Nutrition

The Galveston Diet for Menopause: What to Know

The Galveston eating plan comprises three major actions.

1. Avoid Inflammatory Foods

Sugars, processed grains, fried foods, processed lunch meats, saturated fats, diet sodas, and other unhealthy fare are restricted on this plan, because they are said to contribute to inflammation in the body.

RELATED: 6 Foods to Avoid Around Menopause

Instead, the diet emphasizes whole foods with lots of nonstarchy vegetables and fruits. Foods specifically believed to reduce inflammation are encouraged, such as fatty fish, berries, garlic, nuts, tomatoes, and olive oil.

2. Practice Intermittent Fasting

The idea is that a long stretch of time between meals makes your cells more adaptive to stressors and also initiates important cellular repair.

The type of intermittent fasting recommended in the Galveston diet is known as 16/8, which means fasting for 16 hours and eating during a window of 8 hours every day. That generally means delaying the first meal of the day until around noon.

Haver advises adopting this regimen slowly, such as by pushing breakfast back a half hour every few days, to give your body time to adjust. “I myself took six weeks before my first meal was at noon, so I never felt very hungry,” she says.

3. Up Your Fat Intake

In the U.S. federal government’s My Plate eating recommendations, carbohydrates are a significant part of the daily diet. My Plate recommends that midlife women eat 5 to 7 ounces (oz) of grains daily, while men the same age should get 7 to 10 oz (at least half of them whole grains).

By contrast, the Galveston diet slashes carbs dramatically. Here, the bulk of calories come from healthy fats, in order to encourage fat burning, the company says.

For example, daily intake in the first weeks assigns 70 percent of daily calories to fat, with proteins at 21 percent and carbs at 9 percent. After you’ve been on the diet for a while and you get used to eating fewer carbs and sugars, some additional complex carbs are put in.

Do Menopausal Women Need a Special Diet?

It is true that a woman’s body composition shifts during perimenopause, with more fat settling around the abdomen, experts say.

“Midbody weight gain is almost universal among menopausal women,” says Nanette Santoro, MD, the chair of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora and a longtime menopause researcher.

Virtually every woman gains at least some fat under her skin with the end of menses, Dr. Santoro says, which researchers believe could be related to the loss of estrogen, although this has not been proven. “There are a lot of compelling theories and good science being done around his question, but there are currently few answers,” she says.

Some percentage of women do experience more rapid weight gain and more fat accumulating around the abdomen during the menopausal transition, she says. “Still, little is known about why these women seem to have to work much harder on maintaining their body weight during this time.”

In addition to the possible hormonal link, women entering perimenopause and menopause are also dealing with changes related to getting older, says Stephanie Faubion, MD, the director of the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Women’s Health and the medical director for the North American Menopause Society (NAMS). Most women reach menopause, defined as having gone a full year without having a period, by around age 51.

Menopausal women generally lose muscle mass at a rate of almost 1 percent a year, but this is related to aging, not hormones, Dr. Faubion says. In fact, as a result of muscle loss, metabolic rate decreases by about 30 percent between ages 20 and 70 for both women and men, which may contribute to weight gain.

RELATED: The Best Foods for Women Around Menopause

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