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The benefits of Intermittent Fasting during menopause

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The benefits of Intermittent Fasting around menopause

Intermittent fasting (IF) is a pattern of eating where you alternate between periods of voluntary fasting and eating over a given period. It’s a popular method for controlling one’s appetite, and it leads to health benefits such as weight loss and improved insulin sensitivity. IF methods include daily time-restricted feeding, alternate-day fasting and periodic fasting.

Fasting and menopause

Several studies outline the underestimated benefits this ancient practice has on menopausal and perimenopausal women’s health as cells cleansing, improved mental health, metabolic health and insulin sensitivity.

IF and menopause: the benefits

1. Weight loss

Many studies have found that IF can help with weight loss and keeping off the lost weight. When your body is in a fasted state, it uses its own fat reserves for energy. Initially, when one starts to fast, it takes time to adapt. Once they get used to this way of time-restricted eating, appetite decreases significantly and there is no need for snacking and grazing throughout the day.

2. Insulin sensitivity

Fasting increases insulin sensitivity. This means that your body gets better at processing sugar and carbohydrates. People with type 2 diabetes need to be careful with fasting as it might lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and if they haven’t eaten enough in the feeding window, this might lead to dizziness or even fainting. Those with type 1 diabetes need to be extra careful and speak to their doctor before experimenting with IF as they might need to adjust their medication.

3. Heart health

Heart risk disease increases during menopause and IF has shown to improve low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, total cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, fasting insulin, insulin resistance, and blood pressure. All of these improvements lead to a healthier heart.

4. Mental health

Some of the psychological symptoms of menopause include anxiety, depression, brain fog, mood swings, and psychological stress. Studies have found that fasting has a positive influence on all of these, also decreased stress, improved self-esteem, and overall positive psychological changes.

Intermittent fasting protocols

There are several main methods of fasting. The best thing to do is experiment with all of them until you find one which works best for your unique physiological needs as well as your daily routine, work, family commitments and energy levels.

1. Daily fasting 

This is the most common method of IF. There are different protocols, such as 16/8 or 18/6. This means eating within an eight-hour interval and fasting for the rest of the day. E.g., when you’re doing 18/6 and you decide to start eating at 12:00 pm, your last meal of the day needs to be at no later than 6 pm.

When you eat, you can eat whatever you choose to, however in the fasting window you’re not supposed to consume anything other than black coffee or tea. The reason is that when your body adjusts to the fasted state, any food (even a small snack) will take you out of this state and will reawaken your appetite.

This is found to be the most sustainable method. When you first introduce fasting to your routine it’s best to do it more gradually, especially if you’re used to having an early breakfast and a late dinner. You can initially try to do 12/12 and progress to a stricter protocol when you’re adapted to it.

2. 5:2

With 5:2, you have your regular meals spread across 5 days of the week and you limit the energy consumed to 500-600 calories a day during 2 days of the week.

It’s up to you to decide which days of the week are your fasting days, as long as there is at least one normal-eating day in between them.

E.g., you can fast on Monday, then eat normally on Tuesday and Wednesday, then fast on Thursday and eat normally from Friday until Sunday. To take full advantage of 5:2, you should eat healthy food and stay away from highly processed carbs, trans fats and simple sugars. If you assume that having two low-calorie days a week, gives you a license to over-indulge on the other days, you might get disappointed because it’s not that difficult to overeat 5 days of the week. To see weight loss benefits, you should eat the same amount of food as if you hadn’t been fasting at all. That way the lost 2,500-3,000 calories will lead to approximately 1 pound of weight loss per week.

3. Alternate day method. 

This means you can eat the amount of food you usually eat every other day. On the fasting days, you consume ¼ of your daily caloric needs.

E.g., if you normally eat 2,000 calories per day, you’ll only eat 500 calories on the fasting days. Similarly to the 5:2 method, it’s important that you are careful with what you eat, not only how many calories.

You can try having healthy shakes or smoothies using supplements such as Meno Blend. Add one scoop of 5 g of Meno Blend to 150ml of liquid – coconut milk, almond milk or soya – and whisk with a milk frother or shake in a lidded container until fully dissolved.

4. 24-hour method

With this method, you fast for 24 hours before eating again.

E.g., you can have your last meal at lunchtime and then start to eat at lunchtime the day after. This is a strict method and it’s usually done only once or twice a week. If you are prone to feeling light-headed, fatigued or have diabetes, you need to proceed with caution when trying out this method. Including regular 24-hour fasts might lead to irritability, headaches and feeling weak.

Summary

Intermittent fasting has a number of benefits for women in menopause and perimenopause including decreased cholesterol and blood pressure, weight management and boosted longevity.

If you decide to give IF a go, pay attention to how you feel. If fasting makes you feel too stressed, you miss breakfast, have family that eats too early or too late, if you feel weak or ill during fasting, you may want to either shorten your fast or skip intermittent fasting entirely.

Remember that you don’t have to fast every day, either. You can always include fasting windows every other day or even just a couple of times a week. It’s also important to pay attention to what you eat, not just how much. If you’re fasting several days per week, you might want to include several lighter meals, such as protein shakes or shakes made with supplements such as Meno Blend.

Menopause is not an easy time in a woman’s life, but with the right diet and healthy habits, you can stay fit, happy, and healthy for many more years to come.

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If you are depressed,
you are living in the past.
If you are anxious,
you are living in the future.
If you are at peace,
you are living in the present.
– Lao Tzu –

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