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Thread: Carbohydrate metabolism in post-menopausal women? page

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    Canarygirl's Avatar
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    Carbohydrate metabolism in post-menopausal women?

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    This morning I had a flash-memory of something I remember reading by Christine Northrup, MD. This was a few years back but I remember her saying that post-menopausal women should eat low-carb because they tend to lose the ability to metabolise carbohydrates properly.

    Does this ring a bell for anyone else? Can you think of what the reason would be for this? I'm not making the connection for how the reduction in estrogen and progesterone would affect insulin production (if that is what she was driving at). Maybe it's something different than insulin production...anybody hazard a guess?

    Edit...

    found this: http://jcem.endojournals.org/cgi/con...ract/74/6/1396

    "...reversal of postmenopausal hypoestrogenism to early follicular phase estrogenic values with E2-TTS 50 administration seems to exert a beneficial effect on glucose metabolism by increasing hepatic insulin clearance. "
    Last edited by Canarygirl; 07-31-2010 at 12:29 PM.

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    I have recently been doing some research on this very topic. Estrogen (esp estradial) increases insulin sensitivity, so less insulin is required to reduce blood sugar levels after eating. With the loss of estrogen, women become more insulin resistant, so higher levels of insulin are secreted, causing increased fat storage and increased hunger. I went primal and low carb as my energy levels decreased and my hunger became nearly constant at the age of 53. I was still menstruating, but having various menopausal symptoms. I noticed a very quick improvement in energy levels, mental focus, and decreased hunger with the primal diet.

    About 6 weeks later, I went into full blown menopause with loss of periods and very severe hot flashes. The primal diet and a little loss of body fat (I didn't have much to lose, but a few pounds just fell off me while eating this way) seemed to accelerate my entry into menopause. I started to feel SERIOUSLY fatigued and on an emotional roller coaster. AFter a couple months of that I started a bioidentical estradiol supplement (the lowest possible dose) and I feel 100% better. Combined with the primal diet and exercise, I feel like a million bucks again. Clearly for me, estrogen helps with energy and metabolism. There are lots of studies you can find on the web. Just google "estrogen and insulin resistance".

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    I don't know the science but I never had any problem with carbs before menopause. Now I feel terrific on Primal.

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    I never had problems with carbs before menopause either. Now I'm having trouble wrapping my brain around this potential reality.

    If menopause does lead to insulin resistance for most (if not all) women, does it follow then that post-menopausal women should eat low-carb? Can insulin resistance be managed with any other way of eating? I'm thinking about other cultures like the Japanese or even the Kitivans, where women don't tend to get fat but they don't eat low-carb.

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    Barb's Avatar
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    i don't know of any other (or better) way to manage insulin resistance besides lowering carbs. As my estrogen levels were dropping, I was not gaining weight but was experiencing fatigue, sugar cravings, and increasing hunger. When i was younger I could eat all the carbs and sweets I wanted and still felt pretty good and had plenty of energy. So, there may be women from various ethnic groups who don't get fat at menopause (I didn't) but still have sx of insulin resistance. My friends think I am weird for eating low carb because they say "you don't need to lose weight". I tell them it has really improved my energy levels in menopause. I think post menopausal women would probably all do better if they ate fairly low carb. But then, I think most ALL people would feel better if they ate fairly low carb (<150g/day)!

    Christine Northrup does talk about this in her book, which I read AFTER I started PB. Metabolism changes considerably with the loss of reproductive levels of estrogen.

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    I know it's been awhile since this post, but it is very interesting to me. I just started on oral bioidentical estradiol and progesterone last week and wondered how long it takes to kick in. I have been primal for years but with the onset of menopause (last year) I gained ten lbs and cannot lose it no matter what I do. I log food, engage in primal exercise and weight train and nothing changes. I am hoping that the bioidenticals do the trick but I wanted to be realistic about the time frame.

    Thanks a bunch!

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    I downloaded the kindle version of Voltek and Phinny's book about low carb and they said in the beginning of the book that low carb may be more necessary during certain life stages than others. I haven't read the whole book yet so I haven't gotten to that chapter, but I'm pretty sure they're going to say that later in life it's probably very helpful.

    I don't think I am menopausal. I'm 46. I had a hysterectomy in 2005 but they left my ovaries in. I noticed a large drop in hormones after the hysterectomy anyway. I have found low-carb to be very beneficial for me for losing weight and for just feeling great. I stay low-carb most of the time but I do try to have some higher carb days to pop up my leptin.
    Female, 5'3", 49, Starting weight: 163lbs. Current weight: 135 (more or less).
    Starting squat: 45lbs. Heaviest squat: 180 x 2. Heaviest Deadlift: 230 x 2

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    I'm so glad that you bumped this thread - as it definitely is relevant to where I am right now. Just 50 and trying to figure it all out. Food sensitivities led me to cut out grains, dairy, legumes, and eggs. I'm a pretty serious endurance athlete - so I have worked out a fairly high carb paleo diet over the past few years. But, in the last year it hasn't worked as well. My weight keeps slipping up - I can reign it in but not like I used to be able to. I used to stay so steady and now every time I blink I'm up 5-7 pounds. It takes much more work to get it down again - so I am playing around with other restrictions and my carbs.

    Does anyone else have constant and persistant nausea as part of perimenopause? The only way I can explain it is that I feel like I'm pregnant..... which wasn't real bad for me. But there is this dull nausea that leaves me feeling that if I could just find the right food, I would feel better. So I graze away looking for just the right food to make it go away - and my weight creeps up as I unsuccessfully fight the nausea. I am just coming off a whole30 month and realized last night that I haven't been nauseous at all. So, perhaps cutting the nuts and alcohol and eating super clean is my answer. For now.

    I guess I should feel lucky that my energy levels are still great - though sleep and recovery are huge in a way they weren't a few years ago. And I haven't had any thermal issues. I think it's kind of interesting that when my weight is at my used-to-be normal weight I don't get any periods. I went about 6 months last year thinking maybe I was through menopause. But when I creep up these persistant 5-7 pounds I get regular and heavy periods again. It's like my body just won't give up on this fertility thing. And I am sick of it. But it's more and more of a struggle to get my weight back to what I consider normal. I think when my bodyfat is a bit higher I perhaps have more estrogen. But what's weird is that I am not super low bodyfat and my normal weight never had me missing periods before a few years ago.

    Just thinking out loud and rambling. Hopefully there are a few other 50ish women who can relate.

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    Barb's Avatar
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    This thread is a year and a half old - and I am now 55, continuing on my menopause journey. I am finding that my intolerance to carbs continues to worsen. I really do best following a "leptin sensitivity" way of eating - max of 3 times a day, at least 5 hours between meals, and at least 12 - 14 hr fast between dinner and breakfast. NO SNACKING. I eat a high protein, high fat breakfast.

    I used to be able to eat potatoes and white rice here and there without noticing any adverse effects. Not anymore. Now if I eat starchy food, I am hungry again within a couple of hours and it triggers sugar cravings. So, I am probably doing best on about 50 carbs a day from some milk and vegetables and MUCH smaller portions of occasional potatoes. I have completely cut out fruit for the winter months since it was typically only available during the summer.

    I have also found that being more strict about the number of hours I spend in bed, in the dark at night (whether I am asleep or not) is helping my energy and metabolism during the day.

    I am taking bioidentical hormones. I still have some hormonal fluctuations and I can tell when my estrogen level is low because I wake up with a florid hot flash and am more tired, anxious, and depressed. I change my estrogen patch a bit early when that happens and my symptoms improve.

    The more into menopause I get, the more strict I have to be with what and when I eat to feel decent. I think I am also eating quite a bit less than when I was younger. My metabolism has just slowed down and my appetite has adjusted along with that. I get full really quickly and eat a lot less. I started weight training again and am taking Acetyl-L-Carnitine at night because I read that it helps stimulate growth hormone release - and I could use a little bump up in lean body mass, appetite, and energy level. So far it actually seems to be helping - I definitely have more energy!

    BTW, at 55 I am STILL having erratic periods (real periods, not just spotting) and I wonder if all this healthy, high fat, primal eating has prolonged my menstrual functioning beyond when most women "go dark" in that part of life.

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    Selah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by abeach View Post
    I know it's been awhile since this post, but it is very interesting to me. I just started on oral bioidentical estradiol and progesterone last week and wondered how long it takes to kick in. I have been primal for years but with the onset of menopause (last year) I gained ten lbs and cannot lose it no matter what I do. I log food, engage in primal exercise and weight train and nothing changes. I am hoping that the bioidenticals do the trick but I wanted to be realistic about the time frame.

    Thanks a bunch!
    For me, I noticed a improvement in my hot flashes 7 days after starting the BIH cream. It just got better after that. I went from 10 to 12 hot flashes a day down to about 4. I am on the lowest dose. I have to drink a LOT of water to see weight loss , and also for me, I have to do cardio. Taking bio-identicals has also helped with my energy levels. Hope you are feeling better soon!

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