Intermittent fasting (IF) is one of the most popular and healthful diets out there. But the question is, is IF safe for women?
Let’s review the diet and see if it is a good fit for women.
One of the trendiest diets on the market, intermittent fasting is slightly more complex to deal with when it comes to women than men. Because women’s bodies work differently than men’s, experts suggest, the rules of intermittent fasting apply differently between both genders.
The Interrelation between IF and women’s fasting glucose
Studies have shown a noteworthy correlation between intermittent fasting and how it affects a woman’s fasting glucose levels.
A study on obesity suggests that women with a healthy body weight experienced a weakened glucose response while fasting on alternate days. For those women, time-restricted fasting may be a more feasible option (which entails fasting in between pre-defined eating windows).
Hormonal fluctuations in women
Because of the hormonal fluctuations, doctors recommend restraint to women on intermittent fasting.
Women are also reported to have notable alternations to energy equilibrium compared to men. Experts observe that there is an overwhelming reaction to stress observed in women who practice intermittent fasting, which is the opposite of what you’d like to achieve through a diet plan.
Decrease in estrogen
Medical experts suggest that IF is linked with a reduction in estrogen, which is likely to have an effect on fertility and the capability to conceive. Studies suggest that intermittent fasting can lead to a decrease in kisspeptin – a hormone that produces sex hormones in females – such as estrogen and testosterone.
Because females tend to possess greater amounts of kisspeptin in their bodies, they exhibit greater sensitivity to the alterations of that particular hormone.
Interrelation between menopause and intermittent fasting
Medical research shows that menopause can have varying degrees of effects on women depending on their personal experiences, so IF may be suitable for some and not others. During menopause, your sex hormones can decline, which results in insulin resistance and a slower metabolism.
Experts suggest during the four stages of the reproductive cycle, intermittent fasting is not a recommended practice for most women. However, some women may react differently to it.
Therefore, the best approach might be to obverse how you react during various intervals of intermittent fasting, giving you a clearer idea of how your body responds to it.
Pros of Intermittent fasting for women
There is enough evidence to suggest that intermittent fasting can help burn fat in both men and women. When the body runs out of glycogen stores, it switches to burning available fat for energy.
Intermittent fasting is the most popular diet for weight loss along with the keto diet. Not only IF has been shown to improve cellular function and regeneration, and it has also exhibited reduced inflammatory markers and better metabolic health.
Ongoing research has proven that eating in sync with your circadian rhythm helps keeps chronic diseases at bay. Eating during the 6-10 hours period post-morning can help ward off certain chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes at bay.
Eating in the evenings and during the night is proven to be harmful.
Getting started on your IF journey as a women
Otherwise healthy women have their sleeping habits intact and have regular menstrual cycles, and can indulge in intermittent fasting.
However, women, who are struggling with sleep disorders, irregular menstrual cycles, problems with thyroid, or are experiencing high stress, are better off abstaining from intermittent fasting practices.
For those women, consistent eating practices can help manage stress levels in the body while also keeping the blood-sugar levels balanced.
Go for the time-restricted fasts
For most women practicing intermittent fasting, a fasting window of 12-14 hours can be enough to produce effective metabolic results. Contrary to popular belief systems, you do not need to fast for 16-18 hours to experience the benefits of intermittent fasting.
Consider using black coffee during fasts
Even though black coffee will theoretically break your fast, it is wise to think about your goals and what you want to achieve from intermittent fasting. You will get much-needed energy with black coffee and because it has zero calories, you will not gain any additional weight.
Treat fasting as a tool in your health artillery
Instead of treating intermittent fasting as a strict regime, you can use it as a tool for your specific needs. For instance, in the case of pregnant women or those who are breastfeeding, fasting should never be practiced.
Similarly, for women with diabetes or those fighting eating disorders, you should think twice about engaging in fasting.
That said, if you still decide to take on IF, consider usually a varied eating pattern tailored to your needs.
Take a break if you feel fatigued or have mood swings
If intermittent fasting causes you to have mood swings, it is best to only fast sparingly throughout your regime. You should not feel hungry or inactive. You wouldn’t want to starve or battle with mood disorders, do you?
Use the Crescendo method
According to Health Insider, you should only fast for 12 to 16 hours for 2 non-consecutive days at a stretch, while having your regular eating patterns intact throughout the remaining weekdays. The best strategy is to evenly space your meals.
Using a customized alternate fasting method
With a customized fasting approach, you can fast every other day, but you are allowed to consume about 20 to 25% of your regular calorie consumption during your fasting days. Put simply, you may consume about 500 calories.
With the 24-hour protocol, you can fast for a full 24-hour period for only one day in a week. An idea: small start with 12-hour fasts and then slowly build up your capacity.
Intermittent fasting is a revolutionary plan with proven health benefits such as weight loss, obesity management, blood sugar control, and improved metabolic function. However, there is always a fine line of going to extremes, which you’d rather avoid, especially as a woman.