How To Avoid Menopause Weight Gain

October 14, 2023

If you are a female listener between the ages of 40 – 70, chances are you are familiar with the terms perimenopause and menopause. In the United States, about 6,000 women DAILY and more than 2 million women yearly reach menopause. While symptoms vary from hot flashes to mood swings to sleep issues to night sweats and more, today we want to cover the dreaded weight gain during perimenopause and menopause. Tune in to learn the reasons why annoying weight gain occurs during this time of life and walk away with tips on what nutritional and lifestyle steps to take to get back to feeling like your old self.

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MELANIE: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition, brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. We are a company specializing in life-changing nutrition education and counseling. I'm Melanie Beasley, a Licensed and Registered Dietitian. Chances are, if you're a female, listener, between the ages of 40 and 70, you are familiar with the terms perimenopause and menopause or the terms hot flashes and night sweats. Is that currently in your vocabulary right now? Or what about mood swings, maybe sleep issues, vaginal dryness and urinary incontinence?

Listeners, if these terms sound familiar, well, you are not alone. In the United States, about 6,000 women daily and more than 2 million women yearly reach menopause. So welcome to the club ladies. My cohost and I today are going to be talking about this issue with you this morning.

BRITNI: And with the average life expectancy of women being 81, the Mayo Clinic reports that women are spending more than a third of their lives in menopause.


BRITNI: Yeah. Interesting to think about. Yeah.

MELANIE: And some of the reasons for women and men living longer these days, especially compared to 50 or a hundred years ago, is because of improved medical technologies. I think we can all agree to that.


MELANIE: Also, we have improved public health and fewer infectious diseases, which is interesting. But before you ladies start worrying about the idea of suffering in menopause for all those years, we are here today to tell you it doesn't have to be miserable.

BRITNI: And that is our topic today: talking all about menopause. I am Britni Vincent, a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, and Melanie and I want to specifically focus on something women are frustrated with in your forties and older, and it's menopausal weight gain; how to avoid that menopause weight gain is what we're going to be talking a lot about today. And we want to educate you listeners on reasons why annoying menopause weight gain occurs, what nutritional and lifestyle steps to take to get back to feeling like your old self.

And I want to add, if you're not there yet, you know, I'm not there yet; you can get ahead of it, you know, by doing some of the things that we talk about today, that may help to prevent you from that menopause weight gain.

MELANIE: So this show is for every woman.


What does it mean to be in menopause?

MELANIE: Every woman. So are you wondering what it means to be in menopause? We should probably talk about that. If you have not had a menstrual cycle for 12 consecutive months, that's the definition of menopause. Many women experience perimenopause, which are those years leading up to menopause. And the average age is 51 for menopause. But perimenopause can happen anywhere from forties to late fifties. And also surgical menopause can happen.

BRITNI: Yeah. Yeah. That's a really good point. Now I know people who stopped menstruating in their late thirties, and there was even a client years ago who was over 60 and still menstruating. So the window of time is pretty broad as to when menopause can happen.

MELANIE: Well, although each one of my clients is different and unique, there are patterns when it comes to menopause. It's not uncommon for my menopausal clients to say things like, why are my pants so tight when I'm not eating any different or exercising less? I hear that. It's frustrating. Or they might say, I feel like eating a few French fries or that second glass of wine, or maybe some popcorn on Friday night has caused me to expand around my midsection. And this never used to happen in my thirties and forties. I used to be able to eat what I wanted. Times change.

BRITNI: Yeah. That is so relatable. I hear that a lot from clients and also because we are nutritionists and dietitians, and we understand the chemistry of what's actually going on inside the body during menopause. And you know, it is true that metabolism changes. There's no getting, getting around that. But we view it as a negative thing. And I like to think of it as a normal part of aging.

MELANIE: Yeah, it is. It's a normal part of aging unless you're a male.

BRITNI: Yeah. Yeah.

MELANIE: So, you know, I'm curious, and I want us to talk a little bit more about research.

BRITNI: Yes. So we know our bodies are amazing, wise, strong, and there is a reason for all changes, including the changes that come with menopause. Did you know that there's something in biology called the mother hypothesis? Our female bodies in evolution were designed to stop menstruating as we age.


BRITNI: Just makes, makes sense.

MELANIE: It does.

BRITNI: And the reason why is not getting pregnant or giving birth later in life reduces the risk of infant mortality. It's all about survival. Our bodies are programmed for survival from prehistoric times. And I think this is a really interesting perspective that, you know, is not necessarily talked about a lot, but our bodies do a lot of things that were designed to suit us for prehistoric times. And our bodies haven't necessarily evolved to, to keep up with these modern times. And you know, of course we're not denying that many of you are suffering and not enjoying those menopausal years, but I just wanted to give you a little bit of history and science about why our bodies are naturally meant to transition around the age of 45 to 55.

MELANIE: It's really something to think about. I find it, I find it fascinating.


MELANIE: You know, and when you, when you circle back to it's survival.


Hormones to keep in check

MELANIE: That makes a lot of sense. And we know that weight gain is a big struggle for many of our clients. So have any of you heard from your friends and family, maybe your doctor, that hormones are to blame for your menopausal weight gain? Well, if so, that's true. But it may surprise you that more hormones are involved than you might think.

BRITNI: Hmm. Yeah. I think a lot of people hear the message that estrogen is the only hormone involved with menopause. And the word on the street is that no one has enough estrogen during menopause, so they need more estrogen. And that does not necessarily tell the whole story.

MELANIE: No, that's a really great point because our bodies have a great deal of hormones, but we don't talk about a lot of them. And yes, it is true that during menopause there's often a decrease in estrogen. But however, there is a much bigger picture like you mentioned and other hormones that are just as important to balance us during menopause or hormones such as cortisol, insulin, and progesterone. Those are big players.

BRITNI: Yeah. Can you repeat that? Say all those hormones again, because I know not everybody is familiar with those.

MELANIE: Cortisol, insulin and progesterone. So I wonder how many of our listeners are doing a little Google. So sure: cortisol is our stress hormone. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugars and progesterone is a calming reproductive hormone and it needs to be in balance with estrogen. It's a delicate balance in there, our hormonal structure.

BRITNI: Yeah, it really is. So what you are saying is it's not as simple as going to your doctor asking to be put on hormone replacement therapy if you have menopausal weight gain.

MELANIE: I feel like that's a band aid.


MELANIE: It's not fixing the problem.


MELANIE: Although we don't have time to do a deep dive into hormone replacement therapy today, I do remember covering that topic in more depth when I filmed the Menopause Survival Seminar, which is a six hour recorded seminar available to purchase on our website. And we touch on hormone replacement therapy and many, many other related topics such as bone health, hair loss, insomnia; everything that could be menopause related, we go there.

Sign up for Menopause Solutions – Online

BRITNI: That's a really great resource if you're looking for even more detailed information. And so I want to start by explaining a little more about progesterone. You know, we mentioned that during perimenopause and menopause, estrogen declines, but the drop in the hormone progesterone is way more dramatic.


BRITNI: Which means women might experience hot flashes, insomnia, depression, anxiety, low sex drive, and vaginal dryness. It's important to keep estrogen and progesterone sort of even, so having more estrogen in comparison to your progesterone causes something called estrogen dominance. And that can cause uncomfortable menopausal symptoms that can also lead to weight gain.

MELANIE: I wish I would've known this.

BRITNI: Yeah. Mm-hmm. Mm-Hmm. You know, estrogen is a hormone that can cause fat storage. Fat cells actually make estrogen. But the good news is estrogen dominance can be reversed. And we will definitely talk more about that. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Today's topic is how to avoid menopause weight gain. You know, menopause is often a taboo topic. Women don't want to complain about the symptoms, but it is a natural phenomenon that happens to every single woman. So why are we so afraid to talk about it?

Well, actually, we are not afraid to talk about all of the details. That's why the Menopause Survival Seminar is six hours of recorded video. And it is designed to help you navigate this time in your life in a way more comfortable way. We'll be right back after the break.


MELANIE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Britni and I are passionate about the topic of menopause because we know how much the power of real food can make a big difference in reducing those symptoms that ladies may be experiencing. The Menopause Survival Seminar is available on our website, We filmed six hours of recorded content and it's paired with an 80-page survival guide reference. There are recipes, articles, and guides leading you in the right direction for meal planning and supplementation. And our office can answer any questions as well: 651-699-3438.

Sign up for Menopause Solutions - Online

BRITNI: So before break we were talking about progesterone and how during perimenopause, menopause, our progesterone levels really take a, a nosedive.

Natural progesterone cream can help alleviate menopausal symptoms

MELANIE: Yeah, yeah. And cause those symptoms. So I really do like the natural progesterone cream for sleep. I prescribe it a lot with my clients for sleep. It's a relaxing, calming hormone. And the cream that we sell at our office is called Emerita Pro-Gest. And I recommend like a fourth to a half of a teaspoon on a thin part of my client's skin before bed. But anyone having hot flashes can use it during the day as well, like in the morning when you get out of the shower.

It's a nice safe low dose of 20 milligrams, which is the amount of progesterone your ovaries would produce. And it's from a natural source of yams. This is, we're not talking a chemical produced in lab.

BRITNI: Yeah, that's a really great point. You know, I have some of my clients do that as well to reduce both hot flashes and night sweats, but helping the sleep is also really…

MELANIE: So important to get that sleep.

BRITNI: To reduce both hot flashes and night sweats and to help them sleep better.

MELANIE: Which is a big deal.

BRITNI: And then for some women it can also help with increasing libido and vaginal dryness.

MELANIE: Oh, that's great. I like to use it for myself and it helps reduce hot flashes and night sweats. It did help me sleep quite a bit better. So kind of addicted.

BRITNI: That's great.

MELANIE: Yeah. Out of six college friends, we have a cabin trip every winter. As of last year, four of us are using that progesterone cream and it also can really help with other symptoms as well.

What is insulin and how does it work?

BRITNI: You know, we've been talking about progesterone. Let's talk more about the other hormones at play. So insulin is another important key player here. Insulin is the master hormone, and it definitely has an effect on all the other hormones in the body. There's kind of a cascade effect that happens if your insulin is too elevated. So what exactly is insulin and how does it work?

MELANIE: Well, okay, whenever we eat carbohydrates, our blood sugar goes up. And if we are eating healthy, real food carbohydrates, like mostly vegetables, moderate or small amounts of fruit or starch in there, then our blood sugar goes up just a little bit and in turn a little bit of insulin is made to bring it back down. It's a, it's a delicate balance.

BRITNI: Mm-Hmm. So when was the last time you ate a coffee shop muffin or a bagel or a bake of chips? These processed high carbohydrate foods will spike your blood sugar quite a bit. So a lot of insulin is produced to bring that blood sugar back down. You know, for most people, no big deal. If you eat a higher carb meal every once in a while, you know, our bodies are generally resilient enough. But what happens if you are eating a lot of carbohydrates on a regular basis, you know, coming from bread, cracker, pasta, even eating really large amounts of fruit, cereal, the body is then flooded with high blood sugars and your pancreas produces more insulin to bring that blood sugar into the cell.

MELANIE: So it's good to note that the fat storage that happens from too much insulin can be reversed over time. And really it's about eating in balance with lots of protein, some vegetable carbohydrates, and maybe a little bit of fruit or starch to go with it. And just eliminating that processed pastry, sugar, chips out of the diet and this in turn lowers and reverses insulin resistance.

The importance of eating enough protein

BRITNI: It's a great explanation. And so you, you mentioned protein, I mean, ladies, we really need to be eating more protein, or at least most, most of us do. And I know for me personally, this is something I need to be extra conscious about to, to ensure that I am getting enough. You know, if you can get three to five ounces of protein for breakfast, that's really ideal. You know, for example, this morning we had leftover meatballs. So I had some leftover meatballs and I ensured that I got closer to four to five ounces of protein from those. I had about a half a cup of sweet potato with that, and then some broccoli with butter on top of it.

MELANIE: That sounds delicious.

BRITNI: Nothing fancy, easy.

MELANIE: You reinvented what breakfast could look like.


MELANIE: You know, it's important as we go into menopause also that we actually need more protein to prevent muscle loss and bone loss. So focusing on that lunch yesterday I had like a beef stew that probably had about four ounces of ground burger in it. And then on top of that I had a protein shake.

Healthy fat helps us make hormones

MELANIE: So I'm always trying to get enough protein. You have to really focus. So if you had your four ounces of protein, some healthy fat, you know, like butter, and we need that healthy fat. So you mentioned that healthy fat in your meal. So the healthy fat is important because it helps us make the hormones.

BRITNI: Yes. So important.

MELANIE: So important not to be a low fat during this time. Or ever.

BRITNI: And I'm really glad you touched on higher protein needs. So after menopause it is more difficult to gain muscle. So in order to do that, you need to be eating enough protein. And then strength training helps as well.


BRITNI: Yeah. And then, you know, I know personally, and I hear this from clients too, if you get that large amount of protein at your meals and start your day like that, you are, your appetite is curbed and you are way less likely to have cravings.

Restrictive eating is not supportive

MELANIE: Yes. If you don't start the day out right, you're going to be behind the power curve and the cravings will get on top of you the entire day. So keeping that blood sugar balanced out the gate like you did with the meatball meal: fantastic. Another thing, Britni, that I tell my clients who are concerned about that menopausal weight gain is it's all about balance, and eating real food carbohydrates; not the ones that come in a box or can, but stick with carbohydrates that grow in the ground. Or maybe you can, you know, find in nature. You know, fresh and frozen are best rather than canned. And that is going to help balance everything out. It's not about restricting calories. It's about the blood sugar balance.


MELANIE: Women are really happy that I'm giving them a lot of food after they've really been restrictive.


MELANIE: No one likes a deprivation brain.

BRITNI: No. I just had a client yesterday actually, and she, she is postmenopausal and her comment to me was, “I can't believe I am losing weight eating this much food.”

MELANIE: It's wonderful.

BRITNI: Yeah, it is. And yeah. Which then you're not, you're not fighting off those cravings all day long, which is so, so important.

MELANIE: And this is why it's not sustainable. If you are eating minimal amount of food, it's just not sustainable.

BRITNI: No, it's not.

MELANIE: Because you feel sorry for yourself. Right? Because everyone else is eating and you're not. So eventually guess what? You, you jump right into that, the pool of junk food and things that you feel like you're missing out on.

BRITNI: Yeah. And, and not eating enough, that can throw off your blood sugar throughout the day and that can exacerbate hot flashes actually.

MELANIE: That's a really good point.


MELANIE: Plus it just makes you angry.

BRITNI: Absolutely. Nobody is in a good mood if they are trying to restrict. But you know, I love that saying that you have, Mel. Stick to foods that you can pluck. What is it again?

MELANIE: If you can't name the plant you pluck it from or the mother it came from, don't eat it.

BRITNI: That is great. So is there a dinner…? We talked about lunch, we talked about breakfast. Is there a, a dinner that you would eat yourself or recommend to a client who wants to lose the excess menopausal weight?

MELANIE: There is a dinner and then we'll talk about that when we come back from break.

BRITNI: You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. I am Britni Vincent, a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, here with Melanie Beasley, also a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. Just wondering, are you on Instagram? Well we are too. Search for nutritionalweightwellness as an additional resource to get more education.


MELANIE: Welcome back. You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. I'm Melanie Beasley and we are here today talking about menopause and weight gain. Nutritional Weight and Wellness is on Instagram. And if you want to see some fun posts about grocery store finds, meal planning tips, what our nutritionists are eating and upcoming classes, check us out and you can find us at our handle: nutritionalweightwellness.

Meal example

Before we went to break, you're asking me about dinner. So I'm going to tell you what I eat. I eat on the average five to six ounces of some sort of protein. So yesterday I had six ounces of wild caught salmon broiled with seasoning and lemon and I make a tartar sauce with the avocado mayo and jalapenos. And I had that for my healthy fat. And then I had a big leafy green vegetable that had about a half a cup of blueberries in it. That was it.

BRITNI: Great.

MELANIE: Yeah. So delicious, easy. And also on my, on my vegetables, I did chop up an additional egg. So like I said, I'm very focused on getting adequate protein in.

BRITNI: It is so important.

MELANIE: And it seems like a lot, but when you're done, you're not grazing around your kitchen thinking what can I eat?

BRITNI: Yep. So true. And you know, eating this way day in and day out, it allows the cells in our body to heal. So the insulin resistance that was causing weight gain starts to reverse over time. So weight loss can happen.

MELANIE: Ah, I hear everybody say that's what we're looking for. Time is our friend. And putting on menopausal weight gain might feel like it happened overnight, but it's more likely that it happened after many years of either eating too many processed foods or yo-yo dieting because you're desperate. And I hear from a lot of women that they've gone back and forth with low fat, low calorie dieting because that's what worked in the past.

But it just doesn't do your body any favors when we do that low fat, 'cause remember we need fat to make our hormones. So sometimes we end up binge eating because we're frustrated. Like we said, those diets are just not sustainable. Boom. You end up binge eating or giving up. You've had a couple glasses of wine and you say I'm all in.

It becomes easier to become insulin resistant after menopause

BRITNI: Yep. Yeah. It's easy to happen when you have been depriving yourself and you know, after menopause it is easier for you to become insulin resistant.


BRITNI: Or if you already are insulin resistant, you become even more insulin resistant. So it really is important during this stage of life to keep that blood sugar balanced, really limiting those processed carbohydrates that that we've been talking about.

MELANIE: Yeah. Eliminate.

BRITNI: You said time is your friend when it comes to weight loss. Your body has to become healthy and cells need to heal before insulin resistance is reversed. And I love that you pointed out, it's not just menopause. It's the years and years leading up to it. So thinking about in reality how long it took your body to get to the place where it is. Well it's going to take some time for your body to heal from that.

MELANIE: Yes. But I, I want to encourage listeners that you're going to see progress along the way.

BRITNI: Yes. Oh, without a doubt.

Cortisol: our stress hormone

MELANIE: And it's not, weight loss is not linear. Right? It goes up a little, it drops down, it goes up a little, it drops down further. So we have to be patient with that. And there's another hormone to tie into the mix when we are on the topic of menopausal weight gain. And this one has been in the news a lot lately because there's a lot of stress in our world. So you've probably heard of the stress hormone called cortisol. The first stage of stress is high cortisol. And often this causes belly fat around your midsection. High cortisol causes blood sugar levels to go up. Of course when blood sugar spikes, insulin is also released and this can cause more fat storage. So that's that stress plays a role. So you have to evaluate how much stress are you under.

BRITNI: Yeah. That is really important. And in prehistoric times, this was really helpful. You know, imagine animals, humans needed this boost in cortisol for survival. You're needing to run from predators. That fight or flight response was really important. You know, it was helpful to have that extra boost of energy to increase blood sugar, be able to fight for survival or flee to safety. But unfortunately, again, that doesn't serve us in our modern times. And our bodies and brains can't recognize the difference between stress to fight for survival versus stress from lack of sleep, stress from work, stress from eating a lot of sugar.

MELANIE: Mm-Hmm. That's a stressful event on the body. When the blood sugar isn't balanced, that actually raises cortisol. So you're like, I can't control my job. I can't control. But you have to ask yourself, are you taking the time to relax? Even if I tell my clients when you go to the restroom, take three deep breaths before you wash your hands. That has been shown in research to lower cortisol and that's, everybody has to go to the bathroom. So that's something you can do. Listeners, think to yourself, what are the biggest causes of stress in your life right now? What comes to mind? Write it down, see what you can do to problem solve it.

BRITNI: Yeah. What do you have control over?


BRITNI: Yeah. Well, when I last taught Ongoing Support and Education, one of the topics was cortisol and stress. So I have had everyone put in the chat their biggest stressors. So most said it was related to work, stressful job, long hours, fear of job loss, other people laid off and more work falling on their shoulders, etcetera. Many of our biggest stressors really again, are somewhat out of our control.

MELANIE: That's why it's important to figure out what lifestyle stressors do you have control over? What don't you have control over? Little trips into the bathroom to take those three breaths can make a big difference; something that just gets your brain out of the stressor periodically. I have clients that scroll through puppy videos. Because they get a little boost of dopamine. It calms them down. It makes them smile; it tricks the brain. And that can make a big difference in that cortisol production.

BRITNI: You know, we talked about jobs. That's, can be a big stressor, but maybe you fall in that sandwich generation. You have kids at home that you're still parenting, but you're also caregiving for an older or ill loved one.

MELANIE: Really stressful.

BRITNI: It's extremely stressful.


BRITNI: And maybe again, you can't change that situation, but you can get up in the morning and prepare a balanced breakfast with three to five ounces of protein, some veggies, some healthy fat. And I do know that's going to help you to handle your stress better as well.

MELANIE: The body is equipped. And it might be, like you said, leftovers.

BRITNI: Mm-Hmm. Yeah. Yeah. You don't have to make breakfast every morning. And we do know that skipping meals or just grabbing a breakfast like toast and coffee, that causes even more stress on the body.

MELANIE: Yeah. Coffee and caffeine have been linked to anxiety. So ask yourself, what is one small change that you can make? I would say start with food first. That's something that you have control over. Maybe focus on getting more than seven hours of sleep instead of six hours of sleep. Or change up what you're bringing for work so you have a good lunch available.

BRITNI: Yeah. And you talked about caffeine. So even something simple like reducing caffeinated beverages and increasing water intake can reduce stress on the body. You know, we often hear to reduce stress that we should meditate every day, journal, do yoga, you know, be in nature. All of those things are really fantastic and I encourage you to do some of those as well. But even focusing on the basics that we all know can greatly reduce stress, which reduces cortisol, which will then help to reduce insulin and all of your hormones will, will better balance out. And then you can start losing that belly fat.

MELANIE: Yeah. Yep.

This plan alleviates many menopausal symptoms, not just weight loss

BRITNI: So during this time, you know, we acknowledge weight loss can be really slow, but in addition to losing weight, you're going to feel better in other ways. And I think it's really important to celebrate those other positives, those other wins: more energy, less hot flashes, better sleep, your cravings go away. Those are all really important things to recognize as well. It's not just about the weight loss.

MELANIE: You know, that's a really good point. I had a client yesterday and she came to me and she said, yes, I've put on weight; she's perimenopause; I put on weight. But she said, what I want is I want to live long and strong so that I can be around my children and my grandchildren and be healthy. And that I feel like is more and more of our clients that are reaching their mid to late forties, fifties. They start focusing on their health.


MELANIE: So I want to talk more about that when we come back from break.

BRITNI: You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. I am Britni Vincent here with Melanie Beasley. Our show topic today has been focused on how to avoid menopausal weight gain. Eating real food protein, healthy fat, veggie carbohydrates is our message for optimal hormone health. If you do have estrogen dominance, which is estrogen levels that are higher than progesterone, other body symptoms could be having a history of heavy periods, fibroids, painful breasts, irregular periods, a lot of PMS symptoms. Those are all signs of estrogen dominance. And as an adult woman, maybe you're experiencing night sweats, hot flashes, insomnia, weight gain. Now additional support is often needed to detoxify and balance out these excess estrogens in addition to clean real food eating. We’ll be right back after break.


MELANIE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. If you're struggling with menopausal weight gain or any other menopause symptoms, perhaps sign up for our Menopause Survival Seminar.

Sign Up for Menopause Solutions - Online

You can reach us at 651-699-3438 or You can also make an appointment with one of us and we would be happy to help you through this season of your life and get you back to feeling like yourself.

Schedule Nutrition Counseling

Before we went to break, I was telling you about a client of mine. And I applaud her because she came to me preemptively wanting to feel better, but also she wanted to live longer and she wanted to be able to play with her grandchildren and her children as she aged. So I love that when we get them early on.


MELANIE: And she wanted to lose some of those perimenopause pounds that she had put on. So focusing on her health and wellness, always we circle back to real food. You can't build a body without real food. So getting off of a little bit of wine, nightly wine, getting off of sugar, and also getting back to eating much more protein balanced eating throughout the day with some vegetables and healthy fat. And after her second appointment, she chatted me already and said she's feeling great. She feels so much better. She feels more like herself and her cravings have gone away.

BRITNI: That’s amazing.

MELANIE: Because it, you just can't, that's, you can't follow a plan if you have cravings.


MELANIE: So it's kind of like the number one thing to get your sanity back.

BRITNI: Yeah. And I think what we've been talking about this whole show, keeping your blood sugar balanced, for most people, that really does knock out the cravings.

MELANIE: Yeah. Full disclosure, we went on a vacation last spring and every time we went into town I had an ice cream cone. And I'm telling you by the third ice cream cone, we went back to the cottage, we didn't have any sugar in the cottage. We, whatever we did in the beach cottage was what we brought in. I was Jonesing for something sweet like I couldn't believe it. And I thought, this is what my clients struggle with.

BRITNI: Yeah. I, I am the same way it comes back so darn quickly.

MELANIE: So crazy.

BRITNI: And you just have to, it's, it's hard. For the first few days. The first week you kind of have to power through; stick to the balanced eating, but I promise they do go away and then…

MELANIE: Three days.

BRITNI: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

MELANIE: Within three days it was gone.

BRITNI: Yeah, that's great.

MELANIE: But I also tell my clients when they're like, oh I just, I want to treat, I'm going on vacation. I just say, just be aware. It's going to, you're going to have three days of cravings. So you can get through it, but you got to power through those three days to get, you know, to feel like you have your sanity back.

BRITNI: And if you are someone struggling with hot flashes, that sugar is a huge contributor to hot flashes.

MELANIE: That is a great point.

BRITNI: Yeah. Yeah. You know, I had, I have a client and she is post-menopausal, still struggling with hot flashes that sometimes wake her up at night. And she wanted to lose a little bit of weight as well. But it was again, kind of like you talked about with your client, more about just feeling good, having more energy, all of that. And so the balanced eating was really important. You know, that nightly glass of wine had snuck in, especially during COVID for her. So she reduced that. And you know, even a couple months later she had already started to see some weight loss. Her hot flashes had gone away. She had more energy, the cravings were gone. Yeah. It's great. The power of real food.

The importance of protein for muscle preservation

MELANIE: The power of real food. You know, and I want to talk some more about protein since we touched on that quite a bit during the show. But we start losing muscle mass, and if we are deprivation dieting where you're really restricting calories, you start losing muscle.


MELANIE: So when you're losing muscle, but then you gain that weight back, that's what you gain back. You don't gain back muscle. You gain back body fat.

BRITNI: That's a great point.

MELANIE: So now your percentage of body fat is up, your muscle tone is down. So eating adequate amount of protein and not restricting calorically so much as making sure you're eating in balance with adequate protein, that's going to preserve that muscle mass. So that you do feel stronger. You do feel energized. 'Cause muscle is an contributor to our metabolism. This is why men can eat more than we can because they have more muscle that drives that metabolism. So we want that muscle. So I loved what you said about eat the protein, but use your body and use those muscles.


MELANIE: Weightlifting is a big key as we age.

BRITNI: Really important. And you know, we talked earlier about, you know, fat cells create estrogen. Estrogen stores fat cells. So if we're able to get more, more muscle on board, that's going to reduce that estrogen production as well.


BRITNI: And I had another client yesterday and she I think lost three pounds in the last month, which she was pleased about. But what she told me was that she was able to fit into a dress that she wasn't to a few months ago. And one of the big focuses for her was increasing protein. And to me what that, what that told me is she lost a couple pounds, but she gained muscle with, you know, the fact that she was able to fit into a lower dress size already.

MELANIE: With three pounds.


MELANIE: That's awesome.


MELANIE: Yeah. We, and we're not talking about processed protein bars.


MELANIE: So don't run out and buy processed food. There is no protein bar bush.

BRITNI: There is not.

MELANIE: So we are talking about animal protein: steak, egg, shrimp, fish, salmon, lamb, bison; all of that. And put it in a format that appeals to you personally.

BRITNI: Yeah. That's important.

MELANIE: If you're someone who just can't sit down and cut through a steak, that's not your jam, maybe what you want is a big bowl of chili.


MELANIE: Or a beef stew or a minestrone soup or something than much more burdened with the meat. And sometimes we do, we're skimpy with the meat. The other thing is I like is cook with bone broth, which is additional protein. That's an easy way to get protein.

Why are vegetables important?

BRITNI: Really good suggestion. Along with the protein, those vegetables are so important. And specific, specifically cruciferous vegetables. You know the ones that are a little more stinky: broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage. Those are particularly good at helping to detoxify excess estrogen and just helping to support your liver in detoxification of everything.


BRITNI: So, you know, in the fall, winter, I love throwing cabbage in my soups.

MELANIE: Oh, I do too.

BRITNI: It's so easy. Now, a lot cooks down. And to me the texture kind of tastes like noodles in a soup.

MELANIE: I was just going to say, I love to slice a cabbage head really thin and use those for noodles.

BRITNI: Yeah. It's yummy. So trying to up those vegetables are really going to help. That also helps to fill you up too. That fiber is beneficial.

MELANIE: Yum. A really good recipe that I do frequently is I take a cabbage, slice it into steaks, cabbage steaks, and then put like a turkey sausage patty or a seasoned hamburger patty on top of that to cook altogether, roasted. And then it's delicious. And then I make an aioli to put on top of that and you just slice it with a knife and a fork. So good. So easy; one sheet pan.

BRITNI: Ooh. Yum. This is making me hungry. I think, and you mentioned roasted. If, if you've never roasted vegetables, that is a great way to get more vegetables on board. And you can do a variety and it takes little to no time. I generally buy them already precut.

MELANIE: Do you? That's great.

BRITNI: I do. It's worth the extra money.


BRITNI: Saves some time.

MELANIE: You do have twins.

BRITNI: Yeah. So you just open the bag, put them on the sheet pan, put some avocado oil, whatever your seasonings, throw them in the oven. It's so easy, so delicious. And you know, in my house we easily eat a sheet pan, so if you do want leftovers, you're spending the time doing it, make two or three sheet pans.


BRITNI: Sometimes when I do that, I'll put the extra pan in while we're actually eating dinner. You know, if you don't have enough space in your oven for all of them. But that is a great way to have leftovers. And if we have those things in the fridge, you know, people are much more likely to grab those over something processed.

MELANIE: And those are great. I love roasted vegetables in my salad.


MELANIE: But when you say when the oven is on, I will do that with the roasted vegetables to have extra. And then I'll also throw in a sheet pan of, it might be chicken thighs. Or something because the oven's already on. I've already got a dirty pan. So I'll use the pan that we ate for dinner and throw in those chicken thighs.

Recap from today’s topic

You know, to recap today's show, menopause weight gain is often caused from hormonal imbalances. It's not just about estrogen, but also progesterone, insulin, and cortisol. So we've been talking all about today about eating enough protein, the healthy fat, the vegetable carbohydrates, especially those cruciferous vegetables, and really trying to avoid those processed carbohydrates as much as possible to keep that blood sugar balanced and reduce your insulin. And then thinking about to reduce your cortisol, what is within your control to reduce stress in your life?

MELANIE: It's a big deal.

BRITNI: It is a huge deal.

MELANIE: I love that recap, Britni. That was perfect. Our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thank you for listening and have a wonderful day.

BRITNI: Thank you.

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