Intermittent fasting for women over 50

Intermittent fasting for women over 50: Benefits and tips for success

July 29. 2022

As people pass the age of 50, most will notice that maintaining lean muscle mass becomes more and more of a challenge. With the total amount of muscle dropping, metabolism slows down, and body fat seems to be ever easier to get and ever harder to lose. Besides the changes that come to our bodies gradually by aging, women in this age enter menopause which brings about various hormonal changes. Without adequate health practices, several health issues can arise in this period of life, including weight gain. One such practice that has been gaining popularity over the last several years is intermittent fasting. That’s why in this article, Chicago’s best weight loss expert will discuss intermittent fasting for women over 50, its benefits, and how to do it properly.

What is intermittent fasting?

So, first of all, what exactly is intermittent fasting? In the simplest terms, it’s the practice of limiting yourself to eating only within a specific period during the day. There are no limitations to what you eat, just that you fast outside of given hours. There are several time patterns for fasting, which include abstaining from food anywhere between 12 and 36 hours. Anything longer than that is considered an extended fast, and it exceeds the topic of this article. So the most common fasting methods are the following:

  • The 12-12 method – This is the lightest intermittent fasting method. You eat within 12 hours and then fast for the next 12 hours. However, when you consider that 8 hours of sleep are included in the 12 hours of fasting, you can eat most of the time that you are awake during the day.
  • The 8-16 method – This is by far the most common method and the one we will be focusing on in this article. You eat within 8 hours and then fast for the next 16 hours. That essentially means that you are fasting half the time that you are awake.
  • The 5-2 method – In the name of this method, the numbers refer to days instead of hours. You eat regularly for five days of the week without any time frame during each day, and then for the last two days of the week, you reduce your caloric intake to just 25% of what you usually eat. For example, if you normally eat 1,600 calories a day during the fasting days, that will be reduced to 400. People who practice this method most commonly leave the fasting days for the weekend. That way, they can eat regularly during the working days and consume enough calories to get energy for work.
  • The alternate days method – With this method, you eat regularly every other day. One day of typical eating is followed by one day of fasting, and so on. Just like the 5-2 method, you consume 25% percent of your regular caloric intake on fasting days.
  • The 24h method – This method includes fasting for the whole length of 24 hours. Most commonly, it is done from breakfast to breakfast or from lunch to lunch. That shouldn’t be done more frequently than once a week.

The majority of people today are used to having three meals (and possibly two snacks) stretched over the length of the day. Some may skip a meal every now or then, probably because they were in a hurry and didn’t get the time to eat, but for many people, that’s uncomfortable, and they wouldn’t willingly do it. However, fasting for shorter periods was quite common in older times. People in the past didn’t have fridges to keep ready-made meals at hand to eat whenever they liked. Our paleolithic ancestors relied on hunting and gathering wild fruits for their food, so if they weren’t successful, they would sometimes go without food for a whole day or longer. Even today, some cultures regularly practice intermittent fasting.

 

Can intermittent fasting affect your hormone levels?

Menopause brings about various hormonal changes. Estrogen and progesterone levels start to fluctuate and behave unpredictably and then, after a while, make a steep drop. That can shake the balance of other hormones as well. Thyroid hormones, cortisol, and serotonin can all be affected in unpredictable ways, which can result in many health problems such as high blood pressure, decreased bone health, metabolic problems, and weight gain. A common occurrence during menopause is the development of insulin resistance. Your body becomes less sensitive to insulin, which makes it more difficult to digest sugar and carbohydrates in general and causes weight gain. Also, the loss of estrogen makes it harder to maintain muscle mass. 

Intermittent fasting for women over 50 can be highly beneficial in this period of hormonal disbalance as it helps maintain proper hormone levels. There are also numerous progesterone weight loss success stories. After a period of time without any food intake, your body changes its hormone levels to enable you to use fat more effectively for fuel. Insulin levels drop, and thyroid activity stabilizes, creating good conditions in the body for fat burning and weight loss. In addition to that, fasting also promotes cell repair, which is essential for slowing down aging and making you feel refreshed and more youthful. As insulin levels drop, HGH (human growth hormone) levels increase, which helps muscle gain and cell renewal. In case of severe hormonal disbalance, it is highly advised to use hormone pellets therapy, as hormone pellets and weight loss are closely connected.

 

Benefits of intermittent fasting for women over 50

Intermittent fasting has shown to be highly beneficial for both women and men of various ages. However, women over 50 can find it especially helpful due to the specific health concerns that arise at that age. It is, therefore, no wonder that intermittent fasting is becoming increasingly popular. So here, we will list the top benefits of intermittent fasting for women over 50.

Weight loss

This is the most common benefit of intermitted fasting. In the absence of calories consumed from food, your body turns to body fat for fuel. In addition to that, you will eat less even during the period of the day that is designated for eating. Simply because you will not be able to consume so much food in a short time as you otherwise do when eating throughout the whole day. Fewer calories will last shorter, leaving more time to burn your body fat. Also, as your eating time is limited, you will have to put more planning into your meals. That way, you will be more likely to avoid sweets and unhealthy snacks and focus on nutritious foods.

Insulin resistance

Fasting leads to lower glucose levels in the body, which results in lower insulin levels and stable average blood sugar levels. Understandably so, this reduces the risk of diabetes. That also helps you lose weight, as high insulin levels generally halt fat burning and induce fat storage. It would help if you also considered taking lipo C injections, as they are highly effective and an excellent addition to your efforts to lose weight.

Mental health

Stable insulin and blood sugar levels result in less stress, less anxiety, and the absence of emotional rollercoasters caused by sharp spikes and steep drops in insulin levels. Fasting women also report improved focus and memory.

Heart health

Fasting reduces blood pressure and bad LDL cholesterol levels, both of which are beneficial for a healthy heart. That’s a significant contribution as high blood pressure is especially prevalent after menopause.

Bone health

Fasting has also been shown to promote hormone secretion from the thyroid, which improves bone health and helps prevent conditions such as osteoporosis and arthritis, which present a significant risk for women over the age of 50.

Longer life

Intermittent fasting for women over 50 allows the mitochondria, the energy-producing organelles within each cell, to get time to rest and produce energy more efficiently. That slows down aging and retains a more youthful state for body cells. As this affects all the cells of the body, this will make your whole body more youthful and energized.

 

Tips for success

Start slowly

Any change in eating habits presents a certain dose of stress for the body. Lighter changes won’t cause any problems, but drastic changes most likely will. That’s why it’s highly advisable to start slow. Listen to your body, and don’t do anything that feels very uncomfortable. You may start simply by having dinner earlier and not eating anything else until breakfast the following day. If that includes less than 12 hours, you can then increase the fasting period to full 12 hours in the next step, and then over time, slowly work your way up to 16 hours. 

Stay hydrated

Fasting may cause you to dehydrate, so make sure to drink enough fluid throughout the day. Refraining from eating doesn’t mean you can’t drink calorie-free fluids such as water and coffee (without milk or sugar). Keep a water bottle at hand and drink throughout the day to stay hydrated.

Get enough electrolytes

Another possible risk during fasting is losing electrolytes. That may cause fatigue, headaches, and weak bones, so it’s essentially important to maintain adequate electrolyte levels. Add enough salt to your food, but don’t overdo it. The flavor of the food is the best determiner between enough and too much. You can also eat electrolyte-dense foods such as kale, spinach, broccoli, beans, and nuts. Another way to replenish your electrolytes is by adding a pinch of pink Himalayan salt to your water.  

Eat nutrient-rich foods

Fasting doesn’t limit what you can eat, but that doesn’t mean you should eat just anything during your eating hours. As you have fewer opportunities to fill your body with nutrients, use those opportunities well. Avoid highly-processed and nutrient-depleted foods and choose healthy, whole foods instead. Eat fresh vegetables, meats, fish, nuts, seeds, and fermented dairy products.

Prioritize protein

Getting enough protein is vitally important for anyone fasting, especially for women in their 50s. You can easily lose muscle mass during any type of reduction in eating habits, and menopausal women are especially prone to muscle loss due to reduced estrogen levels. Less muscle mass results in a slower metabolism, making it harder to lose weight overall. Therefore, give protein the central role in your meals while fasting. Focus on meat, eggs, dairy, and nuts, as they are all protein-rich.

Plan your meals

As mentioned above, fewer opportunities to eat require that you eat well and eat smart. But making meals on the spur of the moment may sometimes result in poor food choices. That’s why you should plan your meals ahead. Take into consideration your nutritional needs and make your diet diverse and colorful and devise a meal plan a few days ahead, or at least plan your daily meals the day before. Making a weekly meal plan might be the best option as it gives you a good overview of your nutritional intake and makes it easier to plan grocery shopping.

Consider the keto diet

Intermitted fasting and the keto diet have proven to be a great combination, especially for women over 50, as they stabilize insulin levels and blood sugar response and help you lose weight. Combining the two may help you lose weight more than you would have if you had taken up only one of the two. In addition to that, the keto diet excludes any processed and sugary foods and is based on healthy, nutrient-dense, whole foods, which are essential for intermittent fasting. Also, if you are already practicing a keto diet, intermittent fasting can help you reach ketosis faster.

 

Final thoughts

Various fasting methods for shorter periods have been gaining more and more popularity in recent years. The most common is the 8-16 method, where you eat for 8 hours and then fast for the rest of the day. Intermittent fasting provides numerous health benefits, such as weight loss, better blood sugar control, better mental health, and healthier bones. It can be especially beneficial during menopause as it helps maintain optimal hormonal balance. If you want to learn more about intermittent fasting for women over 50 and its effects on weight loss and overall health, schedule a call, and we will gladly answer any questions you have.

Nurse Walton

Author

Nurse Walton

Born and raised in Chicago, IL, Chanay received her Practical Nurse licensure and went to work in clinical specialties such as Home Health, Assisted Living, Long-Term Care and Dialysis Centers. Through this work, she realized the importance of diet, nutrition and weight loss among her patients. This led her to open A Better Weigh, Inc. Medical Weight Loss Center in 2009.

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