Intermittent Fasting For Women

Intermittent Fasting For Women
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The Basics of Intermittent Fasting

The concept of Intermittent fasting (IF) goes back to our ancestors’ days of hunting and gathering when they would go for periods without food and periods of feasting. Done properly, intermittent fasting can have profound effects on our health, including increased energy, better concentration, and reduced cravings.

IF pertains to an eating strategy of cycling between periods of eating and fasting. Its premise is primarily focused on when you eat rather than what you eat, although what you eat is equally important! Fasting allows your body to focus on digestion and deplete your glucose stores so that your metabolism can start burning your own body fat. Done right, fasting can improve your metabolic health[1][2].


Fasting Vs. Calorie Restriction

Calorie restriction pertains to reducing your calorie intake, while intermittent fasting restricts eating to specific time windows. Unlike IF, calorie-restricted diets do not prescribe eating schedules. Since you only have an allowable time window to eat, IF may naturally lead to eating fewer calories, although it isn’t the primary goal.


Fasting Balances Blood Sugar, Increases Insulin Sensitivity, and can help control hunger

When we eat, glucose is absorbed from our gut and released into our bloodstream, increasing our blood sugar levels.  This rise in blood glucose causes our pancreas to release insulin so glucose can move into our cells and be used as energy.

Hence, Eating constantly causes your blood sugar and insulin to rise and fall throughout the day, and the extent to which they rise and drop depends on the food you eat. Processed, refined carbohydrates like cakes and sugar will cause significant spikes and dips, while complex carbohydrates like beans, vegetables, and lower-glycemic-index foods will have fewer effects. Constantly and dramatically spiking your blood sugar levels daily may lead to chronically high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.  Making IF part of your routine and choosing lower-glycemic-index foods improves blood sugar levels and overall insulin sensitivity.

Some studies have also shown that IF is more effective at balancing our hunger hormones’ Gherlin and Leptin, making it easier to control hunger.


Fasting for Women

Fasting for women is a lot more complicated than for men because of… you guessed it, hormones!

The major concern for women doing intermittent fasting is that it can disrupt natural hormonal rhythms, causing more harm than good. However, easing into a properly designed fasting and diet plan has been shown to have a positive effect on hormonal imbalances and improve symptoms of various health concerns.


Fasting is a Stressor

There is good stress (eustress) and bad stress (distress). Eustress[3] is moderate stress and is considered to be positive and beneficial. Eustress leads us to a positive response, motivating us to pursue a goal or take on a challenge. Distress, on the other hand, is chronic and overwhelming stress that is negative and harmful. Distress can cause physical and psychological health issues.


Fasting, like exercise, is a good stressor on its own. However, if it is combined with an already high stress load, it could throw your cortisol (stress hormone) out of whack! As a response to overwhelming stress, your ovaries stop producing the right amount of estrogen and progesterone.


Consider Your Stress Levels when Considering Intermittent Fasting

If you’re considering IF, it’s important to get your stress levels in control and hormones balanced. If you’re able to manage stress and don’t have signs of a hormonal imbalance, you may ease into a personalized fasting and diet plan and see how it goes. If you notice negative changes, you can scale back and try a different form of fasting that would work well for you.


In the post, we’ll talk about the different types of intermittent fasting!

[1] de Cabo R, Mattonson MP. New England Journal of Medicine, December 2019. “Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging, and Disease”

[2] Patterson, R. and Sears, D. Annual Review of Nutrition, August 2017. “Metabolic Effects of Intermittent Fasting”


[3] Rossi, Ana Maria; Perrewé, Pamela L.; Sauter, Steven L., eds. (1 March 2006). “Eustress and Hope at Work: Accentuating the Positive”. Stress and Quality of Working Life: Current Perspectives in Occupational Health. Stress and Quality of Working Life. Greenwich, Connecticut: IAP.

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