After menopause, you may have noticed that there’s not only more weight piling on, but that it’s even harder to get rid of. The reason is that as time goes along, hormonal shifts that come with “the change” can slow down your metabolism, causing pounds to stick. Luckily, research shows that intermittent fasting (IF) can help.
You’ve probably already heard of eating styles like the 16:8 or the 5:2 diet, which all involve intermittent fasting. With these eating plans, you’re encouraged to consume all of your calories during a certain window of time and abstain from eating for the other portion of time. For example, the 16:8 diet requires you to consume food during an eight-hour window of the day, while fasting for 16 hours. The 5:2 diet is a little different, in that you consume a normal amount of calories (between 1,500 and 2,000 per day) for five days during the week, while “fasting” and consuming only between five and six hundred calories for the other two days of the week.
Research shows that restricting your eating time can have several benefits for your health. For one, it’s shown to improve your metabolism and help with weight loss. Research also shows that intermittent fasting can lower your LDL “bad cholesterol while improving good cholesterol, and also lower your blood sugar levels. Some studies have also found that intermittent fasting may lower levels of inflammation, which is a major cause of many chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
So what’s this all got to do with menopause? Intermittent fasting may benefit women who are going through or have gone through “the change” because it could help regulate certain hormones that govern metabolism. In one study, 25 obese postmenopausal women were randomized and told to eat either an intermittent fasting diet or a regular calorie-restricted diet. For the IF diet, the women were instructed to restrict their calories and eating times for a five week period, then had a five week weight-stabilization period. In the controlled diet group, the women did a regular calorie-restricted diet (without time restrictions) for 15 weeks followed by five weeks of weight stabilization. Measurements of body weight and composition, waist circumference, resting metabolic rate, and fasting lipid and glucose levels were taken before, during, and after weight loss, as well as after a one-year follow-up.
According to the results, short- and long-term changes in body composition and metabolic profile were similar in both groups. In other words, those who followed an IF diet were able to achieve the same results in five weeks that the group eating a controlled diet were in 15 weeks. That’s pretty amazing!
With all this being said, always check with your doctor before trying any new diet plan. Getting started with intermittent fasting doesn’t have to be super difficult, either. You can simply begin with dividing your day into two 12-hour periods of eating and fasting. Try to eat most of your calories during the day when you’re the most active, saving your resting hours for fasting. For example, eating breakfast at 7 or 8 a.m. and then beginning your fast around 7 or 8 p.m. Eating less before you go to bed could also help with other menopause symptoms like night sweats and insomnia!
We’re wishing you a graceful, healthy transition.