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Intermittent Fasting for Women Over 50: Everything You Need to Know
Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting for Women Over 50: Everything You Need to Know

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on September 30, 2022
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7 min

Intermittent fasting is well-known for its health benefits, but is it good for women over 50? In this article, we take a look at how intermittent fasting can benefit women over 50.

intermittent fasting for women over 50
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Intermittent fasting (IF) is an increasingly popular dieting method involving fasting and eating periods. There are many different types of intermittent fasting, and it has been shown to help people lose weight quickly.

It is popular for its weight loss benefits, but IF also has lots of other potential health benefits. As a woman over 50, you may be considering an intermittent fasting diet plan as a weight loss method, but does it have the same benefits?

In this article, we’re going to take a look at intermittent fasting for women over 50, the health benefits they could reap from this dieting method, and if there are any drawbacks. Take a look now to learn more.

Did You Know?

In a 2020 survey, 24% of US adults said they had tried intermittent fasting for weight loss, making it the most popular diet in the US, tied for first place with the Atkins diet.

Intermittent Fasting for Women Over 50: Is It Effective?

Women over 50 tend to find it more difficult to lose weight because of hormone changes and a reduction in lean muscle mass, leading to a slower metabolism. Intermittent fasting could be a good method for women over 50 to take back control and lose weight.

The weight loss benefits of intermittent fasting come from the natural calorie restriction that time-restricted feeding causes. On the 16:8 method of fasting, you fast for 16 hours and eat for 8 hours. It is physically impossible to eat as many calories in 8 hours as you would in 14–16 hours each day.

This calorie restriction – along with prolonged periods where the body is in the metabolic state of ketosis and burning body fat for fuel – can help boost fat loss and overall weight loss.

While a low-calorie intake can impact a woman’s menstrual cycle, women over 50 are more likely to be going through menopause, meaning these restrictions will have less of a negative impact on them.

Indeed, intermittent fasting has been shown to be very effective for weight loss in healthy adults. In addition, intermittent fasting could help reduce inflammation, as shown in this study in women who followed an alternate-day fasting method. It was also shown to increase longevity in female mice in this study.

In a study with mixed-gender participants, IF was shown to increase muscle mass preservation better than continuous calorie restriction. This could help menopausal women avoid weight gain, and potentially lose weight, by reducing the muscle deterioration that comes with aging and helping to maintain a faster metabolism.

Generally, losing weight is thought of as more difficult as women hit their 50s. As such, IF could be an effective method of reducing belly fat and overall body weight, especially for those who have struggled with traditional calorie-restricted diets in the past.

Is Intermittent Fasting Good for Women?

Intermittent fasting may not be as good for women as it is for men. Some research suggests that calorie restriction can negatively impact a woman’s menstrual cycle, and studies have shown that the blood sugar regulation benefits of IF may not be as substantial in women as they are in men.

During a long fasting window with a much-reduced caloric intake, a woman’s menstrual cycle may be disrupted by the disruption of GnRH – a hormone that supports the secretion of two reproductive hormones. This disruption can lead to irregular periods, poor bone health, fertility problems, and more.

Another study in rats found that IF caused a reduction in ovary size and irregular reproductive cycles, though it is important to note that these results have not been replicated in human studies yet.

The other drawback of intermittent fasting for women is that, although fasting is commonly thought of as a diabetes-friendly diet, the blood sugar regulation benefits of IF may not be as effective for women.

One study showed that blood sugar levels in women following an IF dieting plan actually worsened after three weeks. This result was not replicated in men. High blood sugar levels can increase your risk of developing insulin resistance which, in turn, increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

On the other hand, a study of 100 overweight or obese women found that insulin levels and insulin resistance both dropped after six months of IF. Their blood sugar levels did, however, remain the same.

There are some positive studies as to the benefits of intermittent fasting for women. For example, a mixed-gender study showed that IF improved cholesterol levels and could lower blood pressure in both men and women, promoting better heart health.

Additionally, IF has been shown to reduce inflammation, increase longevity in female mice, and improve overall psychological well-being. It is important to note that not all of these studies were carried out on humans.

Intermittent fasting has many benefits, but it is most effective for sustained fat loss and overall weight reduction. If you’re considering trying this method out, you could take a look at the DoFasting app.

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This fasting app is designed to support your journey into intermittent fasting. It provides a place for you to track your caloric intake, your activity, and your progress. It will also give you reminders of when you need to start your fasting period, and it has lots of educational articles on this method of dieting.

Is Intermittent Fasting Good for Menopause?

There are some studies that show intermittent fasting could be beneficial for menopause – particularly for combatting weight gain. As an effective method of weight loss, IF may help women to lose weight at a time when gaining weight is more common and much more likely.

IF has also been shown to reduce blood pressure and triglyceride levels, as well as improve insulin sensitivity in some women. This could be beneficial to those going through menopause as this period is usually characterized by an increase in abdominal weight gain.

An increase in abdominal fat has been linked to an increased risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. The benefits of IF for those with menopausal status could help to reduce these risks.

Intermittent fasting has also been shown to be beneficial for weight loss and weight control in post-menopausal women.

How Long Should Women Fast Intermittently?

It is thought that women should be more relaxed in their approach to intermittent fasting, meaning they should fast for less time. It is advised that with any IF method, women should work up to longer periods of fasting.

Women could begin their fasting journey with less-challenging methods, like the 12-hour fast. From there, they can work their way up to methods like 5:2 or alternate-day fasting. It is incredibly important to properly nourish yourself throughout your eating period and to stop fasting if you feel faint, dizzy, or ill.

IF isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to dieting. Instead, it encourages you to find what works best for you.

4 Intermittent Fasting Tips for Women Over 50

Intermittent fasting for women over 50 can support weight loss, reduce inflammation, and promote heart health. Below, we’ve rounded up some tips for IF for women over 50. Take a look before you start your fasting journey now.

#1 Start slow

The best way to start intermittent fasting is to go slowly. This means starting with a less-challenging method. You could try a 12-hour fast or even the 14:10 method to ease your body into longer periods without any food.

Starting slowly helps you find what works best for you, and it will allow your body to get used to the periods without food. If you try a very long fast without any preparation, you might find it too hard and give up on your intermittent fasting journey before it even begins.

#2 Eat a nutrient-dense diet

For women over 50, nourishment is key, and there are some macronutrients that are absolutely essential in your eating periods. Protein, in particular, is incredibly important for women of this age. This is because the drop in estrogen leads to decreased muscle mass and bone strength.

Making sure you get enough protein every day is very important when on an IF diet. You should avoid processed and refined foods during your eating periods as they amount to empty calories. Instead, focus on a whole-food diet with lots of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, pulses, beans, legumes, and healthy fats.

#3 Incorporate strength training into your routine

Strength training is an excellent method of building muscle mass and losing weight, but it can also help you maintain muscle mass during menopause. By consistently using your muscles, your body is less likely to burn muscle for fuel during fasting periods.

During fasting, your body enters a state of ketosis. In this state, you will burn body fat for fuel rather than carbohydrates. However, as protein is also burned, you run the risk of burning muscle too.

Ensure you have fitness incorporated into your intermittent fasting schedule, including weight training and cardio exercises like running.

#4 Get enough electrolytes

Dehydration is more likely during menopause because of sweating during hot flashes and hormone changes. For this reason, electrolytes are even more important in menopausal women. Electrolytes help balance the fluids in your body and ensure all your cells are properly hydrated.

During long periods of fasting, it is possible to become dehydrated as much of our water intake comes from the food we eat. As a menopausal woman, you need to ensure that you keep hydrated and replenish electrolyte loss regularly throughout fasting periods.

A Word From Our Nutritionist

During menopause, weight gain is common due to hormonal fluctuations. Intermittent fasting may be an effective method of weight loss for women over 50, as it enforces a natural calorie restriction but still allows you to eat what you want during eating periods.

IF is thought to increase metabolic health by boosting your metabolism. Women over 50 are more likely to have a slower metabolism because of muscle loss during menopause. This causes women over 50 to gain weight, but IF may be able to counteract it.

In addition, IF can help menopausal women to reduce belly fat. An increase in abdominal fat can lead to an increased risk of chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. However, IF helps women over 50 burn stored fat, and it may have benefits for these chronic conditions too.

For women over 50, starting out slow with fasting is crucial. This means beginning with a fasting method like the 12-hour fast and then increasing the fasting period incrementally. This can help get the body used to longer periods without food.

It is also incredibly important to consume a healthy diet filled with lots of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and healthy fats during your eating window. Nourishment is key to good health, and protein is particularly important for women over 50.

IF has lots of benefits, and research suggests it could have benefits for women over 50 too.

Conclusion

Intermittent fasting may be a good choice for women over 50. It has lots of health benefits that could help women over 50 reduce their body weight and feel healthier during menopause. It could also reduce their risk of developing some chronic conditions.

If you’re thinking of trying out IF, why not take a look at the DoFasting app for some support on your journey?

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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