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  • Writer's pictureHema Chakraborty

Intermittent Fasting and Hormonal Health: Best tips

Updated: Nov 5, 2022


Numerous significant health advantages of intermittent fasting have been identified.


But men and women fast in different ways. Women who attempt fasting but don't follow basic protocol risk doing more harm than benefit.



Why?

since women's bodies are biologically adapted for reproduction and fertility. Longer periods of time without meals signal to the body that this is not a good time to reproduce.


You may be contemplating Then what? I don't want to become pregnant right now, or possibly ever. However, infertility is not the only issue. Women need to remember that progesterone and estrogen have other functions in the body besides only facilitating pregnancy. Estrogen benefits our metabolism, ability to lose weight, mood, ability to cope with stress and anxiety, energy, bone density, and cognitive function, to mention a few.


Intermittent fasting can mess with the balance of your estrogen in women and interfere with all these vital physiological functions. However, if you know how to hack intermittent fasting to promote hormone health rather than hurt it, you can experience some incredible benefits. This is because you can employ intermittent fasting in a way that is safe for your specific female biochemistry.



Women's Hormone and Intermittent Fasting


Although intermittent fasting has several health advantages (more on that below), it has also been linked to hormone disruption in women. Here's a closer look at the chain reaction of hormonal changes that intermittent fasting might cause.


The equilibrium of estrogen can be disturbed by intermittent fasting.

Estrogen dysregulation may manifest as:

  • Low energy

  • Inadequate glucose regulation

  • Gaining weight

  • Impaired mental capacity

  • Decreased bone density

  • Muscle tone issues

  • Less healthy skin and hair

  • Worse cardiovascular condition

  • Infertility

One hormonal system malfunctioning in the body can result in additional hormone abnormalities. When it comes to intermittent fasting, cortisol, the stress hormone, and the thyroid hormone are the other two main hormones to take into account for women.



Symptoms of an unbalanced cortisol level include:

  • Anxiety

  • Low Energy

  • Insomnia

  • Being wired but exhausted

  • Cravings for sugar

Symptoms of an unbalance in thyroid hormones include:

  • Gaining weight

  • Mental haze

  • Anxiety\sDepression

  • Dry hair Dry skin

  • Irregular cycles

  • Difficulty controlling body temperature

Intermittent fasting may therefore have certain advantages, but these may be outweighed by this chain of harmful health consequences for women.


Intermittent fasting: What is it?

Simply speaking, it involves going for brief or moderately long stretches without eating. You can call it a fast if you stop eating at 8:00 p.m. one night and don't eat again until 8:00 a.m. the next morning. This "not eating" window can be as short as 12 hours and include sleep time, or as long as 16, 20, or 24 hours.


Individuals fast in various ways. Some people attempt to go each day for 12 or more hours without eating. Some people attempt to fast for 12 or 16 hours a day. Some cultures go a whole day without eating every week.



Why Intermittent Fasting is So Popular at the Moment


According to studies, intermittent fasting may help with the following health issues:

  • Improved insulin sensitivity is linked to intermittent fasting. An essential component of hormone balance and general wellness is insulin sensitivity.

  • Reduced body fat has been associated with intermittent fasting.

  • Additionally, meta-analysis reveals that those who follow intermittent fasting plans don't overeat when it's time to eat during those times. In fact, research indicates that cutting calories by up to 20% on eating days can have a "carry-over effect."

  • Intermittent fasting may enhance Type 2 diabetes-related health parameters. It may also improve cognitive performance and reduce brain inflammation.

  • In some circumstances, intermittent fasting may assist reduce the production of stress hormones.

  • Fasting only occasionally may help reduce the chance of developing chronic illnesses.


Why Intermittent Fasting Is Difficult For Women


The metabolic and reproductive processes of a woman are closely related to one another. Therefore, whenever a woman's body receives a "starvation signal" from her environment (such as going without food for an extended period of time), it switches into a preserve and protect mode where it holds onto weight (to survive the famine), produces more ghrelin and leptin to make you feel hungry and hurried to get food, and slows down non-essential functions like reproduction (so you can keep yourself alive and not waste energy on growing a baby).


Studies on animals support this; for example, female rodents that intermittently fasted for 12 weeks had smaller ovaries and more sleeplessness than male mice. However, the scientists discovered that these modifications began as quickly as two weeks after the female mice began intermittent fasting.



How Women Can Safely Adopt Intermittent Fasting


This does not imply that women must forfeit the advantages of IF. Instead, I advise ladies to adhere to a few straightforward guidelines when it comes to intermittent fasting. This will enable you to take advantage of the numerous advantages of intermittent fasting while avoiding the risks.

  • Don't fast for more than two days straight.

  • Instead, choose no more than two or three days a week that are not consecutive to engage in intermittent fasting.

  • Don't go longer than 12 or 13 hours without eating. Any further could set off a harmful hormonal cascade.

  • Don't work out hard on days while you're fasting.

  • When you're bleeding, don't fast.

  • Pick the diet that will benefit your hormonal health during your window of eating.

  • You can consider going for a longer window of time each day without eating (up to 16 hours) if you give this slow and steady approach to intermittent fasting a try for a couple of months and feel great.

  • Pay close attention to how you feel and drop back to a smaller window—or stop intermittent fasting altogether—if you start experiencing symptoms of hormone imbalance.

Stop intermittent fasting immediately if you begin to suffer hormone imbalance symptoms while doing so or if the symptoms of hormone imbalance you currently have worsened.


These signs consist of:

  • Your menstrual stops or becomes erratic

  • You start experiencing issues getting asleep or staying asleep

  • You observe alterations in your digestion and metabolism.

  • You endure depression or mental fog.

  • You observe detrimental changes in the appearance of your skin and hair.

  • You're constantly cold.

DO NOT attempt intermittent fasting, if

  • You've had eating disorders in the past.

  • You're attempting to conceive or are pregnant

  • You have problems sleeping, keeping asleep, or getting out of bed in the morning.

  • Your adrenals are worn out.

  • You have been diagnosed with endometriosis, PCOS, fibroids, PMS, or another type of hormonal condition.

  • Always keep in mind that you may start making health decisions that will finally start to work for you after you have the appropriate knowledge about how your body actually functions. The science of your body is on your side, so you can do this!

 

FAQs

Is it OK to drink liquids during the fasting period?

Isn't skipping breakfast bad for you?

Can I Workout While Fasting?

Will Fasting Cause Muscle Fatigue?

Will Fasting Reduce My Metabolism?



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