Is Intermittent Fasting Harder as you get Older?

Hmmm, so I was a strong practitioner of 5:2 fasting in my late 20's/early 30's (female). Loved it, lost 4 stone in 2 years and found it super easy. Then I got into distance running and couldn't make IF work alongside my training routines. Coupled with the pandemic, injuries etc, I've not been running as much, got a bit bigger and need to do something about it. No worries I thought, I'll just hop back on 5:2. But I'm finding it so much harder now I'm in my early 40's. The hunger when it hits becomes all consuming, and the brain fog and general exhaustion so much stronger. I assume I'm possibly a bit more insulin resistant as I'm older, and so not coping with the lower blood sugar as I used to. I assume there's probably something hormonal in it too, as I skirt round the start of peri-menopause. But any other females find this? Any tips? I really want to get back on the wagon as I know it's the best thing for me in terms of weight control, but, like everything as I'm getting older, it feels sooooo hard!!


  • knotmel
    knotmel Posts: 80 Member
    edited August 2023
    I’ve read, in the book Next Level by Dr. Stacey Sims (who is a PhD exercise physiologist), but other places as well, that peri/postmenopausal women do not do well with that kind of time restricted eating or fasted training. I loved reading that because I personally don’t do well with either (ETA: I mention this to expose my personal bias). I recommend that book, if you’re interested, since it’s really aimed at endurance athletes (amateur and professional) entering/going through menopause—it sounds like it might resonate with your current circumstances. I’ve changed several things about my exercise routines as a result of discussions in that book, and have been happy with the changes.
  • glassyo
    glassyo Posts: 7,619 Member
    The best thing for you in terms of weight control is finding an eating schedule that works for you now consuming less calories than you burn (since you're looking to lose). If IF doesn't anymore, then it doesn't. No need to force yourself on an eating schedule if you find it hard because torturing yourself doesn't burn those calories. :)

  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 32,468 Member
    As we age, we can metabolize certain nutrients less efficiently, so benefit from spreading them through each day rather than limiting our eating hours, or having extreme calorie deficits on some days. Regular athletic training can have some of that same effect on calorie/nutrition needs, for different reasons. These things can be individually variable, and you're much younger than I am (I'm 67), but your symptoms suggest that IF may no longer be the right strategy for you.

    Since it's total calories that matter directly for weight management (not so much when we eat those calories), why not try a more steady-paced eating routine. More on exercise days works better for some people, but that's individual, too.

    Run an experiment, see if eating on a more regular schedule (but at appropriate calories) reduces the negative symptoms. I'd say go with that new schedule a week or two, to give it a fair chance.

    Best wishes!
  • neanderthin
    neanderthin Posts: 9,977 Member
    edited August 2023
    Yeah, 5:2 has nothing to do with when during the day or how many hours the eating window is, just thought I'd clear that up. I don't know, early 40's is pretty young to be complaining about age, maybe there's something else going on in your life. I did 5:2 for about a year and I loved it, it allowed a very slow weight loss without really messing with a calorie deficit for the lions share of the time, which is nice not feeling like your hungry and on a frikken diet or what you eat or when you eat. You might try adjusting your deficit for the 2 days and see if that makes a difference. Anyway, sorry to hear that it's messing with you. You might try reducing your blood sugars by reducing some carbs which tends to effect our hunger hormones allowing hunger to diminish as well as the brain fog, it takes time but that might be helpful for what your experiencing.
  • SafariGalNYC
    SafariGalNYC Posts: 944 Member
    edited August 2023
    Everyone is different.. but I know plenty of women in their 40s, 50s and beyond who are dieting and fitness powerhouses and don’t have the issue. 40s is still young! There should be no age related issues in my opinion.

    I haven’t seen any changes as I get older. If anything my discipline and fitness is getting better.

    Maybe see a doctor for endocrine issues?
  • Wynterbourne
    Wynterbourne Posts: 2,209 Member
    It may be harder for you, but it has nothing to do with age. Everyone has something different that works for them. My parents are both in their 80s and have been doing 5:2 IF for years, to lose then maintain, with no problems.
  • dhd45
    dhd45 Posts: 1 Member
    Im a 56 woman, who lost weight in 2014 age 47 on the 5:2, lost 42 lbs, I kept it off for several years until life stresses and a few traumas took over from 2019 till November 2022 where it all went back on I finally got a grip of myself again and embarked on the fast diet again this time choosing the fast 800 plan I eat at 1pm and 7pm only and ate around 800-1000 calories a dayfor the first 12 weeks as suggested where the majority of my weight came off around 24lbs. I am now 37lbs down have gone from 13st 7 lbs and currently at 10st 12lbs, my goal is 10st 4lb , however I just cant seem to move past this figure for several weeks now! I now eat around 1200 calories a day but keep yo yoing by 2 /3 pounds every time theres an even.
  • feisty_bucket
    feisty_bucket Posts: 1,047 Member
    I'm a 53 year old dude and have been doing 6:1 or 5:2 for... I dunno, maybe a decade or so?

    On eating days I'll lift weights, but on fasting days I'll just go run sprints. Some times I get hungrier than others, and it's more distracting, but i've found a few food things that make it not bad.

    1. the "snake juice" guy is pretty obnoxious, but he's got a great point about electrolytes when fasting. Just get the zero-calorie Gatorade-type stuff, either in bottles or packets or make your own with "Lite Salt" + Kool Aid and that helps.

    2. buttered coffee is good

    3. maybe a protein bar, maybe two. Still come in under the recommended ~600 calories.

    I'm still a huge fan of Mosley's 5:2. With daily weighing to know when to switch between maintenance (6:1) and fat loss (5:2), I feel like weight control is a solved problem.
  • rileysowner
    rileysowner Posts: 8,178 Member
    I have not found it any more difficult as I get older. I do an eating window type intermittent fasting with usually at least 16 hours of fasting, but I will go longer some days. It was easy when I tried it 13 years back, and now 13 years later in my 50s, I still find it is an eating pattern that works for me.