Women face many health challenges in their 50s, such as a slowed metabolism, extra belly fat, painful joints, and reduced muscle mass, all of which make it difficult for them to maintain a strict diet plan. However, one thing remains constant: we all want to look trim, reduce fat, and feel good about ourselves.
The great news is that there’s a flexible health routine known as intermittent fasting (IF) that helps with weight loss without punishing the palate (too much). Additionally, intermittent fasting may have several health benefits. Studies suggest intermittent fasting improves brain health, lowers blood pressure, reduces blood sugar, and leads to a longer life span.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
You might have heard about intermittent fasting from fitness programs, blogs, or online health gurus. The busy pace of today’s world makes it challenging to keep up with complex healthy living practices. Intermittent fasting has become a popular practice in recent years. As far as calorie intake and management are concerned, IF offers excellent control.
Fasting intermittently involves eating within a specified window followed by a fast. For example, a twelve-hour-long eating window followed by a twelve-hour fast is an example of a 12:12 intermittent fasting protocol.
There are many versions of IF, so you can choose one that fits your schedule, health, and level of willpower. IF’s flexibility has encouraged some people to combine fasting with other diet plans (i.e., keto and paleo) for significant health improvements.
You should consult a specialized healthcare practitioner, such as a dietitian or nutritionist, before beginning your IF journey. Those with metabolic disorders, long-term prescriptions, or other health issues should avoid starting a routine without receiving professional medical advice.
The Most Popular Types of Intermittent Fasting
IF is ultimately an umbrella term, referring to fasting routines with varying levels of difficulty. It takes time to progress through the different types of IF as your body adapts to the lifestyle changes. There’s no need to rush through the process, and it’s critical to “listen to your body” and work out the most effective action plan without straining your health.
As its term suggests, alternate-day fasting requires you to restrict calories one day and eat normally the next. It’s beneficial to speak with a dietitian to determine the optimal number of calories you need to function at your best. Unfortunately, the alternate fasting method requires tremendous self-discipline, and it might be tempting to binge on non-IF days, jeopardizing the entire process!
Fast Diet / 5:2 Method
THe 5:2 method is an IF plan made famous by journalist Michael Mosley. Alternate-day fasting is similar to the Fast diet but less stressful on the body. On the Fast diet, you typically consume food two out of five days while restricting calories the other four. Your non-fasting days might be on the weekend when you head out with your family and friends—it’s less restrictive, and you won’t have to count calories!
Leangains Protocol / 16/8 Method
The IF method involves fasting for 14-16 hours daily and was made famous by fitness expert Martin Berkhan. With the Leangains protocol, most people skip breakfast and stop meals with dinner. A typical schedule would be starting meals with lunch at noon and ending at 8 pm. The demanding routine of the Leangains Protocol makes it an intermediate method.
Additional points to note:
-Feel free to consume zero-calorie beverages (i.e., water) during your fasting periods!
-Fruits make a fine addition to meal plans, serving as excellent sources of nutrients while containing few calories.
-Stop your IF sessions immediately, resume regular meal routines, and consult a physician if you feel unwell at any point.
Tips on Keeping up with Intermittent Fasting
IF might seem overwhelming initially, but there are some simple ways to get started and stay on track. These measures include:
- Avoiding snacks close to bedtime
- Staying active throughout the day between meals
- Stamping out empty calories, unsaturated fat, and refined carbohydrates altogether if possible
- Adhering to a fixed sleep schedule (natural circadian rhythm), to make it easier to plan meals consistently
Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Unlike conventional food-specific diets, IF helps you lose weight by limiting food intake to fasting windows. The systematic process eliminates snacking, and other poor eating habits that contribute to digestive and weight problems. Aside from weight loss, IF offers many potential health benefits through gradual changes in your bodily systems.
Lowers Insulin Levels
IF lowers insulin levels in your body over time, which raises HGH (human growth hormone)responsible for building and maintaining healthy tissues. Additionally, researchers have studied the positive effects of IF on insulin resistance and reduced blood sugar levels that deter type 2 diabetes.
Noradrenaline and Fat-burning
Fasting encourages your nervous system to activate neurotransmitter signals (noradrenaline) that burns body fat for fuel. The process results in sustained weight loss without compromising muscle mass.
Combat Oxidative Stress
Multiple age-related ailments are caused by oxidative stress (unstable molecules that damage cells). Studies show that IF can help enhance biological defenses against free-radicals and strengthen cardiovascular and cerebrovascular health.
Lengthens Life Span
According to a Harvard report, IF may alter mitochondrial (energy-producing structures in cells) function and possibly extend life spans. Fasting may toggle mitochondrial networks, preserving them in a youthful state and promote fat metabolism.
Improves Brain Health
Scientific research shows that IF might improve cognitive function in the brain by reducing inflammation and the risks of neurological conditions (i.e., Parkinson’s).
Lowers Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is an identified possible cause of heart disease. Based on research, fasting can improve your heart and blood vessels’ health, with an observed decrease in LDL cholesterol and triglycerides (fat in the bloodstream).
Stories from Women over 50 doing IF
Liz LaManna, 52, is an RN in the New York City area who practices IF. She usually eats one meal a day, usually between noon and 3:00 PM. Since starting IF in 2016, Liz has lost 26 pounds. In addition to alleviating pain and fatigue from Lupus, IF has also improved Liz’s quality of life. Liz says intermittent fasting has helped her become more aware of emotional eating and eating intuitively. Liz found breakfast to be the most challenging part of the day. She drank coffee and gradually reduced the cream to zero during this period.
A member of the Revolution Gray team, Laverne Erwin, 56, started IF in 2015 to lose weight and reverse prediabetes. Her eating plan is either 18:6 or 20:4. As of 2015, she has maintained a weight loss of 25 pounds. “I feel great when I’m fasting,” says Laverne. IF feels natural, and I never experience hunger or cravings.” She also maintains a very active lifestyle, exercising regularly while fasting with no energy or performance issues. “I have trained my body to use alternative energy sources during workouts.”
Intermittent Fasting Resources
Here are a few resources to learn more about intermittent fasting:
There are also a few cool apps that can help you get started and stick with IF:
The fasting hours of IF may seem daunting at the start, but with adequate practice, you’ll ease into the routine and feel more energetic than ever!
Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before making any changes to improve your health.