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  • Writer's pictureMark Edwards

Guide to Intermittent Fasting for Men Over 40 in 2024

Updated: May 31


(Want to get my free Intermittent Fasting Quickstart Guide? Click the link below)




Intermittent Fasting for Men Over 40: Introduction


If you’re a man over 40, there's a pretty good chance that you’ve been struggling to lose weight despite your best efforts. Weight gain is one of those things that creeps up on most older guys starting in their late twenties. A corollary of weight gain is the desire to lose belly fat.


There are a lot of factors influencing weight gain for older guys: changes in metabolism, activity level, hormones, and more.


A healthy diet and exercise are important, but they may not be enough for some guys to facilitate weight loss at a faster pace. That’s where intermittent fasting (IF) or time-restricted eating (TRE) may make a difference.


These two methods (which are really one and the same thing for our purposes) of managing your food intake can be effective for many men over 40 who want to lose weight and improve their overall health.


In this post, I'll explore the benefits of time-restricted eating and intermittent fasting for men over 40, how it works, who it’s for, and different ways to implement either eating pattern.


Three things to note right from the get-go:


  1. Intermittent fasting (time-restricted eating) is an eating pattern, NOT a "diet."

  2. If you live on a diet of over-processed junk food, Intermittent fasting likely won't help you. Toss that thought out the window right now. Without following a few basic nutrition principles, you're wasting your time with Intermittent Fasting.

  3. Intermittent fasting isn't a magical way to lose weight. That idea has been thoroughly debunked. The reason that Intermittent fasting works for weight loss is pretty simple: it's a relatively low-friction way to implement a calorie deficit. Intermittent fasting places the guard rails of time restriction into your daily meal routine.

  4. For many, TRE is psychologically easier than a conventional "diet."


So don't believe that just by adopting Intermittent Fasting, you can just merrily continue overeating junk food and being sedentary. At some point, you need to accept that without a good exercise and training regimen, you're swimming against the tide.


Intermittent fasting on its own usually requires changes in your lifestyle.



Last thing: if feeling hungry intimidates you, intermittent fasting will be a rough ride. Anyone doing an intermittent fasting protocol can expect to feel hungry for a portion of each day.


Take note: getting used to periodically feeling hungry isn't just a part of successful weight management. It's normal for anyone who has maintained a healthy weight year after year.


One of the commonalities among my coaching clients is the fear of feeling hungry. Quite literally, some clients often panic when they feel hungry. But feeling full 24/7 is not "normal." You need to let go of feeling full 24/7 if you want to get control of your diet, nutrition, and weight loss.


Once you get used to periodic daily hunger, however, it will become unnoticeable. It becomes a badge of courage and success.


Learn to view obstacles overcome as rewards.


Becoming accustomed to periodic mild hunger throughout the day and not acting on it is a definitive step to better health and weight management.



All change begins with taking positive action.

This statement is the opposite of most people's beliefs. You can't think your way into change. Taking action, "faking it til you make it," is the way to alter your mindset.


Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let's get into the meat and potatoes (pun intended) of Intermittent Fasting.



Table of Contents









What is Intermittent Fasting?


Intermittent fasting is an umbrella term that can encompass a variety of different eating patterns. The most common type of intermittent fasting is 16:8, which involves fasting for 16 hours each day and consuming all your meals within an 8-hour eating window.


This can be done by skipping breakfast and only eating between lunch and dinner, or by skipping dinner and only eating between breakfast and lunch.


There are other intermittent fasting patterns as well. There's a variation on 16:8. That would be 18:6. Do the math. It's a six-hour eating window.


There's the 5:2 IF pattern, which involves fasting or restricting calorie intake 2 days per week to 500-600 calories while eating normally on the other 5 days.


Then there's alternate-day fasting (ADF), which is fasting every second day.


And finally, there's OMD, "One Meal per Day." This is also known as "the Warrior Diet."


But 16:8 is the most popular and the one that has been studied the most. For many people, 16:8 is also easier to manage than fasting for 2 full days each week or every second day.


The Warrior Diet? That's a tough nut to crack. Most people have a hard time sticking to it.


The main benefit of intermittent fasting is that it can help you decrease your overall calorie intake, which naturally leads to weight loss. When you're not constantly snacking or grazing throughout the day, you're less likely to mindlessly eat calories that you don't need.



Wall Clock

How Time-Restricted Eating Works


Time-restricted eating is, in real terms, the same thing as Intermittent Fasting. Don't let anyone tell you any differently.


The medical literature differentiates between the two, but for our purposes, they're the same thing.


If you restrict your eating time to a fixed number of hours and then fast until the next eating window, you're restricting your eating time. And that's precisely what Intermittent Fasting or Time Restricted Eating is.


Yes, theoretically, you can eat as much as you want within a short time frame.


But be aware that if you gorge yourself during that eating window, you may not lose the weight that you're trying to get rid of.


Why?


IF or TRE helps weight loss by decreasing your overall calorie intake. You might be thinking "but IF allows me to eat as much as I like within the eating window, so how does that translate into fewer calories?"


Indeed, it does. Reports indicate that one effect of eating within a fixed time frame is decreased hunger signals. In effect, it's harder to overeat because of the limited time frame and feeling of fullness. This unintentionally leads to lower consumed calories.


IF also has other benefits, such as improved insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammation, and increased autophagy (a process that helps your cells clear out harmful toxins).


But again, these effects are a result of the concomitant caloric restriction, NOT a magical effect of Intermittent Fasting.


The same result can be achieved by following a normal eating schedule with planned caloric restriction. But as many of us know, this can be harder to accomplish than following an Intermittent Fasting protocol.



Man Exercising

Who Should Try Intermittent Fasting) Time-Restricted Eating)?


IF/TRE is generally safe for healthy adults (under the supervision of a doctor if you have any medical conditions). That said, they're not necessarily ideal for everyone.


If you're trying to gain weight or build muscle mass, intermittent fasting or TRE are probably not the best options since they will usually lead to a decrease in calorie intake.


And if you have any blood sugar issues or are taking medication that needs to be taken with food, again, these protocols are probably not right for you.


If sticking to a schedule is an issue for you, Intermittent Fasting is probably not for you. But that speaks to other issues that may be preventing you from losing weight, namely forming good habits.


So at the end of the day, Intermittent Fasting might just be something that helps you form better eating habits.




So Who Is Intermittent Fasting For?



While IF can be beneficial for anyone looking to improve their health, it can be especially useful for men over 40. This is because men tend to have more visceral fat—fat around the organs—after they reach middle age.


This type of fat is associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.


Intermittent fasting can help reduce visceral fat by helping the body burn fat for energy instead of glucose (sugar). This is why IF is often recommended for people with type 2 diabetes or those at risk of developing it.


Furthermore, IF has been shown to improve brain health in both animal and human studies, which is especially important for men over 40 as they're at an increased risk for cognitive decline.


For some people who require hard and fast boundaries, Intermittent Fasting can be a great way to adhere to a very defined eating window.


This is ESPECIALLY true for "grazers," or people who nibble throughout the day.


IF creates boundaries for a person who is used to nibbling "whenever."


IF can also be very effective for those who work irregular hours such as shift work.


Here's an example: your job prevents you from eating supper at a normal time, so you're still working between 6 and 8 pm. Coming home and then eating a late supper is a surefire way to layer on body fat.


Instead, let's say you wake up between 5 and 8 a.m.. If you eat breakfast at 7 a.m, you would then have until roughly 3 p.m. to finish the remainder of your meals. You can eat a decent lunch and have one last meal by 3 p.m.


Eat until you feel satisfied, not over-stuffed.


Then you're in your fasting period until the next morning.


IF can be a very flexible way to form healthy eating habits and practice calorie restriction for busy guys with irregular schedules.


As I already mentioned, if one of your issues is forming better eating and nutritional habits, intermittent fasting could be a reasonable approach to forming those healthier habits.


Finally, intermittent fasting can be a useful strategy to improve athletic performance.


Who Intermittent Fasting is NOT For


Pregnant women, people who have or have had eating disorders, and people simply looking to be healthy and fit with no particular desire to be extremely lean are all people who should probably avoid intermittent fasting.


For those who have a disordered eating pattern or any other eating disorders, IF is usually not a great choice. Adjusting the amount of time spent eating and not eating is NOT a sensible approach to dealing with disordered eating patterns.


Those with disordered eating issues need to consult a medical professional who specializes in this area.


Fasting daily will typically be much harder for men with over 15% body fat and women with over 22% body fat.


Moreover, there are far easier ways to make rapid and lasting changes for people in those categories. Intermittent fasting IS NOT the way forward for those people.


There can be SOME benefit in the sense that Intermittent Fasting will give you the opportunity to deal with the feeling of being hungry. There is no "out" except keeping busy until your eating window arrives.


Lastly, if meals are very social for you, ie nightly dinner with your family is important, Intermittent Fasting may not be the best choice, depending on the time of your eating window. Since IF requires you to refrain from eating for at least 16 hours per day, what are you going to do at supper time if it's outside of your eating window?


Watch the family eat and chew your fingernails? I don't think so.


But if your first meal is sometime between 10 am and 12:00, TRE could very well be ideal for you because you'll still be able to have supper with your family sometime between 6 and 8 pm.



What Are the Main Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Men?



Doctor's Scale



Weight Loss


The most common reason people start intermittent fasting is to lose weight.


For weight loss, what's the main advantage of intermittent fasting over ordinary calorie restriction? In a word: ADHERENCE.


Let's unpack this a bit.


There's a common belief that "most diets fail in the long run." Is it true? It depends on your definition of failure. At the high end, a 90%-95% failure rate has been repeated most often in the media.


That would mean a success rate of 5%-10%.


Is this really true?


The research shows that if we make a 10% loss of bodyweight the benchmark over a period of one year or more, the success rate is somewhere between 10%-30% over periods ranging from one to eight years.


Yet intermittent fasting has been proven to be as effective as ordinary calorie restriction for weight loss. Notice I said "as effective." Not more effective.


Study participants also had lower levels of belly fat, LDL cholesterol, and blood sugar after 12 weeks compared to control groups. The intermittent fasting group also showed higher levels of insulin sensitivity compared to both the control group and the caloric restriction group.


Adherence is the key.


Intentionally reducing calories requires careful calorie monitoring at every meal, every day. Intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating, on the other hand, basically requires keeping an eye on the clock. That in itself makes it easier to adhere to.


Then the kicker: people who practice intermittent fasting UNINTENTIONALLY eat less.


It's not magic. It's just numbers. Calories, intent, and hunger all play a role. Reduce the friction required to adhere and for many people, this can be pure gold.


One of the huge advantages of intermittent fasting is that it virtually eliminates snacking. During the fasting phase of each day, you will EAT NOTHING. No snacks.


Between-meal snacks are one of the prime drivers of weight gain, so intermittent fasting knocks that on the head. This goes double for so-called "cheat meals." Yeah, you can eat a big meal during your feeding period.


But unless you're gorging yourself to the point of being stuffed, it's not the same as a so-called cheat meal that people use as a way to deal with overly restrictive diets.


All of this is great news for men over 40, as belly fat is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.


Weight loss is definitely one of the main benefits of intermittent fasting for men.






Lean Muscle Mass


Another benefit for over-40 men is increased lean muscle mass.


For older guys, it's critical to maintain muscle mass, or even better, increase muscle mass. Between the ages of 40 and 50, men can lose about 8% of their muscle mass, and this loss accelerates to 15% per decade after 75.



Because intermittent fasting involves building awareness of eating patterns and meal composition, for many guys it can be a great way to mindfully increase their protein intake. Increased consumption of protein-rich foods is an absolute necessity to mitigate the loss of muscle mass as we age.


This means that intermittent fasting can improve body composition.


Intermittent fasting combined with regular exercise (especially exercise involving weight training) can be a great way for older guys to develop or maintain a strong, healthy physique and reduce the loss of muscle mass due to aging.


And I'll repeat this because it's worth repeating: There is NO MAGIC in IF. It's an eating protocol that makes caloric restriction easier and tends to make it easier to increase your intake of any macronutrient that you may need to increase muscle mass, specifically PROTEIN.



Reduced Inflammation


Another benefit of intermittent fasting/TRE is reduced inflammation. Inflammation is a normal part of the immune response, but chronic inflammation can contribute to a host of health problems like obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.


Luckily, studies have shown that intermittent fasting can help reduce inflammation, as a function of its inherent caloric restriction.


In one study, participants who did 14-16 hours of fasting per day had lower levels of inflammatory markers after eight weeks than those who didn’t fast.


In another study, participants who fasted for 16 hours per day had lower levels of inflammatory markers after four weeks than those who didn’t fast.


But take note of an important caveat: there isn't some sort of magical anti-inflammatory aspect of Intermittent Fasting itself. The reduced inflammation is a result of a reduction in calories (it's hard to overconsume doing IF) and the resulting reduction in fat mass.


If you’re a man over 40 struggling with inflammation-related health problems like obesity or type 2 diabetes, IF/TRE may be worth a try.







Increased Energy Levels


One unexpected benefit of intermittent fasting is increased energy levels.


This may seem counterintuitive since you’re essentially cutting out meals, but there’s good reason for it. When you eat fewer meals throughout the day, your body has to tap into its stored energy (i.e., body fat) for fuel instead of using the energy from the food you just ate.


As a result, you have more steady energy throughout the day instead of the highs and lows that come with eating several times per day.


If you find yourself feeling fatigued in the afternoon or needing a nap after lunchtime, intermittent fasting/TRE may help give you the boost you need.






Improved Fitness


Intermittent fasting can also help improve fitness levels, especially when combined with exercise.


One study found that people who followed a time-restricted eating schedule had better blood sugar control after 6 weeks. This is important because blood sugar control is essential for maintaining energy levels during exercise.


Another study found that men who combined intermittent fasting with HIIT had increased testosterone levels and improved insulin sensitivity after just 2 weeks.


A small but very interesting study of elite cyclists showed that time-restricted eating had a significant effect on body fat loss, compared to a control group of elite cyclists. The positive effect on body composition was huge.


These studies suggest that intermittent fasting can help improve fitness levels in men over 40 by improving blood sugar control, reducing fat mass, and maintaining lean muscle mass.


However, for Intermittent fasting to truly be effective at improving overall health, it's important to keep in mind that combining IF with a diet loaded with processed foods is NOT going to benefit you. It's essential to consume a healthy diet with plenty of protein (so that you don't lose muscle mass), healthy fats, and good amounts of fresh vegetables.


Doing so will really make IF shine.



Brain illustration


Brain Function - Mental Clarity


Intermittent fasting and time-restricted eating may also improve brain function. One way it does this is by increasing levels of a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which helps promote neuron growth and protect against neuronal cell death. BDNF has also been linked to improved memory and learning.


Intermittent fasting has also been shown to increase levels of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in attention and focus.


If you find yourself struggling with forgetfulness or mental fog, intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating may help improve your cognitive function.


FAQ


Q: How Can I Get Started with Time-Restricted Eating?

A: Follow These Steps:


1. Choose an eating window that's manageable for you.

  • Start with the easiest eating window that's manageable for you. DO NOT jump into One Meal a Day right from the get-go, fail at it, then claim "intermittent fasting was too hard, it didn't work for me." Ease into the more difficult protocols.


2. Get Your Sleep Hygiene in Order

  • Poor sleep increases appetite the next day. Get better sleep. That means no screens for at least an hour before going to bed. Limit water intake after 6 pm to reduce night-time urination.


3. Hydrate

  • During your fasting window, make sure to get plenty of liquids. This includes water, black coffee, and tea. Under-hydration increases appetite and besides that, it's detrimental to overall health.


Q: Is there a "best" men's intermittent fasting schedule?

A: Here we go. Not exactly. It REALLY depends on the individual.


If you've never done fasting of any sort, no problem. In fact, strict fasting is MUCH harder to do than intermittent fasting. I've done strict 7-10 day fasts, and although there are reasons to do it, I think that intermittent fasting is an easier, less stressful way to enjoy the benefits of fasting without the torture.


Start off with the easiest protocol and then go from there.


Q: What is the "easiest" Intermittent Fasting Protocol?

A: 16:8, in my opinion, is the simplest and easiest pattern to stick to.


  1. Decide whether you want to skip breakfast or eat an early supper.

  2. If you decide to skip breakfast (morning coffee is still okay), note the time of your first meal. So if your first meal is at 11 am, from that time onward, you eat your next two meals. If you ate your first meal at 11 am, then your last meal should finish around 7 pm.

  3. No mid-evening snacks. You do NOT eat after 7 pm until your next meal at 11 am the next day.

That's it!


If you want to eat breakfast, then the pattern would look like this:


  1. Wake up at 6 am (for example).

  2. Eat breakfast a 7 am.

  3. Eat your last meal no later than 3 pm.

  4. Your next meal after 3 pm will be the next morning at 7 am.

That's it!


Q: Is there a protocol for busy people who have less time to eat each day?

A: Yes. 18:6 is next-level stuff.


DO NOT try this right from the start, if you're new to IF.

It's the same idea as the 16:8 pattern, but you have a shorter eating window and a longer fasting window. For example,

  1. Wake up at 6 am.

  2. Eat your first meal at 12:00.

  3. Finish all other meals by 6 pm. No snacking after 6 pm.


That's all there is to it.


Q: Is there a protocol that fits a 2 day per week fasting pattern?

A: Yes. 5:2


This protocol is the ticket for people who want to be a little more granular in their approach. It definitely requires more attention and planning. Following the 5:2 pattern will require calorie-counting, so there's more friction here when it comes to adherence.


How to follow the 5:2 approach:


First, you need to determine your maintenance calories, and that'll depend on your activity levels. Check out my macro calculator to give you a ballpark number.


That number is the amount of food you'll eat 5 days per week.


Then, for 2 days each week, you'll cut that number by 500-600 calories. Essentially, you're cutting calories significantly 2 days per week and eating normally 5 days per week.


Not my favorite, but hey, whatever works for you.


The "Eat Stop Eat" Approach


Basically, this a a 24-hour fast, once or twice per week. Beautiful in its simplicity, but not an easy one to stick to. It might be ideal for someone who works a job with odd shifts. An example pattern would be to eat breakfast on Monday morning, then eat nothing until the next day.


On Tuesday you would eat as usual.


Then you might decide to eat a full breakfast on Friday and nothing until Saturday morning. The weekend would be your usual 2 or 3 meals per day.


The Alternate Day Fasting (ADF) Approach


Next, we have Alternate Day Fasting (ADF). Not for the faint of heart. You eat every other day. That means for 3-4 days each week, you eat nothing. That's 36-hour fast followed by a 12-hour eating window.


Example: You would eat breakfast on Monday morning. Then your next meal would be dinner on Tuesday and start your fast again after breakfast on Wednesday morning.


I'm not a big fan of this one. It might even be tougher to follow than the Big Kahuna:


Q: I want to go "all-in." I don't like to spend much time eating, and I'm ready to suffer. What protocol should I try?

A: OMD (One Meal a Day), also known as "The Warrior Diet."


Eat once per day. That's it.


Done! Sort of.


It's easy-peasy. In theory.


Be prepared to feel hungry for a significant portion of your day. And be ready to eat a pretty significant meal just to hit maintenance calories. Your food prep will be both easy and difficult. Why? Well, easy in the sense that you only have to plan ahead for a single meal each day. Difficult in the sense that you'll have to carefully plan ahead to ensure that your single meal includes all the necessary elements of a healthy plate (or plates) of food.


OMD bears no resemblance to binge eating. There's a reason it's called The Warrior Diet. Warriors don't go into battle with a stomach full of pizza and beer.



Conclusion


Intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating can offer many benefits for men over 40 including weight loss, reduced inflammation, increased energy levels, improved brain function, and more.


However, it's not right for everyone and you should always talk to your doctor before starting any new diet or exercise program.


Is there a "best" diet for men over 40? Whether or not intermittent fasting fits your circumstances is going to depend on every individual. You can explore more options right HERE.


And if you really want to get down and dirty and hit those weight loss goals, click HERE.


If you enjoyed this article or might know someone who may find it useful, please forward it or share it with someone!







Disclaimer: All information provided on this website is for informational purposes only. No information provided is to be construed as medical advice. If you have medical issues, always consult your doctor.

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