Truths Behind Intermittent Fasting for Women in Menopause/Peri-menopause.

Gym, St Pete

Truths Behind Intermittent Fasting for Women in Menopause/Peri-menopause.

In the ever-evolving world of nutrition and health, it seems there’s always a new diet trend making headlines. From keto to paleo, intermittent fasting to plant-based diets, people are constantly on the lookout for the next big thing in the quest for a healthier lifestyle. But why do we seem to cling to these new diets with such fervor? Our fascination with the next new thing in diets is driven by a combination of factors, including the desire for quick fixes, social influence, the appeal of novelty, psychological comfort, and the hope for a better future. While it’s natural to be curious about new diet trends, it’s important to approach them with a critical mindset. Not every new diet is backed by solid scientific evidence, and what works for one person may not work for another. This week we dive into Intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting (IF) has gained popularity as a dietary approach that may offer various health benefits, but its effects on menopausal and peri-menopausal women can vary. It’s important to note that individual responses to IF can differ, and consulting with a healthcare professional before starting any fasting regimen is essential, especially during menopause or peri-menopause.

Potential positive impacts:

  1. Weight Management: Some studies suggest that intermittent fasting can help with weight management by promoting fat loss and preserving lean muscle mass. Weight gain and changes in body composition are common during menopause, but there isn’t clear research related directly to women in menopause.
    • Source: Harvie, M. N., & Howell, T. (2016). Could intermittent energy restriction and intermittent fasting reduce rates of cancer in obese, overweight, and normal-weight subjects? A summary of evidence. Advances in Nutrition, 7(4), 690-705.
  2. Blood Sugar Control: IF may improve insulin sensitivity and help regulate blood sugar levels. This is particularly important for women in menopause, as insulin resistance can become more common during this stage of life.
    • Source: Tinsley, G. M., & La Bounty, P. M. (2015). Effects of intermittent fasting on body composition and clinical health markers in humans. Nutrition Reviews, 73(10), 661-674.

The Bad:

  1. Hormonal Changes: Menopause is already a time of significant hormonal fluctuations, and fasting can potentially exacerbate these changes, leading to irregular menstrual cycles or worsening menopausal symptoms.
    • Source: Mauvais-Jarvis, F. (2015). Estrogen and androgen receptors: regulators of fuel homeostasis and emerging targets for diabetes and obesity. Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, 26(1), 24-33.
  2. Bone Health: Fasting, particularly if it leads to nutrient deficiencies, may negatively impact bone health. During menopause, women are at increased risk of osteoporosis, and adequate calcium and vitamin D intake is crucial.
    • Source: Weaver, C. M., & Plawecki, K. L. (2014). Dietary calcium: adequacy of a vegetarian diet. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 100(suppl_1), 269S-275S.

The Ugly Truths:

  1. Risk of Nutrient Deficiencies: IF can potentially lead to nutrient deficiencies if not properly planned. Menopausal women need adequate nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and protein to support their bone health and overall well-being.
    • Source: Beaudart, C., Rizzoli, R., Bruy√®re, O., Reginster, J. Y., & Biver, E. (2014). Sarcopenia: burden and challenges for public health. Archives of Public Health, 72(1), 45.
  2. Stress and Mood: Intermittent fasting may increase stress levels and negatively impact mood, which can be particularly problematic for women already dealing with hormonal fluctuations and mood swings during menopause.
    • Source: Schippa, C. F., & Conte, C. (2018). Stress and metabolism. In Stress and Somatic Symptoms (pp. 97-119). Springer.
  3. Social and Lifestyle Challenges: IF can be socially and culturally challenging, as it may restrict meal times and social gatherings involving food. This can affect the overall quality of life for women during menopause, who may already be dealing with various lifestyle changes.
    • Source: Michels, N., & Sioen, I. (2019). Meal timing, frequency, and dietary patterns during childhood and adolescence: associations with body composition and cardiometabolic risk factors. In Nutrition and Growth (pp. 177-186). Karger Publishers.

In conclusion, intermittent fasting can have both positive and negative effects on menopausal and peri-menopausal women. While it may offer benefits such as weight management and improved blood sugar control, it can also pose risks to hormonal balance, bone health, and overall well-being if not approached carefully. As always, consulting with a healthcare professional and considering individual needs and preferences is crucial when considering intermittent fasting during menopause.