Do exercise and fasting even belong in the same sentence? I’ve got the inside scoop for you in this episode.
Is exercise fasted a faster way to weight loss or sabotaging you? Is there a better way to fast?
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There is a continuum of fasting and some amount of fasting is something we should all be doing to optimize health.
- 12 hours overnight
- Between meals
Taking it a step further with a shortened window by later breakfast and earlier dinner for many is the first foray into intermittent fasting. Some shorten the eating window to 8 hours, and others to 5 or 4.
You can look at other ways of fasting while eating by giving your body a break. Blending foods by consuming smoothies or soups (light in fat and carbs) is also supportive of some of the benefits of fasting without the discomfort some associate with fasting. Your liver gets a break and can do some regeneration when this happens.
Ingredients in your smoothies can be optimized to support the liver even further. Weight loss is proven in women who consumed 2 smoothies a day (vs. three) and the consumption of high protein helps maintain lean muscle mass during weight loss.
Other options include:
- Alternate days of consuming 25% of calories
- 5 normal days: 2 non-consecutive days of 0-25% calories
Myths associated with fasting after 50:
- You’ll be hungry all the time
- You’ll be exhausted all the time
Some of the studies I reviewed suggest:
- May be supportive of bone health
- Improves self-esteem
- Decreases anxiety and depression
- Improved alertness
- Improved quality of sleep
- Reduced symptoms of RA
Two articles published in 2014 Journal the International Society of Sports Nutrition and one published in the Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology in October 2017 found no difference in weight loss or fat loss and also no harm.
In a recent podcast with women’s health and hormone expert Dr. Felice Gersh, she recommended exercise fasted followed by a high protein breakfast for women in menopause and beyond. However, my search for supporting studies revealed nothing to prove fasting before exercise is better. There are significant studies showing a high protein breakfast serves women better in losing weight keep muscle, and make better choices at concurrent meals.
Fasting for Firing Up Fat Burning
A benefit of fasting is glucagon production. Glucagon does for fat burning what insulin does for fat storage. That is, a higher production of glucagon that occurs in a fasted state will help you burn more fat.
Though there is research to show a heavier reliance on fat for fuel exercising in a fasted state, what typically happens is a very slow use of that fuel and energy expenditure is significantly lower. So overall, burning more calories during a bout of exercise can result in a lower percent of fat used for fuel but still a higher number of calories from fat. I illustrate this in You Still Got It, Girl!
During hard workouts- intense interval or sprint training, for instance, your body uses carbohydrate. So eating something before is smart.
Easy to digest pre-exercise snacks that still avoid food sensitivities:
- sweet potatoes
- rice tortillas or (hearty: no cardboard) rice cakes
- Simple protein shake
Before longer endurance exercise like hiking, long slow walks or bike rides, it may be more appropriate and more comfortable for you not to eat. Remember the energy expenditure is lower so you’re not burning fuel fast. But you are able to burn fat for hours, and if you’re doing activity you love, also reducing cortisol while you’re doing it could boost fat burn.
In fact, I find for most of my clients, reducing cortisol, or offsetting it is a big key to fitness during menopause.
Metabolic flexibility is a must.
So don’t cut out food groups, especially carbs and fats. Because you ultimately will eat them again or be exposed. When you do your body will either store them or burn them. If you go too long with too few calories you slow your metabolism. You absolutely want a higher caloric intake some days, especially those days you’re active. Your metabolic needs change as your activity level does.
It’s also important to consider however, if you’re more athletic in general, you have a body to maintain. Feed it don’t starve it. Muscles without adequate fuel and specifically protein will waste. You still will default to thinking weight loss is good…. But it can come back to bite you in the butt. Literally. If you lose muscle, you lose metabolism, you gain weight and it’s fat weight, easier in the future.
Matcha tea before a workout (coffee works too but I find it creates more jittery anxious energy than stable). Boost your fat burn after intervals by 29%.
You can drink the tea simply, make it a latte with almond milk, or add it to a smoothie.
However, if you’re fasting it’s only the tea. You can only coffee. You can’t have the butter, or the stevia or the creamer. Just black, or just green. This may be the hardest part of fasting after 50 for those of us that love our cream!
What to Eat Before a Workout
Before any (challenging) workout, keep in mind you want to reduce residue or roughage. Have foods or drinks that easily empty from the gut. So no fiber or fat in the pre-high intensity workout snacks. Some roasted sweet potato cubes with nut butter and cinnamon is one of my favorites. A small amount of the nut butter won’t be so much that it weighs you down.
I am doing a full webinar on exercise and fasting after 50 because it’s so confusing to so many women and I’ll be addressing:
- Your body type
- The exercise type – yoga, running, strength training, high intensity intervals
- The time of day
- Your goals – fat loss, muscle gain
There is a lot of advice out there. Fasting has its place and purpose. Is it for you? And is it for you right now is the question. Please bring your questions. You can be the first to know about the webinar invite and save your spot by joining our community at flippingfifty.com/any-age
Use Flipping50 for a special podcast listener discount
Nair PM, Khawale PG. Role of therapeutic fasting in women’s health: An overview. J Midlife Health. 2016;7(2):61–64. doi:10.4103/0976-7800.185325
I’d love to hear from you! Are you fasting after 50?