Intermittent Fasting for Women
If you are a woman who cares about staying healthy and fit, you have probably heard the benefits of intermittent fasting in the loss of body fat.
However, something that many women do not know, is that fasting may have the risk of presenting a hormonal imbalance, which may even interfere with fertility.
This does not mean that females can not practice intermittent fasting, but must do so in a special way to obtain their benefits without risking side effects.
Intermittent fasting is a period of 12 to 16 hours or more, in which you only drink water.
Although at first glance stop eating for a day may sound very complicated, the simple fact that you skip dinner and breakfast late the next day, already counts as fasting.
For people who are used to eating 5 or 6 times to accelerate their metabolism, it can be complicated and contradictory to spend 12 hours without eating, taking only water and coffee without sugar.
But fasting is a practice that has been known for many years and whose benefits are supported by science. Medical studies show that intermittent fasting:
- Increase energy levels.
- Improves thinking, cognition and memory.
- It decreases insulin resistance, because when our body depletes glucose reserves, it begins to metabolize fat, which does not require insulin ( 1 ).
- Improves the immune system, decreasing the risk of diabetes.
- Optimizes cardiovascular health
- It increases the production of neurotrophic factor of brain growth, a protein that promotes the growth and protection of neurons, making us more resilient to neurological stress and neurodegenerative diseases
The Connection Between Intermittent Fasting and Hormones
Many women who try intermittent fasting for the first time do not experience any of its advantages, quite the contrary.
It is common to see much weakness, difficulty sleeping, lack of concentration and irritability. This without mentioning the uncontrolled hunger and overfeeding that follows the fast. Men, on the other hand, seem not to experience so many problems.
This is because the hormonal balance of women is more delicate and intermittent fasting can cause some imbalances if not done properly.
Women’s bodies are much more sensitive to the first symptoms of hunger and their body immediately feels that they are being deprived of food, which causes a rapid increase in hunger-regulating hormones, such as leptin.
So, when women experience an exacerbated hunger after fasting, they actually have a considerable hormonal increase.
In this way the metabolism protects your offspring from malnutrition, even if the person is not pregnant.
Many women ignore the first symptoms of hunger, which causes the body’s signals to become more drastic.
In the end, the only thing we will achieve when breaking the fast is that we will not stop eating, recovering more calories than we skipped, without mentioning that we will no longer feel like fasting.
In case you try intermittent fasting several times and follow a fasting pattern followed by overfeeding, you will fall into a vicious circle that may interfere with ovulation.
Studies in animals show that after two weeks of intermittent fasting, female rats stopped having menstrual cycles. Her ovaries shrunk and she experienced more insomnia problems than her male counterparts.
Male rats only had a decrease in testosterone production levels.
Unfortunately, there is not enough medical research with reliable results on the metabolic differences of intermittent fasting between men and women.
However, animal testing confirms our suspicions that it can cause a hormonal imbalance in women, cause fertility problems and exacerbate eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.
This does not mean that women can not do intermittent fasting, there is a solution:
Progressive Fasting for Women
The female body can have many difficulties to adapt to intermittent fasting, if you have never done it before or if you try too fast.
If you want to try the advantages of intermittent fasting, you should start with the modified or progressive fasting, which only requires fasting a few days a week, instead of doing it daily.
Apparently, women benefit a lot by doing it this way and avoid hormonal imbalances.
This form is more friendly to the body and mood. And, if done well, it’s a great way to get rid of body fat, decrease inflammation and increase your energy.
Rules of Progressive Fasting for Women
1.- Fast from two to three non-consecutive days a week, for example, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
2.- On the days that you fast, do not do intense physical activity. You can do yoga or light cardio.
3.- Keep your fasts for a period of 12 to 16 hours.
4.-Eat normally the days that you exercise with intensity.
5.- Do not forget to consume enough fluids. Do not substitute simple water for other types of drinks. You can have tea or coffee, as long as you do not add sugar.
6.-You can add a day of fasting after 2 weeks of maintaining the progressive fast.
Progressive fasting can be a great alternative if you need to get rid of a few kilos, but remember to check any diet changes with your trusted doctor.