Intermittent fasting for men over 50 can welcome a world of benefits. But is it safe to use intermittent fasting (IF) in your prime years? Will you benefit from the schedules, and which one should you use? These questions are typical to have before trying IF.
Intermittent fasting for men over 50 is two-sided. It works wonders for some but may challenge the healthcare needs of others. Let’s help you with a health guide to intermittent fasting for men over 50 to show you how and whether you can use the schedules.
Is Intermittent Fasting Good for Men over 50?
Intermittent fasting may help you with the following:
- Maintain muscle mass
- Lower the risk of diabetes (9)
- Improve insulin sensitivity (9)
- Lose weight (9)
- Protect against Alzheimer’s disease (15)
- Reduce the risk of heart disease (15)
- Delay cognitive decline (16)
However, it helps to know both sides of intermittent fasting for men over 50 to make a healthy choice.
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Men’s Health Guide to Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting for men over 60 or anywhere in their prime years requires an understanding. It’s suitable for some but not for others. Understanding the potential benefits versus risks for older men will also help you determine your approach.
Is Intermittent Fasting Good for Older Men? – The Pros
Intermittent fasting for men over 50 and beyond has a few benefits. Let’s explore how IF may help you stay fit and healthy.
Intermittent Fasting May Maintain Muscle Mass
In most cases, when you lose weight, it isn’t only fat. However, IF seems to be similar or better than continuous calorie restriction at maintaining muscle mass during weight loss. Some studies on weight loss with intermittent fasting have suggested either small amounts of lean mass are lost or none in some cases (13, 5, 19). You may be even more likely to maintain muscle mass while losing weight with IF if you incorporate strength training into your routine (12, 24).
Intermittent Fasting May Lower Your Risk of Chronic Disease
A meta-analysis by Chinese researchers found that IF may help improve insulin, glucose, and triglyceride levels in individuals with impaired glucose and lipid metabolism (metabolic syndrome) (8). The researchers concluded that as an auxiliary treatment, IF may help these people lose weight and reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases.
Intermittent Fasting May Reduce Cognitive Decline
One review suggested that intermittent fasting could have preventative benefits against cognitive decline, especially due to Alzheimer’s disease (14). However, these observations are mostly based on animal studies and any benefits to humans are hypothetical at this point.
Intermittent Fasting for Men over 50 – The Cons
Unfortunately, intermittent fasting for men over 50 may not be the best choice if the risks outweigh the benefits. Many studies have focused on animals or younger individuals. There isn’t enough evidence to support IF without risk in men over 50.
Harvard says that OF with a normal to slightly overweight body type may be risky because you could lose too much weight. Being underweight can cause energy deficiencies, a poor immune system, and weaker bones (21). Furthermore, you should consult a doctor about IF if you are taking any of the following medications:
- Blood glucose regulators
- Heart medicine
- Blood pressure medication
- Medicine that requires you to take it with food
What Is the Best Intermittent Fasting Schedule for over-50 Men?
The best intermittent fasting for over 50 requires you to understand your needs. That way, you will benefit from IF without risking your health. Always consult your doctor before starting IF, but this guide will help you understand the options.
How Many Hours Should a 50-Year-Old Fast?
There are four main types of IF, with one having a few options. Let’s see what they are and whether they suit your lifestyle, needs, and goals.
Time-Restricted Intermittent Fasting
Time-restricted fasting (TRF) is the most common and popular choice, with four options (23). Here is a rundown of how each schedule works:
- 12/12 method: This is excellent for beginners who are learning to use intermittent fasting. You fast for 12 hours and eat your regular daily calorie intake for the other 12. It’s an easy schedule that allows you to adjust the windows to your workouts, sleep, and more.
- 14/10 method: This schedule is a step up from the last one and allows you to challenge your body longer with a 14-hour fast and 10-hour eating window. It’s also adjustable, based on your needs.
- 16/8 method: You fast for 16 hours and eat during an 8-hour window. It’s a popular choice that allows some strictness without starving yourself (23). Let’s say you eat breakfast at 10 in the morning. You’ll stop eating at 18:00 to start an overnight fast.
- 20/4 method: This is the strictest TRF schedule as you only eat during a four-hour window but fast for 20. It requires discipline and won’t suit everyone.
The 5:2 Method
The 5:2 intermittent fasting schedule is another popular choice that allows you to fast two days a week and eat normally for the other days (23). By eating normally, you’d still stick to healthy foods. However, you consume your regular calories five days a week.
You then fast on two non-consecutive days, cutting your calories to 600 (or 25% of your needs). Research from the UK shows the method suits people who can adapt to fasting for two days weekly, but it may backfire as adherence tends to drop over time (6). It may not be the greatest long-term option.
Alternate Day Fasting
Alternate-day fasting requires you to eat normally on one day and eat only 500 calories (or 25% of your needs) the next day (23). It isn’t the strictest intermittent fasting schedule and would suit men over 50 who want to feel like they’re eating a regular diet every second day.
The general rule is that you cut your calories on fasting days to a quarter of what you normally consume on non-fasting days. So, if you consume 2,000 calories on non-fasting days, you’ll eat 500 calories on your fasting days.
One Meal a Day (OMAD) Intermittent Fasting
WebMD does not recommend the OMAD method as it can dangerously interfere with blood pressure and glucose levels (20). The OMAD intermittent fasting schedule suggests that you fast for 23 hours and consume all your calories in just a one-hour window.
It is not suitable for anyone who is using medication or who does morning exercises. The schedule is difficult to sustain and you may feel hungrier than usual. This is quite excessive for men over 50.
Best Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
Losing belly fat at 50+ for men is a common goal. Burning fat in a single place isn’t realistic. However, Italian scientists found that an eight-week 16/8 program with resistance training burned total body fat in men (12). Less body fat equals a flatter belly.
Time-restricted programs may be more effective for weight loss. Baltimore researchers found similar results on reduced body weight with the 14/10 IF program after eight weeks (11). However, UK researchers found that the 5/2 program did not fare as well (6).
The UK study saw participants lose weight successfully, but only 31% of individuals stuck with the program after six months. Others lost interest and started eating normally. Stricter fasting programs may not be as effective for weight loss, particularly in the long term. TRF programs may be the better choice.
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How to Intermittent Fast After 50 for Men
Choosing the proper intermittent fasting schedule for men over 50 is the first step. Then, you must follow some tips to help you achieve your desired benefits:
Plan the fasting periods around your lifestyle
Medical News Today suggests that the easiest way of sticking to any fasting window on a TRF schedule is to plan it around your sleep (23). For example, using the 12/12 schedule as a beginner means you can sleep through about eight hours of your fasting period. You should also plan your fasting windows to ensure you exercise close to or during your eating windows so you have enough energy.
Stay hydrated during your fasting periods
Dehydration won’t be your friend. So, you must stay hydrated with calorie-free drinks, such as tea or coffee without sugar or milk. Drink plenty of water to keep your body fueled. You can help your body sustain hydration and fluid balance by drinking plenty of water (23).
Eat the right foods during your eating windows
Men’s Health recommends a nutrient-dense diet while using IF to lose weight or improve your health (2). You should replace refined and fast-acting carbs with complex carbs from vegetables, whole grains, beans, and fruits with a high fiber content. Also, during IF programs, consume at least two substantial meals with lean protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs each day.
Lean protein such as poultry, fish, lentils, beans, tofu, seeds, nuts, low-fat cottage cheese, eggs, and cheese are all good choices. You can get healthy fat from olives, olive oil, coconut oil, fatty fish, and avocados. Whole grains such as quinoa, oats, barley, and brown rice will also help.
Add 2-3 healthy snacks during your eating windows
Snacking is an excellent way to curb hunger when you start intermittent fasting. Some snacks are healthier and will make you feel full during fasting (18). Avocados, nuts, low-fat yogurt, berries, eggs, protein bars, seafood, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, beans, and legumes are healthy snacks you can eat during your eating windows.
Keep yourself full during a fast if necessary
Some foods will help you get through a fasting period without breaking your fast entirely (18). Bone broth, black coffee, bullet-proof coffee, tea, and water can help you stay on track when you feel hungry during a fast. Remember not to add any carbs or ingredients that may break your fast.
Reduce your temptations during the fast
Medical News Today recommends reducing your temptation to eat when you typically would while you’re in a fasting period (4). For example, don’t watch television if you’re used to snacking while you watch and it’s time to fast. You should also reduce your exposure to food images during a fast.
Eat the right amount of calories
You don’t count calories on intermittent fasting. However, eating too little is detrimental. The South China Morning Post interviewed experts who recommended at least 1,200 calories daily (1). Many people need significantly more than that, even if their aim is weight loss. You shouldn’t eat too little or too much. Instead, you should eat the regular amount of calories you would during your eating window.
Don’t eat too late at night
Plan your fasting window to start 1-2 hours before sleep because eating before bed may interrupt your sleep by causing discomfort or indigestion (1). Eating earlier in the day may help you reap the benefits after restoring your sleep-wake cycle and you can plan your exercise around eating.
Avoid strict or prolonged fasting as a beginner
Beginners may experience adverse effects from fasting for longer periods such as 36+ hours (1). Shorter-term fasting is safer and sticking to the more popular schedules will help you enjoy the benefits. Fasting for too long or too often places too much stress on your body.
Break your fast slowly
Intermittent Fasting for Men over 50 Meal Plan
Intermittent fasting for men over 50 is simplified using a meal plan to guide how you break your fast and eat during your eating window. Discover our top two 7-day meal plans for the 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule, including a normal but healthy and a vegan option (3).
5 Intermittent Fasting for Men over 50 Recipes
Having tasty recipes for during your eating windows will help you stay on track. Remember that you should try to eat healthier between fasts. This list of 10 healthy IF recipes will ensure you eat healthily during eating windows and is courtesy of BBC Good Food and Laura Fuentes (7, 22).
Dinner Oatmeal With Roasted Vegetables (22)
A hearty dinner with plenty of complex carbs from your vegetables will keep you full until you break your fast the next day. It contains healthy fats and a solid portion of protein.
Macros: 4 servings, 415 calories, 49 g carbs, 18 g fat, 18 g protein, and 9 g fiber
Fast Fish Pie (7)
Fast meals are convenient, particularly when you feel hungry between fasts. This recipe uses fatty fish, complex carbohydrates in the vegetables, and intense spices with fewer calories.
Macros: 4 servings, 364 calories, 35 g carbs, 15 g fat, 24 g protein, and 3 g fiber
Mediterranean Chicken Farro Bowls (22)
Mediterranean food tends to be a healthy choice between fasts and it provides many complex carbs with healthier fats and plenty of flavor. It’s higher in calories and carbs, but it has good protein.
Macros: 1 serving, 648 calories, 55 g carbs, 33 g fat, 37 g protein, and 11 g fiber
Fast Feta and Aubergine Pizza (7)
Pizza allows you to have snacks or meals between fasts in a few minutes. The ingredient list is simple enough and the mint will surprise you with a burst of flavor.
Macros: 4 servings, 377 calories, 43 g carbs, 19 g fat, 11 g protein, and 3 g fiber
Quick Chili (7)
A quick bowl of chili is another fantastic meal you can eat between fasts and contains more fiber than most recipes. The calories and carbs are high, but the other macros deliver excellent results.
Macros: 2 servings, 463 calories, 50 g carbs, 18 g fat, 29 g protein, and 17 g fiber
For more information on intermittent fasting:
How can a man over 50 lose weight fast?
Italian researchers found that the 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule with two days of resistance training helped men lose weight and burn fat (12). The men maintained muscle mass and burned body fat. Although the men in this study were younger, a similar regimen could also work for men over 50l.
How long should men do intermittent fasting?
Italian researchers kept men on an eight-week intermittent fasting schedule with resistance training twice weekly (12). After eight weeks, the men lost weight, burned fat, and improved some health biomarkers. OSF Healthcare says that using IF for up to 12 months is safe (17).
However, you shouldn’t use prolonged or frequent IF that may harm your health (1). Instead, take breaks and follow schedules for two weeks before having a two-week break. Intermittent fasting is a lifestyle, not a race or a fad diet. Take it slowly and follow the program so your body grows accustomed to it.
Can I drink coffee while fasting?
Yes, you can drink coffee while you are fasting. However, you must not add anything that will break your fast, such as sugar or milk. Men’s Health suggests curbing hunger by adding fat to your morning coffee without breaking your fast (2). The addition of 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil to black, unsweetened coffee can help curb your morning hunger until your eating window.
The Bottom Line
Intermittent fasting for men over 50 is uncomplicated if you follow the tips to improve your chances of staying on track to reap the benefits. However, you should consult your doctor before you try any IF schedule, particularly if you have a medical condition or take medication. Otherwise, you can choose your schedule and start your journey to health, wellness, and weight loss today.
Disclaimer: This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on for making decisions of any kind. Any action you take based on the information that is presented in this article is entirely at your own risk and responsibility
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 9 Intermittent Fasting Mistakes to Avoid: Don’t Eat Too Little, Drink More Water, and Don’t Exercise Too Much, Expert Says (2022, scmp.com)
- 7 Ways to Turbocharge Your Intermittent Fasting Eating Window (2020, menshealth.com)
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- BBC Good Food (n.d., bbcgoodfood.com)
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- Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Cognitive Health and Alzheimer’s Disease (2023, academic.oup.com)
- Fasting Promotes the Expression of SIRT1, an NAD+ -Dependent Protein Deacetylase, Via Activation of PPARalpha in Mice (2010, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Intermittent Fasting Attenuates Lipopolysaccharide-Induced Neuroinflammation and Memory Impairment (2014, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Intermittent Fasting: Does It Work, and Is it Safe? OSF Healthcare (2021, osfhealthcare.org)
- Intermittent Fasting Snacks: 10 Plus Healthy Bitings That Will Help You Stay on Track (2023, betterme.world)
- Intermittent Versus Daily Calorie Restriction: Which Diet Regimen Is More Effective for Weight Loss? (2011, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Is Eating One Meal a Day Safe? (2023, webmd.com)
- Is Intermittent Fasting Safe for Older Adults? (2020, health.harvard.edu)
- Laura Fuentes (n.d., laurafuentes.com)
- Six Ways to Do Intermittent Fasting: The Best Methods (2023, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Time-Restricted Feeding in Young Men Performing Resistance Training: A Randomized Controlled Trial (2017, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)