You know how as soon as you hit your 40s, weight loss becomes a thing of the past? Even when you do all the right things, it just won’t budge! One of the biggest reasons for this is the combination of perimenopause and insulin resistance.
So why are these two the perfect storm for stubborn belly fat, not to mention brain fog and fatigue? Let’s take a look at the link between perimenopause and insulin resistance and how to combat the effects.
Let’s Talk Perimenopause And Insulin Resistance
First up, let’s do a quick refresher on insulin resistance (but if you want more info, check this blog out)
Insulin resistance (IR for short) is when you have consistently high levels of insulin. Insulin is the hormone responsible for stimulating your cells to take up energy in the form of glucose.
IR is often referred to as ‘pre-diabetes’ as it is a precursor to type 2 diabetes. It also puts you into fat storage mode (exactly what you don’t want!)
But the problem isn’t insulin itself. Insulin is actually a useful hormone – it turns food into energy, promotes muscle growth and helps to maintain a healthy menstrual cycle. The real problem is when metabolic dysfunction develops.
Put simply, you have plenty of insulin to do the job, but your cells don’t respond. Your body produces more, which creates way too much insulin just for the message to get through. But the greater the excess of insulin, the more your resistance increases.
So why does this happen more in perimenopause? This is where oestrogen comes into play.
The role of oestrogen
Oestrogen is another hormone that cops a lot of flack, but like insulin, we need a certain level to function properly. And when it comes to perimenopause and insulin resistance, low oestrogen is the underlying issue.
Oestrogen helps our brain cells to use glucose for energy and it enhances insulin sensitivity (meaning less IR). This encourages more glucose to enter the body’s cells to use in energy production.
But when oestrogen is too low, your cells become resistant to insulin. As a result, you need more insulin to open the cells up to accept glucose. This leads to not only more insulin resistance, but also increased inflammation – causing a perfect storm of perimenopause symptoms.
When you move to a lower oestrogen state or experience fluctuations, it can decrease your brain activity and energy production by around 25%. For most people, this is a temporary issue as the brain should re-calibrate to this level after a bit of time.
But for some, this doesn’t happen automatically, leaving you feeling exhausted, foggy, and constantly hangry! If that’s the case for you, you’ll need some support to enhance your metabolic flexibility. Once you get this into place, you’ll be back to juggling your lists and never-ending to-dos in your head in no time!
How to counteract the perfect storm of perimenopause
Now that you know the reason why you feel crummy, what can be done? Let’s take a look at some simple steps to reduce insulin resistance and ease the oestrogen shift.
Work on your flexibility
Your metabolic flexibility, that is! This is supporting your brain to shift between energy sources (glucose and ketones) with ease. The greater your flexibility, the less insulin resistant you become.
Physical activity is one of those magical habits that helps pretty much everything. It can reduce insulin resistance, improve your mood and support energy levels.
Just remember that more intense is not always better. After all, we don’t want to add more stress that contributes to the insulin resistance and hormone imbalance picture!
Eat 3 square meals
Having a consistent routine around your meals keeps your blood sugar levels balanced. It also prevents physical stress on the body which adds to hormone imbalances. If you haven’t already, make sure you download my FREE Balanced Meal Formula here.
Add some phytoestrogens
These are plant oestrogens, and they can be extremely useful! Brassica veggies, lentils, alfalfa and flaxseeds are all good sources to include.
Research has found that regular consumption of flaxseeds can regulate oestrogen – around 2Tbsp per day is ideal.
Don’t let your carbs get lonely!
You don’t need to give up carbs altogether to get your insulin under control. But you do want to make sure that they always have a buddy of protein and/or fibre. This helps to slooooow the absorption down, so you get a longer steadier stream of energy into the body.
Love your gut
As we know, the gut is always a focus point when it comes to your health and hormones. Your digestive health plays a role in insulin sensitivity, particularly your microbiome.
Some easy tips for a happy gut include:
- Eating a diverse range of plant foods
- Choosing vegetables from different colours of the rainbow (our microbes love to eat colourful antioxidants!)
- Add in small amounts of fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, miso and tempeh
- Drink plenty of water for regular bowel movements
- Add in fibre-rich options like psyllium husk or ground flaxseed to support a regular, well-formed poo
Feel like you’re losing the battle against perimenopause and insulin resistance?
Now is the time to call in some reinforcements and get some help!
If you are ready to feel calm, less stressed and able to put yourself first, book in for a free discovery call today. Together, we can explore how I can help you to support and nourish yourself – mind, body and spirit.