Should Senior Women Use Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss?
As a child of a senior mother, you may find yourself involved in conversations about how your mom can control her weight or even take off some pounds. In this regard, the subject of intermittent fasting may have arisen. Intermittent fasting (also known as time-restricted eating) has become a popular way to manage health and wellness, with many people from all walks of life seeing benefits from this technique. For senior women, the advantages can be particularly significant. There are five ways that intermittent fasting can help senior women improve their overall health and well-being:
- Improved blood glucose control
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Increased metabolism
- Improved cognitive function
- Better digestion
Definition of Intermittent Fasting
Before diving into the pros and cons of intermittent fasting for senior women, it is important to pin down a good definition of this diet regimen. The Mayo Clinic provides a succinct, understandable, and practical definition of intermittent fasting:
Intermittent fasting means you don’t eat for a period each day or week. Some popular approaches to intermittent fasting include:
- Alternate-day fasting. Eat a normal diet one day, and either completely fast or have one small meal (less than 500 calories) the next day.
- 5:2 fasting. Eat a normal diet five days a week and fast two days a week.
- Daily time-restricted fasting. Eat normally but only within an eight-hour window each day. For example, skip breakfast but eat lunch around noon and dinner by 8 p.m.
Improved Blood Glucose Control
Studies have shown that following an intermittent fasting plan can improve blood glucose control in individuals over 50. This is especially important for those who are at risk of or already have diabetes or prediabetes, as it helps keep blood sugar levels within a healthy range and prevent further complications from occurring.
Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
Intermittent fasting has been found to reduce risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, even more so than regular dieting alone. Additionally, it has been found to reduce inflammation in the body, which is linked to increased risk for cardiovascular diseases in seniors.
As we age, our metabolism naturally slows down, meaning our bodies don’t burn calories as quickly as they used to when we were younger. However, intermittent fasting has been found to increase metabolic rate by up to 14%, potentially helping seniors lose weight or maintain a healthy weight easier than before.
Improved Cognitive Function
Research suggests that seniors who practice intermittent fasting may benefit from improved cognitive function and reduced instances of forgetfulness or confusion compared to those who do not fast intermittently or regularly restrict their calorie intake during meals. The improved focus and concentration achieved through intermittent fasting may also help enhance overall energy levels throughout the day.
With age comes a higher risk of digestive issues, such as constipation and bloating, due to slower digestion rates and weakened stomach muscles that work less efficiently than before. Practicing intermittent fasting can help senior women improve digestion by allowing them to rest between meals so that food can be processed better by the stomach for more efficient nutrient absorption.
Potential Risks to a Senior Woman Associated With Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is an increasingly popular dieting trend involving cycling between eating and fasting. We have discussed some of the purported health benefits of intermittent fasting. However, some potential risks are associated with intermittent fasting, especially for senior women. The five most significant potential risks that need to be considered before starting this type of diet are:
- Dehydration: Intermittent fasting can cause a person to become dehydrated more quickly due to the lack of regular water consumption throughout the day. This is especially concerning for senior women, who are more prone to dehydration due to changes in their body composition and metabolism as they age. If a woman begins intermittent fasting without adequate hydration, she may suffer from dizziness, headaches, dry mouth, and other symptoms associated with dehydration.
- Nutrient deficiencies: When people fast intermittently, they often reduce their overall nutrient intake since they limit the amount of food they consume daily. This can lead to deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals, such as iron or calcium, which can increase the risk of developing conditions like anemia or osteoporosis. Senior women may be particularly vulnerable as their bodies don’t absorb nutrients as efficiently as younger people do.
- Low energy levels: Intermittent fasting involves going long stretches without eating, which can lead to feelings of fatigue and low energy levels. This might make it difficult for senior women to stay active throughout the day since exercise requires energy to function muscles and joints properly.
- Blood glucose swings: Intermittent fasting involves prolonged periods without eating, which can lead to dips and spikes in blood glucose levels that could be dangerous for those with diabetes or prediabetes conditions such as hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, respectively. This makes it important for seniors with diabetes or prediabetes conditions to closely monitor their blood glucose levels during intermittent fasting and adjust their diets appropriately if necessary.
- Digestive issues: Going too long between meals can lead to digestive issues such as constipation or diarrhea since there isn’t enough time for food to be properly digested before another fasting period begins. Senior women might find this particularly troublesome given that their digestive systems don’t work quite as effectively as they once did in their younger years.
Intermittent fasting has many potential benefits, but it may not be suitable for everyone, including (or particularly) senior women. Before starting any dietary regime, seniors must consult their doctor first to know how best to maintain good health while getting the most out of their dieting plan. Additionally, seniors and their loved ones should pay close attention to possible signs of dehydration, nutrient deficiencies, low energy levels, blood glucose swings, and digestive issues if they decide to try intermittent fasting. By doing so, senior women can greatly reduce any risks associated with this dietary pattern and enjoy its possible benefits safely.