Some popular diet plans for postmenopausal women recommend intermittent fasting. But is it safe and effective for women over 40?
When intermittent fasting (IF) was first proposed as a dietary approach, many nutritionists said any weight loss would likely be due to the calorie reduction that inevitably occurs when you limit the time you eat fasting. day and night. But since then, studies have begun to show that other factors may also be involved, making intermittent fasting an intriguing approach to weight loss. Intermittent fasting is an umbrella term for a variety of diets, all of which involve eating regularly at certain times and restricting calories at others.
According to menopause experts, some women in this age range gain weight around the abdomen, which can be difficult to dislodge. It is therefore not surprising that middle-aged women are particularly interested in a dietary approach aimed at them. But the decision of whether intermittent fasting is right for women over 40 must consider a number of factors.
What are the types of intermittent fasting?
There are many different approaches to IQ. Some people choose one to three days in the week when they eat as little as possible, if at all. Another technique, known as the fasting-mimicking diet, involves severely restricting calories for five days a month.
One of the most common JI approaches recommended for weight loss involves what’s called the 5:2 fast, where you eat normally for five days a week, but seriously restrict calories. , up to approximately 500 per day for women (600 for men), for the remaining two days. Other people use a time-restricted eating (TRE) process, normally eating for 8-12 consecutive hours in a day and fasting for the remaining hours.
The Galveston Diet recommends middle-aged women follow a TRE plan that bans all food for a 16-hour window, called 16/8. Certain liquids are still allowed and even encouraged during fasting hours when little or no food is consumed. These are black coffee, teas (especially herbal teas) and water.
Does the evidence show that intermittent fasting helps middle-aged women lose weight?
One of the largest and most recent reviews of research on intermittent fasting in adults (men and women), published in JAMA Network Open in December 2021, showed that certain types of intermittent fasting do appear to help a moderate weight loss, with moderate to high quality of evidence.
To reach this conclusion, the researchers evaluated 11 published meta-analyses, which cumulatively analyzed 130 separate randomized controlled trials. Drilling further, the researchers found that only the 5:2 diet or a similar modified alternate fast was associated with “a statistically significant weight loss of more than 5% in overweight or obese adults.” They did not find that time-restricted feeding produced similar results.
Additionally, the researchers note that intermittent fasting seems to work best for the first six months, after which those affected often experience a weight plateau. Intermittent fasting may provide similar results to a calorie-restricted diet, according to a preliminary study.
Another study, published in October 2021 in the Annual Review of Nutrition, found that TRE, along with alternate-day fasting and the 5:2 diet, all resulted in mild to moderate weight loss according to researchers (1 to 8% less than the starting weight). The researchers, from the University of Illinois at Chicago, observed that the intermittent diet appears to result in the same weight loss as the more traditional calorie-restriction diet, which cuts about 500 calories a day.
Can intermittent fasting benefit women’s heart health?
Both review articles found evidence that intermittent fasting offers improvements related to heart health, an important area for middle-aged women since the risk of heart disease increases at this time. The JAMA Network Open authors found several studies in which adults on an intermittent fasting diet improved their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, total cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, fasting insulin, resistance insulin and their blood pressure. Many of these benefits have occurred in people who are overweight or obese. Similarly, the Annual Review of Nutrition analysis documented a decrease in blood pressure and insulin resistance in some, as well as lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Is intermittent fasting safe for middle-aged women?
Intermittent fasting is generally safe and does not lead to disruptions in energy levels or increased disordered eating behaviors. However, not all middle-aged women should try this diet. Those with a history of eating disorders, a body mass index (BMI) of less than 18.5, or those who must take medication while eating at specific times should abstain. Other experts say people with certain medical conditions may be poor candidates. Women with Crohn’s disease, for example, should follow a different diet. Diabetics are also advised to abstain, especially when their blood sugar levels are not well controlled.
What is the end result for middle-aged women and intermittent fasting?
It is important to ensure that you eat healthy foods during mealtime, rather than gorging on nutritionally empty calories. If you are on a junk food diet, it will not be good for you to eat for fewer hours. Better food selection is also important.
To be effective in the long term, a JI diet must also fit into your lifestyle. If you regularly go out for breakfast or have a late dinner, for example, it is not viable to want to fast at these times. Mornings aren’t the hardest part for most people who follow a JI diet with a 16/8 schedule. A cup of black coffee goes a long way to making people happy in the morning. The most difficult thing for many is not to snack in the evening.
If you have a medical condition, it is important to consult your doctor before starting an IF regimen. And if you’re not sure how to implement it in a healthy way, make an appointment with a dietitian. For women in good health or who have been given the green light, there seems to be little downside to trying the JI diet. You might finally shed some of those stubborn midlife pounds that otherwise haven’t budged.