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Fasting for women, how to start fasting?

Tips for women on the benefits of intermittent fasting and where to begin.
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Summary

If you’ve heard about intermittent fasting and it’s beautiful benefits, but aren’t sure where to begin, read our hints and tips guide that will get you on your way.

Each one of us ladies are unique and have our own individual styles that should be celebrated, so take steps towards your personal goal in order to achieve a more balanced, harmonious life.

Written by
Stefanie Joy Daniels
Menopause ambassador | Author | Intermittent fasting coach | Nutritional specialist.

If your ears prick up every time you hear the words ‘Intermittent Fasting’ and you’d really like to try it but don’t know where to begin, fear not, we’ve got your back!! Every expert was a beginner once so read on to learn how to start fasting and get a taste of this beautiful lifestyle that is helping millions of women balance their hormones and reclaim their confidence. 

The beautiful benefits of fasting

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Chances are, if you’re the slightest bit health savvy, you’ve heard of intermittent fasting and it’s beautiful benefits. Especially when it comes to fat loss, balancing our hormones and overall health. Before we dive into the tips on “how to” of fasting, let’s take a little behind-the-scenes look at the benefits, so that you have the tools to become a fasting goddess. 

There are several theories about why fasting provides us with benefits. The most popular one is the idea that during the fasting period, your cells are under a small amount of stress - in this case, not being constantly given food and so having to work harder to make fuel for energy (1)

The body then responds to this stress by adapting to its environment. This adaptation strengthens its ability to cope with stress and maybe, in some cases, resist disease. 

Although the word ‘stress’ is often used in a negative sense, putting some kind of physical or mental demand on the body and mind has benefits. Think about when you exercise vigorously, which stresses muscles and the cardiovascular system in order to help them grow. 

As long as you give your body time to recover, it will reward us by getting stronger. There is considerable similarity between how cells respond to the stress of exercise and how cells respond to intermittent fasting (2)

So let’s roll our sleeves up and get stuck in… 


Tips on how to start intermittent fasting 

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There are various methods of intermittent fasting and each person will have a preferred style - one that is uniquely suited to you. The only similarities is that each and every one of us will inevitably need to tweak and repeat. 


Here are a few tips to get you started on your journey: 


  1. Listen - the key to the success of this is to pay close attention to the cues in your body and honour those cues as they change and develop each and every day. 


  1. Begin - A great starting point is 12 hours a day, mainly because the fasting window is relatively small and much of the fasting occurs during sleep. As an example, if a person chose to fast between 7pm and 7am, they’d finish their dinner by 7pm and wait until 7am the next day to eat breakfast. They’d also (in most cases) be asleep for much of the time in between. This beneficial starting point also provides an element of digestive rest (3)


  1. Adapt - As your body gets used to this way of living, you become more fat-adaptive and can start to experiment with the length of your fast. 


  1. Evolve - Fasting for 16 hours is a great next step and may be helpful for someone who has tried the 12-hour fast but didn’t see any benefits. It’s also known as the 16:8 method where people finish their evening meal by around 8pm, they skip breakfast the next day and begin eating again at noon (4)

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Women and fasting 

As we progress along our fasting journey, it’s important to respect the fact that women’s physiology is unique and needs to be treated as such. If intermittent fasting is approached in an aggressive manner, we will throw our hormones - whose main job it is to protect us - off balance and put too much of the wrong stress on the body resulting in abnormalities in the part of our brain that looks after behavioural functions. The worst outcome is that we’re driven to binge eat (5).  

Tips to staying on track 

In order to maximise the benefits and stick to an intermittent fasting program, the following tips may help you stay on track:

  • Stay hydrated: Always carry a drink with you. Whether that be water or herbal teas, sipping throughout your day will make a huge difference.


  • Drop the obsession: We can sometimes get into our own heads and obsess about foods. Instead, plan plenty of distractions such as catching up with friends, going to see a movie, reading a novel, even hugging your kids, spouse or animal releases oxytocin and will help change the narrative in our head. 


  • Make the right food choices: When you’re not fasting, fill yourself up on foods that are rich in protein, fiber, and healthful fats. These will help keep you fuller for longer and keep you on track. 


  • Get adventurous: Season meals generously with garlic, herbs, spices, or vinegar. These foods are extremely low in calories yet are full of flavor, which may help to reduce feelings of hunger. (6) 

In conclusion 

Fasting has a major role to play in women’s health during the various phases of her life so as long as you respect your cues, you will reap the rewards (7) and put that crown back on.

To join other unique and fabulous women all on similar journeys, please join our intermittent fasting community for women only


References:

  1. Collier. R. Intermittent fasting: The science of going without. CMAJ. 2013;185 (9) E363-E364. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.109-4451
  1. Collier. R. Intermittent fasting: The science of going without. CMAJ. 2013;185 (9) E363-E364. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.109-4451
  1. Leonard. J Seven ways to do intermittent fasting: The best methods. CMAJ. 2013;185 (9) E362. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.109-4438
  1. Leonard. J Seven ways to do intermittent fasting: The best methods. CMAJ. 2013;185 (9) E362. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.109-4438
  1. Williams. G. Binge Eating and Binge Eating Disorder in Athletes: A Review of Theory and Evidence. The Sports Journal. (22):1543-9518. 
  1. Nair PM, Khwale PG. Role of therapeutic fasting in women’s health: An overview. J Midlife Health. 2016;7(2):61-64. Doi: 10.4103/0976-7800.185325

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