Group Coaching Session – June Notes

Nutrition and Menopause

Each month, we will be hosting a group coaching session within our Facebook Group and posting the notes here for your reference. We’d love for you to come and check out the group!

Question 1

Do you know if nutrients, vitamins, minerals, proteins etc are affected by cooking or freezing? Wanting to know for example if a cooked apple is as good as a raw one? Is frozen fish as good as fresh?

⁃              Whether fresh are better than frozen potentially depends on how fresh the veggies are. 

                ⁃              In Australia veggies might travel a while to get to us, and the longer it takes the lower the nutrient content could potentially be. Additionally those veggies might then live in our crisper for a week before we get to them. 

                ⁃              On the other hand – the nutrients in frozen veg are locked into the vegetables in the freezing process, as they are often frozen really soon after picking. There might be some losses in the process, but these are small. 

                ⁃              A few studies have found they in 66% per cent of cases, frozen fruit and vegetables contained more antioxidants such as vitamin C, polyphenols, beta carotene and lutein compared to fresh varieties stored in the fridge for three days. 

                ⁃              Fruit and veg aren’t just about the micronutrients though – also about the fibre content – and we know freezing also does not affect the fibre content.

                ⁃              Can last in the fridge for 8-10 months. 

                ⁃              Considering how you’re cooking the veg is potentially more important then fresh vs frozen – use little water as possible / short period of time – steam / bake. 

                ⁃              One tactic is to ensure you’re getting the best of both worlds is eating fresh in the beginning of the week so you’re getting them at their best and frozen later in the week. 

                ⁃              Good to prevent food waste. 

                ⁃              <10% of us eat enough veg so eating enough in any form.

                ⁃              Similarly studies have also found frozen fish is as good as fresh, it does seem to depend slightly on the processes used. Again many fish are frozen on the spot – locking in the nutrients, and might last 4-6 months in the freezer. If you can get fresh local fish that’s wonderful, but if you can’t then frozen is a good option.

       ⁃       Eat enough of the good stuff in general and it really doesn’t matter! 

Question 2 – Menopause and weight gain

What’s going on in menopause?

Menopause is basically a shutdown of a women’s reproductive time and system. There is a significant drop in estrogen and progesterone, resulting in very low levels in the bloodstream.

Low estrogen levels has been linked to an increase body weight and body fat levels. It also causes a shift in body fat patterning, where we see more visceral fat (fat around the middle).

Estrogen is critical for muscle and women in menopause will see a loss of muscle mass due to decreased levels. Menopausal women also have decreased bone mineral density, also due to low estrogen.

A slight reduction in RMR has been shown, but this is minimal.

Testosterone is converted to estrogen in the fat cells – there is some thought that fat accumulates to provide more opportunity to create estrogen.

There is also some degree of insulin resistance developed due to low estrogen levels (estrogen improves insulin sensitivity).

What can be done?

HRT (hormone replacement therapy) has been shown to counteract most of this but there are some risks associated with long term use and breast cancer – short term use in younger women has been shown to be safe.

Non – HRT women may consider soy protein supplementation to improve fat mobilization. Signal is not as strong as HRT or estrogen but may have some benefit.

But of course – eating in a calorie deficit and effective training will result in reduced body fat (visceral fat is metabolically active and therefore can be easier to shift).

In terms of training – you need to lift heavy weights. 3x per week at 70-80% of 1RM. Firstly to avoid muscle loss but also to minimise BMD (along with sufficient Calcium and Vit D).

Aerobic training though seems to be better for shifting visceral fat – consuming caffeine prior to aerobic exercise can improve fat mobilization (100-200mg).

Need to eat sufficient protein at least 1.5g/kg with moderate carbohydrate (suggested 35-40% total cals) and fat intake (30-35% fat).

Practical Application

  • Eat a little bit less to create an energy deficit – consistency is key!
  • Be active almost everyday using a combination of heavy strength and aerobic training.
  • Eat a high protein diet – consume a quality source of protein at each main meal and at least 1 mid meal snack
  • Possibly reduce the amount of carbohydrates you are consuming
  • If not using HRT – may consider including some soy products and possibly a soy protein to act as ‘estrogen like’ compounds in the body