance. So I just wanted to point that out. Like we're all human. We have, there's a lot of staff here who can, who can resonate with our listeners as well.

CASSIE: And I'm so glad you brought that up too from the standpoint of insulin resistance can start really young. So you take Nikki and Nell, for example, that insulin resistance, the stage was set for them as a child. So now here they are as adults. And like you said, they both have to really be intentional, intentional about their food choices because of the insulin resistance that was, that was created at a young age.

So parents, grandparents listening, you know, let this message not only help you, but be a model for your kids and talk to your kids too, about what is a healthy real food diet, because you'll be doing them a huge favor once they get into adulthood. Maybe your insulin resistance has shown up because you did that yoyo dieting, like Kara mentioned. Maybe you did the low-fat, low-calorie food plan to lose weight like so many of us did back in the day, you know, think about it: when you're eating low fat, you're not giving your body enough healthy, real fats that we need to make hormones.

And usually low fat means high carb. Right? Because you take out such a big chunk of, you know, a source of calories there, you have to fill it in with something. So you tend to turn more to pasta or some type of carbohydrate. So it just is a vicious circle that's not good.

KARA: Yeah. And I'm so glad that you brought up that we need healthy fat, like going on a low-fat, low-calorie diet is actually detrimental to our hormones. That, you know, the fat we eat, that is the building blocks of our hormones. So we're going to go to a quick break and you're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Just to recap. I'm Kara Carper here today with Cassie Weness. Do you experience brain fog, PMS, hot flashes, maybe acne along the jawline? These symptoms can often be caused by a hormonal imbalance. We have something very special for you coming up and it's for all of you listeners. It starts Monday, July 25th. What it is, it's a free five-day challenge. It's called “Take Control: How to Rebalance Hormones Naturally”. So I'm excited to share more information on that when we come back.


CASSIE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. As Kara was mentioning, before we went to break, we have an exciting free five-day challenge starting Monday, July 25th. It's called “Take Control: How to Rebalance Hormones Naturally”. And again, this is a free challenge. Why not sign up?

You're going to learn the connection between food and hormone balance. You'll have access to a private Facebook group. You'll also have a daily Facebook live hosted by Kara. And I believe if one of those days you can't attend for some reason, you'll have a window where you can watch the recording. Is that right, Kara?

KARA: I believe that yeah, the recording after the live will just be in that Facebook private group.

CASSIE: Perfect. And you get daily resources sent right to your email inbox. So if you're interested, you can sign up for this challenge by going to So before we went to break, I'm sure we were talking about weight gain.

Skipping meals can lead to insulin resistance


KARA: Yeah, we were talking about kind of the three common patterns that women get caught in that over decades can lead to insulin resistance around the menopausal years. So the growing up with processed foods was one, the history of just yoyo dieting and constantly being on low calorie, low fat diets. And then the third one that I wanted to just briefly talk about is the habit of skipping meals. And there's different reasons that people skip meals. Sometimes it's for the purpose of saving calories or trying to lose weight. And just thinking that, that old, that misconception of calories in, calories out approach will work. But often that…

CASSIE: We are more complicated than that.

KARA: We are much more complicated than that. And it's more than calories and calories out. Some women, however, I, you know, they skip meals. I think I hear this from friends. I used to hear it from clients. They're just busy. People are busy these days, right? And if somebody is not really prioritizing having a prepared breakfast with a packed snack and they know what they're going to have for lunch, it's easy to just kind of go about your day, maybe grabbing a cup of coffee.

CASSIE: And fly by the seat of your pants.

KARA: Just see what, what happens, where, go to the vending machine, maybe grab a granola bar, that's high sugar.

CASSIE: And it, it doesn't work. It doesn't work. So what I hear you saying, Kara, is that we need a plan.

KARA: We do need a plan.

CASSIE: Listeners need a plan. You and I follow a plan. Having a meal plan that's thought out and that incorporates that magic number three. Now a lot of people know what I'm talking about here, but in case you don't magic number three means you want to eat a protein, a real carbohydrate, preferably a vegetable, but maybe it's a fruit or, or, you know, wild rice or something like that. So a carbohydrate and a fat; protein, carbohydrate, healthy fat; those three things. And the other part of that magic number three is that you want to eat about every three hours.

KARA: And that's a really easy way to remember it.

CASSIE: Yeah. Yeah. And then it just starts to become routine. But again, having a plan, having a meal plan thought out. So think about that: three things every three hours, that means you are eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and some snacks in between there. But the benefit is real. And if you do this day after day after day, week after week, you can heal your insulin resistance.

KARA: Right. And we had said previously in the show, please, please remember to be patient during this process. Some listeners may find that they are, you know, losing weight and noticing it pretty quickly. But if you are someone who is not losing weight right away, just remember it will happen. And in the meantime, just enjoy that better night's sleep.

More on healing insulin resistance


And really just pay attention to that mental clarity that you're having in the meantime while your, while your cells are healing. Because it is it's, it's reversible. Prediabetes and insulin resistance are both reversible. That might be really new information. We've done shows on that topic as well. If you are interested in checking out those specific topics, you can go to and just type in type in any search topic that you're interested in. We have hundreds of past radio shows.

But there is actually research, Cassie showing that by reducing starchy processed carbohydrates and sugar for several days, the insulin receptors will start to repair that quickly. And they'll, they're able to uptake glucose or blood sugar more easily within a matter of days.

CASSIE: So imagine, remember we talked about the cells have a crust around them when you have insulin resistance. And so that sugar, that fuel can't get in to give your cells energy, but you're saying Kara, thinking carbs. You're saying that that crust will start to disintegrate, start to fall away, and then insulin can do its work. And our muscle cells can actually accept those calories, that sugar for energy. That's why your energy gets better.

KARA: Right.

CASSIE: That's why your blood sugars get back into a normal range.

KARA: They get under the pre-diabetic range.

CASSIE: I think this is a good reminder for listeners to heal your cells, cut back on or greatly reduce those starchy carbohydrates. And then remember the magic number three: protein, carb, healthy fat, those three things about every three hours. And then we mentioned it earlier, but we should repeat it: adding in a high quality omega three fish oil supplement can really help to repair and make the cells more sensitive to insulin.

And again, like I mentioned, starting at 3000 milligrams, that's a great starting dose. So for a lot of brands of omega-3 fish oils, that means three capsules. So if you're only taking one, you're not taking enough.

KARA: Right. I do, I do, we hear that a lot where someone is taking their one fish oil a day and while that's not bad, that's not enough to heal the cells.

CASSIE: Correct.

KARA: And so we, you know, we've talked a lot about insulin in today's show. And one thing that we haven't talked about is what does this look like as far as carbohydrates? How many, and we, I don't like to get too caught up in the numbers, but let's just give our listeners some ranges here. And we encourage you to be reading labels when you go to the grocery store. Not, not that things too many of things in your grocery cart should have a box with a label, but, you know, it's, it's important to kind of know, like I'm going to have some wild rice. Well, that's a half cup of cooked, you know, is going to be approximately 25 to 30 grams of carbohydrates.

CASSIE: Oh, great point. Because you can overdo it on the real food too.

KARA: Yes.

CASSIE: And, and contribute to more insulin resistance. So servings sizes are important.

Carbohydrate recommendations


KARA: It is important. And if weight loss is a goal and reduce, reducing those high blood sugars is a goal, we suggest striving for 25 to 30 grams of carbohydrates for a meal. And about half of that for a snack, maybe 15, 20 grams of carbohydrates for a snack and pairing that carbohydrate of course, with a protein and a healthy fat. But you might be surprised when you start reading labels. You know, something as simple as a Cliff snack bar has upwards of 45 grams of carbohydrates. So if we divide that by four, that tells us that that's turning into 10 teaspoons of sugar in our bloodstream.

CASSIE: That's too much. When I was on with Carolyn not long ago on Dishing Up Nutrition, we talked about how the American Heart Association said no more than six teaspoons of sugar for women in a day. And this Cliff bar.

KARA: Over exceeds it right there. Yeah.

CASSIE: Yeah. So, yeah. And going back to what we said before, you need a plan because if you don't have a plan, you may very easily wake up in the morning and, you know, just grab a cup of coffee and head out the door, or maybe you just make yourself a piece of toast and you grab a Diet Coke and you head out the door. We need to have a plan.

KARA: And those are examples, what you just said, that could lead to more insulin resistance and weight gain over time. So it's all about making a plan to stop that cycle. We want to stop the vicious cycle. So Cassie we're coming up to the end of our show. So I thought it would be helpful if we just did a quick recap.

So today's show we really focused on the frustration that a lot of women have midlife when they start noticing that annoying weight gain, usually around the midsection, around the time of menopause. And so this stems from something called insulin resistance and some of the most common causes of insulin resistance, and again, these things happen over decades usually. Growing up and just having a history of growing up, eating a lot of convenience and more processed foods that tend to be higher sugar, maybe with paired with some bad fats.

Also, women that have been on diets quite a bit, gone on and off of diets. Maybe weight has fluctuated up and down and been trying the low-calorie, low-fat approach, which doesn't work and does not include healthy fats that we need for hormone balance. And then also that tendency to skip meals, which often, you know, leads to overindulging in less than healthy choices later in the day.

CASSIE: So what can we do to move forward?

KARA: What can we do?

CASSIE: It all comes back. The message is simple. Might be a little bit harder to implement, but the message is simple. Magic number three. So that's eating real food in balance: protein, vegetable carbohydrate, healthy fat, those three things about every three hours. A great one dish meal that will get you those three things comes from our Weight and Wellness cookbook. It's the Crockpot Mexican Chicken Wraps. It's…

KARA: Oh, I love that one.

CASSIE: It’s delicious. It gets all the components right in there. And then also don't forget a high quality omega-3 fish oil supplement is also important to include to heal insulin resistance.

KARA: So our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. And it's a simple, but a very powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thank you for listening and have a wonderful day.

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