Nutrition for Menopausal Climbers
Last week, we explored how menopause and ageing affect muscle mass and strength.
This week, coach Mina gives us some nutrition advice to help promote muscle synthesis in people experiencing menopause and generally for older athletes.
1. High Protein
It’s recommended that older athletes consume more protein than their younger counterparts.
The presence of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) stimulates the body to create new muscle. However, menopausal climbers and older adults may experience anabolic resistance, meaning that it takes a larger quantity of amino acids to signal to the body to begin muscle synthesis than it would for a younger athlete.
Therefore, it’s recommended that older athletes consume more protein to provide the higher level of amino acids required to stimulate muscle synthesis.
The amino acid leucine is particularly important in this process.
A great way to obtain all these amino acids is through a complete protein source – a food that contains all the essential amino acids that the body needs to function properly. Examples are meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, quinoa, soybeans, spirulina.
Aim for protein portions in the region of 30g per serving, 3-5 times spread out in the day if you can.
2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) have been shown to help improve muscle function, mass and strength in an older population.
These can be obtained from fatty fish, such as salmon or mackerel, or as a fish oil supplement. It can also be found in vegetarian sources, such as chia seeds and flaxseed.
3. Creatine Supplements
Creatine is an extensively researched ergogenic aid that can further help to enhance muscle strength and mass in older athletes.
It helps to rapidly produce energy during high intensity exercise (creatine phosphate energy system) and, combined with resistance exercise, it can help boost performance.
Supplementation of 2-5g/day with food will increase creatine stores.
Conclusion: How Menopausal Climbers Can Modify Their Diet to Maintain and Promote Muscle Growth
By consuming more protein from varied sources, ensuring adequate intake of omega-3 and supplementing creatine, menopausal climbers can minimise the effects of decreasing levels of estrogen and can promote the maintenance and growth of muscle.