Why is everyone talking about intermittent fasting? I hear about it from friends and colleagues regularly. Most seem to engage in intermittent fasting for weight loss, but experts say these programs may also benefit our hearts and minds and contribute to overall good health. Have you thought about trying it?
Generally, experts define intermittent fasting, also called time-restricted eating, as eating only within specific time windows, generally fasting between 12-40 hours at a time. Keep in mind the research about this type of approach is still in its infancy. Is it for you? The truth is, it may not be right for everyone, so check with your physician first to determine if you are a good candidate.
Good question. Intermittent fasting involves engaging in the cycle of eating and then fasting, with the length of time varying depending on the person. Some say intermittent fasting is sort of a “reset” for our bodies. Taking a break from eating encourages our bodies to cleanse themselves and eliminate old cells.
Water, coffee, and other calorie-free beverages are allowed during the fast with no solid foods permitted. It’s easy to adhere to no solid foods as that is a clearly defined parameter, but what about if you are someone who can’t drink coffee without milk or cream? Sorry, you’re out of luck.
Fasting for 24 hours or more can be difficult, so many intermittent fasting routines start with shorter fasting periods. It’s recommended that before you start intermittent fasting, you check with your physician to make sure it is a good plan for you and ensure your diet is already full of essential nutrients. The next step is to slowly bring the intermittent fasting in slowly, Start with 12 hours, then increase to 14 or 15, and see how you do with that length of time before moving on. Know that fasting doesn’t need to happen every day at the beginning. It takes time to build it into your system. Hunger is a side effect that may lead to irritability, so be patient as you adjust to the new eating regimen.
Is Intermittent Fasting Healthy for Seniors?
This type of eating regimen is a healthy dietary approach for many individuals, including seniors, when done properly and under the guidance of a healthcare professional. We recommend you embark on an Intermittent fasting program with caution, under medical supervision, and tailored to your individual needs and circumstances. Here are some factors to keep in mind if you are an older adult considering intermittent fasting.
Older adults may have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or digestive issues. It’s crucial to consult with a healthcare provider before beginning any fasting regimen to ensure it’s safe and suitable for your specific health needs.
Some medications may need to be taken with food, and fasting could interfere with their effectiveness or cause side effects. Discuss your medication regimen with your healthcare provider to determine if intermittent fasting is compatible with your medications.
What are your specific nutritional requirements? Age-related changes in metabolism and nutrient absorption change our needs as we grow older. It’s essential to ensure that you still meet your nutritional needs while practicing intermittent fasting.
Older adults are often at a higher risk of dehydration, and fasting can worsen this issue if not managed properly. Make sure to stay adequately hydrated during fasting periods.
Social and psychological factors
Fasting can sometimes lead to social isolation or negative psychological effects, especially if it affects social gatherings or leads to an unhealthy preoccupation with food. Considering loneliness is an epidemic in the U.S. these days, please take this potential issue seriously and don’t miss a day with friends just because you are on a “fast” that day.
What works for one may not be suitable for another. Personalization is key when considering intermittent fasting, as everyone’s health status, goals, and tolerances are unique.
Intermittent Fasting for Women Over 50 and Weight Loss
Many women struggle to lose weight at 50Plus, especially during or after menopause. The main reason is often a slowed metabolism. In a nutshell, the more lean muscle mass we have, the faster our metabolism is. Unfortunately, we lose lean muscle mass as we age, and to compound the problem, some of us become less active than we were in our younger years. The result is we are left with stubborn body fat we can’t seem to eliminate.
Intermittent fasting (IF), often touted in the media as a magic weight loss solution for women over 50, became very popular in recent years. Following certain IF regimens can indeed lead to moderate weight loss, according to research. But the results from the studies showed similar weight loss results among women following traditional calorie-restricted meal plans.
It makes sense that this pattern of eating helps people to lower their overall caloric intake. Think about it. Are you one of those people that eats healthy foods all day, but snacks on sweets and chips at night as a comforting ending to a long day? That’s a pretty common scenario. So, if you are someone who does well with rules and boundaries, and you decide to stick to a fast that starts after dinner, you automatically eliminate all those high-calorie, low-nutrition foods out of your diet. Many women do well with intermittent fasting because they prefer not to have to spend time thinking about what to eat. It’s easy. But if you’re looking for a more balanced and less restrictive meal plan to lose weight, you can choose a Mediterranean type of diet instead for similar results.
Is There Only One Way to Intermittent Fast?
Actually, there are no hard and fast rules for intermittent fasting. There are many different methods of engaging in this practice, generally requiring fasting for between 12-40 hours at a time. Here are five of the most popular ways to add intermittent fasting to your diet.
The 16/18 Method
The 16/18 method features a daily 16-hour fast and an 8-hour eating window where you can eat two, three, or more meals.
The 5:2 Method
With the 5:2 method, you eat as you normally do for five days of the week, restricting your calorie intake to 500-600 kcal on the remaining two days.
The “Eat Stop Eat” Diet
With the “Eat Stop Eat” type of program, you fast once or twice per week.
How to Start: Tips for Intermittent Fasting
If you want to give intermittent fasting a try, here are some tips to get started.
Consider your lifestyle.
Intermittent fasting should fit into your lifestyle. So, think about timing. Are family dinners a priority in your household? If so, it doesn’t make sense to start your fast every day at 3:00 p.m. If family dinners are important to you, it doesn’t make sense to start fasting every day at 3 p.m.
What are your goals for fasting? Read up on intermittent fasting so you can make an educated decision about the best approach to take for you.
Eat a nutritious diet.
Do not use intermittent fasting as a substitute for healthy eating. Focus on eating well during the window of time when you are not fasting so your diet is nutritionally adequate. Aim to eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
Drink up! You need plenty of water when fasting to avoid dehydration.
It’s easy to fill up on snacks and convenience foods once your fast is over for the day. Planning and prepping meals ahead of time ensures you have healthy foods ready to grab when you’re hungry and helps you avoid overeating. Focus on nutrient-dense foods.
If you’re new to intermittent fasting, consider easing into it by starting with shorter fasting periods and gradually increasing the duration as your body adapts. This can help minimize hunger and discomfort. How about starting your fast after dinner and not eating until breakfast the next day? That could give you your first 12-hour fast.
Listen to your body.
Pay attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Don’t force yourself to eat if you’re not hungry and stop eating when you’re satisfied.
Be patient and flexible.
It may take some time for your body to adapt to intermittent fasting. Be patient with yourself and be open to adjusting your fasting schedule or method if it’s not working well for you.
Ready to Start Your Intermittent Fasting Schedule?
Intermittent fasting can be a healthy option, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. It does not prescribe specific foods but focuses on when to eat, alternating between periods of fasting and eating. Of course, you can’t go crazy with junk food when you’re not fasting and expect to reap the many potential benefits of intermittent fasting. You need to stick with nutritious whole foods, unrefined carbohydrates, and lean proteins for the best results.
It’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider to determine if it’s safe and suitable based on your individual circumstances. Older adults in particular should prioritize their overall health and well-being above any specific dietary plan and adjust their approach as needed.
FAQs About Intermittent Fasting
You may still have questions about intermittent fasting. Here are some commonly asked questions we hear from our readers!
Is intermittent fasting suitable for everyone?
Intermittent fasting is not suitable for everyone. It may not be appropriate for pregnant or breastfeeding women, people with certain medical conditions, or those with a history of eating disorders. Consulting a healthcare provider is advisable before starting.
Can I drink during fasting periods?
Yes, you can drink non-caloric beverages like water, herbal tea, black coffee, or plain sparkling water during fasting periods. These liquids generally do not break the fast.
What can I eat during eating windows?
During these windows, focus on balanced, nutritious meals. Include a variety of foods such as lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats to meet your nutritional needs.
Can intermittent fasting help with weight loss?
Intermittent fasting can be effective for weight loss because it often reduces calorie intake by limiting the time available for eating. However, individual results may vary.
How long should I try intermittent fasting to see results?
The time it takes to see results with intermittent fasting varies from person to person. Some individuals may notice changes in a few weeks, while others may take longer. Consistency is key.
Can I exercise while intermittent fasting?
Yes, you can exercise during fasting periods. Some people prefer to exercise in a fasted state, while others choose to eat before workouts. Experiment to see what works best for you.
Is intermittent fasting safe in the long term?
There is ongoing research on the long-term safety and effectiveness of intermittent fasting. It appears safe for many people when practiced correctly, but it’s essential to monitor your health and consult a healthcare provider if you have concerns.
Can intermittent fasting be combined with specific diets, like keto or veganism?
Yes, intermittent fasting can be combined with various diets, including keto, veganism, or low-carb diets. It’s essential to ensure that your dietary choices align with your nutritional needs and goals.
Should I continue intermittent fasting if I experience negative effects?
If you experience negative effects that persist, such as extreme fatigue or mood changes, it may be best to discontinue intermittent fasting or modify your approach. Listen to your body and consult with a healthcare provider if needed.