The 16/8 periodic fasting method has shown promise in many health-related issues in older adults. This guide on intermittent fasting will help you understand this method better
Most people consider intermittent fasting as a fad, and the main reason behind this consideration is that they either haven’t tried it or have done it wrong.
We have researched the benefits of this effective yet straightforward method to get rid of many health issues, both physical and mental, as well as chronic problems, including diabetes, and found the claims to not be entirely false.
Intermittent fasting is becoming quite popular as an eating strategy in America. Research and studies have shown that it has a good success rate in problems such as weight loss, enhancing lifespan. Intermittent fasting is a very good option for seniors, and today, we shall talk about the same.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting (IF) is an eating strategy or pattern that allows a person to eat during a specific time window and fast for the rest of the day.
The concept of intermittent fasting has more to do with when to eat and not what to eat – this separates it from other healthy lifestyle methods such as working out and dieting. It is a simple method to follow, and perhaps, this is why many people in America are adding it to their lifestyles.
There is no limit to the number of hours you should fast. Many people fast for 8 hours while others can go on for an entire day without having a meal.
However, most people resort to the 16/8 method for intermittent fasting, where they abstain from eating food for 16 hours and have their meals during the remaining 8-hour window during the day. We shall discuss more on this later.
Intermittent fasting methods
There are several ways to go about your fasting. The good thing is that you do not need an expert’s advice or opinion on creating your meal window. The main point to remember is that you should either eat very little or nothing at all during fasting, depending on your body.
Some of the most popular intermittent fasting methods include –
Here you pick an 8-hour window during any time of the day and limit your food intake in that period only. For example, if you plan to skip your breakfast, your fasting window can be 7 AM to 3 PM, after which you can have your meals.
This method is also known as Leangains Protocol amongst regular fasters. You can choose different windows depending on your lifestyle, routines, and schedules. Other time windows can be 9 AM to 5 PM, 12 PM to 8 PM, 2 PM to 10 PM, etc.
Here a person intentionally consumes only 500 to 600 calories for two consecutive days and eats normally for the rest of the days in the week; this can be an excellent fasting method for seniors above 50 years of age since they do not have to force themselves to not eat anything during certain hours of the day.
This is where a person fasts for 24-hour, once or twice a week. This works miraculously on those wanting to lose weight or curb the calories. Even though it sounds difficult as you read it, once you develop the habit, you can go on for more than 24 hours without eating and feeling energetic.
Many people fast for 23 hours a day and only have an hour’s window to have meals. The more you read and learn about these methods and apply them to your body, the more aware you will be of the benefits it provides you with.
There are several other ways to intermittent fasting, including the 23/1 method, 18/6 method, even more than 24 hours – as a beginner, you must choose the 16/8 method, and if you want, you can extend the time after becoming a regular.
Food and meal plans during intermittent fasting
There is no hard and fast rule related to meals that one takes during the fasting window in IF. However, to maximize the benefits of intermittent fasting, it is essential to follow a healthy diet full of nutritious foods, including
- Green vegetables,
- Eggs and other protein sources (nuts, seeds, poultry, meat, legumes, fish, etc.),
- Healthy fats (olive oil),
- Whole grains, including rice, oats, buckwheat, etc.
You must remember to not have any food during your fasting hours except for unsweetened tea and coffee, as well as water; otherwise, your hard work will not be fruitful. It is also advised to avoid fruits during your fasting days since they have natural sugar.
It is suggested to avoid packaged products, deep-fried items, frozen food, and sugary beverages altogether. If you keep up with it for a month, you will see a good change in your body.
Intermittent Fasting for Seniors
We believe that intermittent fasting is a good way for senior citizens to maintain health because they do not have to move a muscle or follow a diet to keep their minds and bodies healthy.
All they have to do is follow an IF method (from 16-hour to 24-hour or more), and they will naturally burn calories and feel younger and more energetic.
We would suggest following a 16/8 intermittent fasting method, where seniors will only need to skip breakfast or dinner and continue eating healthy foods to maintain energy throughout the day.
However, it entirely depends on the body of a fasting person. Many people go as long as 36 hours to 7 days without eating and feel as young as ever
We would again like to remind you that one should start with 16-hour fasting a day and take it slowly while being aware of their body’s response to the same, especially the senior citizens. Keep reading to learn more about the same.
Why should seniors fast?
The interesting thing about fasting is that humans have been following this technique since time immemorial. Sometimes, they fasted because of the lack of food around them while many fasted to keep themselves healthy and energetic. We should take this learning from our ancestors and follow this technique.
Do you know that even animals fast when they feel sick?
Many religions, including Buddhism. Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and have regular fasting rituals, giving it religious reasons when the bottom line is to make the body pure and keep it healthy.
Many people consider fasting as unnatural for our bodies. The reality is that fasting is the most natural way to take care of our bodies, including mental and emotional health. If we have to explain it more thoroughly, most of us are programmed to believe that we need food 24/7 to feel energetic and work when the reality is that we do not need that much food to sustain our bodies.
It makes our body young as it repairs the cellular process that positively affects our hormones, genes, and organs. There are several unique benefits of intermittent fasting that shall be discussed later in this article.
For now, trust that fasting is the easiest and simplest way to keep our bodies healthy and, of course, energetic – you will know what we mean once you step into the process of fasting.
Is intermittent fasting safe for older adults?
Yes, intermittent fasting is safe for every human being, including older adults, despite their age. It is natural for your body to burn calories without dealing with extra food that we usually stuff our bodies with.
Even though there are no studies that have explicitly been tried on older adults, it is generally considered safe for seniors to give this dietary tool a try. Fast as per your body allows and not what you are told about fasting hours.
Long hours of fasting have been associated with malnutrition and weakness in the body, and the reason behind this result is the inability to intentionally not listen to our bodies.
We are all built differently, and while fasting is a natural process to feel healthy, it is essential to talk to one’s physician about the same if you are dealing with chronic illnesses or problems related to heart and blood pressure.
Now, you must be wondering, is it safe for seniors?
Well, yes, it is as long as you do not push yourself too fast for more hours than your body allows. So, seniors, you can start by fasting for 16 hours twice a week, and as and when your body allows, extend the time.
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Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Seniors
The benefits of intermittent fasting are many, and most are evidence-based. While we cannot jot all of them down in a single article, here are some of the most tested-and-proven benefits of intermittent fasting –
When you fast for specific hours every day, your calorie intake will decrease naturally; this will undoubtedly contribute to increased weight loss. Many studies have proven that intermittent fasting leads to significant weight loss in the participants.
Improved blood sugar
Intermittent fasting is a boon for people who have type 2 diabetes, and it has shown significant results in reducing insulin and blood sugar levels.
Some people have shown signs of reversal in diabetes. However, it would help to discuss the same with your doctor before trying this method. Although, we would still suggest you try intermittent fasting.
Even though the research and studies regarding extended longevity in humans are still limited, intermittent fasting means that humans can expect a longer life if they continue to fast all their life.
However, it has been observed that fasting affects metabolic pathways, improves genes, hormones, and insulin sensitivity, which makes our bodies age backward after a while (if we continue to fast for more than 36 hours), and thus, increases longevity.
There is no credible evidence of the same in human beings, but the body’s functioning after fasting for a month or two has led us to believe that this is entirely possible.
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It is a process by which the cells degrade and recycle their components. Under this process, the foreign invaders, including viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens, are also destroyed, reducing your chances of catching illnesses, including cancer.
It also detoxifies your entire body since the cells’ eat themselves’ to get rid of the damaged parts and recycle their young legs. The recycling part is another reason why fasting promises our bodies to age backward and extend longevity.
Better brain and heart function
When you fast for long hours, the glucose in your blood and liver is burned, and the fat in the liver is turned into ketones, which are used as fuel for the body.
Your brain and heart prefer using ketones over glucose for functioning as they produce less harmful reactive oxygen. Thus, our hearts and brains work better with ketones.
Who Should Be Careful or Avoid Intermittent Fasting?
Even though intermittent fasting is a natural way to burn calories and detoxify one’s body, it has limitations and shouldn’t be practiced by certain people. So, if you are underweight or have a history of eating disorders of any kind, then perhaps you should avoid fasting for long hours.
Also, if you have a severe health condition, including low blood pressure, blood sugar regulation issues, take some form of medication, have diabetes, are already underweight, etc., you must not consider fasting even for a while. If you are willing to try it, perhaps consultation with a doctor is better.
Women who do not get their menstruation while fasting should avoid it or follow separate guidelines for the same. Also, pregnant women and women with a history of amenorrhea are not advised to fast.
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One does not have to rely on intermittent fasting only since there are various ways to lose weight and keep the body fit.
However, it can be a task for the seniors to work out every day or follow a limited diet; fasting is perhaps the best way for their bodies to heal and get healthy. If you are above 60, intermittent fasting is the way to go if you fall into the same limitations.
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