Ah, perimenopause – that fascinating phase in every woman’s journey before she takes the menopausal plunge. Like the prelude to a grand symphony, it’s filled with hormonal shifts and surprising energy fluctuations. But fear not, dear reader! We’re here to hold your hand through this rollercoaster ride with a twist of positivity and practicality to help improve those dipping energy levels.
What Hormones Are Affected During Perimenopause?
During perimenopause, all your hormonal levels will shift while your body prepares for menopause. These hormones will affect you in different ways, but we believe that managing your perimenopausal symptoms starts with understanding what your body is going through:
Oestrogen: This is the multitasking hormone in a woman’s body! When you’re entering menopause, the level of oestrogen in your body drops. Oestrogen is important for regulating body temperature, so when the levels of oestrogen drop within your body it can cause hot flashes (1).
Progesterone: This hormone is responsible for preparing the uterus lining for fertilisation, regulates bleeding during menstruation and supports thyroid function. During perimenopause, the levels of progesterone in your body begin to drop off, unsettling your sleep schedule and energy levels. This may make it more difficult to sleep and leave you feeling fatigued (1).
Testosterone: The alertness aficionado, testosterone is present in both males and females, regulates your mood, and affects body fat distribution, bone density and menstrual health. It also helps improve alertness, keeping cognitive functions sharp and motivation in full bloom. A drop in levels of testosterone in your body may leave you feeling lower in mood and finding it difficult to concentrate (1).
How Can I Nurture My Energy Oasis?
Maintain a healthy weight: Follow a rich, healthy diet and move your body to maintain a healthy weight for your height and constitution – You can check your BMI, but it’s not the end-all when it comes to health!. A drop in the levels of oestrogen in your body impacts your ability to turn muscle into fat and may lead to excess fat distribution around your tummy region (this is also called central adiposity) which is common around perimenopause.
Exercise regularly: Regular, low or medium-intensity exercise can help to strengthen your bones, heart and muscles to offset the effects of hormone levels dropping. Exercise can also help to improve mood, energy levels and your general wellbeing. National guidance outlines that adults should partake in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, five days per week or 150 minutes each week (3). Think walks in the park, rejuvenating Pilates sessions, and even a splash of aqua aerobics!
Dietary adjustments: Here’s the fun part – eating a healthy balanced diet can help support your bone density, heart and hormonal health as well as maintaining a healthy body weight! Often women who experience poor energy levels during the perimenopause need extra snacks to help preserve their energy levels and avoid drops in energy. Indulge in something natural and sweet for a quick pick-me-up and make sure to include iron and calcium-rich foods in your diet to get all the nutrients you need!
Talk to a friend!: Something really simple and effective to improve your mood and energy levels during perimenopause is talking to a friend who might be going through the same thing as you! Join a group of fellow women for a walk or a yoga lesson and you will find support and motivation to make the changes for the better much much easier!
Combat the Energy Blues Adjusting Your Diet
- Bid Adieu to Energy Dips
Cutting down on refined sugars is like giving your energy levels a superhero cape. Those confectioneries and pastries might seem tempting, but they often lead to rollercoaster energy crashes. And remember, alcohol might join the party, but it’s no friend to improve your mood or help you sleep. If you’re enjoying a night out, try the water-alcohol waltz – sip water between drinks to stay hydrated and energized.
- The Art of Snackistry
Embrace the art of healthy snacking – those small, delicious bites that keep you going. From apple slices serenading nut butter, to wholegrain crackers and veggie sticks dancing with hummus, these snacks are like tiny bursts of energy brilliance. Even a boiled egg on whole grain toast is a culinary masterpiece that’ll make your taste buds sing. Take your time to prepare healthy, gourmet snacks and enjoy the experience as much as the bite!
- Embrace the New You
Remember, embracing change is like learning a new dance – sometimes challenging, always rewarding. Your diet and lifestyle can be your allies in this journey. Balanced meals, a sprinkle of exercise, and a dash of good sleep hygiene can weave magic into your daily life.
Enlightened Next Steps – Continue Your Journey to Menopause with a Helping Hand
Feeling like you could use some personalised guidance on your energy odyssey during perimenopause? Our registered Dietitians are like energy wizards, ready to sprinkle their expertise into your perimenopausal journey. Click here to discover how they can guide you through this transformative phase: https://insideoutnutrition.ie/my-menopause-quest/.
Sources of information
- Iqbal Zaidi. Understanding estrogen action during menopause. Endocrinology. 2009. doi: 10.1210/en.2009-0449. PMID: 19622779; PMCID: PMC2717878.
- Davis SR, et al., Understanding weight gain at menopause. Climacteric, 2012. 15(5): p. 419–29. [PubMed] [Google Scholar].
- Health Service Executive. Health and Wellbeing. Physical Activity Guidelines. Available on: https://www.hse.ie/eng/about/who/healthwellbeing/our-priority-programmes/heal/physical-activity-guidelines/.
Healthy Eating Guidelines, Health Service Executive. Health and Wellbeing. Available on: https://www.hse.ie/eng/about/who/healthwellbeing/our-priority-programmes/heal/healthy-eating-guidelines/.