Affiliate links on our site may earn us commissions. Learn More.

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this website you are giving consent to cookies being used. Visit our Privacy Policy.

arrow
Newsletter

Discover The Best Wellness Tips In Your Inbox

Subscribe to Health Reporter’s newsletter and get our health experts’ highlights and the latest news about healthy living.
The newsletters are spam-free and sent from our health experts and professionals.
sent

Thank You!

You have successfully subscribed to our newsletter!
Home arrow Nutrition arrow Intermittent Fasting arrow Intermittent Fasting and Menopause: What You Need to Know

Intermittent Fasting and Menopause: What You Need to Know

Wendy Lord, RD
Written by Wendy Lord, RD
HR_author_photo_Edna
Fact checked by Edna Skopljak, MD
Last update: October 15, 2023
5 min read 872 Views 0 Comments
clock 5 eye 872 comments 0

Menopause is a challenging life phase for women, with weight gain often becoming a problem. Find out how intermittent fasting can help women in midlife lose weight and potentially improve their metabolic health.

intermittent fasting and menopause

Along with hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings, weight gain and a change in body shape are part of the midlife package for women. As a result, middle-aged women are often on the lookout for effective ways to lose weight.

Intermittent fasting has become a popular weight loss tool for men and women, both young and old because it’s a method of losing weight that does not rely on you having to adhere to strict calorie restrictions.

In this article, we explore whether intermittent fasting can combat menopause weight gain and help women in midlife maintain their ideal weight. Learn what you need to know about intermittent fasting for women over 50.

Intermittent Fasting During Menopause: Is It Safe?

Yes, research suggests that intermittent fasting during menopause is safe for most women. It is a tool that promotes healthy weight loss and is associated with numerous health benefits

There are a variety of ways to do intermittent fasting. However, they all involve a regular period of fasting with partial or total calorie restriction, followed by an eating period in which you consume your normal calorie intake.

It has been found to be an effective weight management tool even when estrogen levels start to drop in menopausal women, helping them manage menopause weight gain. However, it is not necessarily more effective than a more conventional calorie-restricted weight loss diet.

Why Does Weight Gain Occur in Menopause?

Midlife is a period of significant change for women as they transition from their reproductive years to menopause. Gaining weight, especially around your middle, is common, and it can be difficult to drop weight during this time. 

It’s true that menopause is characterized by fluctuating female sex hormones, especially estrogen and progesterone. However, it is thought that a drop in estrogen may be only partially responsible for the unwanted weight gain during this important time in a woman’s life. 

Other factors that contribute to menopause weight gain include lifestyle changes. For example, many women over 50 become less active due to shifts in work and family responsibilities, as well as the effects of age on the bones, joints, and muscles.

Muscle loss begins in your thirties and progresses as you get older. Less lean muscle mass means less metabolically active tissue, which results in your body burning less energy. This drop in metabolism can lead to weight gain if your food intake doesn’t change.  

Additionally, genetic factors may begin to affect your health and cause an increase in weight and body fat. 

Unfortunately, coupled with the changes in the reproductive hormones and higher body weight, this may contribute to an increased risk for chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, raised LDL-cholesterol levels, and heart disease. 

Therefore, weight loss is a vital aspect of mitigating these health risks and improving the quality of life for menopausal and postmenopausal women.

Can Intermittent Fasting Help Lose Menopausal Belly Fat? 

Yes, some studies show that intermittent fasting can help lose menopausal belly fat, similar to other calorie-controlled diets. However, other evidence suggests that it is more effective for older men than women.

How intermittent fasting promotes weight loss

In order to lose weight, you must reduce your caloric intake. However, many women find a conventional weight loss diet difficult to stick to. 

Instead of a continuous calorie restriction, intermittent fasting involves restricting your calories for extended periods overnight or every other day. Once your fast is over, you can continue to eat normally within your eating window.

Since your body enters fasting mode when you do intermittent fasting, the metabolic changes that occur may help reduce hunger and promote weight loss. 

A drop in estrogen levels has been associated with an increased risk of insulin resistance, and reduced insulin sensitivity is linked to an increase in belly fat. However, intermittent fasting has been proven to be an effective tool to improve insulin sensitivity and promote weight loss.

Health benefits of intermittent fasting

Weight control is not the only reason to try intermittent fasting. Other benefits of intermittent fasting for women include:

  • Improved brain and mental health
  • Better blood sugar control and glucose tolerance, reducing the risk of diabetes
  • Increased insulin sensitivity
  • Reduced heart disease risk due to lower blood pressure and LDL-cholesterol levels
  • Reduces inflammation

Potential Risks of Fasting During Menopause

Although generally regarded as safe, intermittent fasting may negatively affect women in menopause. For example, it’s not recommended for those with a history of eating disorders. 

The risk factors below may be well managed by taking a fasting supplement.

#1 Binging

Women who experience excessive hunger due to low blood glucose levels during the fasting phase of intermittent fasting may overeat or consume more than their normal calorie intake during their eating period, resulting in weight gain. 

Intermittent fasting combined with binge eating may also contribute to disordered eating patterns, making a continuous calorie restriction a more appropriate option for them.

#2 Nutrient deficiencies

The inadequate intake of nutritious whole foods results in nutrient deficiencies. This may occur if you fast excessively or don’t eat enough during the eating phase of intermittent fasting. 

#3 Blood sugar imbalances

Menopausal women with blood sugar problems such as type 2 diabetes should consult with their healthcare practitioner before trying intermittent fasting. Although the eating pattern can improve insulin resistance and glucose tolerance, it may result in dramatic swings in blood glucose levels and hypoglycemia. 

4 Tips for Fasting During Menopause

Intermittent fasting is a great way to halt menopause weight gain and promote weight loss without the need for calorie counting. However, it can be challenging to get going and maintain the new eating pattern. Here are 4 tips to make it easier.

#1 Adjust your diet gradually

It can be tempting to go all-in when making changes to your eating pattern, but going straight from your average 8-hour overnight fast to 16 hours can make it difficult to maintain. 

To prevent extreme hunger and fluctuating blood glucose levels, ease yourself into intermittent fasting by slowly increasing your fasting period.

#2 Drink a lot of water

Dehydration during intermittent fasting may result in headaches. Remember to drink plenty of water to avoid such side effects, promote fat burning and weight loss, and support metabolism and nutrient absorption.

#3 Opt for food rich in protein, fat, and fiber

Certain foods control hunger and blood sugar more effectively than others. Therefore, eating foods high in protein, fat, and fiber, which take longer to digest, provides greater satiety, making it easier to sustain your fast.

#4 Break the fast early if necessary

If you find that you have no energy, your blood glucose is extremely low, and you are unable to complete your daily tasks, it is advisable to break your fast early.

A Word From a Nutritionist

However, while research on the effectiveness of intermittent fasting in menopausal women is lacking, studies suggest that alternate-day fasting or the 5:2 method is the most effective protocol for weight control. This method involves fasting 2 days per week or every other day with a calorie intake of roughly 500 calories.

Menopause weight gain may seem inevitable; however, intermittent fasting, combined with eating nutritious food, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and effective stress management, can help you manage your body weight.

Additionally, intermittent fasting for women in their 40s and 50s offers benefits for metabolic health and may reduce the risk of blood sugar problems, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Don’t be tempted to combine intermittent fasting with a continuous calorie restriction. If you don’t meet your body’s basic energy requirements, your weight-loss efforts may backfire and cause your metabolism to slow down, resulting in weight gain.

FAQs

Is intermittent fasting safe for women over 50?

Yes, intermittent fasting is safe for women over 50. It has been proven to be an effective tool for managing menopause weight gain.

What’s the best type of fasting for menopausal women?

Studies in the general population suggest that alternate-day fasting, or 5:2 intermittent fasting, is the most effective method for weight loss. However, the method that you find easiest to stick to is the best method for you.

Does intermittent fasting reduce hot flashes?

No, intermittent fasting does not reduce hot flashes. On the contrary, researchers have found that the low blood sugar levels of fasting may trigger hot flashes.

Conclusion

Intermittent fasting is not a magic bullet for weight loss in menopausal women. However, alternate-day fasting, in particular, has been shown to be the most effective method of intermittent fasting for managing menopause weight gain.

The benefits of intermittent fasting extend beyond losing weight, and you may want to try it to improve blood sugar control and insulin resistance, reduce your risk of heart disease, and control chronic inflammation.

Written by Wendy Lord, RD
Wendy is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for writing about nutrition, health, and medicine. Her aim is to translate the medical jargon to make information accessible to everyone so that they can make informed decisions about their health.
The article was fact checked by Edna Skopljak, MD
Was this article helpful?
check
Thank you! We received Your feedback
Wendy Lord, RD
Written by Wendy Lord, RD
HR_author_photo_Edna
Fact checked by Edna Skopljak, MD
Last update: October 15, 2023
5 min read 872 Views 0 Comments
0 Comments

Leave a comment

checked
Thank you for your comment!
We will review it as soon as possible.
HealthReporter
Your Name
Missing required field
Your Comment
Missing required field

company-logo