Episode #519 Fat burning & weight loss are hot topics uniquely, and together during menopause. Since for decades the dogma has been your metabolism slows as you get older (proven not until about 60 very recently) and that menopause hormone changes make weight gain more likely it’s easy to believe there may not be much a girl can do.
Not so fast. Look, the research I’ve shared for nearly a decade, and studies both older and newer show lifestyle habits – epigenetics has a much greater influence on your fat-burning & weight loss than does anything else.
The trick? Identifying not what you thought once supports fat burning & weight loss, but what really does for you now in menopause. So, let’s break this down.
Blood Sugar and Fat Burning
Insulin causes the liver, or muscles, to remove sugar out of the bloodstream and store it in the form of glycogen. It releases a small amount regularly for all the organs that function continuously (heart, brain, nerves).
Hormones like stress hormones (cortisol and epinephrine/adrenalin), sex hormones, growth hormones, and glucagon – can cause the liver to secrete glycogen back into the bloodstream.
Epinephrine and cortisol are released when your body needs a sudden influx of sugar for energy. (For example, exercise or need to sprint to avoid harm or spare someone else from harm).
As blood sugar goes up, unless you’re insulin resistant, (which often can happen to women in midlife) the increases are mild and short because insulin is released to bring it down. If you however are more insulin resistant (it takes more and more insulin to bring blood sugar down), your body is more frequently in a fat-storage state than a fat-burning state.
Blood Sugar and Fat Storage
Any form of stress, including thinking about a stressful situation, physical stress, will increase glycogen, and therefore insulin. Learning to deal with the emotional stressors so you’re less negatively affected, can decrease fat storage.
Sleep deprivation and or poor-quality sleep, even being off your optimal schedule (going to bed later than usual) can increase physical stress and the stress hormones. The day after having to rise at 3 am for an airport run for a houseguest, my blood sugar levels were all higher throughout the day.
I attempted to keep the rest of my day low stress by observing the best hydration, regularly timed meals high in protein and fiber, and connecting by phone with family.
When you’re going to do a workout, as long as you’re not overtrained and you’re allowing yourself adequate recovery, your muscles will release glycogen for energy. This is when you’re able to burn fat rather than store it. The glycogen and cortisol (responding to physical stress) both increase available energy to do the physical workout.
** It’s important to consume adequate high-quality protein during training, to be sure that carbohydrates then fuel the muscle with exercise and aren’t stored as fat.
Different foods and at different times of the day or in different sequences will have various effects uniquely on you. While it makes sense that a piece of chocolate cake in the middle of the afternoon is going to spike blood sugar more than if enjoyed after a meal with protein, fat, and fiber, it may surprise you that beef stew for dinner could spike blood sugar (happened to me).
In those situations, you have to look at whether it is an ingredient in the food, or if it’s one of the other influences from above.
For example, the same morning coffee drink in the morning when you get up at 3 am to take someone to the airport, could spike your blood sugar dramatically different than having it at your usual wake up of 5 am (also happened to me)!
The Fat Burning & Weight Loss Bottomline on Blood Sugar
Blood sugar is no B.S. (I couldn’t resist). Now that Continuous Glucose Monitors are easily accessible, and you can see immediate results of your lifestyle habits and nutrition, you may be able to experience much greater ease losing weight.
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When you know how your habits, which might include:
- Going to bed late
- Drinking coffee until noon
- Exercise in a fasted state
- Eating a high carb breakfast
- Having coffee mid-afternoon
- Drinking wine before dinner
- Doing yoga
- Exercise inside vs outside
- HIIT late in the day (I hope not after all I’ve shared about it)
…Or anything else that is your normal. You may be puzzled because you were doing the same habits before menopause, but now can’t figure out why you’ve gained and can’t lose weight. This will tell you why.
In Menopause & Beyond
Your body isn’t processing sugars the way it did with another hormone profile. Before (or instead of) hot flashes and night sweats, low libido, this insulin resistance is often the first sign for women that are in perimenopause.
For others though, they don’t notice until after menopause. It may be that the muscle losses have caught up with them.
The continuous glucose monitor is an awesome help in detective work. Then you use the clues, make the changes and pair them with the highest quality exercise and nutrition for your needs. That’s when both the weight management and longevity magic begin.
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Resources Mentioned in this show:
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