The dreaded menopause belly? As menopause approaches most of us start to gain weight or gain weight easier and faster than before. “But I am eating the same and I am gaining weight.” This is a very common experience among women approaching menopause or right after this. That was my case.

intermittent fasting for weight during menopause and perimenopause

The most disturbing thing is the changes in our body’s shape. The good news is that it is possible to lose weight during this time and you don’t have to follow a strict diet or become a gym rat.

My weight loss story

Let me tell you a little bit of my weight story. I was skinny and started to gain a little bit of weight in my forties, some weight accumulated, but I was still skinny. As I was closer to 50 the weight and the tummy skyrocketed and for first time in my life I was overweight. My clothes didn’t fit and the type of clothes I used to wear were not flattering for my body anymore.

I cut calories and worked out more but the weight continued going up. I tried a couple of diets and the result was I gained less weight than without the diet, but I still gained weight.

I went to the doctor and he told me everything was OK and that it was normal to gain weight at my age. I was not happy with the answer and I did a lot of research and even got certifications.

How I lost the weight during perimenopause?

I started to eat more fats, added more flavor and proteins. I was already eating a lot of vegetables and consumed low sugar. Now (and during my weight loss period) I eat more calories and more fat than before. How is that possible? Two words “Intermittent Fasting” or three “Time Restricted Feeding (TRF);” if you want you can also say time restrictive eating (I think it sounds better, but TRF is more common). TRF is a form of intermittent fasting (IF). There are more strict and complicated forms such as the 5:2 diet or the 800 calorie diet.

I do TRF 6 times a week; Saturday I don’t follow it.

Time restrictive feeding or eating have worked for me and for my clients. Many people love TRF, because it isn’t a diet, they have freedom to eat their favorite foods, and they can eat bread, pasta, pizza, ice cream and desserts.

Why intermittent fasting (or TRF) works?

  • Time restricted feeding helps to balance our hormones and accelerates our metabolism.
  • By only eating in a shorter time window, we allow our internal organs to do their job more efficiently. This is especially true for the liver, kidneys, pancreas and adrenal glands.
  • Energy levels go up
  • It reduces hunger. This doesn’t happen immediately, but after a couple of months your hunger level goes down.
  • Cravings go down. Especially craving for sweets.
  • It may produce autophagy. Autophagy is a Nobel Prize winning discovery about cell regeneration. Some people will tell you “it will” produce autophagy I am saying “it may” because the scientists are still trying to prove this. If this holds true, TRF may also help to keep us healthier and younger.
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How do you do time restrictive eating during peri menopause?

For TRF to be effective during perimenopause and around menopause we need to start slow. TRF simply means that you eat in a specific time window.
That eating time window can be anywhere from 14 to 7 hours even 6. Some people do it in a shorter window, but I don’t recommend that. Let’s say that you start with a 12 hour time window. That means that you can eat your breakfast at 7 AM and your last bite or drink of food will end at 7 PM. After 7 PM you will not eat or drink anything with calories until the next day at 7 AM.

The ideal time window should be 8-7 hours. But during perimenopause / menopause or if the person has prediabetes it is better to start with 12 to 10 hour window. For example you can eat your breakfast at 7 AM, have your lunch at your convenience and dinner or after dinner snack at 7 PM for a 12 hours fasting, or at 5 PM for an 8 hours fasting.

Every week or every two weeks, you will reduce the window by 15 or 30 minutes to reach 8 to 6 hours. That will mean that you can have a very late breakfast or skip it as most people on this diet do, or have a very early dinner or skip it. For me and my clients the easiest way is to skip breakfast.

Time restrictive eating for menopause and perimonepause

Wait, isn’t breakfast the most important meal of the day?

Considering the source of that statement no, it isn’t. It was created by Dr. Kellogg (yes, the one from the cereal company). There have been many studies proving that Dr. Kellogg was right, but at a closer look those studies don’t compare apples to apples so their findings are wrong. The studies compare people who eat breakfast to people who don’t (the ones who rush in the morning) but then they drink sugary, creamy coffee, and right after, go and eat a snack.

In TRF we consciously don’t eat breakfast, but we have proper meals. During fasting time anything with calories will break the fast and it isn’t allowed. Diet soda although doesn’t have calories is also not recommended.

There is some debate as to whether black coffee/tea without sugar is acceptable, and while some strict believers drink only water and nothing else, a large number of people, including myself, do have a small cup of black coffee without sugar in the morning. It is said that if you want autophagy only drink water.

The weight comes down slowly

Unless in addition to the TRF you also follow a healthier lifestyle or another diet the weight will come down slowly. This is usually not a big problem for most people. One of the most popular combinations is intermittent fasting and Ketogenic diet; with this combination the weight comes down super-fast.

What can you eat?

In theory you can eat what you eat normally. However, during perimenopause and menopause I recommend that you lower your sugar consumption, watch for sugary drinks and breads. Try to eat natural foods preferably made at home. Include veggies in your food because we need those nutrients and drink plenty of water or herbal or green teas.

To get the maximum benefits of TRF and balance the hormones at the same time, we need to follow a healthy lifestyle, something similar to the Mediterrean way of eating, meaning lots of vegetables and smaller quantities of high quality animal products.

Other benefits of TRF

I believe not all diets and lifestyles are for everybody, so TRF may not be the best for some people. The reasons I picked TRF for myself and for most of my clients are that it is easy, effective and healthy.

In addition to weight management Time Restrictive Feeding has other benefits such as:

  • It helps to management blood sugar levels.
  • It helps to eliminate toxins from the body (this makes estrogen more available)
  • It helps to control leptin and ghrelin (these hormones control hunger levels)
  • It promotes heart health
  • It lowers inflammation levels
  • It promotes lean muscle

In addition to those benefits some of my clients report better sleep, more energy and more concentration. To my clients I also recommend supplements and the diet includes nutrient rich foods, so the effects maybe the results of everything combined.

And working out?

What we eat will have a larger effect on weight than working out, but working out is super important for our health. I do 30 minutes 5 times a week. I recommend my clients to do at least 30 minutes 4 times a week. It doesn’t need to be heavy exercise. It can be walking, trampoline (I do this), yoga etc. The best would be twice a week weight training and 3 days some light aerobic with some flexibility exercises (to keep nimble and avoid falling down).

Should you try Intermittent Fasting with Time Restrictive Feeding?

If you don’t have any medical conditions to preclude you from it, it is super easy; it’s a well-studied diet with lots of research and it has worked for a lot of us. You can start doing it 3 times a week and increase it to 4 or 5.

I will try to publish a free ebook or mini-course in the next few weeks; if you are interested please join the mailing list. If you have questions comment below. You may read the first part of this series: Why do we gain weight during menopause

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20 Comments on Intermittent fasting to lose hormonal weight

  1. I’ve been exploring intermittent fasting since I first read about it about a year ago. It makes sense, and certainly allows for the body to rest from digestion. Thanks for putting together such a comprehensive article yet with some great personal touches.

    • Hi Katherine. Intermittent fasting works for a lot of people. I cannot believe how many of us never question the “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”

  2. I love Intermittent Fasting. This is how I function, however, I really need my breakfast. Saying that I am up most days at 4.30am. By 7 am I am so ready to eat, lol
    Some really great info here! Thanks

    • Hi Natasha. You can eat breakfast, that is not a problem. Intermittent fasting for a healthy, slim person like you can be only 10 hours a day, and you are probably already doing that. During perimenopause many women need more than or if there are weight or health issues.

  3. I’m very interested in this. I’m so shocked at how my body and weight have changed with no alteration to my diet/routine, just by going through menopause. I’ve been concerned about doing this with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, since as a result of the autoimmune issues I have had issues with cortisol getting unbalanced. I’m interested in how this might work for someone in my situation. (I’m here from Startup Society, from the YouTube channel FrugalOverFifty. Love your work.)

    • Hi Amy. You are a very healthy person but we all need some changes to keep healthy and stop accumulating weight.

  4. This is so timely for me. We just got back from an extended family trip to wine country in California. I’m not a big drinker but this trip was over the top with lots of good wine and eating out. Time to get back into healthy living. I did start fasting (no food after 7pm and nothing until noon the next day) and it wasn’t very hard for me. However, now I need to start making better healthy no-sugar low carb choices too.

  5. Oh, boy! This post is timely as I have had more trouble losing weight as I approach 60 (2 1/2 years) and have found that eating earlier for dinner, and less food in general, seems to be better. Working in our yard, now that I have one again, is helping with the weight lifting! Feeling stronger now but will try this TRF approach. So… every couple of weeks you shorten the time? Kind of shocks the system, as it were.

    Good ideas, thank you!
    Barb 🙂

    • Losing weight is always a challenge. I love intermittent fasting because you can eat everything, no food group is excluded. I recommend to my clients low sugar and low processed foods to get better results.

  6. Great post. I definitely need to get back on the IF and Keto lifestyle. It’s about the only thing that works in this stage of my life!

  7. This was so informative. It’s crazy how much our bodies change as we get older. Having some guidance like this helps so much.
    Thanks for sharing, today.

    • Oh our bodies change for sure and what used to work many times stops working and we need to find a way to balance our hormones.

    • Hi Maureen. Yes IF is one the food fashion right now, but it is the only one back by science and that makes it exciting.

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