After the age of 40, women may encounter difficulties when it comes to losing weight due to factors such as hormonal fluctuations, alterations in physical composition, and various life stressors.
As women grow older, their nutritional requirements also change. After 40, your estrogen level starts to drop. This leads to slower metabolism, increased insulin level, and impaired thyroid levels. These factors make you eat more, and due to less physical activity, you burn fewer calories, leading to muscle mass loss and fat accumulation. This results in significant weight gain in women after 40.
Intermittent fasting, or IF, is an excellent strategy for women over 40 to shed and keep weight off. It boosts your metabolism without restricting your food choices.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting involves alternating between periods of eating and fasting. IF does not bother with tracking calories; instead, it focuses on your eating schedule.
An intermittent fasting plan allows you to consume all foods within a specified period of a day. For example, a 16:8 plan involves fasting for 16 consecutive hours and eating in an eight-hour window.
During fasting, your insulin levels drop gradually, and the body starts to deplete its glycogen reserve (stored glucose) as energy.
When you repeat this process for multiple days, your body utilizes all the stored glycogen, leading to weight and fat loss. A recent study has revealed that intermittent fasting can be an excellent weight loss tool for obese people. .
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting For Women Over 40
For women over 40, intermittent fasting brings several health benefits:
Helps Induce Autophagy
Promotes Weight Loss
Intermittent fasting can help limit calorie intake. In a 2018 study, it was found that intermittent fasting resulted in an average weight loss of 15 pounds in overweight adults in a three to 12-month duration. 
Another research indicated that overweight adults experienced a 3-8% bodyweight loss within 3 to 24 weeks of following an IF plan. 
Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
High blood pressure and increased LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels are the major contributing factors to cardiovascular disease. A 2009 study of 16 obese males and females demonstrated that intermittent fasting helped them reduce their blood pressure by 8%, LDL cholesterol by 25%, and triglyceride levels by 32% in just eight weeks6], eventually reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Helps Manage Diabetes
Intermittent fasting helps lower insulin levels and reduce insulin resistance. However, if you have diabetes, you must consult a doctor before starting an intermittent fasting plan. 
A study on 2,000 adults was done over four years, of which 20% were intermittent fasting for at least five years. It was found that IF improved longevity, metabolic response, tissue resurgence, and various health markers and reduced age-induced diseases. 
Helps Improve Mental Health
Preserves Muscle Mass
Best Intermittent Fasting Plans For Women Over 40
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to intermittent fasting, especially for women. Some best intermittent fasting plans for women over 40 are discussed below.
The Crescendo Method
This plan includes fasting for 12 to 16 hours for two to three non-consecutive days distributed evenly across the week. It is usually recommended for women who are new to intermittent fasting. The shorter fasting periods are usually kinder on women’s hormone levels.
The Eat-Stop-Eat Method
Eat-stop-eat method involves fasting for two non-consecutive days in a week. You must fast for the entire 24-hour period for those two days. For the remaining five days of the week, you can eat normally. However, you must eat mindfully to avoid unnecessary calorie consumption.
The 5:2 Diet Method
In 5:2 method, you can eat normally for five days and must fast for the remaining two days in a week. During your fasts, you can eat a limited amount of calories (around 500) per day. The two fasting days should be non-consecutive.
Research indicates that this intermittent fasting regimen helps improve cardiometabolic health by reducing insulin resistance, blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and oxidative stress. 
The 16:8 Method
16:8 method involves fasting for 16 consecutive hours and meeting your daily calorie needs within eight hours. This is a popular plan because it is less restrictive and usually suits everyone’s regimen. A 2016 study suggests that this IF plan, along with strength training, could help build muscle mass while losing fat. 
Although no foods are off-limit in this plan, you shouldn’t binge on junk food during the eating window. Instead, you should eat nutrient-dense whole foods.
The Alternate-Day Fasting Method
As the name suggests, it involves fasting every alternate day and eating a healthy diet on non-fasting days. However, you can consume up to 500 calories on your fasting days.
How Can Women Over 40 Safely Implement Intermittent Fasting?
Although intermittent fasting barely has any adverse effects, it is not as easy for ladies over 40 as women in their 20s or 30s. Women over 40 need to be extra cautious while following this pattern of fasting because of the following:
- A sluggish metabolism
- Hormonal imbalances
- Higher stress level
Considering the above factors, women above 40 must calibrate their fasting pattern in the following ways.
Continue Fasting For a Longer Duration
Women over 40 need to fast longer to reap the benefits of IF. Fasting for extended hours will help you achieve your weight loss goals faster. It will keep a check on your daily calorie consumption as well.
Have More Protein
Protein plays a crucial role in any kind of fasting. When you have adequate protein, it helps increase your muscle mass and reduce fat. More protein in your diet makes you feel less hungry, leading to less calorie intake. Try our protein intake calculator.
Drink Plenty of Water
Water helps remove toxins from your body, and it turns out to be more effective during intermittent fasting. Water also keeps you satiated, leading to less calorie intake, and eventually helps shed those extra kilos. Find your optimal water intake.
Healthy Meal Plans
Just fasting may not be enough to reap all the intermittent fasting benefits. Combining intermittent fasting with healthy meal plans is a must. Consider adding a lot of veggies, fruits, low-fat milk, whole grains, lean meat, and healthy fats to your diet.
Focus on Portion Control
A portion is the amount of food you eat at a time, which can be more or less than the recommended serving size. Even if you can eat anything during the eating window, controlling the portion size is crucial for weight loss. Find calorie breakdown per meal.
Exclude the Unhealthy Eating Habits
To enhance the advantages of intermittent fasting, you must exclude these unhealthy habits from your fasting regimen:
- Eating fast
- Munching while watching TV
- Snacking directly from the packets instead of in a bowl or plate
- Binge eating during weekends
- Late night snacking
- Consuming alcohol
A good night’s sleep is essential to maintain a healthy weight during intermittent fasting. Lack of sleep may cause an impaired metabolism in women over 40 doing intermittent fasting. Not having enough sleep can have a negative impact on appetite hormones and can cause weight gain.
Consult your Doctor
If you are a woman over 40, you must consult a registered healthcare practitioner to determine the suitability of intermittent fasting for you. Talk to your doctor before opting for intermittent fasting if you have any of the following conditions:
- An autoimmune condition
- Eating disorder
- Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar tendency
- You are trying to conceive
- Pregnant or breastfeeding
- You are underweight
- History of amenorrhea or missed periods
Best Foods for Intermittent Fasting for Women Over 40
Eating nutritious food is crucial to avoid hunger during intermittent fasting and managing a healthy weight. Here are some choices of foods to consider.
- Vegetables: Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cucumber, broccoli, and green leafy vegetable such as bok choy, arugula, collard greens, kale, spinach, etc.
- Fruits: Bananas, apples, oranges, berries, pears, peaches, grapes, tomatoes, etc.
- Proteins: Poultry, meat, eggs, fish, legumes, nuts, seeds, etc.
- Whole grains: Brown rice, oats, barley, quinoa, bulgur wheat, etc.
- Healthy fats: Olive oil, avocados, low-fat dairy products like cheese, low-fat milk, and yogurt
- Omega 3: Tuna, sardine, mackerel, cod, salmon, anchovies, herring, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is intermittent fasting safe for women over 40?
There are no known disadvantages or side effects of intermittent fasting. Women over 40 face slow metabolism and hormonal issues, and intermittent fasting can be beneficial in such conditions. Intermittent fasting is safe for women. In fact, it can help in weight loss, reduce the risk of heart disease, help manage diabetes and improve longevity and mental health.
How can a 40-year-old woman lose weight fast?
Here are some tips that will help you lose weight faster if you are a woman over 40:
- Eat healthy food
- Practice portion control
- Plan your meals well in advance
- Add more fiber to your diet
- Control your carb intake
- Stay away from processed food
- Avoid sugary beverages, excess salt, and sugar
- Keep yourself active and workout diligently
- Hydrate yourself adequately
- Focus on quality sleep
What is the best intermittent fasting plan for women over 40?
The most recommended and sustainable fasting plan for women over 40 is the 16:8 diet plan, where you fast for 16 hours and eat within an eight-hour window.
Intermittent fasting has many benefits to offer to women over 40. But when you plan to implement intermittent fasting into your regimen, it should gel with your lifestyle. It should not make you feel weak or drained.
It is normal to feel hungry during the initial phases of an intermittent fasting plan. You might also get exhausted if you combine your fasting regimen with exercise during the first few days. But, if you encounter fatigue, dizziness, soreness, or exhaustion, your body is not ready for the new diet plan. Listen to your body and act accordingly.
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