A look into intermittent fasting post menopause benefits. Reaching a menopausal age is a big deal. The changes occurring in your body may bring unpleasant symptoms where transitions could be sleep disruption and moodiness, just to name a few.
For many women, menopause is a tough struggle, they may no longer understand their bodies, and undergo common symptoms like unexpected weight control and brain fog which can cause emotions of anxiety, confusion, anger, tension, and sadness.
As you reach this phase, you may gain weight because your metabolism slows down as you age– making it harder for you to burn sufficient calories in a day.
Many people have benefited from intermittent fasting and have continually used it as their main form of diet. But what if you’re menopausal or perimenopausal? Is intermittent fasting post menopause even safe at this point?
Fortunately, intermittent fasting can assist women in navigating the sloping roller coaster that is menopause. Those experiencing tiredness, losing weight, or decreasing insulin levels throughout the menopausal journey may wish to try it.
Here’s a quick rundown of how menopause impacts your body and how intermittent fasting may help with many common symptoms.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is one of the most popular health and fitness approaches nowadays. It includes alternating fasting and eating periods. Many studies1 demonstrate that this can help you lose weight, enhance your metabolic health benefits, defend against disease, and possibly live longer.
It does not specify which healthy meals to consume but when to consume them. There are several intermittent fasting strategies, all of which divide the day or week between eating and fasting times. Most individuals already “fast” while sleeping every day. This may be accomplished by preceding breakfast, having your first meal around midday, and your last meal at 8 p.m.
Menopause And Weight Gain
Menopause is the average reduction in sex hormones that occurs in women between the ages of 40 and 50. During this period, your ovaries slowly stop generating estrogen and progesterone, which causes menstruation to cease.
When you haven’t had your period for 12 months, this is when you have officially entered menopause and could lead you to (more) weight gain. However, amenorrhea (period loss) is not the sole symptom of menopause.
Menopause comes with a variety of symptoms including:
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Decreased libido
- Increased heart disease risk
- Night sweats
- Mood changes
Menopause, most noticeably for many, causes changes in metabolism. Your metabolism often slows down during menopause due to an imbalance in estrogen and progesterone levels. Many women gain weight as a result of sudden hormonal changes.
During menopause, you may feel as if you don’t understand your body as well as you used to, and symptoms such as unexpected body weight increase might make you feel nervous and unhappy, or worse depressed.
The good news is that intermittent fasting is an excellent tool for managing menopause.
The Science Of The Hormones Behind Cravings
The hormonal changes that occur during menopause, may likely lead you to want certain foods in more significant amounts than usual. Your brain could be tempted by eating certain meals, producing positive, good sensations. These positive sentiments encourage you to continue eating those meals regularly.
Meals that produce this ‘happy brain’ are known as hyper-palatable foods, sometimes known as comfort foods, since they are fast and straightforward to digest. Sweet, salty, and grand comfort meals are shared guilty pleasure. Most people also eat these sorts of meals when they are fatigued and searching for a late-night snack. You may minimize your consumption of these comfort foods for successful weight reduction by reducing the number of hours you eat.
Does Intermittent Fasting Help Weight Loss During Post Menopause?
Weight gain is usually related to aging, as well as lifestyle and genetic factors. Gaining weight post menaupause or during menopause may be contributed by hormonal changes as well. Declining estrogen levels even during perimenopause may cause body fat to store fat in the lower body.
Not only does it make it difficult to manage your weight, but it can also raise your risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. Low estrogen has often been associated with insulin resistance.
This means that you store fat a lot more easily because insulin promotes fat storage. On the other hand, estrogen levels that are stable at a normal level will help improve insulin sensitivity.
Incredibly, intermittent fasting produces better results for menopausal and post-menopausal women than anybody else! Women are more prone to insulin resistance when they are going through peri-menopause and menopause.
Intermittent fasting is brilliant for dealing with insulin resistance because it gives your body a chance to rest and allows blood levels of insulin to drop significantly. When you fast, your body will more frequently burn fat stores for fuel than it would if you were eating throughout the day.
This, coupled with fewer calories consumed overall, can lead to weight loss. Making it really effective in managing your weight.
Is Intermittent Fasting Post Menopause Safe For Midlife Women?
This eating pattern has helped many people lose weight and reduce the number of unhealthy nutrients eaten. Intermittent fasting is an ideal tool to help you through menopause. If you are someone who is struggling with weight gain, fatigue, or insulin resistance post menopause, you may want to still consider giving it a try.
It’s essential to be sure you’re eating healthy foods during the eating window rather than filling up on nutritionally empty calories. To work long-term, your IF eating plan also has to mesh with your lifestyle. If you regularly go out socially for breakfast or eat dinner late at night, aiming to fast during these times is not sustainable.
If you have a medical issue, consult with your doctor before starting any IF diet. If you’re unsure how to do it healthily, schedule a consultation with a dietician. There appears to be no risk in trying IF for healthy women or having received the all-clear. You may finally lose some of the thorn midlife pounds that haven’t moved.
Types Of Intermittent Fasting
The idea is to eat normally for five days (not counting calories); then, on the other two days, eat only 500 or 600 calories daily for women and men, respectively. The fasting days are any days of your choosing.
Eating normally for the rest of the week does not mean you can go overboard. The daily calorie intake advised for people of a healthy weight are:
- 2,500 kcal per day for men
- 2,000 kcal per day for women
You choose an eating window daily with this type of fast; which should ideally leave a 14- to 16-hour fasting period. Fasting promotes autophagy, the natural ‘cellular housekeeping’ process which begins when liver glycogen is depleted. It is a fundamental process of cleaning out damaged cells, to regenerate newer, healthier cells.
As an example, you can start eating at 9 a.m. with this method until 5 p.m. However, this is dependent on your ability to be consistent. If your schedule is constantly changing, or you require or desire the freedom to go out to breakfast on occasion, go on a late date night, or go to happy hour, this fasting may not be for you.
This method is the simplest of the lot and involves fasting for 12 hours daily. Overnight fasting has the advantage of being simple to implement because you don’t have to skip meals; all you’re doing is removing a bedtime snack (if you usually have one).
For example, you could decide to stop eating after dinner at 7 p.m. and then eat again on your 7 a.m. breakfast the following morning. Autophagy may occur at the 12-hour mark or even better, at a longer fasting period.
However, this method does not maximize the benefits of fasting. If you’re fasting to lose weight, a smaller fasting window means more time to eat, which may not help you reduce your calorie intake.
Eat Stop Eat
Eat Stop Eat is an intermittent fasting method that involves fasting for 24 hours twice a week. You can choose which days to fast and usually eat the rest of the week. As an example, on a Saturday, eat your evening meal and fast until dinner the next day (Sunday).
There is no certain diet to follow in this fast but you should make an effort to consume mostly nutrient-rich, whole foods to support your health. Moderation is important to practice during a fast. On your eating days, do try to consume as few calories as possible and make sure to stay hydrated.
On the Eat Stop Eat fast, you may start with only practicing the fast once a week. When you feel comfortable doing it twice in a week, you should not do it consecutively.
Another popular method for losing weight is alternate-day fasting. You usually eat one day and then the next day, you don’t eat. You repeat this cycle.
You may fast every other day, with a fast consisting of 25% of your daily calorie needs (approximately 500 calories) and nonfasting days being average eating days.
This is ideal for people whose lifestyles encourage fasting. Consider hospital medical personnel who work 12- to 24-hour shifts. It may be more accessible and preferable for them not to eat during their shift.
A popular form of time restricted fasting, the 16:8 fasting plan is an eating schedule in which you fast for 16 hours per day and eat for eight hours.
This eating schedule has all of the advantages of other fasting schedules. Even better, you get to choose your eating time.
Example is if you can’t go without breakfast, eat earlier in the day (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.). If you prefer an early dinner, eat during the day (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.). Or if you frequently go out with friends for late dinners, plan your eating hours later in the day (1 p.m. to 9 p.m.).
There is no strict implementation of what you eat. Only that it involves limiting your intake of foods and calorie-containing beverages to a set window of 8 hours per day.
What Are The Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting For Post Menopause?
The benefits of intermittent fasting does not stop with weight loss. These health benefits come from side effects when you do IF.
It may initially be difficult to do but once you get used to the practice, it can be a simple habit to do. Which is already one of its benefits. Intermittent fasting can become a sustainable way of life, rather than a short-term, fad diet.
Other benefits of intermittent fasting include:
1. Musculoskeletal Health
Conditions such as osteoporosis, arthritis, and lower back pain fall into this category. Fasting has been shown to promote hormone secretion from the thyroid. This can promote bone health and help prevent bone fractures.
2. Reduced Inflammation
What is associated by inflammation is that there is a higher risk of developing multiple chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease. When you are in a fasting state, it means that your glucose reserves are next to empty. This may then help reduce painful inflammation.
3. Mental Health
Intermittent fasting may also help in reducing anxiety, depression, and the emotional unpredictability that can go hand-in-hand with menopause. Fasting has also been proven to improve self-esteem and reduce stress.
Some Tips To Follow Intermittent Fasting During Menopause
When performed correctly, intermittent fasting can help relieve menopausal symptoms. Follow these simple guidelines:
- Begin with a brief fasting window and work on a more time-restricted eating routine.
- It would greatly help if you do not overly watch calories or restrict your meals since you need to satisfy all of your body’s nutritional needs. Just be sure they are a well-balanced, nutritious diet that can provide all the benefits of intermittent fasting.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. To achieve your daily needs, consider water-rich meals and non-caloric drinks.
- Longer durations of fasting can be difficult and occasionally result in binge eating. Be conscious of what you eat by paying attention to your body’s demands. If necessary, lower your fasting window to avoid unhealthy eating consumption.
- Seek expert advice. You might also seek expert assistance if you have difficulty planning your fasting schedule or nutritious meals.
Reminders And Risks
Intermittent Fasting is a method of eating, not a diet. In reality, it is natural and instinctual, like the days of our ancestors. They would often go for extended periods without eating before finding new food sources. They couldn’t, after all, go to the fridge or the shop as we do today.
You may notice that maintaining your average healthy body weight becomes considerably more difficult when your menopausal hormones change. This could be especially tough if your menopausal needs and appetite are out of control.
It might then seem the right and simple choice just to go on doing intermittent fasting, but it doesn’t work for everyone and it is not recommended for people who:
- Are experiencing underlying health conditions.
- Suffer from diabetes or other blood sugar problems, like blood pressure.
- They might be pregnant and breastfeeding women.
For many women, menopause is a stressful period. The hormonal changes make it confusing to understand your body and could cause weight gain without any changes in lifestyle habits.
After menopause, lower estrogen levels might cause your body to carry fat through your hips, thighs and to your belly. This decrease in estrogen is accompanied by changes in cortisol, thyroid hormones, serotonin, and sex hormones. This is referred to as insulin resistance and is what might make you more prone to acquiring weight.
Intermittent fasting is a common and often very successful dietary modification for women in menopause. Though there are many benefits to intermittent fasting in midlife, you may not experience all of them immediately.
There is no quick fix when it comes to your health. Especially in midlife, when your hormones and body are changing. Just like exercise, with fasting, you need to start small and learn what works for your body.
As time goes on, you need to make permanent changes in diet AND exercise habits to get you better and enjoy intermittent fasting’s benefits.
1 Rona Antoni, Kelly L. Johnston, Adam L. Collins and M. Denise Robertson (2014), “The Effects of Intermittent Energy Restriction on Indices of Cardiometabolic Health,” Research in Endocrinology, Vol. 2014 (2014), Article ID 459119, DOI: 10.5171/2014.459119