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  • Vicky Wilson

The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting During Perimenopause

Perimenopause is the transitional stage before menopause when a woman's body begins producing less oestrogen and progesterone which usually occurs in our 40s but can begin in late 30s. This natural decline in hormones causes symptoms like hot flushes, night sweats, mood changes, and sleep disturbances. Additionally, the changes in hormone levels can cause weight gain, especially around the middle. Intermittent fasting may offer an effective solution to manage symptoms and weight during this transitional time.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting simply means alternating between periods of eating and fasting. It doesn't specify which foods to eat, just when to eat them. One of the most popular approaches is the 16:8 method, which entails fasting for 16 hours per day and eating all food within an 8-hour window. For example, a woman might stop eating at 8pm and not eat again until noon the next day. This fasting approach allows the digestive system to rest and the body to enter a metabolic state called ketosis, which promotes fat burning rather than using glucose (sugar) for energy. This is a more gentle approach than the 5:2 diet whereby calories are restricted to 500 for 2 (non-consecutive) days of the week.

Benefits for Perimenopausal Women

Weight Loss

The hormonal changes of perimenopause often cause weight gain and fat accumulation in the abdominal area. Intermittent fasting may help reverse this trend by allowing better insulin sensitivity and more time in the fat-burning state of ketosis. Since insulin levels remain stable during the fasting period, stored body fat becomes the primary source of energy. Studies show intermittent fasting may burn up to 3x more fat compared to traditional diets.


Reduced Inflammation

Chronic, low-grade inflammation increases during perimenopause partly due to fat accumulation. This inflammation contributes to symptoms like fatigue, joint pain, and hot flushes. Intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce inflammatory markers (like TNF-a, IL-6, and CRP). Less inflammation means less symptoms and less risk of chronic illness.


Better Blood Sugar Control

The hormonal changes of perimenopause can also cause insulin resistance leading to higher blood sugar levels. Intermittent fasting improves insulin sensitivity and helps normalise blood sugar by allowing periods of low insulin production. Stable blood sugar means fewer sugar cravings and less fatigue.


Healthier Blood Pressure

Many women notice an increase in blood pressure during perimenopause. Intermittent fasting may help lower blood pressure through improvements in insulin sensitivity and by reducing inflammation. Lower blood pressure reduces risks for cardiovascular disease.


Improved Brain Function

Oestrogen levels directly impact brain function by influencing neurotransmitters. The decline in oestrogen during perimenopause leads to brain fog, memory issues, and disrupted sleep. Research indicates that intermittent fasting boosts brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that promotes brain health and new neural connections. The growth of new brain cells may help counteract the impact of hormonal changes.


Reduce Cancer Risk

Studies show intermittent fasting may help reduce the risk of breast cancer and other cancers by enhancing apoptosis (cancer cell death). The periods of low insulin and reduced inflammation prevent an environment ideal for tumour growth. So intermittent fasting provides a protective effect.


Tips for Success

Intermittent fasting takes some adjustment but can become habit after a few weeks. Here are some tips for success:

  • Stay hydrated with non-calorific beverages like water, herbal tea, or black coffee during fasting periods.

  • Get plenty of rest, especially in the first month. Fasting promotes cellular repair.

  • Follow a low-glycaemic diet in your eating window focusing on healthy fats, proteins, and vegetables.

  • Manage stress and get regular exercise even just walking daily.

  • Start slowly, beginning with 12-hour overnight fasts e.g. 7pm to 7am and work up to 16 hours over a few weeks.

This is not suitable if you are already underweight or suffering with severe lethargy which could indicate an underlying health condition that needs investigation.

DO NOT TRY THIS if you have thyroid issues, are on medication or have a history of disordered eating. Please speak to you GP first.

The hormonal changes of perimenopause bring physical and emotional challenges. Intermittent fasting may offer a simple yet effective way to take control of health during this transitional time. A consistent fasting protocol can help women lose weight, reduce hot flashes, stabilise mood, and lower disease risk.

Don’t forget that we are all unique and this may not be the right approach for your body. There is no such thing as ‘one size fits all’.

I am a registered Naturopathic nutritional therapist and homeopath specialising in helping women over 40 to feel healthier than before with my personalised plans and non-judgemental support. I also offer food intolerance testing and vitamin blood testing.

If you’d like to know more book in for a free clarity call today.

Find me on Facebook and Instagram @energisehealthnutrition

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