Menopause can be both an empowering and challenging time. While new opportunities and life paths open up at midlife, hormonal changes can also bring a range of uncomfortable symptoms.
Thanks to these hormonal changes, women’s health risks go up sharply after menopause. Many women also notice unwanted weight gain or changes in their body shape, such as more belly fat.
As a result, many midlife women are looking for positive lifestyle changes to move through the menopausal transition as smoothly as possible and enjoy good health for life.
Because it can improve a wide range of health indicators  and potentially contribute to healthy aging and longevity, intermittent fasting may be an option for some women to explore around menopause.
In this article, we’ll explore whether intermittent fasting is a good fit for women at perimenopause, menopause, and after.
Curious how intermittent fasting can work for you? Take the SIMPLE quiz now to discover your ideal fasting plan and get personalized nutrition insights tailored to your menopausal journey!
Intermittent fasting and menopause — does it work?
For most women, hormone production starts changing sometime in their 40s. This marks the beginning of the transition to menopause, known as perimenopause, which can last up to several years.
During this phase, hormone levels can fluctuate, become less coordinated, and slowly decline over time. These changes can create irregular menstrual cycles, hot flashes, mood swings, sleep problems, digestive issues, migraines, and other symptoms.
During this time, women may also start seeing changes in their body fat and shape, along with weight gain. Thanks to those pesky hormones, many women notice more belly fat accumulating, and it might seem harder to lose weight.
Suddenly, those favorite jeans don’t button up, or you find yourself loosening the belt another notch. (Or, browsing elastic-waistband pants for the first time in your life.)
Many women turn to intermittent fasting for perimenopause to help offset these changes.
Menopause marks the official end of menstruation and women’s reproductive years. It typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, though the timing can vary widely among individual women.
Gone 12 months without a period? Congratulations, you’ve officially hit menopause.
At this point, ovaries don’t release any more eggs, and levels of key hormones like estrogen and progesterone go down significantly.
Unfortunately, this shift in hormone levels significantly increases postmenopausal women’s risk for many health conditions, including:
- poor blood sugar management
- more body fat within internal organs, like the liver
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- heart disease
Like intermittent fasting at perimenopause, intermittent fasting at menopause and after may help offset many of these issues.
Is it safe?
Safety is a top concern, especially during menopause. In general, intermittent fasting for women works well if they choose the right approach, and intermittent fasting for women over 50 is a solid option for managing later-life weight gain. For healthy adults, intermittent fasting is safe for beginners and experienced fasters alike.
However, whether intermittent fasting during menopause is an ideal choice varies from person to person. Some women may find it safe and effective, while others might not. Be aware of your body’s signals and adjust your fasting regimen accordingly.
If you have any underlying health conditions, consult your healthcare provider before starting intermittent fasting.
While intermittent fasting is safe for postmenopausal women, we don’t advise fasting for women 80 or older.
Want to know more about how fasting might align with your age? Check out our intermittent fasting by age chart.
Best intermittent fasting schedules for menopause
While there are many options for fasting, we here at SIMPLE find one to be the best (and safest!):
Time-restricted eating (TRE): This involves fasting for several hours and eating normally during an “eating window.” It’s one of the most popular methods and can be customized to the time of day or length of fast. Here are just a few sample TRE schedules:
- 16:8: Fast for 16 hours, generally overnight, and then eat normally during an 8-hour window.
- 14:10: Fast for 14 hours, eat normally for 10.
- 12:12: Fast for 12 hours, eat normally for 12.
While there are other types of fasting, such as alternate day fasting that alternates days of fasting with days of eating normally, TRE might be a more appropriate form of intermittent fasting for women as they age.
And intermittent fasting for weight loss in women, using an approach like TRE, can look different for each woman.
- If you want to incorporate morning fasted exercise (such as walking) into your daily routine, an eating window that starts later in the day (say, midmorning or noon) might be a good fit.
- If you find yourself struggling with evening snacking, having an eating window with a clear cutoff in the afternoon or early evening helps set a boundary, which might work better. (Plus, it might prevent some late-night heartburn that keeps you awake — bonus!)
Ready to find the best fasting plan for your menopausal journey? Take the SIMPLE quiz and explore our fasting tracker, food journal, and hydration tracker, tailored to support your well-being!
Benefits of intermittent fasting for menopause?
Intermittent fasting offers several benefits that can be particularly helpful for women going through perimenopause and menopause.
Promotes weight loss
Intermittent fasting involves alternating between periods of fasting and an “eating window” during which you eat normally.
During the fasting phase, the body uses stored fat for energy. This process may be particularly beneficial for women experiencing menopause-related weight gain.
Intermittent fasting promotes weight loss by enhancing fat burning while also shortening the period during which people eat (so they often eat less overall).[7–9]
It may be especially useful for women who have experienced menopausal weight gain, particularly since the flexibility during the eating window doesn’t feel like a traditional “diet.”
For instance, one study found that a 16-week intermittent fasting program for women over 60 led to an average weight loss of 4.5 lb (2 kg). That may not sound like much, but 88% of the women stuck to it — unlike most “diets.”
This means that intermittent fasting is much more of a sustainable lifestyle approach for women in menopause and older.
Older women may worry that it’s “too late” to lose weight, given their age. And, they might worry: Does intermittent fasting slow metabolism even further?
But another smaller study found that both premenopausal and postmenopausal women could lose weight with intermittent fasting — in this case, an average of over 7 lb (3.3 kg) in eight weeks.
(And, like the other study, the women were able to stick to an intermittent fasting lifestyle much better than a typical “diet.”) While we need more research, the results so far are promising and exciting. Menopause and fasting may be a good combination!
Systemic inflammation is a hallmark of many age-related chronic health problems, and as women’s hormones like estrogen go down, they lose the protective anti-inflammatory effects of those hormones.
Intermittent fasting may contribute to managing inflammation, which can directly and indirectly improve overall health.
Regulates blood sugar
As hormones change, potentially bringing weight gain, blood sugar management can get harder, and the risk of type 2 diabetes goes up.
By creating periods when both insulin and blood sugar are low, fasting can help support better blood sugar management and insulin sensitivity (the ability of cells to respond to insulin in a healthy way).[7,15–17] Although more studies on people going through menopause are required, it’s a benefit that would be worth exploring!
Improves heart health
Heart health is a significant concern for women in this phase. Intermittent fasting can improve heart health by reducing risk factors like high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Drawbacks of intermittent fasting for menopause
While intermittent fasting has its benefits, it’s not suitable for everyone during menopause. Some potential drawbacks include:
Hormonal disruptions for some women
Intermittent fasting may further affect hormonal balance in some women. However, we need more research to help us understand the relationship between fasting and changes in hormones.
Intermittent fasting and perimenopause, in particular, may be challenging if women are already struggling with fatigue and low energy during this transitional period; however, it may also boost energy levels for some women.
Each woman is unique. Monitor your body’s response, and choose more moderate forms of intermittent fasting during perimenopause and menopause.
Fasting schedules can create social challenges during gatherings or meals with friends and family.
On the other hand, intermittent fasting is a flexible lifestyle that you can adapt to your needs. If you’re open to adjusting your fasting and eating windows, this may not be much of an issue.
Interfering with some medications or health concerns
Later in life, as women age, some may be taking medications or have health issues that require them to eat more often. If this is you, consult with your doctor before making any major lifestyle changes.
5 tips on intermittent fasting for menopause
1. Think about how intermittent fasting works for your lifestyle
There’s no one best intermittent fasting plan for menopause.
Generally, however, you’re looking for a fasting plan that:
- aligns with your schedule and lifestyle — since many women at midlife are juggling jobs, kids, aging parents, and lots of other life demands; and
- doesn’t interfere with your sleep since good sleep is important for regulating metabolism, and many women in midlife are already struggling with sleep.
2. Ensure you’re eating a healthy diet during your eating window
You’ll get the most out of intermittent fasting during menopause if you also focus on what you are eating. Focus on nutrient-dense foods like colorful fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
Try logging your food and getting personalized advice in your SIMPLE app! Our helpful assistant Avo can give you ideas for healthy recipes, too.
3. Drink plenty of water
In general, drinking lots of water is important while fasting, as two of intermittent fasting’s side effects can include hunger and dehydration, and water helps with both of these.
However, since hormonal changes before menopause can affect your body’s water balance, it’s especially important to drink plenty of water while doing intermittent fasting for perimenopause.
Keeping up with water intake can also help ease some of the symptoms like constipation or dry skin during this time. It’s a simple way to support your body while fasting and navigating through all the changes.
4. Get regular exercise
Fasting can lower disease risk at menopause, but combining fasting with exercise helps boost good health even more. You don’t have to exercise while fasted, but do include some regular physical activity to help you stay mobile, preserve muscle mass and bone density, and help manage blood sugar.
5. Check with your doctor
Consult with a healthcare professional before starting intermittent fasting during perimenopause or menopause. Factors such as your overall health, age, and individual needs play a crucial role in determining whether intermittent fasting is suitable for you.
SIMPLE’s expert opinion and final thoughts
These natural processes, while challenging for many women, are not a disease but rather a normal life transition.
Understanding the hormonal changes and physical symptoms that occur during perimenopause and menopause is crucial for women who aim to navigate this phase with grace and confidence.
Intermittent fasting is one approach that women may explore as they journey through this transformative time in their lives.
Experiment, explore, and listen to your body as you navigate this new reality.
Frequently asked questions about intermittent fasting and menopause
Is intermittent fasting good for reducing menopause belly fat?
Intermittent fasting may help reduce abdominal fat, especially if combined with a healthy diet, regular exercise, sleep, and stress management. But, individual results can vary.
Can intermittent fasting affect estrogen?
Intermittent fasting might affect estrogen levels, but each woman’s experience is different. In some cases, this may be helpful for women with particular health situations. We do, however, need more research to properly understand the connection between fasting and the impact it may have on hormones.
Monitor any changes with the guidance of a healthcare provider.
What are 4 foods to manage menopause?
There are no special foods that will directly help with the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause. However, look for foods with lots of nutrients, fiber, healthy fats, and/or protein to support your body as it changes. Four of our favorites are:
- Leafy greens
- High-protein dairy
- Whole grains
- Fatty fish like salmon or mackerel
What not to drink during menopause?
While, in general, caffeine can be helpful as an appetite suppressant while fasting, many women find that cutting down on caffeine and alcohol can help during perimenopause and menopause, as they can exacerbate symptoms like hot flashes.
While fasting, definitely stay hydrated — but stick to water or herbal tea.
Are there any supplements that can help with menopause?
The best foundation is a nutrient-rich diet that provides plenty of slow-digesting, high-fiber carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.
That said, some women may find it helpful to supplement with evidence-based supplements, such as vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, or a multivitamin / multimineral supplement aimed at the needs of older women.
Consult with your healthcare provider to determine your specific needs before supplementing with anything.
There are no supplements that will “balance hormones.”
Is there an age cutoff for fasting?
Can you do intermittent fasting after menopause? Yes, but we don’t advise fasting in women 80 or older.As you embark on your journey through menopause and explore the benefits of intermittent fasting, remember that you’re not alone. Take the SIMPLE quiz to discover your ideal fasting plan, access personalized nutrition insights, and start this transformative journey with confidence — all within the app. Cheers to health, vitality, and embracing this new phase of life!
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