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Intermittent Fasting and Your Age

You may have heard of intermittent fasting if you’ve talked to a health and fitness specialist or dietician before. Or maybe you’ve seen someone talk about or practice it before. It’s a great practice usually recommended for weight control or fitness, and you may be considering it yourself. If so, it should interest you that there is some age dimension to how you do your intermittent fasting. And in this post, we will discuss everything you need to know about intermittent fasting and how to do it appropriately for your age.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

According to experts, our bodies have evolved to be capable of going long hours (and even days) without food. Intermittent fasting can be understood as a way to tap into that capacity in order to get benefits like boosts to the immune system or weight loss.  

Is Intermittent Fasting for Everyone?

The first thing you need to know about this practice is that it is only appropriate for some. For instance, it is generally advised that older people be more cautious about fasting, as they are more likely to have conditions that can be affected by intermittent fasting—for instance, type I diabetes or even taking insulin. However, it may be safe for healthy older adults, and people with Type II diabetes may be unaffected or even helped by it. 

Additionally, pregnant or breastfeeding women should not fast, and neither should children and teens under 18, as growth and adolescence call for a great supply of calories. Everyone else, barring some relevant health concern, can fast. 

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Intermittent Fasting By Age

As far as the scientific evidence is concerned, there is not much reason to think that age significantly affects the efficacy of intermittent fasting. So the guidelines on your intermittent fasting by age chart will not necessarily give you any major results over those for a different age. It’s just hard to say which fasting schedules would have the most health impact on which age. 

However, we have been able to put together some research from our experts. And from our analysis, we have determined what patterns will likely work best for what age ranges. But before we go into those, it’s crucial to see your doctor before beginning an intermittent fasting regimen. They would be familiar with your medical history, so they’ll know how best to tailor your regimen. 

That said, let’s look at some age grouping. 

18 to 30 Years 

By 18, you’ll most likely be in college, and most of your activities will be social and academic. The first thing to keep in mind is that you are basically the youngest you can be for fasting to be a recommendable idea. As such, you should probably take it slow.

The next thing to consider is the pattern of your daily life at this point. Between now and 30 years, you’ll mostly be dashing between lectures and social functions, and by the latter part, you may be settling into your career. What your fasting needs now is flexibility. As such, we would recommend trying different ones to suit changes in the daily pattern. 

For example, suppose you’ve been doing an 18/6 schedule, but you have an engagement for the middle of next week; you can give yourself a larger window for eating on the days leading up to it by switching to 14/10, then changing back to 18/6 on Friday or Thursday. Your fasting window doesn’t have to be the same length every day to have the needed effect, so you can vary it as much as you’d like. 

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30 to 45 Years 

By this age, you’ve mostly settled into a work life, and you’re probably excelling at it, as you should. And depending on what type of career you’re into, you may need a flexible or more stable intermittent fasting schedule. 

For instance, if you work at a freelance job or one that makes you travel a lot, a more flexible schedule will still work for you. You can try something like the pattern we just talked about. However, a more stable job that affords you a more stable and predictable daily pattern will call for a more stable intermittent fasting schedule. You’ll need one that allows you to be properly energized during your work days. For that, we’d recommend 16/8 or 14/10.

45 to 60 Years 

If you have a womb, 45 to 60 is around the time when you may have to start worrying about menopausal weight gain. And people of all genders have to worry about the potential early onset of age-related illnesses, such as some heart diseases. 

If you’re within this age bracket, your fasting regimen and diet should be more directed at boosting the immune system and maintaining cardiac health. As such, you should break your fasts with foods rich in proteins, and you might also consider throwing in some strength training. You can then combine these practices with schedules like the 18/6, which is known to be especially great for post and premenopausal weight loss.

60 Years and Beyond

By this age, you need all the nutrients you can get to stay healthy and maintain good bodily function. These include minerals like calcium, lots of protein, and vitamin D. 

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You’re slowly nearing the age when fasting may not be too advisable. As such, your fasting at this point should be shorter and a bit less frequent than before. You might want to try shorter schedules like 12/12 or 14/10. Depending on the level of your health and your doctor’s or dietician’s advice, it may be safe to venture a 16/8 and even an 18/6 every now and then. However, it’s best to keep these fasts as short as possible. 

Conclusion

There are many benefits you stand to enjoy from intermittent fasting, as long as you do it right and follow a schedule that works for you. Not only does it aid in weight loss and improve mental health, but it may also improve gut health and lower your risk of numerous ailments. 

Of course, intermittent fasting by age is not an exact science, so the schedules we’ve recommended are only aids to guide your consideration. You should see your health professional to help you determine how best to practice. 

Author

  • Jennifer Smith

    Jennifer Smith is a registered dietitian with a Bachelor's degree in Dietetics from Ohio State University and a Master's degree in Nutrition from Tufts University. With over 8 years of experience in the nutrition field, Jennifer is an expert in sports nutrition, weight management, and overall health and wellness. As an author at FitGAG, she shares her knowledge and expertise on a variety of topics, including sports nutrition, weight loss strategies, and overall health and wellness tips.

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