Health and wellness
Intermittent Fasting Strategy for women over 40
What if I told you that breakfast isn’t the most important meal of the day? That all those years of people telling you not to skip breakfast, they were lying to you? Lying may be harsh, how about misinformed? It’s actually more important when you eat, as opposed to what you eat. Intermittent fasting is possibly one of the most profound nutritional concepts as it pertains to aging, health, wellness and healing your body.
Many illnesses like obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes have seen tremendous positive results from intermittent fasting. The topic of fasting is centuries old, and yet there is one area that has been overlooked all these years; how it effects women, especially women over 40.
The old adage, eat less and exercise more no longer applies, but has been the platform for women for decades, causing many women undue stress and belief that they could never get as healthy as they would like as that goal seems sometimes unreachable. We are still overweight, hormonally imbalanced, and cardiovascular disease is still the number one killer of women over the age of 40.
Women DO NOT have to accept weight gain as a ‘normal part of getting older’. In fact, the myth that the muffin top is all part of the peri-menopausal ‘experience’ is not only a farce, but not an experience any of us should have to put up with! When health care providers tell their patients, namely women, to eat three healthy meals per day with small snacks in between, it’s wrong. It creates the perfect storm for the body’s inability to properly digest food, and causes the pancreas to go into overdrive. Fortunately, women can and do benefit from fasting.
We all know those people who struggle to lose weight, are often hangry and have cravings for carbs and sugar. We also know those people who burn fat quickly, are cognitively sharp, rarely have cravings and never snack in between meals. One is the sugar burner; the other is the fat burner.
2/3 of women between the ages of 40-60 are overweight and more than half are obese. A lot of people would rather have a quick fix like a diet pill or a diet powder that promises to ‘help you lose weight’, than shift their ‘when’ they eat. In fact, the weight loss and diet industry is a 58 billion dollar industry* and many companies have made a fortune off people desperate to loose the weight, primarily targeting the over 30 age range. This year alone will see an uptick to 326 billion dollars as a lot of people have been home and mental illness like depression and anxiety is on the rise.
Women, above men, across the board are more affected by weight gain with aging primarily because of hormonal imbalances. Unfortunately, as we age, we have less lean muscle mass and gain an average of 1-2 lbs. per year after the age of 50! So, instead of wasting your money on diet trends and diet powders, the best and most effective long-term solution is intermittent fasting. The simple art of teaching your body when to eat can be transformative. And best of all, it’s free!!
Intermittent Fasting: The absence of food during a specific time period.
Extending the time between your last meal and your first meal of the day gives your body time to heal in between and start burning fat stores. When you eat, your pancreas releases insulin which then stores sugar in the cells that move towards the liver. We store the bulk of our sugars in our liver and musculoskeletal system. But when these stores get overloaded, they become fat. When we fast, insulin levels are lower and our body taps into our fat stores for energy. Skipping breakfast, 16 hours of fasting, with an 8-hour window for meals, reduces our caloric intake by 20-40%!
This method, however, is not for everyone. Those that should not adhere to this are:
-Difficult to control diabetes
-children or teenagers
- anyone over the age of 70
-anyone with chronic heart issues
-Pregnant or nursing moms
-anyone with kidney or liver disease
-anorexia or bulimia
-or anyone recently in the hospital
How do you start?
Generally, start with a 12–14-hour window for the first couple weeks. Keep yourself well hydrated during this time. Increase by an hour every few days. Try for 30 days and see if this is the right strategy for you. So, for example, if you’re finished with dinner around 6 or 7pm, 12 hours would be 6am the next morning. Try and stretch your intake until maybe 8. That would be an excellent first swipe! Understand this method may take 6-8 weeks to see any real long-term results. And also understand, your initiating long-term results!
So, what CAN you eat while fasting?
Well, nothing. However, water, tea and coffee are permitted. When you’re starting out, it may be difficult, so adding grass-fed butter, coconut oil, or MCT oil to your tea or coffee may stave off the initial hunger pangs. This way it won’t feel so much like starving, as some may find the 16-hour window challenging in the beginning. Fasting basically tells your body to stay calm and designates resources for autophagy (cell cleanup) and rapid fat burning (ketosis), but that it’s not a famine either. You aren’t taking in any starches or sugars, and there’s no famine stress signal, so this is unlikely to bring on adrenal fatigue.
So, what should you eat when you break your fast?
At that point, your body deserves healthy, clean foods. Whole grains, lean proteins from grass fed sources, healthy fats like avocado, grass-fed butter and coconut oil. And, if you are peri-menopausal, unprocessed carbs like berries, sweet potatoes, and squash. Limit your sugar and alcohol as this will undo everything you’re trying to achieve!
Bottom line, when you plan your diet and take control, not only will you feel more empowered, but you realize the potential to gain control over your life through simple easy changes to your daily life. By integrating intermittent fasting into your lifestyle, you create a foundation for lifelong healthier habits that improve aging and overall wellness.
If you need ideas for clean, hormone balancing recipes suitable for women over 40, here is link to download FREE recipes from Bountiful Bird.