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How to Ease Perimenopause symptoms with Protein-Rich Foods

How to Ease Perimenopause symptoms with Protein-Rich Foods

4 minute read

Our best hack for managing perimenopause symptoms is also one of the easiest, simply replace a few carbs with some protein-rich foods and reap the benefits on a number of fronts.

The issue

Menopause and perimenopause mark significant transitions in a woman’s life. These stages are accompanied by various hormonal changes that impact health and wellbeing. During these phases, hormonal fluctuations, particularly a decline in oestrogen, can lead to a range of physical and emotional changes, including weight gain, muscle loss, and an increased risk of osteoporosis.

One of the most essential components of managing this transition is nutrition. Even minor adjustments to the balance of macronutrients in women’s daily diets can lessen or prevent weight gain and lean tissue loss, according to researchers from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre.

Increasingly, it has become clear that protein is a crucial player. In this article, we delve into the importance of consuming sufficient protein during menopause and perimenopause, as backed by recent scientific research.

Considering diet

When it comes to menopause and food, it’s vital not to overlook the importance of a healthy diet in general. A diet of mainly whole foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes, combined with healthy protein choices can contribute to fewer menopausal symptoms. Longer term, this can also mean a decreased risk of chronic diseases associated with aging. 

While there are foods that may lessen the impact of menopause symptoms, there are also foods that may worsen symptoms. Some women find that reducing their intake of caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods reduces their hot flushes.

The importance of protein

Protein is often associated with muscle building, but its importance goes beyond that. Adequate protein intake becomes even more critical during menopause and perimenopause. Research indicates that protein consumption is essential for maintaining muscle mass. As women age, muscle loss accelerates, which can contribute to decreased metabolic rate and weight gain. Ensuring adequate protein intake can help combat this process, promoting overall physical strength.

Some researchers have suggested that the body’s appetite for protein increases during perimenopause due to hormonally-induced tissue protein breakdown. If protein requirements aren’t met, women over consume other forms of energy. This is due to the ‘Protein Leverage Effect,’ previously discovered by Charles Perkins Centre professors and only recently applied to menopause. Without increasing the proportion of protein in the diet, the body will drive us to eat unnecessary calories until we reach our protein targets.

Higher protein consumption is linked to increased bone mineral density, which in turn lowers the chances of fractures and osteoporosis—concerns often seen in menopause. Moreover, amino acids, the fundamental elements of protein, are vital for creating and managing hormones. This could have a considerable impact on how menopause symptoms manifest. Making sure you get enough protein aids the body in sustaining hormonal equilibrium throughout this phase.

How to incorporate more protein

For an increased protein intake, choose lean options such as poultry, fish, lentils, beans, tofu, and low-fat dairy. Try to have a protein source in every meal, and balance your plates with vegetables, whole grains, and protein. Opt for protein-rich snacks like Greek yogurt, nuts, or a hard-boiled egg. Keeping yourself hydrated is also essential for protein metabolism, so make sure to drink enough water throughout the day to assist digestion and the absorption of nutrients.

Menopause and perimenopause are natural phases of life that bring about unique challenges. Prioritising protein intake can be a game-changer in promoting muscle preservation, metabolic health, bone strength, and hormonal balance. As science underscores the critical role of protein during this transition, embracing a protein-rich diet can empower women to navigate menopause and perimenopause with optimal well-being. Nourishing your body with the right nutrients is an investment in your future health and quality of life.

Metluma provides evidence-based health and wellbeing support for women at all stages of life. Learn how to live longer, be healthier, and optimise your health during menopause.