Are you looking for ways to lose weight and feel better? You may have heard about intermittent fasting and wondered if it is safe for women over 50. This article will explore the topic from a post-menopausal woman's perspective specifically. You'll get to know what benefits IF offers for women after 50, if it's safe for them, and how they can adopt it for a healthy life.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that involves consuming food at certain times and fasting during other periods. There are no specific foods you have to eat while Intermittent Fasting, but rather when you should consume them. The most common intermittent fasting methodologies include daily 16-hour or 24-hour fasts twice a week.
In a nutshell, it's taking regular breaks from calories. This can mean fasting for 12-36 hours at a time. Anything longer than that is considered an extended fast.
Fasting is nothing new. Humans have fasted from time immemorial. When our ancestors couldn't find food, they fasted, and luckily, their bodies were well-adapted to this situation. While fasting, they were able to fuel themselves with body fat.
This is exactly how it works even after centuries upon centuries.
When starving, the hormone insulin dips. Low insulin levels speed up fat breakdown and use stored body fat for energy. In other words, intermittent fasting helps you burn fat! It also reduces inflammation and improves heart health.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
Intermittent fasting is about staying without food for long hours. But it's not about starving yourself; rather, it's a way of manipulating your body's natural metabolic state (employ metabolic switching, i.e., to burn fat for fuel instead of sugars/carbs) to burn more fat. But how does it work?
When you eat, your body enters a fed state. In this state, your insulin levels are high, and your body breaks down sugar for energy. This is the opposite of the metabolic state you want to be in for burning fat.
You must go through a fasting period to switch from the fed to the fasted state. This means not eating food for 16 hours or more. Once you reach the fasted state, your insulin levels will drop, and your body will start burning stored fat instead of ready carbs for energy, exhausting your stored fat reserves sooner than usual.
Among the different ways to do intermittent fasting, the 16/8 method is trendy. To follow this approach, you would fast for 16 hours straight and eat only for 8 hours. For example, from 8 pm until noon the next day. You could repeat this cycle as many times as you like.
With metabolic switching and intermittent fasting, there are a lot of benefits to look forward to, including low inflammation and better cardiovascular health.
Related Article: Cardio Vs. Weight Lifting: Which is Best for Weight Loss?
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting helps burn more calories and lose weight, and that's common knowledge, but several other more complex and even more important benefits are overshadowed by weight loss. Other than weight loss, intermittent fasting also:
- Puts the body in ketosis (a state where the body starts to burn stored fat for fuel). This not only helps with hunger management but also improves mental focus.
- Research suggests Intermittent fasting can be good for cardiac health.
- Helpful in reversing type 2 diabetes.
- Helps align with circadian rhythm, your natural 24-hour wake-sleep cycle
- It can activate autophagy — a process by which cells renew themselves by naturally using dead parts and building new alternatives.
Can Intermittent Fasting Work for Women Over 50?
Yes, most definitely. It is amazing for women over 50 struggling with hormonal changes and weight gain. With low estrogen in their systems, it’s usually hard for women over the age of 50 to lose weight. Several reasons contribute to this outcome, a common one being a slow metabolism.
The more lean muscle you have, the quicker your metabolism will be. However, as we age, we start to lose lean muscle mass and often become less active than before. As a result, metabolism slows down, making stubborn body fat harder to shift.
Intermittent fasting eases weight loss by working on metabolic improvement in women over 50s, solving quite a few very complex issues. Research sides with intermittent fasting regarding weight loss and better gut health, and these work in all ages, no matter 50s or 60s.
Related Article: Intermittent Fasting for Bodybuilders: How It Works for Fat Loss and Muscle Growth
Fasting Tips for Women Over 50
Ladies over 50 should consider these tips to create a sustainable fasting practice.
If you are unfamiliar with intermittent fasting, start by trying an overnight fast. Do not eat from dinner until breakfast the next morning.
Sleeping, a 12-hour overnight fast, requires only 4 hours of being awake and fasting. Once you're more accustomed to this type of fasting, feel free to prolonged periods without food if desired.
Get Enough Calories
Although you can eat however much you want during specified windows, people still consume fewer calories. However, to avoid side effects such as tiredness, sleep issues, etc., inflicted by extreme calorie restriction, it is better to create a deficit of no more than 10%. This way, you get enough nutrients while also sticking to your plan.
As a woman over 50, you should seek to fill your tank with protein to slow down age-related muscle loss. During intermittent fasting, it's even more important because it can increase fat loss speed and help build more muscle, eventually increasing resting metabolism.
Protein is the building block for muscle, which supports muscle growth, and with more muscle in your body, you can count on having healthier joints and bones- just what you want as you age. It's more like hedging against debilitating aging signs.
Resistance training and increased protein intake are the two sides of the same coin. Both aim to stop muscle loss and support lean mass growth for a healthier and leaner body in general and in women over 50.
Get Enough Electrolytes
You lose electrolytes such as sodium and potassium at higher rates when fasting. These nutrients must be replaced to avoid headaches, tiredness, and cramps resulting from electrolyte deficiency.
This can be done by adding salt to your food, eating foods rich in electrolytes like spinach, or possibly taking an electrolyte supplement. For more information on this topic, read this blog on electrolytes.
Consider a Keto Diet
If you can, try the keto diet as you start your intermittent fasting journey. These two lifestyles complement each other perfectly, where you are shuffling between calorie restriction and 0-carb food. This is your ticket to optimized fat loss, improved insulin resistance, better cardio health, and reduced body fat.
Eat a Nutrient-Dense Diet
When doing intermittent fasting, where you are letting your body rest with periods of fasting, it's very important to eat nutrient-dense foods like meat, fish, eggs, offal, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats.
Refined foods don't cut it; stick to what's on the outskirts of the supermarket, where fresher items are usually shelved.
1. Is intermittent fasting good for females?
When it comes to intermittent fasting, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. What works for one person may not work for another. However, some research suggests that intermittent fasting may particularly benefit females.
One study found that intermittent fasting helped reduce levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin in women while also increasing levels of the satiety hormone leptin. This combination may help to control appetite and promote weight loss.
Additionally, intermittent fasting has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and decrease inflammation, which is important for women's health. If you're considering intermittent fasting, speak with your doctor to see if it's right for you.
2. How long does it take for intermittent fasting to work for women?
Expect a difference on the scale after a few weeks of intermittent fasting. According to Weinandy, results are typically visible around 10 weeks, with an average weight loss of seven to 10 pounds.
3. Can I have coffee while intermittent fasting?
Although you can drink coffee while intermittent fasting, it is important to note that adding cream, sugar, or other forms of calories to your coffee will technically break your fast.
4. Does lemon water break a fast?
Lemon water does not break a fast. Lemon water has almost no calories and zero sugars; it doesn't raise insulin levels, which means it will not break your fast
The Bottom Line
So, what do you think? Is intermittent fasting right for you? If you're feeling intrigued but not quite sure, talk to your doctor and see if it could be a good option. Regarding our health, we should always err on the side of caution – but that doesn't mean we can't try new things! Who knows, IF might just be the thing that helps you unlock better health and wellness.
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- DONG, Tiffany A., et al. “Intermittent Fasting: A Heart Healthy Dietary Pattern?” The American Journal of Medicine, vol. 133, no. 8, Aug. 2020, pp. 901–07. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2020.03.030.
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- Wang, Yiren, and Ruilin Wu. ‘The Effect of Fasting on Human Metabolism and Psychological Health’. Disease Markers, vol. 2022, Jan. 2022, p. 5653739. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1155/2022/5653739.