Women’s Intermittent Fasting Plan
There’s no denying that intermittent fasting is popular these days. However, many individuals are unaware that there are some substantial variations in how intermittent fasting affects men and women. What makes intermittent fasting unique for women? It’s partly due to their distinct biology. Women often have a larger amount of fat on their bodies than males (1). This implies that they store more energy as fat. This increased energy reserve might be useful during fasting times. However, women have a slower metabolic rate than males, making it more difficult to lose fat (2).
Another issue is that female bodies are more sensitive to the hormone leptin, which aids in appetite regulation (3). This implies that women may find it more difficult to adhere to a fasting program and are more prone to experience hunger sensations during a fast. This is not to say that people should not attempt intermittent fasting. It simply implies that the protocol should be tailored to the lady, and she should pay attention to her body’s hunger signals during fasting.
Women’s intermittent fasting outcomes may differ from month to month due to hormonal variations. Because of these reasons, women must approach intermittent fasting differently than males. When done properly, however, intermittent fasting may be a potent tool for increasing weight reduction, enhancing energy levels, and mood stabilization.
Women must be cautious not to overdo it with fasting; doing so might result in hormonal abnormalities. Fasting may, however, assist with certain health conditions caused by hormonal imbalances. In the case of polycystic ovary syndrome, for example (PCOS). PCOS is a syndrome in which the ovaries create an abnormally large quantity of male sex hormones. To cut a long story short, this may lead to infertility, and since many women with PCOS are insulin resistant, they may gain weight (4). Fasting may be quite effective in reducing insulin resistance in women. This has the unintended consequence of assisting them in losing weight. Even better, it may increase a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant (5).
Menopause is a hormonal alteration that occurs in women beyond the age of fifty. During this point in their life, many women accumulate weight (6). This is a time when ladies may benefit from intermittent fasting to reduce weight.
Fasting, on the other hand, might have a detrimental impact on blood sugar regulation (7). It may also have an impact on reproduction (8) since it might decrease or halt menstruation (9). However, this is frequently when women go too far and fast for an extended period of time while also drastically reducing the number of calories they consume.
Take things slowly.
If you are a woman, the ideal method for intermittent fasting is to start gently. Pay attention to how your body reacts and adapt your fasting strategy accordingly. Baby stages are the greatest way to ease into an intermittent fasting routine. Begin with one day every week to begin.
Start with a short fast and build up.
Fasting for twelve hours and eating for the remaining twelve hours is an excellent place to start. You may then go fasting on alternate days the following week. Increase the days of fasting until you are conducting a twelve-hour fast every day. As long as you haven’t experienced any negative side effects, gradually increase your fasting period while decreasing your eating time by one hour at a time. An optimum fasting period is sixteen hours, with the remaining eight hours spent eating.
Do not fast for longer than twenty-four hours.
Women may fast for up to twenty-four hours but should avoid fasting for longer than that. This is because it might disrupt the delicate hormonal balance. Cortisol levels rise, causing melatonin to be produced sooner than normal (10). This alteration in melatonin secretion has the potential to disturb the sleep-wake cycle. Chronically elevated levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, may lead to increased appetite and cravings. This might result in weight gain or delayed weight decrease (11). This is clearly not ideal for a lady who is trying to reduce weight via intermittent fasting.
Do not exercise excessively on fasting days.
Women should avoid or limit their physical activity on days when they are fasting for any length of time. The high-intensity activity requires nourishment; thus exercising on an empty stomach is not recommended. The only exception is to exercise at the conclusion of the fasting period and immediately eat to replenish the energy stored in your muscles (12). Yoga, Pilates, or a stroll are excellent methods to exercise while fasting and are beneficial to both your general health and fitness.
What to eat and drink
Women, like anybody else who follows an intermittent fasting strategy, should drink lots of water to stay hydrated and avoid hunger sensations. They’re probably doing it for health reasons or to reduce weight. So following a healthy diet makes sense. Women should eat as little processed meals, sugary snacks, and desserts as possible. The morning should not consist of packaged breakfast cereals. Porridge, overnight oats, or Greek yoghurt and berries are excellent options for staving off hunger.
Check out our other post for suggestions on what to eat in the middle of the day for lunch. Despite the fact that they are referred to as lunch alternatives, they may be utilized to break your fast if you neglect your typical early morning meal. Evening meals should consist of lean meat or fish, as well as lots of veggies and nutritious grains. Instead of sweet, stodgy puddings, fruit is a great way to conclude the dinner. Women should keep their nighttime meals light and healthy. Furthermore, the final meal of the day should not be had within two hours of going to bed.
When women should not fast
Women who are pregnant, attempting to become pregnant, or nursing should avoid intermittent fasting. Women who have previously struggled with an eating issue should also avoid fasting.
Listen to your body
Finally, if women realize that intermittent fasting is interfering with their sleep, making them worried or agitated, or producing other negative side effects, they should cease and consult with a doctor or dietitian.
- Gender differences in fat metabolism https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11706283/
- 4 Factors That Make It More Difficult for Women to Lose Weight https://share.upmc.com/2018/07/harder-for-women-to-lose-weight/
- Differential physiological responses to central leptin overexpression in male and female rats https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5739960/
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos
- Fasting as a possible complementary approach for polycystic ovary syndrome: Hope or hype? https://xeniamed.it/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/22.-Fasting-PCOS.pdf
- Obesity in menopause – our negligence or an unfortunate inevitability? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5509974/#!po=13.6364
- Glucose tolerance and skeletal muscle gene expression in response to alternate day fasting https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1038/oby.2005.61
- Gonadal Transcriptome Alterations in Response to Dietary Energy Intake: Sensing the Reproductive Environment https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2607546/#!po=22.7273
- Intermittent Fasting For Women: A Beginner’s Guide https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/intermittent-fasting-for-women
- Endocrine and chronobiological effects of fasting in women https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11334904/
- How Too Much Stress Can Cause Weight Gain (and What to Do About It) https://www.orlandohealth.com/content-hub/how-too-much-stress-can-cause-weight-gain-and-what-to-do-about-it
- Intermittent fasting: Should you exercise on empty? https://edition.cnn.com/2014/12/30/health/dailyburn-exercise-empty/index.html