Is fasting effective for women over forty? We debunk some common myths about this weight loss fad diet, and what you should do instead.

Rachel, a lawyer in her fifties from South Wales, was desperate to drop a couple of stone. She wanted to get back into her favourite clothes and take control of her weight before it started to impact her health.

She had tried what felt like everything but nothing seemed to be working for her. One approach she tried (that a lot of women try) was fasting. But even doing this, she found herself stepping on the scales after a week of “dieting” only to see ZERO movement…

She was choosing what to wear to cover up “problem areas” instead of wearing what she liked. And she was feeling completely stuck and fed up because nothing was working.

But then, Rachel gave up on the fasting and found a brand new approach which allowed her to quickly and easily drop 3 stone and lose 36cm from her waist and hips in 9 months!

In this blog, we’re going to explain why fasting wasn’t working for Rachel, why it doesn’t work for most women over 40, and what approach to follow instead if you want to drop 2 dress sizes in the next 12 weeks!

What is fasting?

Fasting is not consuming any food or calories for a set amount of time. There are a few different versions, with the most common ones being:

  • 5:2 diet – restrict calories to 500kcal for 2 days a week
  • 16:8 – only having an 8 hour eating window, typically noon until 8pm

There are a few claimed benefits of fasting:

  • Reduced insulin levels
  • Increased metabolism
  • Reduce inflammation
  • May help reduce blood pressure, cancer risk and Alzehiemers
  • May help with losing weight

So it sounds pretty good, right? These benefits are general, and not specific to men or women or different age ranges (and the majority of research is still done on men)!

Plus, these benefits are more likely to apply to men, and women in their 20s and 30s who’s body and hormones are optimal. But they’re not always very effective for women over 40 who want to lose weight.

Why isn’t fasting effective?

Firstly it’s not a magic bullet, it just gives you less time to eat! In some cases this helps to create a calorie deficit, i.e. consuming less energy than your body needs every day. However, it can actually have the opposite effect for a lot of people.

For example, it can cause blood sugar levels to crash, or cravings go through the roof. As soon as you’re allowed to eat – most people blow out and eat everything! It’s VERY easy to eat a lot of calories when hungry.

Fasting can also disrupt key fat loss hormones for women over 40. Fasting is a one-size fits all approach for all ages and genders, but it doesn’t take into account hormonal changes happening for women in their 40s and 50s, such as:

  • Oestrogen and progesterone dropping
  • Sensitivity to stress increasing

You can get away with these extreme approaches in your 20s and 30s, but as people get older their stress response increases, meaning more of the stress hormone cortisol is released and for longer.

This leads to chronically high cortisol levels which triggers the Weight Gain Triangle:

  • Leptin resistance – increased cravings, especially for comfort foods
  • Insulin resistance – increased fat storage around the middle
  • Thyroid deregulation – reduced metabolism

These are basically the opposite of all of the usual benefits of fasting!

What a lot of people don’t realise is that starving yourself is a source of stress on the body, which adds to the total stress on the body (called allostatic stress). If you’re already quite stressed, then something like fasting could push you over the edge.

Lastly, it’s hard to commit to for the long term. If you can’t keep it up forever, the results will only ever be temporary. For a lot of people, fasting is quite restrictive – especially the 5:2 diet, where you’re starving for 2 days a week. Plus, it doesn’t teach you how to eat optimally for your age and hormones. If you stop, you’ll regain the weight as soon as you return to eating normally.

What to do instead

You should eat in a way that works with your changing hormones, rather than against them.

You need to find something where you won’t have to feel like you’re starving all the time, you won’t have to give up your favourite foods AND you can keep it up forever – so you never need to diet again!

Members of our Fit Over 40 program do this using an approach called Hormonally Balanced Eating which comprises of 3 things:

  • The Diet Makeover: Eliminating 4 hormone disrupting foods called WADS (wheat, alcohol, dairy and sugar) for 1-2 weeks to find a better balance, then avoiding them 80% of the time
  • Eating the right amount of calories, protein AND fibre specifically for you: Taking into account your hormonal situation, age, height, weight body fat percentage and dieting history
  • Holistic Fine Tuning: Tweak caffeine, sleep, alcohol, HRT to get the best possible results

Do that and you’ll be able to lose 1-2 stone or 1-2 dress sizes every 12 weeks!

To find out more about how Trinity can help you see the results you deserve, simply click here.