Can Intermittent Fasting Help Blast Belly Fat From Menopause?

By Dana Wood | November 5, 2019
Before we dive into the grass-fed meat of this post, know this right up front:
1. Checking-in with your trusted medical pros is always recommended before embarking on any substantial dietary change.
2. While there is a growing body of research pointing to the health and cognitive benefits of Intermittent Fasting (IF), all of which we'll get to in a minute, we at Pause Well-Aging are "diet agnostic." Yes, a few of us have found ways of eating that are especially beneficial for us. For example, our founder and CEO Rochelle Weitzner is a big fan of keto. But we believe that managing the all too frequent weight gain attached to menopause is a personal journey. What works like a champ for one woman might not move the needle at all for the next. So take your time, experiment. Menopause isn't going anywhere...
Now on to the topic at hand: Intermittent Fasting and its potential for helping us shed menopause-driven weight gain, particularly those extra pounds that tend to cluster around our mid-sections. (It's not your imagination that buttoning every pair of pants in your closet has become infinitely more challenging as of late.)

Why Our Bodies Shift From "Pears" to "Apples" 

Last month, in our Q&A with movement expert Dr. Jes Hill, Connect the Dots learned that the enzyme lipoprotein lipase has a direct effect on where we store fat in our bodies. When we're younger, fat tends to gather around our hips and buttocks. As we age and approach menopause, and our estrogen levels also begin to drop, fat frequently shifts to the abdomen.
Thus, where we once had an actual waist, we now have....pants-buttoning issues.
Not that we're making light of our expanding mid-sections; excessive belly fat - which is defined, for women, as a waist circumference of >35 inches - is straight-up bad for us, and has been linked to a laundry list of health woes, including:
  • Heart problems / heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure and increased cholesterol levels
  • Breast and colon cancer
Quite the incentive to shed the 1.5 lbs, on average, we mid-life women add per year, yes? We thought so. And while we sadly can't target weight loss to a particular body part, shedding pounds across the board will ultimately mean a leaner middle.
Enter Intermittent Fasting as a strategy for reducing our overall calorie intake, thereby helping us blast that loathsome "menopot." 

The Intermittent Fasting Cheat Sheet

In a nutshell, Intermittent Fasting is simply a compression of one's "eating window" into a set number of hours - or days, which we'll get to below.

In other words, rather than starting your food intake shortly after you wake up, and winding down with a pre-bed bowl of Häagen-Dazs circa 11pm (please don't do this), you corral your eating to, say, 10am to 6pm.

There are several popular ways to "do" IF:

1. 12-12: Twelve hours of fasting, twelve hours of food intake.

2. 16-8: Sixteen hours of fasting, eight hours of food intake. Note: Many IF newbies start with 12-12 before "graduating" to 16-8.

3. 5-2: Five days of "normal" food intake (i.e., three meals and a few snacks) per week, interspersed with two days of calorie restriction - typically as few as 500-600. 

4. Alternate-Day: Just as the name implies, this diet toggles between normal food-intake and calorie-restricted days.

Why would anyone subject themselves to any of this, you ask? Don't we have enough on our plates without feeling hangry from fasting? 

But here's the thing with IF: once you get used to it, you don't feel hangry. And if, at a given moment, you are feeling desperately in need of a nibble, just listen to your body, grab a healthy snack, and get on with your day. 

There's just so much upside to fasting on a regular basis. In addition to reducing the number of calories we consume - and no matter how you slice it, weight loss ultimately boils down to calories consumed vs calories expended - IF has been linked to a tidy list of health benefits:

The bottom line: If you're tired of not fitting in your clothes anymore (and I, personally, am utterly over thinking of my closet as my new "scary place"), you might want to give Intermittent Fasting a go. 




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