What Should I Eat for Breakfast During Perimenopause?
Here’s a (not so) fun fact: women are more likely than men to skip breakfast. In a 2022 study, researchers found that 21% of women often and 10.8% always skip breakfast. Compare that to 15 and 8.1% among men, respectively, while 17.4% of both men and women reported skipping breakfast sometimes.
There are a lot of reasons women may skip breakfast. You may feel nauseous or simply not hungry first thing in the morning. Or perhaps it’s a matter of a time crunch and being too rushed to have a meal. For some women, it could be due to a desire to cut calories and lose weight through practices such as intermittent fasting. All of these are perfectly valid reasons.
However, eating breakfast has several benefits to consider. It’s the first opportunity you have in the day to refuel your body after hours of your body going through essential regenerative functions during sleep. Researchers also say that eating breakfast increases dopamine levels which helps control impulses when it comes to cravings for sweets and urges to overeat well into your lunch hour. And according to the American Heart Association, breakfast-eaters tend to have lower rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Women dealing with perimenopause who don’t usually enjoy breakfast should especially consider adding the morning meal into their daily routine. During (peri)menopause, fluctuations of estrogen and progesterone affect how cells respond to insulin, triggering instability in blood sugar levels and body weight. Research shows that frequently eating nutritionally balanced breakfasts may have important causal implications for both blood sugar and appetite control, meaning a balanced breakfast can help prevent symptoms associated with such instabilities.
The breakfast equation
An Ohio University study, published in the Journal Proceedings of the Nutrition of Society, shows that if you are skipping breakfast you are more likely to be deficient in major nutrients while having poorer eating habits throughout the day.
Their findings include:
- Breakfast skippers consumed significantly more calories, carbohydrates, total and saturated fat, and added sugars during lunch, dinner, and snacks than those who consumed breakfast on the day of intake.
- Adults who skipped breakfast had lower total intakes and were significantly less likely to meet the EAR or AI for folate, calcium, iron, and vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, and D on the day of intake.
- Adults who skipped breakfast had significantly poorer overall diet quality for the day of intake than those who consumed breakfast.
But, as seen in said study, breakfast quality is just as important as frequency. For us, a quality breakfast can be summed up in a simple formula:
PROTEIN + FIBER + CALCIUM = A balanced breakfast for (peri)menopause
Protein is one of the three nutrients found in food that the body needs in large amounts. Women in midlife need even more protein than usual to prevent age-related lean muscle loss. Protein recommendations for midlife women are to eat 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. So, for instance, a 50-something year old woman who weighs 150 lbs. (68 kg), should eat somewhere near 54 grams of protein a day.
Popular breakfast protein sources: almond butter, eggs, tofu, and beans.
Fiber is mostly indigestible materials in food (such as legumes, whole grains, and vegetables) that stimulate the intestine to digest and promotes the elimination of waste from the large intestine. Fiber also helps stabilize your blood sugar and controls cravings for the next several hours. Only 1 out of 20 people get enough fiber in their daily diet, but as a woman going through (peri)menopause, your fiber needs actually go down. While younger women need to clock 25 g of fiber a day, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics drops the recommendation to 21 g a day for women over 40.
Popular breakfast fiber sources: spinach, avocados, blackberries, pumpkin seeds, and rolled oats.
Calcium is a mineral found in many foods, especially dairy. The body needs calcium to maintain strong bones and to carry out many important functions including blood clotting and nerve function. During (peri)menopause, calcium is essential to help prevent bone loss. Current recommendations for calcium intake call for 1,200 mg per day for women over age 50 to ensure bone health, according to the North American Menopause Society.
Popular breakfast calcium sources: milk, Greek yogurt, cheese, almonds, fortified orange juice
Breakfast ideas for perimenopause
Eggs: Are your mornings often a rush? Make a batch of hard-boiled eggs for an easy on-the-go breakfast protein.
Oatmeal: It’s a breakfast staple for a reason. Oatmeal is a rich source of fiber, B vitamins, and magnesium. Whip in an egg for a fluffy texture and the protein you need. Hold off on any added sugar and prepare your oatmeal with fruit for some natural sweetness plus extra fiber. If you’re often crunched for time in the morning, overnight oats are a great solution. Make yours with a high-protein ingredient like Greek yogurt for a complete meal.
Greek Yogurt: A grab-and-go staple that’s also a rich source of protein and calcium, all you need is a fiber source (like your favorite berries) to pair with Greek yogurt for a perfectly balanced breakfast.
Berries: As one of the healthiest foods you can eat, a handful of berries will deliver on your fiber needs while also being a great source of vitamins and antioxidants. Stock up on strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and your favorite local berries whenever you’re grocery shopping.
Nuts: Another grab-and-go staple, each type of nut has various nutritional benefits, so it helps to change up which nuts you eat from time to time. However, be careful with Brazil nuts, cashews, and macadamia nuts, as they are high in saturated fat.
Flaxseeds: Add a tablespoon of ground flaxseed to your yogurt, smoothie, or cereal to get an extra 2 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber to your breakfast.
Sprouted bread: Found in the freezer aisle, sprouted bread is made with whole grains and legumes for a rich nutritional profile that includes excellent protein and fiber content.
Kale: With 250 mg of calcium per 100 g, comparatively kale has more calcium than milk.
Sweet Potatoes: These delicious root vegetables are a great source of fiber and even some calcium. Try making a sweet potato hash with kale and top it with an egg in your favorite style for a delicious and complete breakfast.
More of our favorite breakfast recipes: