Does Intermittent Fasting Have Different Effects On Men And Women
The quick answer is: yes, Intermittent Fasting can affect men and women differently.
Anecdotally, we have many women in our online coaching program that swear by Intermittent Fasting, while others have had adverse effects.
Lets dig into the science and studies.
A recent PubMed summary concluded thatfasting can be prescribed as a safe medical intervention as well as a lifestyle regimen which can improve womens health in many folds .
Now, in that extract, many of the studies cited are focused on specifically calorie restriction , and they also say that future studies should address this gap by designing medically supervised fasting techniques to extract better evidence.
Digging into the PubMed Archives brought me to the following conclusions :
One small study resulted in the following: Glucose response to a meal was slightly impaired in women after 3 weeks of treatment, but insulin response was unchanged. Men had no change in glucose response and a significant reduction in insulin response.
Another small study studied the effects on their menstrual cycles after a 72 hour fast which is significantly longer than any fast recommended in this article: in spite of profound metabolic changes, a 72-hour fast during the follicular phase does not affect the menstrual cycle of normal cycling women..
Precision Nutrition a great resource recommends not attempting Intermittent Fasting as a woman if:
- youre pregnant
- you dont sleep well
- youre new to diet and exercise
Cons Of Intermittent Fasting For Women
“Despite the benefits found in research, it’s important to consider the context and remember that it’s not appropriate for all people at all times,” says Greaves. “Women of reproductive age need to be particularly careful with intermittent fasting as their bodies are more sensitive to stressors like prolonged fasting and caloric restriction.”
Greaves explains, “Intermittent fasting itself is a stressor on the body, and in the context of our modern day life that’s already filled with chronic emotional, physiological and environmental stressors, IF might do more harm than good. Fasting increases cortisol which can lead to blood sugar dysregulation, increased insulin resistance, lean muscle loss, fatigue and disruptions to thyroid function over time. In the short-term fasting may lower thyroid stimulating hormone, but elevated cortisol on a persistent basis can reduce the conversion of thyroid hormone.”
“Fasting can also lead to undereating, which we know negatively influences female hormones in a variety of ways,” Greaves says. The caloric restriction caused by intermittent fasting could lead to loss of menstrual cycle and interfere with fertility .
Top 12 Benefits Of A Fasting Lifestyle
Fasting is a healing strategy that has been used since the beginning of mankind and has been revered by many ancient healers and philosophers throughout history. Unfortunately, the healing art of fasting has been forgotten by mainstream medicine and most people are trained by society to believe fasting is bad for the body. In this article, you will learn the top 12 benefits of a fasting lifestyle and how to apply it into your life.
The research on fasting has been quite remarkable, showing that it has the ability to reduce inflammation and chronic disease development better than any other nutritional strategy. I truly believe that fasting is the most ancient, inexpensive and powerful healing strategy known to mankind. Read this article to find out why I am making such a bold statement.
Also Check: Does Pickle Juice Break Autophagy
Youre Not Changing What You Eat
One of the benefits of IF is that a greater focus on timing can include a pivot away from unhealthy foods you may have fallen into eating mindlessly as a late-night snack, for example. But if youre simply moving those not-so-healthy choices to earlier in the day, its likely that IF wont be much of a health booster.
Fasting Mimicking Diet For Weight Loss
When you follow the fasting mimicking diet, you consume only small amounts of carbs. Carbs are the primary source of energy for the body. Thus, depriving your body of carbs causes it to use other sources to fulfill its energy requirements. These include glycogen and noncarbohydrate molecules such as glycerol and amino acids. This partially explains how the FMD meal could promote weight loss.
Furthermore, one study suggests that people following the FMD program typically consume 3454% of their normal calorie requirements. This creates a calorie deficit, which is the key to losing weight.
In a 2017 study, researchers found that by following the FMD program for three months, participants were able to shrink their waist and lose weight. Moreover, they also had healthy blood pressure.
Recommended Reading: 14/10 Fasting
Study Finds Routine Periodic Fasting Is Good For Your Health And Your Heart
Fasting found to reduce cardiac risk factors, such as triglycerides, weight, and blood sugar levels
Intermountain Medical Center
Murray, UT Fasting has long been associated with religious rituals, diets, and political protests. Now new evidence from cardiac researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute demonstrates that routine periodic fasting is also good for your health, and your heart.
Today, research cardiologists at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute are reporting that fasting not only lowers one’s risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes, but also causes significant changes in a person’s blood cholesterol levels. Both diabetes and elevated cholesterol are known risk factors for coronary heart disease.
The discovery expands upon a 2007 Intermountain Healthcare study that revealed an association between fasting and reduced risk of coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death among men and women in America. In the new research, fasting was also found to reduce other cardiac risk factors, such as triglycerides, weight, and blood sugar levels.
The findings were presented Sunday, April 3, at the annual scientific sessions of the American College of Cardiology in New Orleans.
“We are very grateful for the financial support from the Deseret Foundation. The organization and its donors have made these groundbreaking studies of fasting possible,” added Dr. Horne.
Why Im Doing Intermittent Fasting With The Ww Program
Im the type of person that if Im not tracking my food somehow- whether its with the WW program or calorie counting, I tend to go off the rails. Its sort of this all or nothing mentality.
Like, if Im not tracking, it doesnt count so I should just eat as much as I want!
The reason why Im trying intermittent fasting with Weight Watchers is that Im the type of person that wants some restrictions and guidance with what and how much Im eating.
After all, calories still matter and I think that following WW will keep me in check with how much Im eating, as well as make sure Im limiting things like sugar and fat.
So, yes, I only will be able to eat 8 hours a day, but I still want to hold my diet accountable and will track my food with WW.
And seeing as how there is a ton of scientific backed evidence about the benefits to IF, I would love to maximize any health benefits I can get seeing as thats the reason I started this journey in the first place.
Recommended Reading: Fasting Blood Sugar 119
Side Effects Of Intermittent Fasting
- You may feel irritated.
- When practiced long-term, it may lead to an eating disorder.
- It may hinder athletic performance.
- It may cause muscle loss.
- It may cause amenorrhea and infertility in women.
Intermittent fasting works great for some people and doesnt for a few. It is a powerful way that can help you lose weight and achieve improved health, provided you balance it out with nutrition, exercise, and proper sleep. You may fast intermittently, but do not make it a habit. Talk to your doctor before following this method to understand if it will work for you or not.
Why Does My Blood Sugar Go Up During Fasting
While this does not happen with everyone, it can occur due to hormonal changes that occur during intermittent fasting. Your body is producing sugar in order to provide energy for your system. This is a variation of the dawn phenomenon and in general is not a concern as long as blood sugars are not elevated the rest of the day.45
Recommended Reading: Do Fasting App Cost
What The Studies Show
Intermittent fasting has been shown, in many short-term research studies, that it can help you lose weight, improve your health and potentially protect you from developing certain diseases. And whats most appealing, is that it doesnt restrict you daily, like conversional dieting.
Studies have also shown that intermittent fasting may help prevent or even reverse diabetes. This is because it helps to control and reduce insulin and glucose concentrations in your blood.
However, theres still not enough studies to show how safe intermittent fasting is if you do it for a long time. But in general, most research highlights that its safe in otherwise healthy adults.
When To Avoid Intermittent Fasting
- Avoid intermittent fasting if you are underweight, have an eating disorder, or have been advised against it by your doctor.
- A few studies have shown that women tend to miss their period, and their blood sugar levels go up when they practice intermittent fasting , , . Therefore, avoid intermittent fasting if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have fertility issues.
- If you do not sleep well and have chronic stress, do not fast intermittently.
- Avoid intermittent fasting if you have low blood pressure and blood sugar regulation problems.
Note: Always consult your doctor before practicing intermittent fasting.
Before we come to a close, take a quick look at the side effects of IF.
Also Check: 119 Blood Sugar After Eating
Heres The Bottom Line
Its possible that intermittent fasting is not for you, and thats okay. At some point, if youve tried different variations and youre still feeling hungry or sluggish, it might be time to ditch the effort and just focus on healthy eating in general, but that doesnt mean it will be a total loss, Fung says.
For many people, trying this leads to a greater understanding about the effects of what theyre eating, he says. Even if you decide time-restricted eating doesnt work for you, that awareness tends to remain.
Fasting Mimicking Diet Basics
Some people ease into the fast by eating slightly higher calories the first day, around 50% of total intake.
You can then reduce it to around 35-40% of total caloric intake for the remaining days. You also want to eat easily digestible foods in very small amounts.
One popular pre-packaged fast mimicking diet, called ProLon FMD, contains all five days worth of food for the fast. The food is all plant-based and one day looks as such:
Intermittent Fasting Can Be Hard But Maybe It Doesnt Have To Be
Initial human studies that compared fasting every other day to eating less every day showed that both worked about equally for weight loss, though people struggled with the fasting days. So, I had written off IF as no better or worse than simply eating less, only far more uncomfortable. My advice was to just stick with the sensible, , diet.
New research is suggesting that not all IF approaches are the same, and some are actually very reasonable, effective, and sustainable, especially when combined with a nutritious plant-based diet. So Im prepared to take my lumps on this one .
We have evolved to be in sync with the day/night cycle, i.e., a circadian rhythm. Our metabolism has adapted to daytime food, nighttime sleep. Nighttime eating is well associated with a higher risk of obesity, as well as .
Based on this, researchers from the University of Alabama conducted a study with a small group of obese men with prediabetes. They compared a form of intermittent fasting called “early time-restricted feeding,” where all meals were fit into an early eight-hour period of the day ,or spread out over 12 hours . Both groups maintained their weight but after five weeks, the eight-hours group had dramatically lower insulin levels and significantly improved insulin sensitivity, as well as significantly lower blood pressure. The best part? The eight-hours group also had significantly decreased appetite. They werent starving.
Examples Of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting involves going for extended periods of time without eating, or eating very little, followed by a period of eating normally.
- Alternate day fasting is when you fast on alternate days and eat ad libitum on eating days.
- The 5:2 involves severely reducing your calorie intake on two days of the week and eating a healthy, balanced diet on the other five days.
- 16:8 intermittent fasting involves eating only during an eight-hour window and fasting for the remaining 16 hours. For example, you may eat between 10am and 6pm, then refrain from eating until the next day at 10am again.
- Some people do a 24-hour fast, which involves consuming no calories on one day of the week or month.
Recommended Reading: Is Fasting Necessary For A1c Test
What To Eat And Avoid On A Fasting Mimicking Diet
The FMD program is a 5-day meal program. On the first day, you consume 1100 to 1150 calories. On the remaining four days, you are not allowed to consume more than 750 to 800 calories per day. The basic idea is to get 60% of your daily calories from healthy fats, 10% from plant-based protein, and 30% from slow digestible carbs on day 1. On the remaining days, the ratio of macros changes slightly to 9% from protein, 44% from fat, and 47% from carbs.
Fasting mimicking diet does not allow the intake of animal protein, processed sugar, lactose, and gluten. Nuts are an essential part of the meal program. Thus, you should take care if you are allergic to nuts. Nut allergy can cause life-threatening reactions in some people.
How To Start Intermittent Fasting
You are probably used to eating or snacking all the time, so you can find 16 hours of fasting pretty difficult in the beginning.
No worries, you are not alone. I have been there, and I learned how to come to the point where my eating window is 1 meal only.
Lets break some steps on how to start it without suffering and pain:
Recommended Reading: Intermittent Fasting Drinking Alcohol
How Can I Suppress Hunger During Intermittent Fasting
Eat high-fiber foods, such as nuts, beans, fruits and vegetables, and high protein foods, including meat, fish, tofu, or nuts, during your eating window, Varady advised. Chewing high-fiber gummies can also help.
Drink lots of water. People tend to think they’re hungry, when they are really just thirsty, she said.
Go for black coffee or tea, or cinnamon or licorice herbal teas. These beverages may have appetite-suppressing effects, Varady noted.
Watch less TV: I know this sounds strange, but while you are watching TV, you are bombarded with dozens of ads for food. This can make you feel hungry, when in actuality, you are not hungry at all, she said.
Remember, being “a little hungry” is the best thing that can happen to you, wrote Madelyn Fernstrom, health and nutrition editor at NBC News, calling it a “true mind-body connection” that helps you recognize fullness.
Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
There are many claimed health benefits to intermittent fasting that the proponents are making. These include improved fat loss, improved health markers, increased life span, faster metabolism, better athletic performance, and even cancer prevention.
These claims are mostly based on anecdotal evidence and preliminary science because there simply arent enough studies done on the long term effects of intermittent fasting.
That said, the preliminary studies do show that intermittent fasting can have some beneficial effects on health. It can possibly decrease insulin resistance and fasting insulin and may improve cardiovascular and metabolic health.
There is also some evidence that intermittent fasting can help some people with weight loss and management. While the preliminary data and anecdotal evidence show some possible health benefits, you have to keep in mind that there is no data on the long term effects of intermittent fasting.
Intermittent Fasting Diet What To Eat
During Feasting Hours Or Days Eat foods that satiate your hunger and keep your taste buds alive. You may take the liberty to eat anything.But if you are going on intermittent fasting for health reasons or to lose weight, avoid foods that nullify your effort. Also, avoid foods that you are allergic to.
During Fasting Hours Or Days Consume a total of 500 calories per day or 600 calories per day . Foods rich in dietary fiber will keep you full. Drink water, coconut water, and freshly pressed juices. Consume raw/grilled vegetable salad with lime juice, a pinch of Himalayan pink salt, a tablespoon of olive oil, and a dash of smoked paprika.
Sip on detox water made with watermelon, kiwi, cucumber, and a pinch of salt. It will keep your body from missing out on essential micronutrients and electrolytes. Mint leaves tend to increase hunger, so avoid using them.
Heres a sample intermittent fasting diet schedule if you choose the 16/8 intermittent fasting method:
Benefits Of 16/8 Intermittent Fasting
16/8 intermittent fasting is a popular diet because its easy to follow, flexible and sustainable in the long term.
Its also convenient, as it can cut down on the amount of time and money you need to spend on cooking and preparing food each week.
In terms of health, 16/8 intermittent fasting has been associated with a long list of benefits, including:
- Increased weight loss: Not only does restricting your intake to a few hours per day help cut calories over the course of the day, but studies also show that fasting could boost metabolism and increase weight loss (
16/8 intermittent fasting is easy to follow, flexible and convenient. Animal and human studies suggest that it may increase weight loss, improve blood sugar levels, enhance brain function and extend longevity.
You May Like: Alcohol On Intermittent Fasting