Women and Fasting: Top Tips for Women Going Through Menopause Part 3

In this series on women and fasting, we’re focusing in on women going through menopause or who are post-menopausal. I want to highlight this group because I think they’re often mislead to believe they’re doomed when it comes to weight loss. 

While it’s more challenging for them to lose weight, they are far from hopeless. Women going through menopause, or who are post-menopausal, are still as capable of reaching their weight loss goals as men and younger women.

 

Let’s recap the tips I’ve shared so far:

Tip #1: Be sure to fit fasting into your lifestyle so you’re able to follow a fasting regimen consistently each week.

Tip #2: Keep your fasts “clean” and avoid using any unnecessary training wheels, such as bulletproof coffee and sweeteners.

In this week’s blog post, we’re going to talk about the importance of eating a nutrient-dense diet. This is one of the most overlooked explanations why some women plateau or fail to lose weight in the first place. 

 

Why does this happen?

  • A history of low-fat diets. Most vitamins are fat soluble. If you’re not eating healthy fats, then you’re not able to absorb a lot of the nutrients from the real foods you consume. 
  • Many of the refined and processed foods we’ve consumed contain little nutritious value.
  • Your gut health becomes problematic after years of following the Standard North American Diet, and you fail to absorb many of the nutrients from real foods when you start to follow a low-carb, healthy fat diet.
  • History of following a low nutrient vegetarian or vegan diet.

How can this slow weight loss?

Fasting triggers your sympathetic nervous system to produce counter-regulatory hormones, such as noradreanaline, human growth hormone (HGH) and cortisol. These hormones are called counter-regulatory hormones because they run counter to insulin. Insulin stores energy and counter-regulatory hormones release energy. 

Often, the periodic release of counter-regulatory hormones is quite beneficial. Noradrenaline will boost our metabolic rates. The secretion of HGH will help us improve bone mass and increase muscle mass when we break our fasts. 

But what about cortisol? 

Cortisol is a stress hormone and a weight-trapping hormone. So, why would we want that to be produced if we’re trying to lose weight? 

In most circumstances, the amount of cortisol produced while fasting isn’t counter-productive. But, there are a few circumstances we’re aware of when the cortisol produced by fasting may hinder your results:

  • When you’re experiencing acute stress, both physical and emotional, and it’s often better to fat fast rather than try to fast.
  • When your body is under high stress from nutrient deficiencies.

 

What can you do about it?

You can reach your weight loss goals, even if fall into any of the categories we’ve discussed, if you’re mindful about your feasting.

Follow these fasting and feasting tips to get the weight loss ball rolling again:

  • Weeks 1 to 4:
    • Do not fast longer than 14 to 16 hours
    • Eat in three, 60-minute time-restricted eating windows every day (i.e. from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM, 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM, and 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM)
    • Do NOT snack!
    • Avoid eating at restaurants or buying pre-prepared foods as much as possible and eat home-cooked meals.
    • Do meal prep twice a week so you don’t end up in a bind and resort to fast foods
    • Eat real foods from the outside aisles of the supermarket and avoid sugars, starches, boxed and canned foods.
  • Weeks 4 to 8:
    • Start increasing the duration of your fast to an intermittent fasting regimen (24-, 36- or 42-hours, one to three times per week) that you’re comfortable with and have your doctor’s support
    • Try to eat two meals in 60- to 90-minute eating windows on your eating days
    • Continue to eat home cooked meals at least 80% of the time
    • Continue to eat real foods
  • Week 8 and onward:
    • You can begin fasting for extended periods of time (42+ hours) with your doctor’s consent and under their supervision

Expected Results

You can expect weight loss to be slow for the first month. It usually starts to pick up around week six, but it becomes more consistent after week eight.

Remember: slow and steady wins the race more often that not!

 – Megan Ramos, IDM Program Director

2019-09-05T18:15:35-04:0018 Comments

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Kathy
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Kathy

Thanks for posting this helpful article!
I will use this guide to return to weight loss mode after feeling more hungry at the beginning of summer and eating out of my OMAD, which I was comfortable with all winter and spring. I find drinking wine a trigger to eating more and in menopause just cannot drink and expect to lose. I’ve regained a couple of pounds and still have 15 to my goal.

Laura
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Laura

Thanks so much for the info. Getting solid health and nutrition info for women in this stage of life can be challenging. I’ve literally been on the peri menopause/menopause hamster wheel for about 8 years and think I’m finally “post”. Everything from sleep to mood to cravings have been in a constant hormone induced state of upheaval. TRE and IF have helped me start to feel some measure of control and my body is starting to feel like my own again.

Rhonda
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Rhonda

Thank you so much for the articles on fasting for menopausal women. It really has been a struggle to drop the weight. I’ve been eating 2x for many months with not much success. Are you saying that increasing that to 3x a day in small windows will set a better foundation for further restriction?

Angela
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Angela

I would love to know the answer to your question as well.

Sara
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Sara

I’ve been doing intermittent fasting just over a year now. The vast majority of the time I have at least fasted 20:4. there has been a little bit of time off for vacations, no significant amount. In the first 6 months of my IF lifestyle I lost 50 lb and more than 58 inches. I literally stalled out early this year and I have seen very little movement in the scale or inches, mostly fluctuating back and forth about 5lbs, in the last 6 months. Are you recommending that I start over and go back to eating on the schedule… Read more »

Achilds
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Achilds

👍🦋😊 Appreciate the advice for this sub-group! Thank you!

R Lynn
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R Lynn

Hi Megan – thanks for this series of articles. I’ve been doing either OMAD or TMAD for so long that eating three times a day is uncomfortable. I haven’t had much weight loss so are you saying that in order to kick start losing weight it’s necessary to eat three smaller meals and work up to the TMAD/OMAD in post menopausal women. My body is rebelling with the morning meal right now.

Carla Harmon
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Carla Harmon

Alternate Day Fasting changed everything for me. 3 36 hr fasts a week with no calories at all on my fasting days and I’m down 9 lbs in a week and a half. I’ve been stalled for over a year!!

Colleen Bracken
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Colleen Bracken

Last month (August 2019) was the first time I skipped my menstrual cycle and experienced hot flashes. (not fun :-\ ) so these blog posts come just in time. I hired Terry as my IDM coach and I am sure that her guidance and support will be invaluable as I navigate through this time.

Ashley Abbott
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Ashley Abbott

Dear Dr. Fung, I have been listening to your youtubes, and truly appreciate your knowledge and expertise. In fact, my Endo doctor referred me to listen & read your book. You frequently mention that older persons (60+) have greater challenges losing weight. In the past 2 years, through poor lifestyle choices, I have gained 20 pounds. Are you implying I will not be able to lose this weight by following your protocols, or are you merely implying that it will be very difficult? I am up for difficult, but want to know there is light at the end of the… Read more »

Marianne Tinkler
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Marianne Tinkler

Hi I am 2 years into full menopause I am 48 and have gained 40 lbs in 2 years, I am totally miserable The only time I feel well is when I am fasting I try to not eat after 2 or start eating at 2 and eat for 6 hours and this does help Do i need to go back to the start weeks 1-4 or stay with what i am doing? I remember listening to Dr Fung podcast and he advised that not eating after 2pm is better for weight loss My lifestyle at the weekends needs cleaned… Read more »

Julie A
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Julie A

Thanks for this article. I am pre-menopausal, 50 years old, at least 40 lbs overweight. I started with Virta Health 2 months ago although I have been following a keto lifestyle for close to a year now. I have not lost any weight at all despite adding IF , 18:6, 24 , even 36 hours most days of the week. I eat 2 meals a day most days. I do drink alcohol on the weekends while still following keto. I exercise 3 days a week of weight training, and 3 days high intensity cardio (Zumba). My trainer feels that I… Read more »