An 'incredibly effective' diet can help women over 50 'shed weight from the waistline'

Older women with abs / porridge with fruit

Women can store fat around their stomachs during perimenopause

Sarra Gray

By Sarra Gray

Published: 17/03/2024

- 09:30

Women experience many changes in their bodies when they are perimenopausal, including weight gain. An expert has spoken exclusively to GB News to offer weight management advice for this stage of life

Women typically experience menopause symptoms between the ages of 45 and 55 and they may notice the scales creep up despite not changing what they are eating.

This weight tends to sit around the midriff but luckily some diet hacks could stop this from happening, such as following an intermittent fasting plan.

Intermittent fasting considers when dieters eat as much as what they eat and there are many health and weight loss benefits, particularly for women going through menopause.

Dr Clare Bailey, co-founder of The Fast 800, explained why women put on weight during this time and how intermittent fasting could help them get their weight in check.

Woman with toned abs making healthy salad

Intermittent fasting involves restricting when you eat


She told GB News: "The good news is that if you find that the weight is creeping on, intermittent fasting can be incredibly effective, and it can also help you shed weight from the waist and the neck and improve your metabolic health.

"Cutting your calories to 800-1,000 calories a day on two or three days a week can make all the difference - and it’s quite simple to introduce. Doing a few 800-calorie fasting days, where your body starts burning excess fat as fuel, is often all it takes to get you back to your previous weight.

"Intermittent fasting has been shown to be highly effective at getting sugar spikes down and reducing chronic inflammation, as well as reducing risks of type 2 diabetes and reducing blood pressure."

While dropping calories can be intimidating, Dr Bailey explained there are plans full of filling recipes available to help.

The expert continued: "In my experience using intermittent fasting to help menopausal weight loss helps people feel more in control of their eating and they often feel energised. We find that on non-fasting days, people become aware of better ways of eating so they don't want to undo the benefit of the fasting days. With that in mind, they tend to eat really sensibly and healthily and experience better weight loss results.

"Some people are quite daunted by the idea of intermittent fasting, as they dread the idea of restricting your calorie intake to around 800-900 calories a day. However, many of our members report that it’s not as hard as they thought it would be and many find that within a few days they feel better, more alert and energetic.

"The nutritionist-designed meal plans that you would follow on The Fast 800 enable you to get all of the nutrients that you need so you don’t feel hungry all the time.

"The first few days can be a little more challenging and we recommend you drink plenty of fluid (1-1.5 litres) to keep yourself well hydrated, but most people find that sticking to a 800 calorie diet is manageable, and this is because they have switched to burning their own body fat as fuel."

It is worth noting, however, that the plan is not something everyone can follow.

The doctor added: "Intermittent fasting isn't suitable for everybody, particularly if you’re taking certain medications. Although it's worth checking with your GP first, there's no particular reason not to use intermittent fasting at the same time as HRT."


Person tracking calories on phone

Tracking calories on certain days of the week can help with weight loss


Why do women gain weight during perimenopause?

Dr Bailey explained it can be "frustrating" when the weight piles on for women who have not changed their lifestyles. However, weight gain can be a side effect of other menopausal symptoms, such as stress.

The expert said: "When it comes to menopause, most people put on a little bit of weight despite not changing their lifestyle. They’ll find that they’re eating the same food, doing the same amount of exercise, yet they find that they're not in control of their weight in the way they used to be. And that can be incredibly frustrating when nothing else in their life has changed.

"However, there are lots of elements to consider when it comes to the menopause and weight gain. It’s likely that your oestrogen levels will have dropped and as a result, your mood may have changed.

"You might not be sleeping well, you might be getting a bit of brain fog, feeling irritable and stressed - and what do people do if they’re not feeling their best? They are more inclined to reach for the sugary, starchy foods that provide comfort, a sugar hit to give you a bit of a lift.

"But it's more complicated than just reaching for a snack or comfort food. When oestrogen levels start to drop, it also affects the way your body manages protein.

"It turns out that your body is less able to process protein as the hormone levels drop, as they would have done pre-menopause, so you need to eat extra protein to compensate. Having enough protein is a big factor when it comes to hunger, so if you're not getting enough protein, you will remain hungry."

This comes as a PT shares six core moves to incorporate into your workout plan to tone the midriff and help burn belly fat.

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