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Weight Loss and Menopause, Part III

Weight Loss and Menopause, Part III

by Laura J Hieb, ND on July 27, 2022

Last week I discussed cortisol and ways to lower it to help with menopausal weight loss. This week we'll tackle insulin.

Insulin is a growth and storage hormone.  And insulin makes fat.

 Let me reiterate:

                                                                Insulin makes fat.

The  more insulin you have, the more fat you have.

So what makes us have more insulin?

Every time we eat something that tastes sweet, our pancreas secretes insulin. The more sweet-tasting things you eat, the more insulin you have.

Please notice I said "sweet-tasting" things, not "sweets". Because decreasing sweets by replacing them with artificial sweeteners does not lower insulin. In fact, studies show that artificial sweeteners actually cause weight gain and diabetes--so they must raise insulin.

What about natural/alternative sweeteners? Same thing!

I know, this is a depressing blog.

Actually there are a few that are better at not raising glucose and insulin as much, especially when eaten as part of a meal. These include allulose, monk fruit, pure stevia extract and erythritol. Avoid all the rest.

Now you're probably thinking, bad enough I have to get old(er), but now I can't have as many sweet-tasting things either?

I know. It doesn't seem fair.

But more and more studies are showing that sugar and insulin play a big role, if not the biggest role in promoting heart disease, diabetes, chronic disease, liver disease and Alzheimer's/dementia, etc, etc.

So my stance on this is: it's mother nature's way of telling us that if we want to be around for the next 50 years or so, we have to make some changes now.

Just because we could eat sweet-tasting things in our pre-menopause years without gaining weight, does not mean that they were good for us. We were just able to get away with eating them then.

 And now we aren't.

So clearly, the number one way to lower insulin is to lower our intake of sweet-tasting things. Easier said than done, right?

Here are some tips:

  • Sleep 7-9 hours per night. When we are tired/sleep-deprived, we cannot make good food choices
  • Eat 20-30 grams of protein per meal, 3 meals per day, especially beginning with breakfast. Protein helps to reduce sugar cravings and helps keep our blood sugar levels even and thereby helps keep us full longer. You are probably not eating as much protein as you think. Please see the protein information at the end of this post
  • Stop drinking liquid sugars: alcohol, sodas--regular AND diet, sweet teas, coffee drinks like mochas and frappucinos, etc, energy drinks-- Gatorade and similar products, and fruit juice (fruit juice is full of sugar, even if it is "natural" sugar). Also note that kombucha tea can have a good amount of sugar in it as well
  • Limit starchy foods, especially those made from white flour, such as white bread and pasta, as well as white rice and rice noodles, cassava wraps, and white potatoes
  • Only eat sweet-tasting things as part of a meal that contains fiber, protein and fat. (Fiber is contained in all whole foods, except animal foods.) NEVER eat a sweet-tasting thing by itself--it will definitely increase how much insulin and fat you have.
  • Exercise, particularly within 1 hour of finishing eating. For example walk (not race walk or speed walk) for 10-20 minutes. As noted earlier, doing this outside also reduces your cortisol level. But walking on a treadmill, or up and down stairs; or doing weights, even squats and lunges (using your body as weights) or dancing to your favorite music are also helpful
  • Add cinnamon to foods. Cinnamon helps lower blood sugar and insulin, even though it tastes sweet
  • Drink 1 tablespoon of (apple cider) vinegar in 8-12 ounces warm, hot or cold water less than 20 minutes before or after eating a starchy or sweet food--or even while eating the starchy/sweet-tasting food . Vinegar helps slow down the conversion of starch to sugar and helps to prevent blood sugar spikes, which helps prevent insulin spikes. Do not do this more than 3-4 times daily
But what if you have type 2 diabetes and are in insulin? If you change to a low-no sugar diet, you will be able to decrease, or get off your insulin, BUT you MUST work closely with your doctor.
What is you have type 1 diabetes? If you change to a low-no sugar diet, you may be able to decrease your insulin, but as you well know, you will never be able to get off it completely. AND you must work VERY closely with your doctor.

Protein Sources In Grams:  Aim for 20-30 grams per meal, 3 meals per day

Animal Protein Sources:


Beef/Lamb/Pork/Bison 3oz (size of a deck of cards) 21grams
Poultry: Chicken/Turkey 3oz (size of a deck of cards) 21grams

Broth, beef or chicken, 1 cup = 6g
Bone broth/stock, beef or chicken, 1 cup = 10g


Fish 3oz (the size of a deck of cards) = 21grams

Clams, 10 small, = 25.5g

Crabmeat, 1/2 cup = 11.5g

Mussels, 1 cup without shells = 18g

Prawns, 4 large = 22g

Scallops 3.5oz (4-5 Large, 9-12med, 15-20 small) = 20g

Shrimp 1/2 cup, cooked = 23g
1, large = 6-7g
1, small 4.9g

Goat’s milk, 1 cup = 9g

Cheddar cheese, 1 oz = 7g

Cottage cheese, 1/2 cup = 14g

Cream cheese, 2 Tablespoons = 1.2g

String cheese, 1 = 8g

Yogurt, 1 cup = 8.5g

Greek yogurt, 1 cup = 20g

Vegetable Protein Sources:

Edamame,boiled, shelled, 1/2 cup = 9.25g
Milk, 1 cup = 6g
Miso, 2 Tablespoons = 4g
Tempeh, 1/2 cup (4oz) = 16g
Tofu, 1/2 cup (4oz = 10g
Tofu, firm, 1/2 cup (4oz) = 20g

Beans & Legumes:

Black beans, 1/2 cup, cooked = 7g

Garbanzo beans/chickpeas, 1/2 cup, cooked = 7.2g

 Kidney beans, 1/2 cup, cooked = 7.5g

Lentils, 1/2 cup, cooked = 12g

Navy beans, 1/2 cup, cooked = 7.5g

Peanut butter, 2 Tablespoons = 8g

Pinto beans, 1/2 cup, cooked = 5g

Refried beans, 1/2 cup = 6g



Amaranth, 1/2 cup, cooked = 4.65g

Barley, hulled, 1/2 cup, cooked = 3g

Buckwheat, 1/2 cup, cooked 3g

Millet, 1/2 cup, cooked = 3g

Oats, 1/2 cup, cooked = 3g

Oats, steel cut, 1/2 cup, cooked = 5g

Quinoa, 1/2 cup, cooked = 4.7g

Rice, brown, 1/2 cup, cooked = 2.8g

Rice, white, 1/2 cup, cooked = 2g


Nuts & Seeds:

Almonds, 1/2 cup = 6g

 Almond butter, 2 Tablespoons, = 6.8g

 Brazil nuts, 6 = 4.3g

Cashews, 1/2 cup = 5g
Cashew butter, 2 Tablespoons = 5.6g

Hazelnuts/Filberts, 1/2 cup = 5g

Macadamia nuts, 1/2 c = 2g

Pecans, 1/2 cup, chopped = 2g

Walnuts, 1/2 cup = 4.3g

Chia seeds, 1 Tablespoon = 1.3g

Flax seeds, 1/4 cup = 6g

Peanut butter, 2 tablespoons =8g

Pumpkin seeds, 1/4 cup = 11g

Sunflower seeds, hulled, 1/4 cup = 6g

Sunflower butter, 2 Tablespoons = 5.6g

Tahini (sesame seed butter), 2 Tablespoons = 5.2g



Vegetables, 1/2 cup = 1-2g

Brewer’s Yeast, 1 Tablespoon = 8g

Nutritional Yeast, 1 Tablespoon = 2g

Spirulina, 1 teaspoon = 4g