Do calories matter if you are a woman over 50 and intermittent fasting?Feb 01, 2024
Many women over 50 struggle with weight gain and find it difficult to lose weight despite their best efforts.
Counting calories has been a common approach to weight management, but is it necessary or effective when practicing intermittent fasting? Let's dive in and find out.
The Magic of Fasting
When we practice intermittent fasting, we give our bodies the opportunity to work in our favor. The magic starts to happen after about 12 hours of fasting. At this point, our body enters a fasted state where it can tap into stored calories for energy. This is why many people in the intermittent fasting community opt for a 20-hour fasting window.
During the fasted state, our body experiences a stress response, triggering the release of cortisol and an increase in human growth hormone. These responses help our body find food for survival. Contrary to what one might think, this stress response is actually beneficial for our bodies. It allows our body to turn inward and utilize stored calories for energy.
The Pitfall of Calorie Counting
One common mistake people make when practicing intermittent fasting is continuing to count calories during their feasting window. Let's say you believe you need to consume 2000 calories in a day. Regardless of your hunger cues or how you feel, you stick to that calorie count. In addition, your body consumes 500 calories from storage during your fasting window. If your basal metabolic burn rate is actually lower than 2500 calories, you end up overeating for the day.
This overeating prevents your body from tapping into fat storage as a source of energy. It's important to understand that calorie counting is not necessary or effective when practicing intermittent fasting.
If you would like to dive deeper into the pitfalls of calorie counting and weight loss, read my previous article: Is Counting Calories Keeping Women From Losing Weight?
Trusting Your Body's Hunger Cues
Instead of focusing on calorie counting, it's important to listen to your body's hunger cues. After a 20-hour fast, when you open your feasting window, take a moment to pause and assess how you feel. If you're feeling satiated and energized, your body has provided you with the necessary calories to sustain you during the fasted state.
Trusting your body's hunger cues may take some time to develop, especially when you first start intermittent fasting. Initially, your hunger hormones may still be adjusting and sending inaccurate signals. You might feel hungrier during your first break-fast experience and eat more than your body needs. However, after about four or five days, everything starts to balance out. Your metabolic burn rate corrects itself, and your body becomes more efficient in the fasted state.
The Role of Nutrition
Nutrition plays a crucial role in supporting your body's hunger hormones. Understanding macronutrients and choosing nutrient-dense foods is key. Protein, for example, is highly satiating and helps maintain lean muscle mass, which is important for aging women. Including healthy fats in your feasting window can also help keep you feeling full and satisfied.
It's important to be honest with yourself about where your carbohydrate sources are coming from. Draining your glucose tanks is essential for tapping into fat storage and utilizing it as an energy source. When glucose levels are high due to an insulin-induced environment, fat cannot be utilized for energy. By regulating glucose levels through intermittent fasting, you create an opportunity for your body to access and burn stored fat.
Consistency is Key
Consistency is key when it comes to intermittent fasting. By practicing fasting and feasting in a consistent manner, you allow your body to efficiently drain its storage tanks every 24 hours. This prevents you from falling back into a storage problem and helps you achieve your weight loss goals.
Trusting Your Body
Trusting your body is crucial in the journey of intermittent fasting. When you fast correctly and feast on nutrient-dense foods, your body will provide you with everything it needs to function optimally. There is no need to eat out of fear, stress, or emotion. Listen to your body's hunger cues and eat until you are satiated. If you are full, you are full. Trust that your body will do the rest of the work for you.
In summary, intermittent fasting can be a powerful tool for weight management, especially for women over 50. Counting calories is not necessary or effective when practicing intermittent fasting. Instead, focus on listening to your body's hunger cues and trusting that it will provide you with the necessary energy. Choose nutrient-dense foods and be honest with yourself about your macronutrient intake. Consistency is key in draining your storage tanks and tapping into fat storage. Trust your body and create an environment that supports your weight loss goals.
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