Can Fasting Affect Fertility
Because fasting may negatively affect a woman’s hormones, there are related concerns about fertility.
Some medical experts think that a woman’s body may see fasting as a danger of impending starvation. As a result of this, they think the body inhibits ovulation since there wouldn’t be enough nutrients to sustain a growing fetus.
However, there are other doctors, like Felice Gersh, M.D., who have opposing views. Gersh says, “Based on what we know now, my prediction is that short periods of fasting will actually enhance fertility.”
So, who’s right? Once again, the science isn’t totally clearand most of the research has been done on animal models, instead of humans.
In one study, researchers looked at how three months of intermittent fasting affected female rats.
They found that the rats not only lost 19% of their body weight, but they also had significant changes in their reproductive hormones. LH and kisspeptin levels went down, while estradiol levels went up.
However, another review looked at intermittent fasting in women with polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOSa condition that can lead to fertility challenges. The researchers hypothesized that intermittent fasting could actually improve fertility in women with PCOS by reducing levels of glucose, insulin, IGF-1, and IGFBP1.
According to the report, women with PCOS tend to have increased expression of IGF-1 and IGFBP1, two hormones that affect insulin production.
How To Get Started 16/8 Intermittent Fasting
16/8 intermittent fasting is simple, safe, and surprisingly easy to get started with.
Just pick an 8-hour feeding window, eat 1-3 nourishing meals within that window, and abstain from anything except coffee and water the rest of the time.
The most popular 8-hour window is 12 pm to 8 pm. That said, 16/8 fasting is highly flexible.
You can structure it around your work schedule, workout schedule, or family time. You can eat from 12-8 on weekdays and switch things up to 8-4 or 2-10 on the weekends.
Others opt to eat between 9 am and 5 pm, which allows them to have a more standard breakfast, lunch, and early dinner. This type of circadian eating is thought to be good for digestion.
IF becomes even easier if you already skip breakfast. Youll just need to refrain from snacking or drinking calorie-containing beverages outside of your preferred 8-hour window.
Most people find that their body adjusts to 16/8 fasting within a few days, after which the fast becomes surprisingly hunger-free.
Intermittent Fasting For Women Over 40
Losing weight after 40 is not easy! Weight loss is a challenge between hormonal changes, changes in body composition, life responsibilities, and life stressors.
Intermittent fasting, also known as IF, is a good option for women over 40 who want to lose weight without counting calories or restricting entire food groups. It has very few rules, making it a very straightforward plan.
Because intermittent fasting restricts the amount of time in which you eat, it also makes meal planning more manageable and can decrease the total calories you eat.
Intermittent fasting for women over 40 can work well because it decreases fat without muscle loss, which is a particularly beneficial feature for women in this age group. In addition, this way of eating has several health benefits and can reduce the risk of some common chronic diseases.
There are different types of intermittent fasting, such as the 16:8 and 5:2 plans. Some patterns are easier to follow in the short and long term. This blog will walk you through the different types of intermittent fasting.
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Can You Drink Alcohol On The 1: 8 Fasting Schedule
Alcohol has calories and therefore, it should not be consumed during the 16-hour fasting window. If you want to enjoy an alcoholic drink while practicing intermittent fasting, it should be done during your 8-hour eating window.
Remember that the goal of intermittent fasting is to reap its benefits, not to feel restrictive and miserable. If you want to celebrate or have a drink, by all means, do so.
This comes with the understanding that alcohol will break your fast and therefore if you dont want to break it, drink during your eating hours.
What Can You Eat On The 1: 8 Diet
Honestly, you can eat whatever you want on the 16:8 diet. There’s no calorie- or macro-counting required as part of the plan.
That being said, if you want to lose weight, you’ll want to make sure your meals consist of a healthy balance of protein, fats, and carbs, Eliza Savage, RD, a registered dietitian at Middleburg Nutrition in New York City, previously toldWomen’s Health. Think: grilled chicken, half of a sweet potato, and a grilled vegetable for lunch or dinner.
While it may be tempting to feast when you break your fast, you should aim for a small protein-rich snack that you can eat slowly. By doing this, you’ll be better able to gauge your hunger cues and avoid overeating.
Some people find they see better results on the keto diet when combined with intermittent fasting, but sticking to a high-fat, low-carb diet certainly isn’t required.
Intermittent Fasting & Your Period
There’s also concern about whether you should fast during your period. But, according to Shah, you don’t have to avoid intermittent fasting when you’re menstruating it’s the week before that matters.
Shah explains that the week leading up to your period is when you’re most sensitive to extra stress. That’s because your estrogen levels go down significantly, a change that also increases your sensitivity to cortisol, the main stress hormone.
And since, according to Shah, women are hardwired to be more sensitive to external stressors, adding in extra stress, like intermittent fasting, can have negative effects on your body.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to avoid intermittent fasting completely when you’re premenstrual, but it’s probably a good idea to scale back, at the very least.
If you typically do a 16:8 fasting schedule, you may want to drop your fasting window down to 12 hours for the week. “And then the day 0 of the cycle to day 14 is kind of your green light to go a little harder on the fasting and the workouts,” says Shah.
Is Intermittent Fasting Safe For Women
Double board-certified physician Amy Shah, M.D., who specializes in hormones, says it all boils down to your overall stress load.
“Women are wired differently,” she explains, “They’re wired in a way that stressful situations to the body can cause negative effects on women’s hormonal cycles.”
The term “stress” often comes with a negative connotation, but it’s not all bad.
There are a lot of health-promoting practices, like exercise and the keto diet, that put stress on your body.
If you’re managing your stress levels well, these practices prompt positive, healthy changes in your body. However, if you’re over-stressed, your body may not be able to handle any additional stressors.
In this case, adding fasting, which Shah explains is “a hermetic stressor,” to the mix can cause negative hormonal changes, instead of the intended health benefits.
The bottom line is that every woman is different. Some women do great with intermittent fasting, but others are more sensitive to the stress it puts on the body.
While there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence from women who have experienced everything from weight loss to better sleep to increased energy, there’s not enough scientific evidence to make definitive conclusions yet.
However, what we already know for sure is that there are certain groups of women who shouldn’t fast. This includes anyone who:
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What Are The Types Of Intermittent Fasting
There are many different approaches to IF. Some people pick one to three days during the week when they eat minimally, if at all. Another technique, known as a fasting mimicking diet, severely restricts calories for five days in a month.
One of the more common IF approaches recommended for weight loss involves what is called 5:2 fasting, where you eat normally for five days in a week but seriously restrict calories, down to around 500 a day for women , for any of the remaining two.
Other people use a time restricted eating process, eating normally during any 8 to 12 consecutive hours in a day and fasting for the remaining hours. A TRE plan prohibiting food during a 16-hour window, known as 16/8, is what the Galveston diet recommends for midlife women.
Certain liquids are always allowed indeed are encouraged during fasting hours when little to no food is consumed. These include black coffee, teas , and water.
The Side Effects And Risks Of Intermittent Fasting
It seems like a no-brainer to add fasting to your daily habits with all these potential benefits and that is in fact the allure that has so many people jumping in. But there are a few things to consider before starting, especially for women.
Like any other significant change to the way you eat, you should talk to a health care provider before starting any type of fast. Even gentle fasting can carry risks, especially for people who have:
- A history of eating disorders or disordered eating habits.
- Diabetes or hypoglycemia, especially if you take medications that lower blood sugar.
- Trouble gaining sufficient weight or people working through nutrient deficiencies.
- A history of electrolyte imbalances, especially with longer periods of fasting.
It’s not that you can’t fast if you fall into any of these categories, but it makes it extra important to ensure you have the proper guidance to see if it’s safe for you. I cant stress enough, if you have a history of disordered eating or an eating disorder, it is best to discuss it with a qualified health practitioner before beginning. The potential risk may not outweigh the benefits.
In some cases, fasting should be avoided altogether:
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding.
- History of amenorrhea or concerns with fertility or missing ovulation.
- High stress or hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysregulation .
Additionally, there are a few reported side effects, but most of them are generally mild, including:
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Do I Have To Skip Breakfast
You may have heard or read that a 16:8 plan means you cant eat breakfast. But when it comes to intermittent fasting, a 16:8 schedule is extremely flexible and simple. You decide when your 16-hour fast begins and ends, so if youre someone who simply cant live without breakfast, dont deprive yourself.
Or, maybe you prefer to skip breakfast. Thats ok too. Whatevers comfortable for you. You could also eat breakfast an hour or two later and eat dinner an hour or so earlier. Just make sure that your eating window closes eight hours after you first break your fast. All that matters is you have 16 consecutive hours during which you abstain from food and drink only calorie-free beverages like water or unsweetened tea or coffee.
Is Fasting 16 Hours A Day Healthy
Its also theorized that fasting gives your vital organs, digestive and absorptive hormones, and metabolic functions a break, according to a recent study published in Cell Metabolism. Since our bodies secrete insulin to help our cells absorb sugar, fasting is linked to reducing our susceptibility to insulin resistance over time.
However, research has also linked fasting to increases in LDL cholesterol . Intermittent fasting can make you feel dizzy and nauseated and cause periods of low-blood sugar and dehydration. Despite the fact that most 16:8 enthusiasts drink water during fasting periods, it may not be enough .
I also have a much deeper concern about the disordered eating behaviors that may arise from intermittent fasting. Research shows that fasting for a period of time followed by a limited window for eating primes you to overeat. It’s a cycle that can be difficult to get out of because it impairs our body’s natural hunger cues and metabolism. Restricted eating may also lead to an increased risk of depression and anxiety.
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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.
Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
The pros can definitely outweigh the cons when it comes to Intermittent Fasting, as it can help:
Promote weight management
Eliminate or minimize food cravings
Encourage mental focus & clarity
Just to name a few.
Now, heres the tricky part: women are naturally sensitive to signs of starvation, so intermittent fasting for them can be a whole different beast.When the female body senses its headed towards famine, it can increase the production of the hunger hormones, ghrelin and leptin, which signal the body that you need to eat. This can have effects on the bodys protective mechanisms, which kick in when it detects that there isnt enough food for survival. These protective instincts can cause hormonal changes, sleep irregularities, anxiety, and more.The good news?
Most of these things only happen in extreme cases, though its good to be aware of the possibilities so you can adjust as needed during your fast. Many women approach Intermittent Fasting in a relaxed way, with briefer timeframes so as not to disturb their natural feminine biology.
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Might Intermittent Fasting Help Womens Heart Health
Both review articles found evidence that intermittent fasting offers improvements related to heart health, an important area for midlife women since heart disease risk rises during this time.
The JAMA Network Open writers found several studies where adults on IF diets improved their low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, total cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, fasting insulin, insulin resistance, and blood pressure.
Many of these benefits occurred in people who were overweight or obese.
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.
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Potential Drawback: Fertility Problems
Some research in animals hints that intermittent fasting may impair female fertility. Its likely that this is caused by calorie deficiency, rather than by the practice of fasting itself, as pregnancy is a very energy-intensive practice.
Consider holding off on IF if youre pregnant or trying to become pregnant!
Men, on the other hand, can likely engage in IF without impairing their fertility rates.
There are also fasting strategies tailored specifically to female needs.
/8 Intermittent Fasting: Benefits And Tips For Getting Started
Intermittent fasting has exploded in recent years, and the 16/8 Intermittent fasting plan is the most popular.
While intermittent fasting may seem like a new trend, it has been a natural human dietary pattern since our beginnings. Modern science is just starting to realize the full extent of IFs health benefits including reduced inflammation, improved cognitive function, and faster cellular regeneration.
In this article well be exploring the pros, cons, and benefits of 16/8 intermittent fasting before looking at some sample meals for how to optimally fuel your body during your fasting routine.
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