Fasting is an ancient practice with its philosophical roots embedded into the cultural, spiritual, and religious norms of society and the lives of the masses.
Fasting is a practice of voluntarily refraining oneself from consuming any calories for a specific duration. Scientifically speaking, Fasting is a metabolic process where the usual energy supply of glucose is restricted by less or no intake of dietary substances for a particular period.
During this, the liver consumes every ounce of glucose present in the body as a reserve. Past this, the body gets into a state of Gluconeogenesis—a transit state where the body starts manufacturing glucose by decimating fat tissues.
Fasting is a scientific and proven method for promoting a healthy lifestyle. It possesses several health benefits like it enhances the immune system, improves heart health, mental health, and digestive health, reduces the risk of several chronic diseases, obesity and aging.
A potential form of Fasting that has become prevalent and grown surprisingly popular amongst the millennials is Intermittent Fasting. Many people who are older and having health issues have also learned this type of diet improves their health, as well. This article will familiarize us with this efficient concept and catechize in-depth information about it.
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What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a significantly new approach towards procuring an effective and productive health status. As the name implies, Intermittent Fasting is periodic Fasting for specified intervals followed by periods of calorie consumption.
In simpler words, IF is an eating pattern where you fast for a predefined time and eat for another predefined time frame. The fasting and eating intervals are referred to as ‘Fasting Window’ and ‘Eating Window,’ respectively.
Intermittent Fasting is a regular cyclic pattern of short-duration fasts followed by normal eating schedules. It is a lifestyle choice and significantly differs from a diet, for it doesn’t involve any restrictions or regulations on the type and amount of food, calories, and nutrients you consume.
Additionally, our sleeping time is the central portion of the fasting time duration. This makes Intermittent Fasting the best approach for a healthy lifestyle.
Benefits for Women over 50
Intermittent Fasting has an array of health benefits. It increases longevity, assists in weight management, improve digestive and immune systems, reduces the risk of mental disorders, heart disease, and many other health issues.
This strategic diet technique is extremely simple as all you have to do is fast for a sustained period of time and eat at a prespecified time window. Many celebrities like— Terry Crews, Jennifer Aniston, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lopez, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Ben Affleck are firm believers and followers of Intermittent Fasting.
Intermittent Fasting is an effective way to remain healthy and defy age even in the golden years for both men or women, and the best part is that it’s such a feasible option that anyone can try it.
There are numerous studies conducted to determine the full potential of the benefits of Intermittent Fasting on health and how it affects and regulates various bodily functions.
However, recent research has inferred that Intermittent Fasting may not be comparably effective in men and women. Due to certain complexities of the female body, Intermittent Fasting can have derogatory effects on health and may not be as effective as it is for men.
Worry not because, in this article, we’ll focus precisely on the effects and benefits of Intermittent Fasting on Women’s health.
How does Intermittent Fasting work?
The mechanism of Intermittent Fasting depends on energy utilization and calories consumption. Therefore, intermittent Fasting focuses on time intervals of diet intake instead of the type of diet consumed.
It involves the refraining of calorie intake for a specific period. The body is denied any calories for its energy requirements; thus, it has to utilize the energy produced during the last meal and raid the reserve energy supplies.
After a sustained period of fasting interval, the liver utilizes all the energy reserves and switches to burning fat for meeting the energy requirements. This way, the metabolic processes burn extra body fat to produce energy. Intermittent Fasting schedules a sufficient time duration for consuming all the calories from your diet and avoiding its storage in the form of fats.
The eating window allows eating anything you want without any restrictions regarding the type of food. Most people eat healthier meals after an intense fasting regime and desire to maintain this calorie restriction and healthy diet combo for better and more productive outcomes.
With age, fat accumulation increases due to inefficient metabolism and hormonal disbalance. Intermittent Fasting is a healthy way of getting rid of stubborn body fat and improving metabolism and other functions of the body for young and older women.
Types of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting is a consecutive rhythm pattern of eating and fasting for short intervals. IF is one of the easiest ways to improve and maintain your body weight. You will also enhance your metabolism, immune and digestive health, prevent and treat various chronic diseases and promote mental health
As we know, a singular approach can not be universal for every individual—there are several different ways to practice Intermittent Fasting depending upon your preferences. Intermittent Fasting plans that provide the best results for women are:-
12:12 Hour Intermittent Fasting
This method is the best way to initiate Intermittent Fasting for beginners. In this IF protocol, the period of Fasting and eating are equally divided. This method is the simplest and easiest one because you can accomplish it by skipping the day’s first meal (breakfast) or the last meal (dinner).
In this method, your sleep duration encompasses the majority portion of your 12-hour fast regime, and this makes it the most desirable form of Intermittent Fasting.
You can consume calories during the 12-hour eating window by following a rich and nutritious diet. Of course, it’s normal to feel like eating your favorite carbs, chocolate, and junk foods; however, your diet plan plays an essential role in influencing the effects and benefits of Intermittent Fasting.
It is advisable to consume a well-balanced and calorie-rich diet. Avoid junk and empty calories foods to actualize the positive effects of Intermittent Fasting.
The 12:12 hour IF regime can be easily incorporated into your lifestyle as a daily routine, as it is practically the simplest way to perform Intermittent Fasting. Moreover, this method only requires fasting for a short period, 3/4 the duration you would be asleep.
16:8 Hour Intermittent Fasting
The 16:8 hour IF is also known as the “Leangains method.” This method is a bit more rigid and strict than the 12:12 hour method. For example, in the 16:9-hour approach, you restrict calorie consumption and fast for 16 hours straight, and then you can eat for another eight hours.
This method can be a progressive step. People who are comfortable with the 12:12-hour model and want to push themselves for better results. Similar to the 12:12 hour IF approach, the 16:8-Hour IF method is also credible for the daily fasting approach.
Additionally, a healthy diet is an essential element of Intermittent Fasting for procuring the best possible results.
24-hour Intermittent Fasting
The 24-hour method is also known as the Eat-Stop-Eat method. For this, you’ll have to forfeit calorie consumption for 24 hours straight and then break your fast the next day by eating a healthy diet. This method can be used once or twice a week, and you can normally eat on non-fasting days.
The 24-hour IF approach can be difficult for beginners. You can start with the 12:12-hour method and gradually increase your pace. Remember, during the fasting days, you must consume a lot of fluids and water. It is crucial to remain hydrated for your health and achieve the best results from Intermittent Fasting.
This method involves fasting for 12-16 hours twice or thrice a week. In this method, you fast on nonconsecutive days of the week for 12-16 hours. You can eat in between the periods of Fasting, as after completing one fasting cycle, your eating window starts until the beginning of the next fasting cycle.
It is one of the best Intermittent Fasting approaches for beginners and people who want to indulge in IF but are comfortable only with shorter fasting periods.
The 5:2 Diet
This method is also known as the ‘Fast diet’ because it is similar to the diet plan and procedure for everyday fasting rituals. This IF approach involves consuming 25% of your daily calorie requirements on any two consecutive days of the week and continuing with your usual diet plan for the other five days.
You are free to decide what foods you want to eat that fulfill your 25% (500-600 calories) daily calorie needs. This method provides you a good way to count your calories and follow a healthy diet plan.
Alternate-Day Fasting and Modified Alternate-Day Fasting
- Alternate-Day fasting involves fasting on alternate or nonconsecutive days of the week. This method requires fasting for the entire day and then resuming your usual eating pattern the next day.
- The Modified Alternate-Day Fasting approach is exactly similar to the Alternate-Day Fasting method, except that it gives you the liberty to consume 25% of your calorie requirement on your fasting days. This way, you can intake fewer calories on the fasting day and continue with your regular eating pattern the next day.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting has several beneficial effects on a person’s physical, mental, and overall health. Intermittent Fasting benefits women in the following ways:
1. Promotes longevity and reduces the aging process.
Intermittent Fasting induces the cell repair and waste removal process in the body, due to which the body initiates the autophagy of dead and rogue cells. This promotes the removal of waste materials from the body and new cells.
A recent animal study presented that Intermittent Fasting promotes longevity by extending the lifespan of mice and rats by 33-83%.
Intermittent Fasting increases longevity and reduces the aging process by promoting cell repair, improving metabolic and protective functions, and enhancing digestive, immune, physical, and mental health.
2. Reduces calorie consumption
Intermittent Fasting helps to reduce the number of calories you usually consume. While following the IF regime, the amount of calories you consume during the fasting window depends on the IF approach you follow.
However, whichever method you choose, your calorie intake will indeed reduce unless you compensate by ingesting excess calories during the eating window. This regulation in calorie intake assists in bodyweight reduction and naturally decreases your hunger cravings.
3. Promotes Weight Loss
Most people, especially menopausal women, struggle with weight gain, belly fat, loss of muscle mass, and derogatory bone health. Intermittent Fasting is one of the most successful ways to help you achieve your weight loss goals and maintain your health.
Intermittent Fasting enhances metabolism, regulates the functions of hormones, and promotes fat loss. It also increases the metabolic rate of the body, which assists in burning more calories.
Moreover, IF regulates the reduction of insulin levels. Increases of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) levels in the blood to promote fat burning and convert stored fats into energy.
4. Prevents Diabetes
Intermittent Fasting’s chief objective is continuous calorie restriction which is the most significant part of the process. Latest scientific studies have suggested that Intermittent Fasting is responsible for a significant reduction in blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.
This decrease in insulin sensitivity and blood sugar concentration is highly effective for people on the verge of developing Type-2 Diabetes. Thus, Intermittent Fasting helps prevent and control diabetes.
5. Promotes Heart Health
Intermittent Fasting enhances heart health by regulating and improving various factors responsible for health problems. High blood pressure, increased LDL cholesterol levels, and Triglycerides are the common factors that lead to heart diseases.
A recent human model study inferred that Intermittent Fasting has proven effective in reducing LDL cholesterol (25%) and Triglyceride (32%). IF also lowered blood pressure (6%) and blood sugar concentration. Ergo, Intermittent Fasting is beneficial for promoting and maintaining heart health.
6. Improves Mental Health
Intermittent Fasting promotes the development of new neuron cells. It also reduces the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s.
Intermittent Fasting improves brain functions by reducing oxidative stress and inflammatory problems. It begins increasing the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) level, responsible for treating and preventing depression and anxiety.
Side Effects of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting is a safe and trusted approach for weight loss, increasing longevity, and reducing aging. In addition, it is beneficial for promoting overall health and preventing chronic health diseases.
Though Intermittent Fasting is perfectly innocuous, there are certain things related to it that might be considered as side effects:-
- Hunger cravings
- Reduction in energy levels
- Mood Swings
- Loss of Concentrate
- Bad breath during fasting
These symptoms are pretty natural and expected for skipping meals and prolonged hunger cravings. However, these symptoms will go away with constant practice and perseverance. Intermittent Fasting will work like a charm for you.
There are certain conditions where medical advice is highly advisable for women before starting any Intermittent Fasting regime:
- Women struggling with eating disorders, hypertension, diabetes, and blood pressure
- If you are pregnant, trying to conceive, or breastfeeding must consult their doctor before delving into Intermittent Fasting.
- Women having infertility issues and Menstrual problems.
Intermittent Fasting is a simple and effective approach. In times of diet trends that promise results at the cost of starving yourself. Intermittent Fasting has gained popularity and fellowship in recent years. It doesn’t restrict what you eat but when you eat.
This time-bound eating practice has proven to be highly efficient in promoting health and preventing various diseases.
Intermittent Fasting is easy to practice and does not require much work or a particular trainer or equipment. The IF approach can be used by anyone and without constant supervision.
The diet is an essential factor for Intermittent Fasting because fasting for hours to eat junk and sugar-filled products afterward is absurd. Try eating healthy to gain the maximum potential of Intermittent Fasting. You can learn about various new, healthy and tasty dishes that motivate you to keep going and achieve your goals.
To gain more insight regarding Intermittent Fasting, you can read the best-selling book on Intermittent Fasting Diet Guide+Cookbook by Dr. Becky Gillaspy. You may also read through the New York Times articles on Intermittent Fasting to learn about IF’s new research and findings.
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