How Intermittent Fasting Works
Intermittent fasting simply means you go a period of time without eating, usually between 12 to 48 hours. This length of time is known as your fasting window, during which time you only consume liquids, such as water, herbal tea, or broth.
Some experts recommend drinking low-calorie green vegetable juices and taking supplements while fasting to help keep vitamin and mineral intake consistent, while others believe only water should be consumed. Like many topics in the health realm, the rules around intermittent fasting are subjective, depending on who you ask.
If you fast for less than 24 hours, youll also have an eating window. This is the time allotted for meals before you begin your fast. For most people practicing intermittent fasting, their eating window is between six to 12 hours. The most common fasting times are 12,14,16, and 18 hours.
For example, if you were to do a 12-hour fast, your eating window would be 12 hours. You could start your eating window at 7am and end at 7pm. You would break the fast the next day at 7am.
Although some of the intermittent fasting methods online seem more intense than others , the beauty of intermittent fasting is that you get to choose and experiment with how long you fast. This not only allows you to determine how intermittent fasting can fit in within your lifestyle, but to discover the fasting sweet spot that helps you feel best physically.
Intermittent Fasting For Women: A Definitive Guide
For a long time, I thought intermittent fasting meant skipping breakfast every day. I tried, and didnt like it, so I decided that it was not for me. Moreover, I read that intermittent fasting can have adverse effects on womens hormonal health. I figured women should avoid it as a general rule. However, I recently learned how women can reap all the benefits of fasting without throwing off their hormones. Let me share what I discovered with you.
Intermittent Fasting: Difference Between Men And Women
Nevertheless, hormonal and genetic differences exist between men and women, which plays a role in intermittent fasting.
However, the claim that intermittent fasting is fundamentally unsuitable for women is a myth. Often, people base that claim on a study conducted on rats .
But such animal studies are not the most conclusive. Ultimately, physiological differences do exist between rats and humans.
After rats live only a few years, one day of fasting for these rodents is probably equivalent to several days of a human.
If rats eat only every other day, as in this study, this corresponds to a fast of several days for humans.
The rats hormones were thrown out of balance after just two weeks, their periods stopped, and their ovaries began to shrink a terrible result.
Nonetheless, the rodents had to starve excessively in a way that intermittent fasting does not.
Moreover, the rats experienced a drastic reduction in calories. Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, does not require calorie reduction to work.
Instead, it establishes a healthy balance between eating and fasting that balances the hormones responsible for weight gain and loss.
Therefore, people can lose body fat even though they dont restrict their caloric intake, since how often you eat matters a lot.
However, whether Alternate Day Fasting is the best intermittent fasting approach for women may be doubted.
- Blood glucose
- Blood lipid levels
- Insulin resistance
Also Check: What To Eat While Fasting To Lose Weight
Health & Wellnesswhat Is The Omad Diet Learn How The One
That being said, exercise before you eat because people get hungry about half an hour after they finish working out and may find it too hard to stick to their plan if they cant eat anything at all afterwards, Varady noted.
If youre on the 16:8 plan, exercise before or during your eating window. If youre doing alternate day fasting and are exercising on your 500-calorie day, save food for after your exercise session.
What Is Clean Or Dirty Fasting
Surprisingly, you can follow a clean fasting schedule or play it out a little bit dirty.
These terms refer to defining what kind of foods break the fast. The clean path defines a zero-calorie approach: you cannot drink or eat anything other than water, plain black coffee, green tea, or any type of herbal tea.
While dirty fasting, you might consume drinks that contain less than 50 calories, such as lemon water, coffee with MCT oil, bone broth, or zero-calorie drinks. You might even enjoy a piece of gum or an occasional mint.
Both of these methods are valid. As a beginner, you might want to start fasting dirty and go clean once you get a handle on your new routine.
The Best Intermittent Fasting Schedule For Women
If you still want to try intermittent fasting, there are ways to dip your toe in.
Considering how much remains unclear, a conservative approach is probably better rather than diving into advanced intermittent fasting.
You might start by keeping a food journal for a few days. Get a sense of what youre eating, how much, and how often.
Are you eating late at night and snacking throughout the day? Do your portions tend to be big and fill you up, or do you prefer lighter meals? Are you getting protein at every meal? Veggies?
Once you have some more awareness of your baseline, you can experiment with intermittent fasting lite. Here are a couple of ways to do that.
Begin by stretching the time between eating. If you normally snack between meals, what happens when you stop? Do you feel ravenous, dizzy, and angry? Does the hunger ebb and flow? Do you actually feel totally fine?
Try lengthening the time between your last meal in the evening and your first meal the next morning. For example, if you usually eat your last meal at 8 pm, and then eat breakfast at 7 am , try eating your last meal at 6 pm, and eating breakfast a little later, at 8 or 10 am .
As you try these experiments, continue to check in with yourself physically:
- Although you may be a bit more uncomfortable than usual, overall, is the hunger manageable? Or do you even notice it?
- When stress spikes, are you more or less reactive?
- How is your sleep?
Also check in with your feelings around food and your body:
Are There Any Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting For Women
Based on what we know, intermittent fasting probably affects reproductive health if the body sees it as a significant stressor.
Anything that affects your reproductive health affects your overall health and fitness.
Even if you dont plan to have biological kids.
But intermittent fasting protocols vary, with some being much more extreme than others. And factors such as your age, your nutritional status, the length of time you fast, and the other stressors in your lifeincluding exerciseare also likely relevant.
And, as we mentioned in the research update box above, there may be some support for trying intermittent fasting in women who have PCOS.
But for most women, intermittent fasting is probably not the best approach.
Read Also: What To Have During Intermittent Fasting
Does 1: 8 Intermittent Fasting Work
The 16:8 intermittent fasting method can help with weight loss, increase focus and energy, and improve blood sugar work for most people when incorporated in a safe and consistent manner.
While men tend to see rapid weight loss results, women tend to struggle or reach plateaus more often due to hormonal differences. I share more about hormones in my post, Intermittent Fasting for Women Over 40.
Its best to talk to your doctor especially if you have any underlying health conditions.
How Often Should You Do 1: 8 Intermittent Fasting
Unlike other intermittent fasting diets, each day of the 16:8 works independently to the other days. This means that you can do anywhere from one day of intermittent 16:8 fasting to seven days a week, depending on your goals and the advice from your GP.
Evidence differs, however, on whether its healthy to do intermittent fasting all the time for a number of reasons. While one study suggests that fasting helps your vital organs by giving metabolic functions a break, other research suggests the fasting can lead to an increased level of cholesterol and can lead to feelings of nausea, along with causing spells of low-blood sugar and dehydration.
Recommended Reading: Which Is Better Intermittent Fasting Or Small Meals
Other Ways To Get The Most Fasting Benefits For Women
As I mentioned before, many fasting benefits increase as you increase the duration of the fast. For example, it takes 18 hours before the body starts to switch to burning fat rather than glucose. Many cell regeneration benefits begin after a 3-day fast. For example, fasting for up to 5 days may protect patients from the effects of chemotherapy. If you want to get the most fasting benefits without impacting your hormonal function negatively, there are a few more options available to you:
- Fasting mimicking: My favorite method even though its not quite the same as intermittent fasting, as I said. The reason I prefer it is that it allows you to extend the duration of your fast safely for maximum benefits. If you are a woman over 40, you will enjoy this post about Fasting for Women Over 40.
- Eat-Stop-Eat : You can start with a 16-hour fast and build gradually. The idea is to fast 2-3 times a week.
- 5:2 Diet: Restrict your calories to 20-25% of your regular intake two consecutive days a week. The fasting mimicking diet allows you to consume up to 40% of your regular intake for a more extended period.
- Modified alternate-day fasting: If you use this method, you fast every other day but are allowed to consume 20-25% of your normal caloric intake on fasting days.
Intermittent Fasting And Keto For Women
One way for women to reduce the potential for hypoglycemic stress and related reproductive hormone imbalances is by combining IF with a ketogenic, or high-fat low-carb diet variation.
If youre fasting on a carb-based diet, youll struggle with cravings, lack of focus, low energy, and irritability. When you break the fast, youll likely want to binge on a ton of carb-heavy foods, spiking your blood sugar, feeling fatigued, and lacking focus. Youll be stuck on the low to high blood sugar seesaw. Its this blood sugar seesaw, and not the IF, that is likely responsible for hormonal imbalances.
You May Like: Can I Drink Water During Intermittent Fasting
Start With A Modified Fast
Yes, I have said it before, and I will say it again: if you havent already, you need to do a modified fast. A modified fast in a prolonged fast that includes food. We call it a fast because the severe calorie restriction will give your body tremendous healing benefits. The idea is based on the Fasting Mimicking Diet that Dr. Valter Longo has researched extensively.
How to Do a Modified Fast
I recommend two types of modified fast:
- a 5-day modified fast based on the fasting mimicking diet, or
- a 10-day modified fast for those who cannot function when feeling hungry.
The main reason I like to suggest people get started with a modified fast is that it will help you kick-start the healing process and become fat-adapted without eating keto. Becoming fat-adapted makes fasting a lot easier because it means your body is able to switch between using glucose and ketones for fuel.
So Is Intermittent Fasting Bad For Women
Well, not necessarily.
But certainly, fasting is not for everyone.
And the truth is, some women shouldnt even bother experimenting. Dont try intermittent fasting if:
- youre pregnant
- you have a history of disordered eating
- youre chronically stressed
- you dont sleepwell
- youre new to diet and exercise
Pregnant women have extra energy needs. So if youre starting a family, intermittent fasting isnt a good idea.
Ditto if youre under chronic stress or if you arent sleeping well. Your body needs nurturing, not additional stress.
And if youve struggled with disordered eating in the past , you probably recognize that a fasting protocol could lead you down a path that might create further problems for you.
Recommended Reading: What Is 16 8 Intermitten Fasting
Intermittent Fasting Tips For Success And How To Start
When starting a new healthy habit, it’s important to think about what challenges you may face or barriers that may arise during the process.
This is actually a crucial step in planning SMART goals, a common tool used by health coaches to help clients set achievable goals that last long term. When it comes to intermittent fasting there are a few common challenges or questions that tend to arise:
- What do I eat during my non-fasting period?
- What happens if I feel dizzy or nauseous?
- Is intermittent fasting safe?
- How long should I intermittent fast for?
How To Start Intermittent Fasting For Women
Good news. Its easy to start, and there are two rules to keep in mind that make Intermittent Fasting pretty plain and simple.
Firstly, when fasting, keep hydrated to avoid headaches and feeling hungry as you get used to going lengthy times without eating. If you are feeling hunger pains, add 1-2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to your water. It can curb hunger and is also known to help with weight loss. Additionally, dont eat anything when you are fasting. That is the second straightforward rule. Check out my video on what does and doesnt break a fast for more info on what to choose and what to avoid.
Keep it simple and steady. Start off by going several hours in between meals to see how you make out. Skip a meal, and eventually build up to skipping two. Make a point when you do eat, to eat clean wholesome foods so that you feel your best. Take a look at my Clean Eating Guide for Beginners to get the scoop on how to shop for healthy food. Or, if visuals work better for you, watch my clean eating video.
Do check with your doctor, though, before starting IF. Any time you are making significant changes to your lifestyle, whether it be food or exercise, get a clean bill of health first.
Read Also: Is Intermittent Fasting Good For Fat Loss
Intermittent Fasting Method For Women
Hands down, the 16:8 intermittent fasting method is one of the most popular ways to practice intermittent fasting, and today I want to uncomplicate this practice for you and help you get started.
Whether youre looking to incorporate intermittent fasting into your lifestyle for health reasons, weight loss, or its benefits, having a simple schedule to follow can help .
This post will break down the 16:8 intermittent fasting method and explain:
First, you should consult a licensed medical physician before you jump into intermittent fasting. IF isnt for everyone, and therefore, its something to discuss with a licensed professional.
The purpose of this post is to give you a simplified version of the confusing rules youll find on the internet when it comes to the 16:8 intermittent fasting method it is not to provide any professional/medical advice.
Keto And Intermittent Fasting For Beginners
For most beginners, getting started with intermittent fasting can help with fat loss, disease prevention and thereby increase longevity. And all that comes with minimal side effects.
If youve ever eaten dinner, slept in, and not eaten until lunch the next day, then youve fasted using the 16/8 schedule before.
You may even know people who are simply not hungry in the morning and instinctively do 16/8 intermittent fasting resulting in excellent fitness. After unlearning to be hungry in the morning, most beginners achieve the best results in intermittent fasting with 16/8.
In addition, the method is flexible and saves time. Nonetheless, you need to keep in mind that intermittent fasting is just an eating pattern and not a complete solution to your diet.
Hence, regardless of which intermittent fasting method you choose, you will get better results with a low-carb diet.
Therefore, more and more people report that a ketogenic diet works wonders for intermittent fasting for a good reason.
Because both fasting and the keto diet are based on reducing insulin, emptying carbohydrate stores, and burning fat through ketosis, they are ideal matches.
since you dont have to spend hours burning your stored carbs first.
Used correctly, intermittent fasting and ketogenic diets can have a massive impact on health and weight loss.
Also Check: How Successful Is Intermittent Fasting
Why Do Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is primarily done for weight loss, but it has metabolic benefits as well. Ill outline what research has shown for intermittent fasting for women over 40, and what women over 40 could expect from intermittent fasting.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting Include:
Ill review the research around each of these. Ill focus on human research, if I do share animal research, Ill be sure and tell you its animal research . Ive hyperlinked to all the research that I cite at the end of the blog.
Intermittent Fasting For Women What To Do & How To Succeed
Odds are if youre fitness and health savvy lady, you have heard of intermittent fasting for women and its advantages for fat reduction and general well-being.
But did you realize that, if you are a girl, fasting can direct to hormonal imbalance and may result in fertility problems if not done correctly? Here, we will talk about the most effective ways for girls to enjoy the favorable areas of intermittent fasting without even placing their health in danger.
Some girls who attempt intermittent fasting for women encounter missed Intervals, metabolic disturbances, and also early-onset menopause. Sure it may do the job for some girls. But here is why intermittent fasting may be awful counterproductive to the objectives.
An intermittent quickly is a short fast at which for 1216 hours or longer, you do not consume anything except water . And while this might seem incredibly difficult to reach, you may already be fasting without even understanding it should you eat supper in, say, 7 pm and break your fast in the afternoon between 710. Also, if you merely need to have plain water and black tea or coffee.
For many whove been educated to eat half a day to maintain up our metabolism, it may be a problematic and apparently contradictory effort to go 12-plus hours. But science backs this historical practice.
Medical studies show that intermittent fasting:
- Increases energy
- Makes us insulin resistant
- May increase immunity, reduce diabetes risk, and enhance heart.
You May Like: How Long Should I Fast Intermittent Fasting