Instead of focusing on WHAT to eat, intermittent fasting focuses on WHEN to eat. It’s been all the craze these days. My dad has been watching YouTube videos and saying he can fast for a whole month and have all these crazy benefits.
It is thought to help with weight loss and decrease the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating that cycles between periods of fasting and normal eating.
One popular idea about intermittent fasting is that there is not a huge stress on what you’re eating, macros, measuring etc. Not having a restrictive diet may mean to some people that it can be more of a lifestyle rather than a diet.
Sounds interesting! But is it right for you?
There have been some concerns with women participating in Intermittent Fasting. A study showed that blood sugar control actually worsened in women after three weeks of intermittent fasting, which was not the case in men (6).
There have been stories of women who have experienced changes to their menstrual cycles after starting intermittent fasting. This might happen because female bodies are extremely sensitive to calorie restriction.
Calorie restriction can disrupt the secretion of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (a hormone that helps release two reproductive hormones: luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone (7, 8)). When these hormones cannot communicate with the ovaries, you run the risk of irregular periods, infertility, poor bone health and other health effects (7).
Although there are no comparable human studies, tests in rats have shown that 3–6 months of alternate-day fasting caused a reduction in ovary size and irregular reproductive cycles in female rats (9, 10).
For these reasons, women should consider a modified approach to intermittent fasting, such as shorter fasting periods and fewer fasting days.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Heart Health – can lower cholesterol
Lowers Risk of diabetes – possibly lowers insulin levels and insulin resistance
Weight Loss – can aid in losing excess weight
Eat Less – you have a smaller window to eat so you tend to eat less
Less Inflammation of the body – can reduce inflammation that causes weight gain
Improves Well-being – better self image and body composition
Increased longevity – possibly increasing your life-span
Preserve muscle mass – able to retain more muscle mass
Modified approaches for Women
Here are some of the best types of intermittent fasting for women:
- Crescendo Method: Fasting 12–16 hours for two to three days a week. Fasting days should be nonconsecutive and spaced evenly across the week.
- Eat-stop-eat (also called the 24-hour protocol): A 24-hour full fast once or twice a week (maximum of two times a week for women). Start with 14–16 hour fasts and gradually build up.
- The 5:2 Diet (also called “The Fast Diet”): Restrict calories to 25% of your usual intake for two days a week and eat “normally” the other five days. Allow one day between fasting days.
- Modified Alternate-Day Fasting: Fasting every other day but eating “normally” on non-fasting days. You are allowed to consume 20–25% of your usual calorie intake on a fasting day.
- The 16/8 Method (“Leangains method”): Fasting for 16 hours a day and eating all calories within an eight-hour window. Women are advised to start with 14-hour fasts and eventually build up to 16 hours.
Make sure you are still eating well on whichever style of intermittent fasting you choose!
If you have a medical condition, you should consult with your doctor before trying any type of intermittent fasting.
Medical consultation is particularly important for women who:
- Have a history of eating disorders.
- Have diabetes or regularly experience low blood sugar levels.
- Are underweight, malnourished or have nutritional deficiencies.
- Are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive.
- Have fertility problems or a history of amenorrhea (missed periods)
If you would like to know more about what would be right for you in your weight loss journey, contact our team at Sweat Lab for a free consultation 🙂