Le jeûne intermittent pour les femmes de plus de 40 ans: quels bénéfices, lequel choisir?

Presse Santé

Some popular diet plans for postmenopausal women recommend intermittent fasting. But is it safe and effective for women over 40?

When intermittent fasting (IF) was first proposed as a dietary approach, many nutritionists said that any weight loss is likely due to the reduction in calories that inevitably occurs when you limit the time you eat while fasting, day and night. But since then, studies have begun to show that other factors may be involved as well, making intermittent fasting an intriguing approach to weight loss. Intermittent fasting is an umbrella term for a variety of diets, all of which involve eating regularly at certain times and restricting calories at others.

According to menopause experts, some women in this age range gain weight around the abdomen, which can be difficult to dislodge. It is therefore not surprising that middle-aged women are particularly interested in a targeted dietary approach. But deciding whether intermittent fasting is right for women over 40 must consider a number of factors.

What are the types of intermittent fasting?

There are many different approaches to IQ. Some people choose one to three days of the week when they eat as little as possible, if at all. Another technique, known as a fast-mimicking diet, involves severely restricting calories for five days a month. One of the most commonly recommended JI approaches to weight loss involves what is called the 5:2 fast, where you eat normally for five days a week, but severely restrict calories, down to about 500 per day for women (600 for men), for the remaining two days. Other people use a time-restricted feeding (TRE) process, typically eating for 8 to 12 consecutive hours in a day and fasting for the remaining hours. The Galveston Diet recommends that middle-aged women follow a TRE plan that prohibits all foods for a 16-hour period, called 8/16. Certain liquids are still allowed and even recommended during fasting hours when little or no food is consumed. These are black coffee, teas (especially herbal teas), and water.

Does the evidence show that intermittent fasting helps middle-aged women lose weight?

One of the largest and most recent reviews of research on intermittent fasting in adults (men and women), published in JAMA Network Open in December 2021, showed that certain types of intermittent fasting appear to help moderate weight loss, with moderate to high-quality evidence.

To reach this conclusion, the researchers evaluated 11 published meta-analyses, which cumulatively analyzed 130 separate randomized controlled trials. Delving deeper, the researchers found that only the 5:2 diet or a similar modified alternative fast was associated with “statistically significant weight loss of more than 5% in overweight or obese adults.” They did not find that time-restricted feeding produced similar results. Additionally, the researchers note that intermittent fasting appears to work best in the first six months, after which those affected often experience a weight plateau. Intermittent fasting may provide similar results to a calorie-restricted diet, according to a preliminary study.

Another study, published in October 2021 in the Annual Review of Nutrition, found that ERT, along with alternate-day fasting and the 5:2 diet, resulted in mild to moderate weight loss according to the researchers (1 to 8 % less than the initial weight). The researchers, from the University of Illinois at Chicago, found that intermittent dieting appears to result in the same weight loss as the more traditional calorie-restricted diet, which cuts about 500 calories a day.

Can intermittent fasting benefit women’s heart health?

Both review articles found evidence that intermittent fasting offers improvements related to heart health, an important area for middle-aged women as the risk of heart disease increases at this time. JAMA Network Open authors found several studies in which adults on an intermittent fasting diet improved their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, total cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, fasting insulin, insulin resistance and your blood pressure. Many of these benefits have occurred in people who are overweight or obese. Similarly, the Annual Nutrition Review analysis documented a decrease in blood pressure and insulin resistance in some, as well as lower levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

Is intermittent fasting safe for middle-aged women?

Intermittent fasting is generally safe and does not lead to disruptions in energy levels or an increase in disordered eating behaviors. However, not all middle-aged women should try this diet. Those with a history of eating disorders, a body mass index (BMI) less than 18.5, or those who must take medication while eating at specific times should refrain. Other experts say that people with certain medical conditions may be poor candidates. Women with Crohn’s disease, for example, must follow a different diet. Diabetics are also advised to abstain, especially when their blood sugar levels are not well controlled.

What is the bottom line for middle-aged women and intermittent fasting?

It’s important to make sure you’re eating healthy foods during meals, rather than gorging yourself on nutritionally empty calories. If you’re on a junk food diet, it won’t do you any good to eat fewer hours. A better selection of food is also important. To be effective long-term, a JI diet must also fit your lifestyle. If you usually go out for breakfast or dinner late, for example, it is not feasible to want to fast at those times. Mornings are not the hardest part for most people on a JI diet with a 16/8 schedule. A cup of coffee alone goes a long way in making people happy in the morning. The hardest thing for many is not snacking at night.

If you have a medical condition, it is important to consult your doctor before beginning an IF regimen. And if you’re not sure how to implement it in a healthy way, make an appointment with a dietitian. For women in good health or who have been given the green light, there seem to be few downsides to trying the JI diet. You may finally shed some of those stubborn middle-aged pounds that might not have budged otherwise.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information provided can not replace the advice of a health professional.

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