The Best Methods For Women
So, what exactly is a relaxed approach to Intermittent Fasting? Here are some tips from trusted resources:
The ideal fasting window for women is around 12 to 16 hours. Never fast for a window of more than 24 hours. Try not to fast on consecutive days during your first 2-3 weeks of fasting Drink plenty of fluids, especially if you are new to fasting On fasting days, only engage in light exercise such as yoga, walking, or gentle stretching.
Is Intermittent Fasting Safe For Mature Or Menopausal Women
With so many of us already struggling with menopause/hormone changes, hot flushes, sleepless nights and anxiety the last thing we need is a diet that intensifies the symptoms. All your hormones are interconnected so your diet and eating patterns can greatly influence your hormones. By fasting you will increase the production of the hunger hormones, ghrelin and leptin, which can make your periods more irregular , increase anxiety and affect sleep.
During the menopause, womens bodies are more sensitive to any changes, so its important to gradually build up the length of the fasting window. Test it out to see if fasting and consuming only fluids reduces your menopause symptoms or increases them. If it increases them, it is best to stop as it may not be for you.
Intermittent Fasting For Women: The Menstrual Cycle
The menstrual cycle has four uterine stages: the proliferative stage, ovulation, the secretory stage and menstruation. Additionally, over these four uterine stages the ovaries are either in a follicular phase or a luteal phase . Because of this constant fluctuation of hormones, intermittent fasting may not be suitable for women at every stage of the reproductive cycle.
A study in the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation indicates that gonadotropins, the hormones responsible for moderating the follicular and luteal phase, can be interrupted by weight loss related factors, causing changes in reproductive functions including anovulation and infertility.
During a typical menstrual cycle, your estrogen levels start to decline the week before the onset of your period, if an egg is not fertilized, explains Dr Kumaran. The decline in estrogen in the body can be stressful and cause a rise in cortisol levels. As such, adding extra stressors to the body, such as intermittent fasting, may be counterproductive. Similarly, during the first three days of your period you may be losing lots of blood, which again can be quite stressful for the body. It is best to wait for the bleeding to reduce in severity, and then intermittent fasting can safely be resumed.
The best way to approach intermittent fasting as a woman is to feel out how you react to fasting at different times during your cycle some times may feel less sustainable than others.
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What Women Over 50 Should Know About Intermittent Fasting
For women approaching menopause, weight loss can seem like a struggle for a variety of reasonsmost of them related to a shift in hormonal balance. Its no wonder that intermittent fasting has become so popular for women over 50 with its promise of amping up metabolism, reversing cellular damage and improving mental clarity.
Lets take a look at what happens to womens hormones as we approach and enter menopause, and what the science says about whether intermittent fasting can help counter some of these imbalances.
What Makes Intermittent Fasting Work
Some people believe that IF has worked for them simply because the limited eating window naturally helps them reduce the number of calories they consume. For instance, instead of eating 3 meals and 2 snacks, they might find that they only have time for 2 meals and one snack. They become more mindful about the kinds of food they consume and tend to stay away from processed carbs, unhealthy fat, and empty calories.
Of course, you can also choose the kinds of healthy food that you enjoy. While some people opt to reduce their overall calorie intake, others combine IF with a keto, vegan, or other kinds of diets.
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Pros Of Intermittent Fasting For Women
“There is substantial research to support the therapeutic benefits of fasting,” says Jillian Greaves M.P.H., R.D., L.D.N. Integrative Functional Dietitian at Prevention Pantry Nutrition. “Some potential health benefits include improved cellular health, improved metabolic markers, and weight loss.”Studies show that intermittent fasting leads to weight loss in women, but doesn’t lead to any more weight loss than a calorie deficit overall. However, the structure of IF makes it easier for some to reduce caloric intake.
Intermittent fasting can boost fat burn too. When we eat, blood sugar rises and insulin is released to take glucose to our cells for energy. Extra glucose is stored as fast. If you don’t eat for 10-16 hours, your body will start to use its fat stores for energy.
A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that in a fasted state, cellular repair occurs, which is linked to increased longevity, reduced risk of cancer, lower inflammation and improved metabolism. However, many of the studies are in animals and more studies in women are needed.
There’s also emerging research that eating in sync with circadian rhythm keeps chronic diseases at bay. In other words, eating during a 6-10 hour window during the day, when it’s light outside, and reducing nighttime eating.
Best Intermittent Fasting Schedule For Weight Loss
As we know by now, weight loss is a matter of hormone balance. More specifically, the storage hormone insulin is the essential player in this process .
Since fasting is the most effective way to lower insulin levels, many people successfully lose weight.
Once you get used to an intermittent fasting daily schedule, the hunger hormones adjust to the plan, and fasting should become almost effortless.
For example, the essential hunger hormone ghrelin decreases as the duration of fasting increases and only increases in a pulsatile manner when we expect a meal .
Therefore, people with a fixed intermittent fasting schedule tend to succeed more than people with irregular eating patterns.
With this in mind, 16/8 intermittent fasting is the best schedule for most people to lose weight successfully.
The ease of use makes 16/8 a guarantee of success. You only have to cut out one meal and unnecessary snacks. Due to the beneficial hormonal balance in the morning, it is easiest to skip breakfast.
However, people can also achieve success by skipping dinner if it fits better into their daily routine.
16/8 intermittent fasting guarantees a period of low insulin levels every day, while the method does not drastically change the daily routine.
This balance results in most people being able to stick to the daily schedule as well. And finally, continuity is the key to realizing results.
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The Basics Of Intermittent Fasting
In short, Intermittent Fasting involves not having food for a set period of time.
Doesnt sound too complicated, does it?
In fact, youve probably done it before without even realizing it! You already fast for a period of time while sleeping. And, on those busy days where you realize you havent had lunch until 3pmyouve just completed an involuntary Intermittent Fast.
But its not just about forgetting to eat. In fact, proper fasting involves strategy and a willingness to complete it in order to have lasting impact. Lasting impact can range from: acheiving lean muscle or better weight management, enhancing energy, boosting motivation and stamina, and/or improving cognitive function.
Does Fasting Benefit People Who Don’t Need To Lose Weight Or Who Have Reached Their Goal Weight
Yes, Varady said, citing one of her studies that found fasting helps maintain a healthy body weight lowers triglycerides, which is important for heart health helps decrease blood pressure and improves blood sugar regulation.
A review of research in humans and animals, published in 2019 in the New England Journal of Medicine, found intermittent fasting has “broad-spectrum benefits” for health problems including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and neurologic disorders.
The powerful health effects appear to come from the body flipping a “metabolic switch” during fasting or shifting away from using sugar as its main source of energy and instead converting fat for fuel when a person’s stomach is empty.
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Quick Overview Of The 16/8
If new to intermittent fasting, the 16/8 method is a good starting place. Choose 16 hours of the day to fast and 8 hours of the day to feast. You can consume a few items such as black coffee, green tea, and water during the fasting time. During the eating window, you choose the food and quantity to eat.
Schedule #: Fasting 1
On this plan, you fast for a full 24 hours once or twice per week, eating sensibly the other days of the week.
What it involves
Its flexible: You can choose whichever 24 hours you want.
People who benefit
This is an advanced fasting schedule.
It works best for people whove tried either meal skipping or a one-day fasting experiment and thought, Gee, that was interesting. Lets see what happens if I push this a bit more.
Note that if youre not ready to fast one or two days a week, theres a nice half step. You can just fast for 24 hours occasionallysay, once a monthas a refresher to remind yourself that hunger is no big deal.
If you try it
- Start with just one fasting day. Two fasting days can be stressful .
- Take an honest look at the rest of your life. Fasting doesnt pair well with things like the sleep deprivation that comes from being a new parent or exhaustion from training for a marathon.
- Train on your non-fasting days. This is especially important if youre exercising intensely.
- On your non-fasting days, eat real food. Were talking plenty of lean protein, colorful veggies, healthy fats, and minimally processed carbs.
- On your fasting days, practice radical self care. Relax. Drink plenty of water or tea. Wrap yourself in a cozy blanket. Breathe deeply and find comfort in ways that work for you.
- Plan for how you will break your fast. Have food you feel good about eating ready to go. Take a few breaths before your first bite. Slow down and enjoy.
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Top Intermittent Fasting Mistakes For Women Over 40
First of all, how is intermittent fasting for women over 40 any different than younger women? Women over 40 tend to have a slower metabolism, may have hormonal imbalances, and may find it more difficult to change their lifestyle. These top intermittent fasting mistakes address some of these differences that affect women over 40.
Cons Of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is one way to regulate your calorie intake and work toward improving your metabolic health.
Though the eating pattern can certainly be part of a healthy diet, it will likely take some adjusting to in the beginning. Plus, simply put, intermittent fasting is not right for everyone.
Here are a few downsides you could encounter when first trying intermittent fasting.
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What Is 1: 8 Intermittent Fasting
The 16:8 fasting plan is an eating schedule in which you fast for 16 hours each day and eat during an eight-hour window.
This eating schedule comes with all the benefits of other fasting schedules . Perhaps even better, you pick the eating window.
So what should that eating window be? “There’s actually infinite variability. It can be any time. Any time that you don’t eatthat’s fasting,” explains Jason Fung, M.D., fasting expert and author of the book The Complete Guide to Fasting.
If you can’t live without breakfast, slot your food earlier in the day .
If you prefer an early dinner, eat in the middle of the day .
If you’re someone who regularly goes out with friends for late dinners, schedule your eating hours later in the day .
Contrary to popular opinion, there are no rules around how many meals you have to squeeze in or whether or not you have to include breakfast. In fact, no data actually proves breakfast makes you healthier or weigh less.
The Fed State Vs The Fasted State
When you eat every few hours, youre in a fed state, which is when the body is busy digesting, absorbing, and distributing nutrients from meals. Accelerated fat burning isnt the #1 priority here, but the body seems adequately fueled since this is typically our normal mode. Most of us remain in the fed state during the day, aside from when were sleeping.
The absence of food during an Intermittent Fast sends us into a fasted state, which is when processes in the body begin to change, and the focus centers more around detoxification, rejuvenation, adaptation, and notably a reset.
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Increases Stem Cell Production
When you fast, you are essentially resetting your immune system by allowing your body to switch into repair mode. Stem cells increase because they are the primary repair system in your body. These cells work by morphing into many different types of cells, depending on which parts of your body need repair. Fasting has been shown to increase stem cells in the intestines, muscles, and brain while preserving the long-term ability for stem cells to regenerate independently. The way this works is pretty amazing. When fasting, our bodies greatly reduce our energy expenditure by rapidly shrinking tissues, organs, and populations of different cells in your blood including a whopping 28% decrease in white blood cells.
Listen To Your Hormones
Many women find eating sugary foods and drinking alcohol too late at night can induce more hot flushes and night sweats. I certainly find when I eat clean and early in the evening my menopause symptoms disappear. The benefits of intermittent fasting can have a positive impact on my menopause symptoms. But everyone is different, so listen to your body. If you cannot sleep, feel anxious or it just does not feel right, stop fasting.
Intermittent fasting is just one healthy lifestyle option that can help in the menopause. Eating natural unprocessed foods, drinking lots of water and being active are all key. Intermittent fasting is something to try on top of this healthy living to boost how you feel.
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Can Be A Sustainable Lifestyle Change
Intermittent fasting might sound complicated and intimidating, but it can be simple at times. In fact, you might even find that fasting helps simplify your day since you need to plan fewer meals.
Whats more, it doesnt typically require calorie counting, watching your macros, eating certain foods that you might not be used to eating, or eliminating certain foods that you otherwise enjoy.
For example, having an early dinner followed by a late breakfast the next day is one way to fast intermittently. If you finish your last meal at 8 p.m. and dont eat until noon the next day, youve technically fasted for 16 hours.
For people who get hungry in the morning and like to eat breakfast, or for those who cant eat until later in the evening due to work schedules and other obligations, this method may be hard to get used to.
However, other people instinctively eat this way already. They may be more prone to trying out an intermittent fasting eating pattern.
/6not Managing Your Sleep Schedule
Poor sleep patterns can also minimize the benefits of intermittent fasting. It may consume extra calories the other day and also increase the stress level. So, improving your sleeping pattern when following intermittent fasting can help you gain more benefits from this eating pattern. Go to bed on time, wake up on time and follow healthy lifestyle habits.
Differences Between Men And Women Fasting
Theres also some truth that male hormones and reproduction are evolutionarily less valuable. In a tribal setting, men are quite expandable because they have a lot of extra sperm and they can have more than one mate. Females, however, have a limited number of eggs and therefore they have to be more careful with what mate they choose and how they protect their offspring.
If the body detects that its in a very dangerous environment by detecting more stress hormones in the blood, then its going to lower reproductive hormones because its not the best time to give birth to children in a dangerous environment. In the short term, its not an issue but chronic stress will eventually make women lose their periods and lower their fertility.
Thats why everyone, including men and women, have to be mindful of how big of a stressor fasting is in their lives.
If youre doing OMAD, combined with mad CrossFit WODs, low carb diets, inadequate sleep, 3 screaming children in the minivan, a pile of dirty dishes in the sink, and no time for rest, then, of course, youre going to mess up your hormones. At that point, fasting is only one of many contributing factors that affect this.
Intermittent Fasting And Your Libido
Once again , the research is lacking on women, libido, and intermittent fasting. A study on men who fasted during Ramadan found fasting decreased their sexual desire and frequency of sexual activity, but studies on women are sparse.
Since fasting can impact hormone balance and potentially decrease estrogen, it could negatively affect sexual desire, but no studies expressly point to this. Fasting could also negatively impact your energy or mood if taken too far, which can decrease your desire to have sex.
On the other hand, if fasting works for you and you feel healthy or notice positive physical changes in your body, then it could help with libido. Weight and confidence in our bodies directly impact sexual desire, something backed by research, but also most of us have experienced first-hand. So for women who do well with fasting, a welcomed side effect could be improved libido.
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