Losing weight becomes more difficult as we get older. We start to naturally lose muscle when we hit 40, and since muscle burns more calories than fat, this can slow down your metabolism and make it harder to lose weight. If you’ve hit the big 4-0 milestone and are finding it harder to shed unwanted pounds, intermittent fasting could be the eating plan you’ve been searching for. Increasing in popularity over the past few years, intermittent fasting involves fasting for certain time periods in order to lose weight. Intrigued? Check out our 4 intermittent fasting tips for women and see if it this plan is for you!
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a type of eating plan that requires you to cycle between periods of eating and fasting. You consume your calories during a specific window of the day, and don’t eat for a longer period of time. It’s a popular and effective way to improve health and lose weight, and has become one of the trendiest diets in recent years. There are numerous ways to do intermittent fasting, and you can choose which one depending on what best fits you and your lifestyle.
- 16/8 Method: With the 16/8 method, you fast everyday for 14 to 16 hours and restrict your eating window to 8 to 10 hours (women are supposed to fast only 14 to 15 hours as we do better with shorter fasting periods). This eating window allows you to fit in at least two to three meals. Most people who use this method start fasting after dinner and don’t eat anything until lunch the next day. You can drink water, coffee and tea during the fasting window to help you feel less hungry.
- 5/2 Diet: On the 5/2 diet, you eat as you normally would for five days per week, and limit your calories to 500 calories two days per week. It’s recommended to spread the days out so you can fuel yourself on the days between. For example, you would eat 500 calories on Monday and Wednesday, but eat regularly the other five days of the week.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: With this method, you do a 24 hour fast, once or twice per week. For example, you would fast from dinner one night to dinner the next night at the same time. You can also fast from breakfast to breakfast or from lunch to lunch. With the eat-stop-eat method, it’s really important to eat properly during your eating windows, consuming the same amount of food as if you weren’t fasting at all. 24-hour fasts can be difficult for a lot of people. If you’re interested in this method, you can always start with the 16/8 or 5/2 method and work up to it.
- Alternate-Day Fasting: Alternate-day fasting is pretty intense and definitely not recommended for beginners. It requires you to fast every other day, which can be difficult and isn’t sustainable in the long run. There are different versions of alternate-day fasting, some of which allow you to eat 500 calories during your fasting day. This is another method you can consider working up to, but it’s best not to start out with it.
- The Warrior Diet: Another option is the Warrior Diet, where you fast during the day (only eating a small amount of fruits and vegetables) and eat a big meal at night. You allow yourself to have a 4-hour eating window, but for the rest of the day, you’re pretty much fasting.
The goal of intermittent fasting is for your body to switch from burning glycogen to burning fat stored during the fasting period. It’s recommended to focus on eating nutritious, quality foods over junk foods, processed foods, and refined carbohydrates. Stick to lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy carbs and fats.
Is Intermittent Fasting Safe?
Intermittent fasting is safe, but it’s recommended not to do it long-term. Fasting can lead to nausea and dehydration and can even lead to weight gain over time. Intermittent fasting is generally considered safe since it combines short periods of fasting with short periods of eating. Just make sure not to extend the fast from one day to several consecutive days as it can put stress on the heart.
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Also note, some side effects may include hunger, mood swings, lack of concentration and lower energy levels. Consult with a doctor if you have a medical condition such as diabetes or low blood sugar levels, a history of eating disorders, are underweight, have nutritional deficiencies, are pregnant or have fertility problems.
Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
Intermittent fasting definitely works. It improves metabolic health and causes weight loss since you’re restricting your eating window. It ensures you don’t snack on unhealthy foods and trains your body to only require food at certain times. Although intermittent fasting doesn’t require you to restrict your calories, it seems to be a side effect of the eating plan, leading to weight loss.
4 Intermittent Fasting Tips for Women Over 40
1. Start With The 16/8 Method
The 16/8 method is a great place to start. It’s easy to stick to, so you’ll likely be more successful in losing weight with intermittent fasting. Fasting for longer periods may be hard on your body at first, and you could end up forgoing the diet altogether because you feel too weak or unsatisfied.
2. Eat Well During Your Eating Windows
Although there are no rules on what you can and can’t eat during intermittent fasting, it’s important to fill your body with nutritious, healthy foods during your eating windows. If you eat a large amount of unhealthy, high-calorie foods, you’re much less likely to experience weight loss and other health benefits of intermittent fasting.
3. If You Have a Busy Day or Week, Reduce the Fasting Period
Fasting can cause unnecessary stress and low energy. If you know you have an extra busy day or week coming up, you can reduce your period of fasting. This will reduce the added stress to skip meals and allow you to get through your days with ease.
4. You Can Still Exercise
Since you lose muscle as you get older, it’s important to continue to exercise and grow your muscles. Most people on an intermittent fasting plan choose to workout early in the morning. If you’re eating a balanced food intake throughout the day and following a balanced training program, it’s safe and recommended to exercise on intermittent fasting.
If you’re having trouble losing weight over 40, try out intermittent fasting to see if it’s right for you!