For menopausal women, losing weight and maintaining lean muscle mass appear very demanding. During this time, women put up with muscles dropping alongside slower metabolism. Moreover, body fat is easy to accumulate and impossible to lose.
This happens for various reasons, but mainly due to hormonal changes. Women can suffer from various health problems, like weight gain, without enough health practices at this age.
For women over 50, many have started looking into intermittent fasting to help with healthy weight loss. This method may help improve metabolic health, reverse cellular damage, and boost mental health.
Let’s look at how intermittent fasting works for women over 50, along with some tips.
It is a diet practice about having meals within the respective time window. This time-restricted feeding involves 12 to 36 hours of break or fasting period.
However, if the break exceeds 36 hours, it will be called an extended fast.
A sustainable method would be to consume all your food in 8 hours, then fast for the remaining 16 hours. For instance, you can have your meals between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., followed by fasting between 6 p.m. and 10 a.m. (these hours include the time you’re asleep).
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Choosing the correct method for intermittent fasting is essential to get proper nutrition and avoiding health risks. If you are new to intermittent fasting, you should first figure out how to add an intermittent fasting program to your lifestyle.
This method involves setting eating and fasting windows. As half of our day is spent sleeping, intermittent fasting becomes easier using this method.
Furthermore, you can extend your fast by not having breakfast and waiting until lunchtime to break your overnight fast.
Time-restricted eating is the finest choice for women new to intermittent fasting. The 16/8 option will get you 8 hours of eating and 16 hours of fasting (eating between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.).
However, the 14/10 method includes 10 hours of eating and rest for fasting (meals between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.).
You can repeat this method per your needs or even once or twice weekly.
Furthermore, many women may need time to discover the proper fasting and eating windows. Regardless of how long it takes to find the suitable method, keep your calorie intake within the daytime.
Twice a week or 5:2 method entirely focuses on calorie restriction for two days a week.
During the rest of the five days, you can keep up with your regular diet. During the fasting days, the person is permitted for 200 or 300 caloric intake. You must consume foods with fewer calories and high protein and fiber to keep you full.
You can choose fasting days according to your preference—for instance; you can schedule it on Mondays and Wednesdays. Just make sure to fit in an eating day between two fasting days.
This intermittent fasting method includes altered fasting every second day. For instance, you restrict calories to 500 or 25% of your regular diet on fasting days. However, you can continue your normal and healthy diet on eating days.
Many people prefer a more strict calorie restriction, like consuming no calories on fasting days.
24-hour fasting type is fasting for the whole day. Moreover, depending on your schedule, you can do it once or twice weekly. Generally, people fast from lunch to lunch or breakfast to breakfast.
This variation of intermittent fasting can bring maximum side effects like headaches, exhaustion, annoyance, and low energy levels.
Ensure to resume your healthy eating habits as soon as you enter your non-fasting day to recover your energy levels.
Women over 50 can benefit from intermittent fasting. There is ongoing research regarding its effects, and it’s safe to say that the pros outweigh the cons. Moreover, it is shown to help improve many health conditions in women over 50.
This is the primary benefit of intermittent fasting. When you don’t consume enough calories from food, your body converts fat into fuel. This results in body fat loss and ultimately decreased belly fat too. Since intermittent fasting involves limited eating time, you will likely cut down on snacks and sweets and focus on healthy food only.
Per the research, intermittent fasting can help in body fat loss by decreasing body mass index. Furthermore, it may also interfere with hormones by triggering the production of the beneficial hormone HGH (hormone for muscle mass and fat burning).
Another study compared the weight loss efficacy of ADF between pre and post-menopausal women. The results of this research confirmed that both groups lost body weight from baseline. Therefore, intermittent fasting may support reduced weight loss whether the woman is in their menopausal stage or not.
Intermittent fasting results in decreased glucose levels, which makes insulin levels drop. Lower insulin levels mean lesser chances of diabetes.
One controlled study between 100 obese women showed decreased insulin levels by 29% and insulin resistance by 19% due to six months of intermittent fasting. Another research on non-obese women has proven to improve blood sugar control and induce fat burning.
Along with physical changes, menopause can also bring mental changes in women’s bodies. These changes include depression, anxiety, brain fog, mood swings, stress, and fatigue.
According to a study, intermittent fasting may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Both of these factors positively impact your overall heart health. This benefit is significant as the risk of cardiovascular (heart disease) increases with menopause.
While intermittent fasting may be fruitful for many women, it’s not the best bet for everyone.
Similar to having plenty of health benefits, intermittent fasting can have potential minor side effects. It is wise to consult with a health practitioner before turning to intermittent fasting to ensure it is a good choice for you.
Here are some minor side effects that come with intermittent fasting.
Headaches are the most common side effect of intermittent fasting. In some people, headaches may occur during the start of the intermittent fasting journey.
According to studies, the individuals who observed intermittent fasting experienced mild headaches. Moreover, these headaches were situated in the brain’s frontal region with mild or moderate intensity.
According to research, people who adopted different types of intermittent fasting have experienced low energy levels and exhaustion. It can cause low blood sugar levels, which ultimately bring about weakness and exhaustion.
However, another study found that intermittent fasting may overcome fatigue, specifically when our bodies adapt to frequent fasting periods.
This is the most displeasing side effect that people put up with during intermittent fasting. This happens due to the absence of salivary flow and the production of acetone.
During fasting, our body consumes body fat for fuel. Therefore when our body burns fat, acetone is produced as a by-product. Moreover, intermittent fasting may cause dehydration which brings about bad breath.
Intermittent fasting is unsafe for children under 12 years, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and teenagers with average weight. It is worth noting that people with neurological conditions should consult with a health professional and get a general health assessment to ensure intermittent fasting is safe for them.
Moreover, intermittent fasting is not recommended for underweight individuals or people at risk of nutrient deficiencies. Lastly, people with cognitive impairments should also avoid IF as the regimen will be too complicated to follow.
Women over 50, free from any medical conditions mentioned above, can quickly lose weight by using these tips to reach their weight goals.
When we change our eating habits, our bodies become stressed. However, if you slightly change your eating window, there won’t be much to worry about. Therefore, it is wise to begin your intermittent fasting journey gradually.
Pay attention to your body’s needs. Moreover, avoid doing something that makes your body uncomfortable. For instance, you can start by eating dinner earlier and fast until breakfast. If the period between the gap is less than 12 hours, you can make it up to 12 hours on the next day and then slowly move forward with your IF program by adding 16 hours fast.
Load up on a lot of water (more than eight glasses) on fasting days to avoid getting dehydrated. Choose foods that include a good amount of fluids. When you eat less, you also stop getting water.
During the initial period of intermittent fasting, people get frequent headaches, and some even experience constipation due to dehydration. Moreover, it can also drag your energy levels down. You can take black coffee or caffeinated tea to tackle low energy levels.
Limiting your calorie intake to 500 or 1000 calories on fasting days is recommended. Furthermore, in the fasting period, ensure to consume at least 50 grams of lean protein (available in a single cup of greek yogurt and four-ounce skinless chicken breast). Protein helps you feel full and avoid muscle mass loss.
Consume a lot of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and nutrient-rich foods to fulfill your nutrient and fiber requirements on eating days. Foods with high fiber can also make you feel less hungry.
Combining the keto diet and intermittent fasting may support balanced insulin levels and blood sugar to help women over 50 lose weight fast. The keto diet can prove to be an ideal addition to IF since it keeps out processed foods and sugary drinks while focusing on only nutrient-rich healthy foods vital for IF.
Lastly, if you are already on a keto diet, IF will make you lose weight fast and reach ketosis.
During fasting, you are at risk of losing electrolytes like sodium and potassium. This can cause frequent headaches, exhaustion, weak bones, and cramps. Therefore, it is significant to balance sufficient levels of electrolytes in your body.
Ensure to add adequate but not excessive salt to your meals. You can also consume electrolyte-rich foods like broccoli, spinach, kale, beans, and nuts. Alternatively, you can drink a glass of water with a pinch of Himalayan salt or take an electrolyte supplement.
We tend to gain more weight when we withdraw from our regular diet. Thus we should consume less than 10% of the recommended caloric intake as per our age, weight, height, and activity level to avoid putting on weight. Furthermore, you can practice an altered time-restricted eating plan in which you can eat only after 10-12 hours.
While intermittent fasting may benefit women over 50 in losing weight, there isn’t enough evidence to support the fact. The studies only compared young and middle-aged individuals for a short period.
As the advantages of intermittent fasting are related to calorie reduction, it will help you keep up with a calorie-restricted diet by giving you a proper plan to consume and ingest calories.
Like other diet plans, intermittent fasting needs to be personalized to an individual’s lifestyle, activity level, nutritional requirements, medications, and other factors.
Moreover, do not overlook the importance of getting the proper nutrients. Lastly, focus on healthy and fresh foods rather than processed and sugar-laden foods to achieve your weight loss goals.