There are times in a woman’s life when hormone changes, poor sleep, and slow metabolism can contribute to making her gain unwanted pounds. Menopause is probably the hardest one to be on a diet. However, many midlifers would swear on Intermittent Fasting as a good eating strategy to improve their metabolism.
How does it work?
IF is a way of restricting when and how much you eat during the day and week in order not to overload your Gastrointestinal system allowing your body to access and break down stored fat. Simply put, it’s about limiting yourself to eating within a designated time frame.
There are several styles of IF, all of which are currently undergoing some form of research but ultimately looking for the same answer: to prove that they are beneficial to one’s health.
The most popular one is the 16:8 approach as generally considered less restrictive and more flexible than many other diet plans and can easily fit into just about any lifestyle. Basically, you fast 16 hours in a row and then eat normally within an eight-hour period, like between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
This approach is very popular because there’s no need to count calories, watch your portion sizes, feel deprived or restricted or miss out on social occasions – explains practising dietitian Jaime Rose Chambers, author of The 16:8 Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle Plan -. This is the method people are most able to stick to in the long term and when paired with a nutritious diet and a healthy lifestyle, it can lower cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure and protect against heart disease.
According to Dr Chambers, fasting gives our body, specifically the energy powerhouses (aka mitochondria) in our cells, a break from processing constantly.
When we eat, food moves from our stomach to our small intestine, where it begins the complex job of sending off nutrients in different directions – she says-. The energy or calories we consume gets used right then and there to fuel our daily functions of breathing, walking, digesting, even thinking.
How to get started
Depending on your lifestyle, if you decide to follow the 16:8 approach starts by picking an eight-hour window and limit your food intake to that time span.
There are several options suggested by Dr Chambers you may want to consider.
- Eat breakfast and fast from 3 pm
This will be ideal for people who rely on breakfast to kick-start their day, and also for singles who don’t have to eat dinner with a family or partner at set times. This option is also great for people working long hours who typically turn to toast or takeaways for their dinner.
- Brunch and an early dinner
This option is ideal for those who can skip breakfast but can’t quite get through to lunchtime without eating. It’s also great for people who are able to take a break mid-morning or eat at their desk, as well as parents who like to eat dinner early with their kids.
- Fast until lunchtime and eat a later dinner
Ideal for chronic breakfast-skippers, or those who can easily go to lunchtime without eating. It also suits those who race into work late and grab pastries or other less healthy breakfast options on the way. It’s great for corporate or shift workers who tend to eat dinner late.
So, is intermittent fasting as good as it sounds?
Evidence is accumulating that eating in a 6-hour period and fasting for 18 hours can trigger a metabolic switch from glucose-based to ketone-based energy, with increased stress resistance, increased longevity, and a decreased incidence of diseases, including cancer and obesity. However, Intermittent Fasting isn’t for everyone. You should always check with your doctor before trying a new diet, even one that’s proven to be beneficial. This is especially pertinent if you are taking medications as some may have to be taken with food. In any case, be sure to start gradually and consider stopping or consulting your doctor if you have any concerns or experience negative symptoms.