Intermittent fasting is becoming a popular way to lose some weight and reset your body’s metabolism but what are the benefits of intermittent fasting for women over 50?
Intermittent fasting is a no fuss way to eat with no calorie counting, weighing food or calculating macronutrients. And in my opinon that is the reason for its popularity especially amoung women over 50 looking to shed their belly fat in a hassle free manner with as little disruption to their lifestyle as they can manage.
I myself have tried so many diets it would make your head spin including some that were questionable, I’m looking at you “Bread One Day And All You Can Eat The Next” diet. I would say intermittentt fasting is my all time favourite way of eating. So much so that I don’t really think about it now as it’s just become a part of my everyday life.
Why Do We Gain Belly Fat Over 50 And Why Is It Difficult To Lose?
The fluctuation of your hormones especially estrogen and progesterone as we age causes many of the health issues that you can experience as you age but one that can have a devasting effect on women over 50 is the weight gain around their middle.
Estradiol is a form of estrogen that plays an important role in regulating metabolism and body weight. As estrogen levels decline the lower levels of estradiol may lead to weight gain.
Typically over 50 the weight you gain will redirect from the usual bum and thighs to around your middle.
Of course there are foods that contribute to weight gain also and these are probable the worst of them:
- Fizzy drinks.
- Foods high in fructose such as apples, cherries, watermelon, and pears. Check the label on processed foods.
- Sugar substitutes, such as sorbitol, mannitol.
- High fiber foods. Of course fiber is good for you but having too much or jumping from none to a lot can cause changes in you digestion.
- Foods high in starch such as sweet potato, potato and rice.
- Potato chips
Muscle mass decreases with age. Losing muscle mass will slow down your metabolism making it more likely you’ll put on weight.
If you do nothing and continue to eat in the same manner as you always have and don’t start including some muscle building exercises into your regular exercise routine you will put on weight.
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What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Firstly what intermittent fasting isn’t.
It isn’t another diet.
Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating that switches between an eating period and a fasting period. You are not told what to eat in the eating period and the length of the fasting period is up to you.
It is important that the fasting period is longer than the length of time it takes to digest your last meal which is generally around 8 hours.
When you eat not all of the energy that meal gives you is used so it is stored in the body for later use. Insulin is the hormone that manages how that energy is stored. With energy storage being limited, insulin will turn unused energy into fat. And guess where that fat sits when your a woman over 50?
The longer your fasting period is the more chance you have of burning firstly stored energy and secondly fat deposits.
I find this is a good time to exercise as it further increases the energy burnt.
The Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting For Women Over 50
Weight loss is the main drawer card of intermittent fasting for women over 50 however there are other amazing benefits of this eating pattern:
- improved energy
- increase in lean muscle mass
- reduced stress and inflammation levels
- a reduction in insulin resistance leading to improvements in Type 2 Diabetes.
- increased focus and brain function
- reduced hot flashes and night sweats
- balanced hormones
- better digestion and gut health
A massive benefit that isn’t listed here is the fact that intermittent fasting is easy. There is no calorie counting, macro counting, measuring, weighing or anything else that takes an inordinate amount of time out of your already busy day.
Intermittent fasting for weight loss is fairly effortless.
Menopausal weight gain generally pools around your middle enveloping important organs. This makes it dangerous to your health, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure among other things.
This way of fasting could easily improve your health as you move into midlife.
Three fabulous books specific to women in midlife that can further explaining the process of fasting are:
Click image to see details.
Intermittent fasting gives your body
a break from digesting food allowing it to do other things such as repair and regeneration. After your last meal is digested (usually about 8 hours after eating) your body uses fat as energy, leading to weight loss.
Intermittent fasting for women in midlife is possibly so successful due to the fact that apart from not eating between your chosen times there is nothing else to do. However it is important, of course, that what you in in that time slot is healthy wholefoods that are low in sugar, refined carbohydrates and saturated fats
Intermittent fasting is not a green light for binge eating junk food in between fasting.
Despite the fact that we call it fasting this is not a deprivation diet. You aren’t depriving your body of the nutrition it needs. In fact fasting is more likely to increase your metabolic rate.
Do Not Fast If…
- you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant
- you’re underweight
- you’re are under 18
- you’re breastfeeding
- you have an eating disorder
Exercising While Practicing Intemittent Fasting
Exercising while you are in the fasting phase will increase the amount of fat burned. You shouldn’t need to eat to give yourself energy as this pattern of eating will actually improve your energy levels. However, I wouldn’t be running a marathon while fasting but there are snacks you can have that are high fat and protein and low carb should you want to.
Possible Side Effects
Until your body gets used to the idea that it’s not going to get fed at the usual times it will be sending hunger signals to your brain but that quickly resets itself.
I found a glass of water or a cup of tea helps with this and allows me to go a little longer.
As you are making changes to your diet constipation could be a problem but I haven’t found that myself. In fact I am more regular than I have ever been.
To help guard against constipation make sure you are eating plenty of soluble fiber such as chia, nuts, linseeds and lentils.
How Start Intermittent Fasting
While praciticing intermittent fasting you don’t change WHAT you eat. Not unless your regular diet includes a barrow load of sugar and empty carbohydrates. Then it would be prudent to cut out most of the sugar and useless carbs too enable you to better lose weight and have improved health.
What does change is WHEN you eat or rather how long you wait since your last meal before you eat again.
The premise is that you stop eating for a length of time that is longer than the time it would take to digest your last meal which is 6 to 8 hours depending on your metabolism.
The length of time you wait or fast before you eat again can vary, it depends on you and the type of intermittent fasting you have chosen.
There are various methods you can use to try intermittent fasting:
- 12 or more hours without eating every day
- 12-20 hours of fasting a couple of days a week.
- Not eating for a full 24 hours one or two times each week
There are other variations that require more input and longer lengths of time without food.
It is important to find what works for you to better your chances of sticking to it.
When I started this journey I could only really manage 12 hours from my last meal at night to when I ate again in the morning. At that point I was doubtful that I could stretch it much beyond that.
If I eat my last meal at 7.00pm then I can eat again at 7.00am. These times are good for me as I don’t really eat in between those times anyway.
Generally, I only fast during the week as it fits into my schedule well.
I am now stretching breakfast out to 9.30 to 10.30am and sometimes beyond that.
It seems to have been a natural progression to these longer fasting time and I’ve found it easy.
It is important, as with any way of eating, to combine intermittent fasting with exercise, good sleep, and a healthy eating regime.
Fasting is often seen as controversial due to the impact it can have on hormones and regular eating patterns.
This is a “restrictive diet” and so can exacerbate unhealthy eating patterns. I don’t recommend you try this way of eating if you have a history of disordered eating such as emotional eating, binge eating, and eating disorders.
It is also important when you are eating not to see this time as an opportunity to binge on unhealthy foods. Eat healthy whole foods in normal size portions.
Due to the effect intermittent fasting can have on hormones I would suggest if you are trying to conceive or have a history of metabolic disorders you should consult a doctor before undertaking an eating pattern such as this.
How to start intermittent fasting for weight loss and bloating
- Setting a routine by first trying 12 hours daily
- Gradually build to 14 or 16 hours depending on what suits you.
- Drink plenty of clear fluids such as water, herbal tea, clear soup. I allow myself coffee if I want it but beware the effects of coffee on a fasting body are much greater.
- Ease into exercise – maybe a walk and some yoga until you are used to how your body feels during the fasting period.
Listen to your body.
If you can’t sleep, or you feel anxious or nauseous, stop.
My last point is something that I live by and you may choose to also.
I aim to live with healthy habits for at least 90% of the time. For the other 10% I allow myself to relax. If we go out for dinner and it’s outside my 12-hour window of eating I don’t stress. I certainly don’t stress about the delicious dessert we share either.
This philosophy, for me, is healthy.
There is less stressing over what to eat and more living and in my mind that is only a good thing.
My Top Tips For Successful Intermittent Fasting In Menopause
- Drink plenty of water – this will help with any hunger and possible constipation
- Drink coffee or tea – there is nothing like a warm drink to tell you body it’s not hungry anymore. I find a black coffee works well for me.
- Stick to low-carb whole foods during your eating period.
- Don’t let intermittent fasting be your excuse to go crazy and binge inbetween your fasting periods
Have you tried intermittent fasting for menopause weight loss? How did it work for you?
If you are struggling with bloat, menopause weight gain or other menopause symptoms I would certainly recommend you try intermittent fasting.