Chances are you have seen intermittent fasting all over the internet. As nutritionists and research geeks we’ve looked into it a lot over the past several years.

As women over 50 (as we both are), we need to look at intermittent fasting through a slightly different lens. Our bodies are not the same as they were 30 some years ago!

Read more about it here or watch our YouTube video above.

Here are a few facts about intermittent fasting:

What is it:
Fasting has been around forever. Long before we made it into a trend, it was the way people lived during hunter gatherer times when food was either more abundant or scarce depending on the weather and season.

In the simplest terms, intermittent fasting involves alternating cycles of fasting and eating. Here are some common cycling types:

  • 24 hour fast (usually 1 or 2 days per week)
  • Time restricted (16-8 -most pop)
  • 5:2 – normal 5 days and 2 days of 500-600 calories

Health benefits:

  • Reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels
  • Increase in human growth hormone
  • Weight loss
  • Decreasing inflammation
  • Improve various different risk factors
  • Can help protect against diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and others
  • May help increase life expectancy
  • Autophagy – process of cleaning the waste in the cells. Research has shown this happens with fasting. 

But despite these amazing benefits, there can be some drawbacks to intermittent fasting, especially things we have seen in our 50 and over community. They include:

Poor sleep: Intense fasting MAY interfere with ability to fall and stay asleep. And if sleep is compromised, that can cause carb cravings in an effort to bring up energy levels. Fasting causes stress and cortisol hormone release, which can increase weight around the middle of the body.

Rebound eating: When limiting food, some women crave more, especially carbs. This causes an increase in hunger and a preoccupation with food, leading to binging or overeating.

Fewer Nutrients: Those who fast a lot is can compromise overall nutrition. It is hard to fill your basic nutrient needs when calories are restricted. If veggies, fruits, healthy fats, protein are limited, it can also mess with feelings of being satisfied at meals. Because of this, it is super important to make every morsel count by sticking with fresh, whole foods and not processed foods. In addition, if you are restricting calories too much, you can mess up your metabolism.

Muscle Loss: Your body doesn’t always burn fat exclusively, and the risk of some lean body tissue is often part of the weight loss. The ratio of how much fat to muscle lost will depend on the individual’s body composition, muscle to fat ratio, protein intake, and activity level. Post menopausal women will need a higher protein intake.

In general, listen to your body! If intermittent fasting is stressful or causes you to have hangry feelings, that is your body talking and you may be defeating the purpose of fasting.

We have seen plenty of women do really well with simple 12 hour overnight fast, which is the perfect place to start if you are not already doing this. You can then monitor  yourself and go from there, maybe trying longer periods of time a few days per week.

The reason we love starting with a 12 hour overnight fast is that it eliminates night eating–one of the main obstacles to weight loss we see. Taking in calories when our body doesn’t need them is a huge weight loss block. 

MOST importantly, go with something that you CAN stick to and is sustainable!  No amount of intermittent fasting is going to undo poor eating habits. 

If you want to really dive deep into making habit changes, like looking to lose weight and keep it off, ease inflammation and live your second half of life with energy and confidence, we have a few spots open in our Simply Nourished Solution program.