In recent years, the application of intermittent fasting for women over 40 has shown favorable results. If you’re at that age and you’ve been struggling to lose weight, it is a great option to consider especially since it does get harder to shed weight as you age.
As you get older, you’ve probably discovered that losing weight is more complicated than when you were in your twenties. Weight gain, slower metabolism and hormonal changes make it challenging for women to keep a healthy lifestyle.
The great thing about intermittent fasting is that it can help with all of these without complicating your everyday life unlike most other diets. If you are just starting on your weight loss journey, or you’ve been working hard at eating properly or working out and need a fresh approach, intermittent fasting may be the right choice for you.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting, also known as IF, is one of the world’s most popular health and fitness trends. It is a diet schedule that requires alternating cycles of voluntary abstaining from food and sometimes even drinks.
It is not about starving yourself during the fast or overeating once your eating window is up. Usually, intermittent fasting involves mild calorie restriction. While it is most used to help people lose weight, intermittent fasting also aids in numerous other benefits.
It simplifies diet life as you don’t need to plan meals or cook as what most diet meals require. Intermittent fasting can also have an impact on your mental health since it may reduce symptoms issues like anxiety and depression.
Most importantly, intermittent fasting enhances your health. Considerable research shows that it can significantly also help reduce the health risk of heart disease1 and diabetes2, as well as improve psychological well-being3.
Types Of Intermittent Fasting
1. The 12-Hour Fast
The healthy diet guidelines are simple. Every day, you must choose and follow a 12-hour fasting window.
According to research4, fasting for 10-16 hours causes the body to release ketones into the bloodstream. Ketosis is a process that occurs when the body doesn’t have enough carbohydrates for energy, so it breaks down stored fat instead.
This form of intermittent fasting, with a healthy diet plan and a healthy lifestyle may be a good option for newbies. This is due to the fasting window being very limited, where most of the fasting occurs during sleep, and the person being able to consume the same number of calories each day.
2. Fast for 16 Hours
The 16:8 technique, also known as the Leangains diet, involves fasting for 16 hours a day and eating for 8 hours.
Men fast for 16 hours everyday on the 16:8 diet, while women fast for 14 hours. During the 16 or 14 hour fast, you consume nothing but unsweetened beverages. You may eat whatever meal or snack you prefer for the remaining 8 hours.
This sort of intermittent fasting may benefit someone who has attempted the 12-hour fasting but has not seen any result.
3. The 5:2 Plan
People who follow the 5:2 diet, sometimes known as the “Fast Diet,” usually involves eating how you normally would on five days of the week and then cutting back on fewer calories for the other two days. Men typically eat 600 calories and women 500 calories on those two fasting days.
Fasting days are usually separated throughout the week. They may, for example, fast on Mondays and Thursdays and do normal eating for the rest of the week. There should be at least one non-fasting day in between fasting days.
However, the 5:2 diet has received little research. Even so, there has been a notable study that was done with 107 overweight or obese women5.
It was found that calorie restriction twice weekly, and continuous calorie restriction resulted in equal weight loss. This diet also decreased insulin levels, according to the study.
4. Alternate Day Fasting
The alternate-day fasting strategy includes fasting every other day and has various versions. This means there are three-four 24 hour fasts each week.
One version is you eat dinner only on days of the fast and on the other days, you can have lunch and dinner with a focus on low carb meals.
Some people believe that alternate fasting requires complete fasting from solid, healthy foods on fasting days, while others allow up to 500 calories. People frequently decide to eat as much as they want on eating days.
According to one study6, alternate day fasting is good for losing weight and heart health in healthy and overweight persons. Over 12 weeks, the participants dropped an average of 5.2 kilograms (kg), or slightly over 11 pounds (lb).
Alternate day fasting is an extreme form of intermittent fasting that may not be suitable for beginners or those with particular medical conditions. It may also be difficult to continue this type of fasting over time.
5. Meal Skipping
This fast is a flexible method of intermittent fasting that may be good for beginners as it includes skipping meals on occasion.
You can skip meals based on your hunger level or time limitations. However, it is important to consume nutritional food.
When you monitor and adapt to your body sugar levels, meal skipping is more likely to be successful. If you practice this type of fast you will only eat when hungry and forgo meals when you are not. This fast can feel more natural than other fasting tactics.
6. Weekly 24-hour Fast
Fasting complete for one or two days per week, often known as the Eat-Stop-Eat diet, includes not eating for 24 hours at a time. This fast doesn’t need to be done constantly. Even doing just once a week is enough to reap some of these health benefits.
You will then resume everyday eating routines on non-fasting days. Eating in this kind of pattern reduces your total calorie consumption but does not limit the specific foods that you consume.
Although, a 24-hour fast can be exhausting and can cause slight initial discomfort such as fatigue, headaches, and irritability. You may find that when your body adjusts to this new eating habit, these symptoms become less severe. It is recommended to start from a 12-hour or 16-hour fast before attempting the 24-hour fast.
7. The Warrior Diet
Warrior Diet is a more advanced form of intermittent fasting and is essentially an extended period of fasting followed by a short period of feasting. You fast for 20 hours, eating only a few servings of raw fruit and vegetables, and then eating only one large meal at night. Typically, the meal window is only 4 hours long.
This type of fasting may be best for individuals who have already tried other types of intermittent fasting.
You must have plenty of veggies, proteins, and healthy fats during the 4-hour meal period; including some carbs.
Although some meals can be eaten throughout the fasting period, it might not be easy to follow the strict instructions on when and what to eat in the long run. Furthermore, some people have difficulty eating such a big lunch so close to bedtime.
There is also the possibility that persons following this diet will not consume adequate nutrients, such as fiber. While fasting is effective, there is always some risk to factor in and so it’s best to consult with a medical professional before whichever fast you choose to follow.
What Can You Eat During Fasting?
The most significant aspect of losing weight is controlling your calorie intake. A large majority of the calories are allocated to the three main meals, with only a minor portion reserved for snacks.
As a result, the strategy is to choose snacks that are low in calories but filling and won’t cause you to overeat during the snack and at meal time.
While not generally considered as a snack, water is the most effective method to handle intermittent fasting. That’s not to say you can’t drink other beverages, but water is your best chance of staying hydrated and energized throughout the day.
Oftentimes, you can mistake thirst with hunger, which leads you to eat more than necessary when water would have been enough. Staying hydrated is also essential for your digestive system and other body systems.
Water is required by your kidneys to clear out toxins and other waste items collected in the body.
Black coffee contains polyphenols and caffeine, which may briefly increase your metabolism. If you are new to fasting, drinking coffee on an empty stomach may be too much for your digestive system to manage. Start with half a cup each day and work your way up from there.
It’s also worth noting that you can take coffee when you fast as long as it’s unsweetened and calorie-free, making it an excellent fasting companion. Caffeine is also present in coffee, which helps you stay alert and cognitively engaged throughout the day.
You should not sweeten your coffee with sugar or other sweetening ingredients. If you want your coffee with cream and sugar, you must consume it during your eating window.
Caffeine is also contained in black tea. Again, it is important that the tea must be unsweetened or have no artificial flavors or sugar.
Read the labels carefully to ensure you understand exactly what is in your tea and how much caffeine it contains.
An alternative to black tea is green tea. This type of tea is wonderful to have because it contains catechins, which may stimulate metabolism and promote weight loss. Once more, green tea is best served unsweetened to avoid adding extra calories during your fasts.
Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting For Women Over 40
Weight loss is one of the leading health benefits of intermittent fasting that most women over 40 strive for. Since intermittent fasting restricts the amount of time you can consume calories, as a result, it is easier to maintain a calorie deficit, which is essential for fat loss.
Moreover, you may eat large, fulfilling meals, so it doesn’t appear like you’re on a diet. Many other diets focus on calorie counting, which, while helpful, is not interesting or sustainable for most individuals. Intermittent shorter fasting periods can help you lose weight without counting calories.
Improved Energy Levels
Intermittent fasting can help you lose fat while also increasing your energy levels. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon energy slumps have become the usual because of normal social eating.
It is expected for your energy levels to be low at the beginning of your fasting journey. However, as your body gets used to intermittent fasting, your energy levels will pick back up.
Once your body has adapted to fasting, it will start burning stored body fat for energy rather than glucose. As you spend more time in a fasted state, your body will get increasingly efficient at burning fat for energy.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve metabolic flexibility. This means easily switching between using carbs from food to sustain your day to stored energy reserves such as fat.
Since you have patterned your body to have consistent access to food, your body might develop dependency on carbohydrates. Especially with refined carbs since they lack filling fiber, your body digests them very quickly. This causes you to feel hungry after a few hours. Calorie control will be considerably more difficult if you are constantly hungry.
Intermittent fasting can also restore hormones ghrelin and leptin to normal levels. All of this adds together to make intermittent fasting a strong strategy for weight loss and control of your hunger.
Reduction in Resistance to Insulin
Insulin is a hormone that controls the level of blood sugar (also called glucose) in your body. Insulin resistance happens when the body does not respond to insulin as it should be. It prevents the body from using the glucose in the blood.
The core cause of this resistance might be attributed to various variables, including heredity. Insulin resistance can also be induced by a number of causes, including lack of physical activity, poor diet, and obesity.
Fortunately, intermittent fasting can aid in this. It improves metabolic health by lowering insulin resistance, balancing blood sugar levels. Being insulin sensitive minimizes the likelihood of resistance to chronic diseases, chronic inflammation, type 2 diabetes, and other medical conditions.
Inflammation is part of your body’s healing process and although it’s the body’s natural defense against infection, too much of it can lead to serious disorders.
Practicing intermittent fasting lowers the risks of excessive inflammation.
When we do the fasting period, there is a decrease in monocytes, which are blood cells that generate and contribute to inflammation. During your fasting periods, these cells go into “sleep mode” and are less inflammatory than monocytes found in those who were fed.
Should Women Over 40 Do Intermittent Fasting?
For women over 40, intermittent fasting is a beneficial option. It is generally safe to do because it decreases fat without muscle loss, which is a particularly beneficial feature for women in this age group.
It is recommended to consult a trained dietitian or medical professional, to determine if the plan is suitable and safe for you. Most especially if you have type 2 diabetes or any medical condition requiring a therapeutic diet.
Intermittent Fasting Tips
While fasting is a safe strategy there are a few long-term side effects. For women adopting this eating pattern in their 40s, it is vital to take extra care to gain the most benefit and avoid the possible side effects.
Why Should Women Over 40 Take Caution?
There are several reasons why women above 40 need to be extra careful while following intermittent fasting.
Compared to your 20s and 30s, you have a slower metabolism. There is a risk of hormonal difficulties, which may make it difficult for you to make a major change in your diet.
The stress level may even be slightly higher than that of your younger self. Keeping these things in mind, ladies over 40 should modify their fasting routine for better results.
Fast for Longer Hours
Fasting is only beneficial if done correctly and for an extended period of time. The longer you fast, the more quickly you will achieve your health goal.
Fasting for long periods may seem challenging at first, but you will become used to it over time. Learn to pace yourself and increase your fasting hours as you go.
It is the most acceptable approach to keep track of your daily calorie intake, which is necessary to get in shape or stay fit.
Eat Enough Protein
When following a diet, protein intake is important for a variety of reasons. It is the biological building block to build and repair muscles and bones and to make hormones and enzymes.
Increase your protein consumption to replace those fat cells with lean muscle mass. Protein also helps you feel satisfied for longer. As a result, if you eat enough protein during your meal window, you may feel less hungry during the day.
Managing Your Sleep Schedule
Insufficient sleep patterns might also reduce the benefits of intermittent fasting. It may cause you to consume additional calories during the following day and increase stress levels.
If you adopt intermittent fasting, optimizing your sleeping pattern can help you reap more benefits from this eating pattern. Get to bed on time, get up on time, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
When fasting, most people neglect to drink water, which reduces the benefits of intermittent fasting. Water helps to eliminate toxins from the body and makes you feel fuller when you are in a fasting state.
If you do not drink enough water while fasting, you will become very dehydrated especially when you’re fasting for the first time. Dehydration can also cause headaches which makes fasting unpleasant to do. So, it’s best to drink water regularly when trying to drop those kilograms to receive the maximum advantage from your fasting period.
Intermittent fasting for women over 40 is an effective way to lose weight while also giving a surprising number of benefits to your health.
It’s overall simple to implement into your life and can work wonders for your metabolism, heart, brain, and immune system. Along with it, it works because it’s flexible, inexpensive, intuitive, and sustainable.
So it’s worth considering intermittent fasting into your weekly routine and choosing the type of fast that is easier for you to follow.
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