If you have ever paid any attention to the world of fitness and nutrition, you might have already noticed how men and women often react differently to diets and workout programs.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is quickly becoming one of the most popular trends for effective weight loss and a host of health reasons. This is the reason why we’ve decided to investigate how intermittent fasting can impact women’s health. Let’s see!
This seems to be a scorching topic that generates a countless number of heated debates. To this day, there does not appear to be any evidence indicating that women shouldn’t practice intermittent fasting. Despite this, some of them report some side effects. Women may respond better to some intermittent fasting programs than others, and this is why it is tremendous to find your comfort zone and know your limits before adding IF to your daily routine.
Moving forward, let's take a look at what a classic intermittent fasting schedule looks like.
Intermittent fasting is a way of eating where you intentionally prevent yourself from eating for a period of time each day or every other day. There are several ways to do this, but the most common for beginners is to fast 16 hours in a row while limiting the eating window to 8 hours in a row.
An increasing number of people are trying intermittent fasting in order to benefit from its proven benefits, like:
And this is only to name a few.
If you’ve been trying to understand how intermittent fasting works on the female body, you might have been juggling with different and various answers. Some of them are backed by science and research, which show that fasting is safe and works just as well as it does for men.
Others are anecdotal and based on personal experience. Most of these personal stories tell us that intermittent fasting programs can sometimes be challenging to implement, while it seems to be working like a charm for others.
In the end, you just have to try it out for yourself to find what works best!
Before starting an IF program, a lot of us are mostly thinking about two things:
1 - Is it safe for me?
2 - Will I get the same amazing results my boyfriend-husband-brother has been getting?
One of the first things to be aware of is that intermittent fasting could have a negative effect on estrogen levels. A 2017 study found a link between IF and hormonal imbalance in female rats.
However, scientific research on humans tends to show the opposite. According to some researchers from the University of Washington, fasting for 72 hours does not appear to have an effect on hormone levels or the menstrual cycle, and all reproductive hormones should remain within normal limits.
If you are underweight and your Body Mass Index (BMI) is already less than 18.5 kg/m2, you are unlikely to be a good fit for intermittent fasting. Fat loss caused by IF when you are already don’t have so much extra fat to lose can make your periods disappear (a medical problem also called “amenorrhea”) or even lead to difficulties getting pregnant.
However, a woman with a higher BMI (above 18.5 kg/m2) is unlikely to experience serious changes in her reproductive hormonal profile while fasting.
The most important thing to remember is that pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid fasting or talk to their doctor first if they really want to give it a try. Nutritional requirements during these periods of life are particular and need to be fully addressed to keep mommy and baby safe.
To this day, most studies on fasting confirm that men and women enjoy the same benefits. In one particular study that looked at the influence of fasting on body composition, men and women lost weight at very similar rates.
Some world-renowned experts concluded that women tend to do better than men when it comes to fasting. They even called men “big babies” because of how much they complain about not eating for an extensive period of time. They also reported that the highest weight loss success rates with intermittent fasting actually occur when two partners go through a fasting program together. It’s all about moral support!
By now, we know that intermittent fasting can be a safe approach to lose weight when done properly and that it can bring positive results even men can’t get, thanks to women’s mental strength and sense of commitment. Unfortunately, some of us also have to deal with other kinds of challenges we didn’t ask for, like chronic and hormonal disorders, which can affect the way we manage our eating habits.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (or PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder found in 5% to 10% of women. It may vary from one individual to another and cause different symptoms, from being overweight to hair growth (hirsutism), acne and infertility. There are many types of PCOS, the most common being insulin-resistant PCOS, accounting for about 70% of women with PCOS.
Good news: doing intermittent fasting could help regulate the body’s insulin levels and improve glucose metabolism since blood sugar levels will be more stable. This could therefore help to reduce the risks of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes related to the hormonal imbalance.
In the end, no answer is set in stone: you should always prioritize things that make you feel better and follow your intuition. Practicing intermittent fasting on a regular basis could definitely help you to achieve your health and fitness goals to become the person you’ve always dreamed to be.
Stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new can definitely be frightening; make sure to surround yourself with a positive support system, get all the tools you can need and explore your deeper thoughts and concerns with the help of a dietitian or doctor.
Fasting may cause temporary hair loss in women due to calorie and nutrition changes but promotes hair growth in the long term.
Hypertension is a strong risk factor for heart disease. Intermittent fasting can lower blood pressure by multiple mechanisms.