Learn about the health benefits and IF tips for women over 40.
Intermittent fasting, unlike most diets, focuses on when to eat rather than what you eat. There is growing science-backed data supporting the benefits of fasting to help optimize health in middle-aged adults and slow the symptoms of aging through autophagy, which is the body’s process of cleaning out old cells to make way for new cells. When you free your body up from digestive tasks, you can use your energy for other things, like repairing and restoring the body and brain, which improves overall well-being, performance, and mental clarity, and in some cases, can have the added benefit of weight loss.
The benefits of fasting have been well established in the medical community, but the exact way to go about it is often up for debate. The main thing is to try it and see what works for you based on how it makes you feel so that it can become sustainable and even enjoyable.
Here are a few approaches to intermittent fasting:
Daily Method: Restricting daily eating to one six-to-eight-hour period. For example, you may try 16:8 fasting: eating for eight hours and fasting for 16.
5:2 Method: Eating normally five days a week and limiting yourself to one 500–600 calorie meal for the two other days.
24+-hour Method: Fasting for periods of 24, 36, 48, and 72 hours (this can be dangerous for some people and may encourage your body to start storing more fat in response to starvation).
Fasting is a practice that dates back to ancient times and, in some cultures, is still practiced regularly. It’s estimated that 30% of our thoughts are about our next meal. That’s a lot of time and energy wrapped up in food, and fasting can help free up that mental real estate so we can give our energy and thoughts to other things and people. This is one reason that every major world religion – Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Hinduism – promotes one form of fasting or another to help people focus their energies on prayer by eliminating food for a period of time.
The key is to get in tune with your body and be mindful of when and why you are eating. Play around with your fasting and eating windows to see what works best for you.
As we get older, the health benefits for women can be quite significant to our:
Metabolism: Fasting can keep your metabolism on track. As we go through menopause, the changes in our body that increase belly fat, insulin, and glucose can be dramatic. Fasting can help lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and belly fat, improving insulin sensitivity.
Mental Health: Fasting has been shown to promote mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and the emotional roller coaster that can go hand-in-hand with menopause.
Musculoskeletal System: Fasting promotes hormone secretion from the thyroid, which supports bone health (fractures, osteoporosis, arthritis, and lower back pain)
What can I consume during the fasting window?
The short answer is nothing and definitely no food, but some beverages can make your fasting more bearable and even enjoyable; these include:
Water: Water consumption is critical to help keep you hydrated and feeling full during your fast. Try adding a pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt to your water first thing in the morning, as this provides your body with essential natural electrolytes. Twitter’s Jack Dorsey is a fan of this regime during his fasts. You can also add lemon to your morning water in addition to the salt.
Coffee: Enjoy a cup of black coffee as it does not break fast – you mustn’t add any milk or sugar to your coffee. And be careful not to overdo it, as too much caffeine can leave you feeling jittery and anxious. And organic coffee is always best. If black coffee is not your thing, you can try adding a bit of healthy fats to the coffee with a tablespoon or two of MCT Oil. This will keep you satiated longer, which helps make the fast more enjoyable while providing your brain with essential fats. You can also try adding a scoop of collagen protein powder to your coffee along with the MCT oil.
Tea: Tea is great to enjoy during your fasts. Earl Grey tea and green tea are both anti-inflammatory and rich in antioxidants. Herbal teas are also great as they are caffeine-free and taste great. Some Salveo favorites are rooibos, hibiscus, chamomile, and peppermint.
Bone Broth: Bone broth is another excellent option for a fast, especially at the end of your fast when you are about to ease into your eating window. Bone broth contains natural collagen, which is great for your hair, skin, nails, joints, and gut health.
The biggest takeaway is to try fasting and see what it feels like to go for periods without eating. You might discover that you feel lighter and have more energy and mental clarity. The simple act of reducing your intake of food to specific windows during the day can profoundly affect your health and give your body’s digestive system the rest it needs. It’s often said that fasting awakens the physician within and allows the body to repair itself naturally.
To note: It’s important to check with your doctor before starting intermittent fasting.
RESOURCES + TOOLS
- Lumen – a device that provides daily metabolic measurements, giving feedback on your Method of intermittent fasting and whether or not it is yielding the desired results.
- Window App – the app lets you schedule your eating windows, notifies you when eating windows open and close, and lets you sync your data with the Apple Health app and Apple Watch.
- “Intuitive Fasting” – a book by Dr. Will Cole
- “Fast This Way” – a book by Dave Asprey
- “The Complete Guide To Fasting” – a book by Dr. Fung