Intermittent Fasting For the Win
If you have struggled with weight gain after 40, you are not alone! As we age, we enter into Perimenopause/Menopause. Our metabolism slows down, and energy levels fall due to low levels of estrogen and progesterone.
The changes in our body composition (aka the menopause belly) and weight gain are directly related to having less energy and a slower metabolism due to these falling levels of estrogen and progesterone.
Intermittent Fasting can have many benefits for the menopausal woman, including weight loss, increased energy, stable moods, and a reduction in blood sugar levels.
Why do we gain weight in menopause?
As you enter menopause, the decreased levels of estrogen and progesterone make us feel like something is off. That is because our hormones regulate a stable environment for the body’s organs, tissues, and cells.
The absence of these hormones disrupts the body’s regular hormonal rhythm, causing a shift in the remaining hormones’ control across a wide range of biological functions, including regulating appetite, metabolism, and controlling blood sugar (glucose) levels.
Did you know that menopausal women are at a greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes? This is because our lack of estrogen causes a reduced sensitivity to insulin (insulin resistance), a critical hormone involved in regulating blood sugar levels.
To understand why this occurs, we must understand what insulin does. When we eat, our blood sugar levels increase. Your pancreas secretes insulin to help your cells take up the glucose to be used for immediate energy.
As glucose is taken up from the blood with insulin into the cells, levels of both insulin and glucose fall to lower levels. If we do not use glucose (calories) for energy immediately, it will be stored in our fat cells for later use.
As a menopausal woman with naturally lower energy levels, eating several times throughout the day, the insulin response occurs multiple times, thereby limiting the opportunities for insulin to return to low levels.
Consistently high levels of insulin can lead to a decreased response by the body’s cells to insulin, causing us to become insulin resistant. These conditions can predispose you to become pre-diabetic and lead to type-2 diabetes.
How does intermittent fasting help regulate blood sugar?
Intermittent Fasting helps increase insulin sensitivity and counteract the insulin resistance that can occur during menopause. When we become insulin resistant, our cells become less responsive to insulin and do not take sugar from the blood.
When you fast, your insulin levels decrease, allowing fat cells to release the sugar stored and use it as energy.
This is how intermittent Fasting works with your hormones to promote fat burning.
In a nutshell, we are not necessarily trying to reduce our total daily calories, but instead, “when” we eat our calories. This window of having no food in our system allows the body to use stored fat as fuel and allows the body time to decrease our insulin levels to remain insulin sensitive.
Intermittent Fasting from 8 pm to 12 pm helps curb my appetite. When I eat in the morning, I am hungry all day long, and I also snack much more when I eat first thing in the morning.
Because you are skipping a meal, you tend to reduce your calories which can help with any weight you may have put on during menopause. There are many different ways to do intermittent Fasting but remember the goal is to allow your body to use stored fat as fuel and to enable your insulin response time to recover.
I am a firm believer in working out in a fasted state. It may only be for some since you may need to eat before you exercise, but I have lost almost 20 pounds in the last 18 months through Intermittent Fasting and resistance-based workouts.
Remember that everybody is different and intermittent fasting might not be right for you. Please talk to your healthcare provider and see if you could benefit from IF!
If you have any questions, please let me know! I will be continuing these blogs on menopause. Please let me know if this helps you!
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