Have you heard all the hype about Low Carb, High Fat (Ketogenic) Diets at the moment? They are getting a lot of coverage as a way for people from all walks of life to improve their health and performance, but are they suitable for those of us in menopause? Well I decided to look into it, so I’m sharing my thoughts (and research) with you here!
There is no better reason to be galvinised into a healthy lifestyle in mid-life than the death of a loved one from heart disease, obesity or diabetes. My own mother passed away following a large stroke. All her life she had been fit, healthy and active. But from her mid-life years, she kept putting on belly fat, just as I was too. By the time she passed away in her 80’s, she was on all sorts of medications for high blood pressure. Suddenly, I realised that I was heading down that track too. When I realised that there had to be a better way to improve my health and manage my body fat, I turned to research on women’s health as they aged. After all, menopause hormonal changes herald in this time of life for us. And with modern medicine and improved public health keeping many of us alive for longer, it made so much sense to me to think of my menopause transition as a time to really focus on HEALTH, not sports, fitness or high performance, which to date, has been the main emphasis on high fat, ketogenic diets.
That’s when I began to understand that in a changing hormonal environment, women like me, who are putting on lots of weight and feeling tired, sore and swollen, don’t need advice that is intended for ATHLETES and younger, fitter people. We need advice about how to reduce our HEART DISEASE RISK in menopause. The trouble is that there is a lot of conflicting information and very little research on WOMEN’S HEALTH during their menopause transition, because there is an assumption that we are all athletes…but the majority of us aren’t. We just want to be healthy and feel good on a day to day basis and have our weight management under control. Is this you too?
When I researched women’s health as we transition through mid-life, this was life-saving. Not only did it enable me to put aside the conflicting advice from nutritionists, health practitioners, Personal Trainers and sports science experts, but it lead me down a completely different lifestyle path, where there was no more confusion. As I said to the exercise professionals at my session recently, at New Zealand’s exercise science conference, women in their 50’s currently, are the first generation to age in the context of the modern exercise, nutrition and sports science industries. This means that there is very little research on how we can age healthily in the context of exercise, nutrition and weight management during our menopause transition.
Which brings me back high FAT diets. They are called ketogenic diets because they have an emphasis on keeping carbohydrate intake low, and fat intake relatively high. These types of diets are promoted in recognition that our body has been designed to utilise fat for fuel, so low fat diets, which have been promoted for years, do not help us to meet our energy needs. But whilst this type of diet is well researched in sports performance, do they really work for women’s weight loss in menopause?
Judging by the number of women who come to the MyMT programme, who have tried ketogenic diets, they seem to work in the short term, but not necessarily the longer term. The small amount of research that is available on these types of diets support this as well. It seems that eating a high fat intake is quite difficult to comply with on a daily basis when your body is not adapting to the high fat regime. Part of the reason for this, is because these types of diets are excellent for ATHLETES and those doing lots of EXERCISE/ RESISTANCE TRAINING. But most everyday women don’t do nearly the amount of exercise to justify this type of dietary regime nor do they have the discipline to stick to a ketogenic diet when they are exhausted from not sleeping night after night.
I realised this when I was confused about my own weight gain in peri-menopause. But I was also confronted with a memory of days gone by when I was a student nurse. One morning on the Dr’s round, a wise, elderly surgeon told us all that the ‘typical’ profile of a women undergoing gall-bladder surgery was ‘FAIR, FAT and FIFTY’. Oh no – this was how I was feeling! It’s a condition called STEATOSIS, or ‘fatty liver disease’ and in menopause, it is the catalyst for high storage of OESTROGEN in FAT CELLS around our body and throughout our liver. This condition causes dysfunction in the gall bladder, which traditionally, used to get taken out (hence, many general surgery wards being full of women who resembled being ‘fair, fat and fifty’ as the Dr’s used to describe them!
When fats build up and block the tiny liver ducts, we cannot process saturated fats from dairy and meat products very well. It’s like a blocked drain. So, this causes problems with fat being processed and reabsorbed. This is because of our gall bladders. This small organ often gets forgotten but our gall-bladder makes bile and bile contains bile acids which are critical for digestion and absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins in the small intestine. Many waste products, including bilirubin, are eliminated from the body by secretion into bile and elimination in faeces. If you have developed inflammation in your liver over the years and it is a bit blocked AND you are going through menopause, then low oestrogen interferes with the amount of bile your liver is producing. This is also why your liver finds it harder to break down cholesterol during menopause. So many women end up with fatty liver disease in mid-life (“Fair, fat and fifty” as the surgeon said) and cholesterol goes sky high, so adding a high fat diet is not indicated. If high protein is added, it’s a recipe for weight gain, not weight loss!
That’s why I believe that a HIGH FAT, KETOGENIC diet is not ideal for overweight women in menopause, until they have turned around their liver health, sleep all night, improve their cardiac health and more importantly, have a focus on the type of nutrition they need for the next 30 years of healthy living! This type of diet is a Mediterranean diet, that based on my women’s health research, I have modified to suit weight loss in menopause. When women on my programme get their food lists and recipe books, and put what I tell them into action, they finally feel healthy and energetic again. My focus initially is on small amounts of fat – around 20 grams a day, which is indicated in the image. These fats are healthy PLANT FATS, not animal fats.
The MyMT™ ‘Transform Me’ weight loss programme does not emphasise crazy dieting regimes that are intended for athletes or those that take a ‘one size fits all’ approach. My focus is on a phased approach to turning around cardiac, liver and thyroid HEALTH during menopause. This also means that the programme starts with sleeping all night. If we aren’t sleeping well, then the hormones that control our weight management get out of balance and this puts us into fat-gain, not fat-loss. It’s the INTEGRATION of all the factors that impact on women’s hormonal health at this time of their life – from sleeping all night, reducing hot flushes and getting organs such as the heart and liver healthy again, that are the absolute key to weight loss and improved ‘health’.
As Pauline said, “I feel so ‘alive’ again and I’ve lost 10 kg’s now. My husband has lost 17kg! Thank you for putting me on the path to renewed health. I can’t thank you enough.”
Is this you or someone you know? If so, then I would love you to check out the MyMT™ ‘Transform Me’ programme here.
Throughout January, 2018, this programme is ON SALE. Only $80NZ a month [compared with $100NZ], all you do is use the promotional code SEMINAR to access the discount.
Do you know what women love when they do this programme? They love the fact that they no longer feel confused about how to manage their weight into the next phase of life. That’s because I’ve specifically designed this fabulous programme for women’s health and their longevity. If we are going to live to a ripe old age, the way we look after ourselves in menopause really does matter!