Can chrononutrition benefit menopausal women? Chrononutrition means eating by your body’s natural circadian rhythms. The goal is to consume certain nutrients at certain times of the day, in order to have the best biochemical function. In menopause, this is particularly important, because your hypothalamus controls your circadian rhythm. And as your hypothalamus gets disrupted by the menopausal decline of hormones, your circadian rhythm also becomes disrupted.
Your hypothalamus controls your biological clock through the suprachiasmatic nucleus.
Your suprachiasmatic nucleus is entrained by the light and dark information that comes through your eyes. All via the retinal hypothalamic tract. Your hypothalamus organizes the chronological pathways (or internal clock) that run through your body. Because your hypothalamus is not protected by the blood brain barrier, it is super sensitive to your nutritional intake.
You also have peripheral organs like your liver, kidneys, and skeletal muscle that act like clocks. These peripheral clocks are entrained by your behaviors like eating, exercising, and how you respond to stress. Macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates, and lipids are important regulators of the circadian clock in your peripheral tissues. When you control the timing of particular food intake, you can help normalize your circadian rhythm.
Can Chrononutrition benefit menopausal women?
Chrononutrition can actually aid in recovery and rejuvenate tissues. In fact, an interesting study on menopausal women in their 60s found that chrononutrition positively affected their muscle mass and strength. Researchers measured the women’s muscle strength and mass before and after treatment. Then split the group in half. Both groups of women ate the ideal amount of protein to maintain their lean body mass. But the experimental group was asked to eat the majority of their protein early in the day. In fact, they consumed 80-90% of their protein before the early afternoon.
The women who followed chrononutrition principles and consumed protein early in the day had increased their lean body mass and muscle strength. That is super important for menopausal women because when your lean body mass increases, your metabolism increases. Which helps you stay stronger, more vital, and healthier. Plus, you’re less likely to put on extra body fat.
How much protein you need daily to maintain your lean body mass is 1/2 – 3/4 gram per pound of lean body mass. If you have 100 pounds of lean body mass, that means you need at least 50 to 75 grams of protein. So when you follow chrononutrition principles, you would have to consume at least 40 to 60 grams of protein before three o’clock in the afternoon.
It is really important that you eat the right foods at the right time.
It’s common knowledge that when we eat a heavy meal like at Thanksgiving, we feel sleepy afterward. This is partly due to the tryptophan-rich turkey, and the carb-heavy side dishes.
Eating melatonin-stimulating foods like tart cherries, goji berries, and almonds at night can help you sleep.
Paying attention to what is eaten and when is how chrononutrition will benefit menopausal women.
I’ve counseled my patients for at least two decades to eat fewer calories after dusk than the rest of the day. In order to have a higher basal metabolic rate and store less body fat. Your natural fast should be at night. You should consume the majority of your calories, especially protein, early in the day. Particularly if you’re menopausal.
I have found that my patients who support their hypothalamus with Genesis Gold® have a tendency to crave what their body needs. They tend to crave more protein during the day, and tryptophan-rich foods at night. They crave the nutrients they need, not just for their circadian clock, but also for their seasonal clock. For example, when you crave more beta carotene-rich orange vegetables in the fall can help ward off Seasonal Affective Disorder.
If you have any questions whatsoever about chrononutrition in menopause, please join me in my Hormone Support Group. You get free access through our Hormone Reboot Training. I’d love for you to join us!
Research reference: Chrononutrition against Oxidative Stress in Aging