Women and Fasting: Top Tips for Women Going Through Menopause Part 1
By Jason Fung, MD
Many women going through menopause often believe they’re doomed when it comes to losing weight. I’ve had the privilege of working with thousands of women going through ‘the change’, and I’ll be the first to say it isn’t an easy. But it isn’t impossible either. In fact, these women can get amazing results, but they must be a bit more diligent than the rest of us when it comes to following some basic fasting principles.
I’ve yet to work with a single woman in the clinic who we haven’t been able to help, but it has taken a lot of trial and error to figure out protocols that really work. In this series of posts, I’m going to share the top strategies that have helped women in this age group reach their weight loss goals.
Tip #1: Fast Consistently and Be Patient
Weight loss is much more complicated for women because we’re much more hormonally complex than our male counterparts. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get the same results. In fact, we can get the same results. We just follow a different pathway to success than men do.
In my previous post on Women and Fasting, we discussed the two different pathways men and women experience when it comes to fasting and weight loss. Men tend to lose a lot of weight at the start, but then their weight loss starts to slow down. A man can lose 10 pounds during Week 1, but then is only losing 1 or 2 pounds on Week 12, and some weeks he may not lose any at all as the body tries to dump the more stubborn fat.
What we see in women is the total opposite. Women are slow to start with little or no weight loss some weeks. But with patience and consistency with their fasting protocols, their weight loss starts to pick up! A woman may not lose any weight on Week 1, but she may lose several pounds during Week 12.
I’ve watched many women throw in the towel after a few weeks because they think this is just another dietary fad that isn’t going to work for them. As a former obese woman and someone who has tried almost every diet on the planet myself, I get it. But nothing worthwhile comes easily.
Life is also a nonstop rollercoaster of happiness and sorrow. One day you’re in a great routine and everything is going well, and the next day shit hits the fan and your world comes crashing down. And what have we been taught to do when that happens? Comfort ourselves with food.
If you’re a woman looking to lose weight at pretty much any stage of life, you need to nip this in the bud right now. Life is never constantly stable. There are bumps and hurdles we face almost every day. You need to stick to your fasting regimen come hell or high water regardless of what the day brings you or you’re just not going to get results.
I’ve watched patients and loved ones my whole life yo-yo. I spent the first 27 years of my life yo-yoing. And because of this, I had to be real with myself. I had just turned 27 years old and was diagnosed with one of the deadliest diseases on the planet – type 2 diabetes (DMII). I had two choices. First, I could tackle diabetes with my failed yo-yo approach. The result would have been fasting on and off for most of a decade before I hit my goals because I was stressed out about work, angry at my husband, or sad my grandmother died. And I’d just have to live with the damage the diabetes was doing to my body during that time.
My second option was to fully commit to my protocol for 6 months 90% of the time. It could only be 90% of the time. Anything less would put me in the yo-yo category. Anything more wasn’t human. I also had to permit myself to be human and not let one bad food choice turn into a day or week of bad choices. And the goal would be to kick my obesity, DMII, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and fatty liver (NAFLD) in 6 months so I could move on with my life. This way I could avoid the damage from the diabetes, and I could live my life on my own terms. By buckling down this meant I wasn’t always a prisoner of a fasting regimen in the future. I could fast when I want to and when it fitted into my life in the future.
In 6 months, my A1c dropped to 4.6%. No more NAFLD. No more PCOS. No more obesity. And it was slow as hell to start, but nothing that truly works comes easily.
Expert tip: Plan activities you can do ahead of your fasting days. This way you always have a plan of action before you get into a funk or feel hungry during your fast.
If you’re always hungry at 6 PM, then hit the gym or a fitness class during that time
If you’re feeling stressed out at work, go for a walk
Take an Epsom salt bath if you’re feeling tired and frustrated at home
Read a book on your back porch
Organize your closet
Plan a trip for when you reach your goals
Meet a good friend for tea or coffee
In next week’s post, we’ll talk about the importance of ‘clean’ fasting for women.
IDM Program Director
By The Fasting Method
For many health reasons, losing weight is important. It can improve your blood sugars, blood pressure and metabolic health, lowering your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. But it’s not easy. That’s where we can help.