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Intermittent Fasting for Women Over 50: Here’s What You Should Know

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a woman with grey hear, smiling, holding scales, Intermittent Fasting for Women Over 50
Melissa Mitri post Reviewer Melissa Mitri post Reviewer
Verified by Melissa Mitri
MS, Registered Dietitian, Former President of CT Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

What are the intermittent fasting benefits for women over 50? What is the best fasting method for them? Here’s what we found.

Table of Contents

Intermittent fasting (IF) is an effective tool that many swear by for losing weight. The basic idea is to limit when you eat rather than what you eat

While anyone over 18 years of age can practice intermittent fasting, there are concerns that fasting can unfavorably affect reproductive hormones [1]. This makes women over 50 reluctant to try IF, fearing it might interfere with their hormone system. 

Here we aim to find out how suitable intermittent fasting is for women over 50, most of whom are undergoing hormonal changes due to menopause. 

Women’s Health Over 50

It is no secret that our risk of health problems starts to increase as we age. This is especially true if you’re a woman over 50 who is experiencing menopause. 

Hormonal changes that occur with menopause bring about body composition changes along with some other issues such as sleep problems and mood swings. 

Menopause-related loss of estrogen can also cause loss of bone density leading to osteoporosis. These changes can also elevate blood cholesterol levels, thus increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke [2]. Moreover, excess weight gain that occurs due to these hormonal variations can lead to metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes [3].

The good news is you have the power to offset these changes that may seem inevitable. You need to adjust your lifestyle in a way that minimizes the negative effects. For instance, menopause-related weight gain can be reversed by increasing physical activity, changing diet habits, and limiting alcohol intake [3]

Intermittent fasting is a way of life that can cause a positive outcome, not only by lowering your weight but also by reducing the risk of many diseases which we will be discussing next.

Is It A Good Idea To Try Intermittent Fasting In Your 50s?

Many women over 50 struggle to keep excess weight off—especially around their midsection. They also battle health problems like osteoporosis, increased blood cholesterol levels, and other metabolic disorders. 

Intermittent fasting is a way of life that can help with weight loss and also has other health benefits, like lowering cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of cancer, and improving musculoskeletal health [4]

However, one particular research study carried out in 2013 reported that intermittent fasting might negatively affect reproductive hormones, including estrogen [1]. If this is the case, this can add to the drop in estrogen levels caused by menopause, thus worsening the matter. 

If this had you worried, let us put you at ease. New findings that prove otherwise have emerged since. In fact, a review done in 2022, on the outcome of intermittent fasting on reproductive hormone levels confirms that intermittent fasting does not change estrogen levels in women [5]

Given this evidence, we can safely say that there’s no harm in trying intermittent fasting for women over 50. What’s more, it is most likely to help you lose weight as well as minimize some other health issues. 

The Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting For Women Over 50

As we briefly explained, fasting for women over 50 can bring about various benefits. In this section, we list some of the most important ones.

It Can Help You Lose Weight

Menopause makes you more prone to weight gain but intermittent fasting can help you lose those excess pounds. One study found that time-restricted feeding can lower the body weight of post-menopausal women in 8 weeks [6]. The findings reported no difference in weight loss in pre-and post-menopausal women. 

It Can Improve Insulin Sensitivity And Reduce The Risk of Diabetes

As we previously explained, menopause can cause excess weight gain and high blood pressure, which are risk factors for type 2 diabetes [7]. However, research proves that intermittent fasting reduces insulin resistance and can be used to effectively reduce the risk of diabetes [6] [8]

It Can Limit The Decline in Brain Health

It has been found that the drop in estrogen levels in menopause can lead to lowered cognitive performance [9]. Intermittent fasting, however, has been shown to protect against this decline in brain function in estrogen-deficient rats [10]. The researchers concluded that intermittent fasting can prevent memory loss related to aging and menopause in women.

Intermittent Fasting Can Improve Bone Health

Deterioration of bone health is inevitable as you age. Menopause-related hormone changes specifically accelerate bone loss and put you at risk of developing disorders such as osteoporosis [11]. Intermittent fasting has been proven to reverse osteoporosis in a rat model, thereby improving bone health [12].

It Can Reduce The Risk of Heart Diseases

Age, as well as weight gain, increase the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. However,  this can be countered by following an intermittent fasting regime. 

Studies report that IF can improve heart health by correcting the lipid profile of those who have low HDL cholesterol levels. (HDL is considered a type of healthy cholesterol that can reduce the risk of heart disease.) 

It Can Help You Sleep Better

Menopause can cause sleep problems but trying an intermittent fasting schedule might help you sleep better. Research says that intermittent fasting strengthens your internal clock, known as the circadian rhythm, thereby improving your sleep quality [13]

What’s The Best Type Of Intermittent Fasting For Women Over 50?

There are multiple intermittent fasting methods depending on the duration of your fast. You can read more about these types in our beginner’s guide to intermittent fasting

If you’ve been practicing intermittent fasting for some time now, you can choose a method that best fits your schedule. If you’re just starting out, it’s wise to start with a shorter fast time such as 14/10 or 16/8, rather than 18/6 intermittent fasting. 

With longer and more strict fasts you are more likely to experience mood swings, headaches, and sleep issues. Not eating for prolonged times can also leave you lethargic and mentally drained. All of these side effects can make menopause symptoms more pronounced and harder to bear.

Therefore, it is best to go easy on yourself and stick to daily fasting schedules rather than trying out 24-hour or longer fasts.

Can You Lose Weight In Your 50s With Intermittent Fasting?

So, does fasting for weight loss work when you’re over 50?

Yes, according to science. Studies have proven that being over 50 and menopausal or post-menopausal is not a barrier to weight loss with intermittent fasting [6]

You can adjust your diet to minimize the changes that result due to aging and hormonal fluctuations. For instance, it’s important to increase your protein intake to preserve lean muscle mass [14]

You also need to add foods high in calcium to your diet to keep your bones strong. Another food group you can include in your diet is soy foods. Some studies claim that soy foods can help you ease your menopausal symptoms because they contain plant chemicals that mimic estrogen [15]

In addition, it is always a good idea to incorporate plenty of vegetables in your diet to help you maintain your weight and keep you generally healthy. 

On a side note, an all-in-one weight loss app can help you keep an eye on your calorie intake as well as your diet and help you stick to your eating schedule. This will help you lose weight in the long run.

Wrapping Up

  • Is intermittent fasting suitable for 50-year-old women? Yes, it is. IF can help with weight loss while at the same time helping resolve age-related and menopause-related health issues.
  • When fasting at 50, you are advised to choose less strict fasting schedules to make it easy for you to manage menopause symptoms. The best intermittent fasting schedules for when you’re over 50 seem to be daily fasting methods.
  • There are certain food groups such as lean protein, veggies, calcium-rich foods, and soy products that can help you ease your menopause-related symptoms and health issues.
  • As always, you should discuss your diet plans and fasting schedules with your dietician before you do any changes. 
Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

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