Many women tend to gain weight during the menopausal years. It is not uncommon to hear them joking about their “muffin tops.”

While it’s always good to maintain a sense of humor, gaining too much weight at mid-life, particularly belly fat, is no laughing matter. Dire health consequences like Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even certain types of cancers could result.

Two reasons why women gain weight during menopause:

#1: Loss of Muscle Mass:

While natural aging causes muscle mass to shrink and fat stores to swell, this process is accelerated at menopause.

It just doesn’t seem fair!

Add to that decreasing hormone levels, genetic factors, poor sleep, unhealthy eating and a lack of exercise, and you have the perfect storm for the menopausal spread!

Losing muscle mass slows your metabolism, decreasing the rate at which your body burns calories for energy. This makes it impossible for you to eat the way you always have and not gain weight!

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#2: Increase in “The Hunger Hormone”

Your body produces a hunger regulating hormone called ghrelin. The more ghrelin your body makes, the hungrier you feel.

It also produces a satiety hormone, leptin, that allows you to feel satisfied with your food so you don’t overeat.

When these two hormones are in balance, it is easy to maintain an ideal body weight, but during menopause, ghrelin runs high and leptin runs low.

So…more ghrelin and less leptin = increased hunger and a decreased feeling of being satisfied…that’s a problem!

What’s the Solution?

Choosing the “optimal” foods for breakfast sure would help!

You need foods that help increase metabolism, fill you up, and keep you feeling fuller longer.

Protein and fiber have been shown to help maintain muscle mass, balance levels of ghrelin and leptin, and help achieve and maintain weight loss.

Combining protein and fiber at your morning meal also prevents the spikes and dips in blood sugar that can have you craving sugar and carbs.

PROTEIN:

Eating protein is critical for women at menopause! Protein provides your muscles with the amino acid building blocks they need to stay strong.

Eating protein helps you burn fat more efficiently, keeps your appetite at bay and increases your metabolism. Lastly, protein minimizes some of the accelerated bone loss seen during the first few years of menopause.

Good protein choices include:

  • Meat and poultry
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Beans and lentils
  • Nuts and seeds (contain more fat than protein but still a great source of amino acids)

FIBER:

Incorporating fiber into your breakfast will fill you up and keep your bowels moving smoothly.

It will help maintain blood sugar levels on an even keel to prevent not only carbohydrate cravings but menopausal mood swings too.

Fiber is also a good fuel source for your friendly gut microbes, the ones that aid digestion and produce important nutrients.

Some excellent high fiber foods:

  • Vegetables (squash, peas, sweet potato, artichokes, collard greens, pumpkin, parsnips, Brussels sprouts etc.)
  • Fruits (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

Additional health benefits come from getting some of your daily fiber intake from fresh, organic flax seeds.

Flax seeds are a high-fiber food chock full of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.  Flax, with its hormone-balancing properties, has even been shown to minimize hot flashes and reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Here’s a great breakfast recipe created to provide you with ample protein and fiber. It contains eggs, often referred to as the “perfect protein.”

Yummy Veggie Egg Muffins

Makes 12

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 red pepper (diced)

2 cups baby spinach (chopped)

1 cup mushrooms (chopped)

2 cloves garlic (minced)

6 eggs

1 tablespoon flax (ground)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Grease or line a 12-serving muffin tin.

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add oil and sauté diced pepper until tender (about 5 minutes).

Add mushrooms and garlic to frying pan and cook for an additional minute.

Whisk eggs and flax together in a medium bowl.

Place veggies into prepared muffin tin.

Pour the egg/flax mixture over the veggies.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the tops are firm to the touch and eggs are cooked.

Serve & Enjoy!

Tip:  Use cage-free, free-range, organic eggs whenever possible.

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References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/menopause-weight-gain/

https://authoritynutrition.com/leptin-101/

https://www.thepaleomom.com/is-breakfast-really-most-important-meal/

http://nutritionfacts.org/video/just-the-flax-maam/

https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/nutrients/index