With menopause affecting all women during their lifetime, Rachael Sacerdoti, founder of the wellness programme, It’s So Simple, looks at the best nutrition and exercise to ease symptoms and reverse the signs of menopausal weight gain and muscle loss.
A natural transition for all women, menopause is often approached with fear and a lack of understanding on how to deal with the physical and mental changes it brings. “The shift in hormones as we reach the menopausal age certainly attributes to our bodies becoming prone to storing extra weight”, says Rachael. “And there are many other symptoms, such as night sweats, anxiety, and hair loss that will all increase our stress and cortisol levels that play havoc with our bodily functions” she continues.
Adjusting our nutrition is a simple way to heal and restore balance and should be the first step. A diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, and high-quality protein is key for supporting hormonal health and something that Rachael endorses with It’s So Simple. “We believe that making healthy lifestyle changes at any age is vital, but it should be even more considered as we reach our menopausal years”, she states.
As metabolism slows with age, knowing how to fuel the body efficiently is absolutely necessary. Moreover, with the biggest hormonal change during menopause being a decline in our oestrogen levels, it is essential to supplement our diet with substantial protein and naturally-occurring phytoestrogens. “As oestrogen is directly related to helping with healthy fat metabolism, bone density and muscle mass, it is crucial we eat enough quality protein such as turkey, which has incredibly high protein levels”, says Rachael.
Furthermore, post-menopausal women may also lose up to 20% bone density, therefore an increase in vitamin D is imperative – oily fish and whole eggs are excellent sources for this. Greek yoghurt also carries multiple nutritional benefits for bone health thanks to its rich quantities of calcium, potassium and magnesium. Numerous studies have also shown that weight-bearing exercise, particularly high impact and strength training, not only slow down bone loss but also stimulates bone growth.
Muscle mass changes for all of us as we get older too, so exercise that helps to rebuild and/ or maintain muscle is a must as we age. Muscles, corresponding tendons, and ligaments all support our joints, so resistance training with weights is highly recommended. “Don’t be afraid of your dumbbells as these will become your best friend, helping to restore and increase both muscle and bone density, along with keeping you active into your later years”. Rachael recommends strength training at any age as this helps with defining muscles and aids body fat reduction, boosts your calorie burn and importantly increases your metabolism. “Putting the muscles under strain to promote a strengthening response is a highly effective way to keep the body toned and in prime condition”, affirms Rachael.
Cardio training is also brilliant for getting us moving, even a 30-minute walk will make all the difference. And let’s not forget restorative exercises, such as yoga or Pilates which are excellent not only for the body but also for the mind. A combined balance of all three is ideal.
“If you make only three changes, these should boost your protein and vitamin D intake, while increasing your weight-bearing exercise”, advises Rachael.
Having set up It’s So Simple in 2020, Rachael and her team of coaches guide clients through a bespoke 12-week programme to help them achieve the lifestyle goals they desire. Many come with the same concerns as they age, not knowing how to pivot their routines to better support their health.
“My method is grounded in the fundamental principles of exceptional nutrition, combined with the right exercise, community support, and accountability to achieve optimal results. We empower our clients with the knowledge to make better choices for themselves. It’s not rocket science, but it is amazing how many women have no idea what they should be eating and how they should exercise as they hit, and beyond, middle-age.” – Rachael Sacerdoti, It’s So Simple.
Ideal for anyone who is looking to create healthy, mindful habits immediately, the It’s So Simple 12-Week Programme is available online. For all enquiries see www.itssosimple.co.uk