Intermittent fasting is an arduous task, especially if you are used to eating multiple small meals a day. It was not too long ago that dieticians suggested we eat consistently throughout the day in order to keep our metabolism running at peak efficiency.
Things have changed, however, and for those who have kept track of the wildly fluctuating diet fads, keeping up with each new trend might seem dauntingly impossible.
Well, hold on to your hats, because now the health community is buzzing with widely accepted reports that intermittent fasting for women is the best way to encourage fat loss and improve overall health.
As a woman, we must be particularly careful about how we approach intermittent fasting. If done incorrectly, long stretches without food can alter your hormones and cause infertility.
This piece is going to go over what intermittent fasting actually is, the science behind it, and how you can properly implement this diet into your daily schedule without the risk of negative side effects.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Being an intermittent fasting woman is something we might unknowingly be every day. This diet requires you to wait at least 12 to 16 hours between meals, usually resulting in only two meals per day.
If you eat breakfast early in the morning and don’t eat anything until later in the evening, you are already an intermittent fasting woman.
If you skip breakfast and don’t eat anything until lunch the next day, you are also fasting for short periods of time.
You can also choose to fast for 24 hours two times a week, fasting every other day. Whatever works best with your schedule, and as long as you fast for longer than 12 hours in between meals, either option has proven health benefits.
In between those meals, you can consume liquids such as tea, coffee or water.
Fasting is not a recent fad. Eating three meals a day has been a recent development, one that came with a surplus of food and the industrial revolution. As soon as people’s lives revolved around the typical 9-5 working day, so too did their meals.
Breakfast was the fuel for the day, lunch was the break, and dinner was to be shared with family upon your return home from work.
For most of human history, we have been eating on completely different schedules. For instance, the Romans typically ate one large meal a day, and most of society up until the industrial revolution ate whenever their stomachs demanded it, or whenever there was food available.
So, three meals a day is far from the norm., and we should be steering away from this ineffective custom.
The Science Behind Intermittent Fasting for Women
Why should we be steering away from our traditional three meals a day? Eating when you are not hungry is, you guessed it, bad for your health and insulin resistance.
Hunger is a very specific feeling that is incredibly in tune to your body’s needs. Cravings and hunger are urges we should understand and be able to interpret.
For instance, if you are hungry and are craving a piece of juicy red meat, your iron levels are most likely low, and your body is trying to communicate to you that this is what it needs.
If you are eating three typical meals a day or grazing consistently, you are not giving your body a chance to communicate what it needs nutritionally. It is truly an amazing way to relay crucial information, and this is what intermittent fasting for women capitalizes on.
It is proven that fasting for more than 12 hours between meals can improve cognition, improves immune system’s ability to function, and actually promotes neurogenesis, the process by which your brain builds and creates new neurons.
It also reduces levels of circulating IGF-1, which makes us less prone to an insulin related disease. It does all of this without lowering the rate at which our metabolism runs, meaning we are less resistant to insulin and have a speedy metabolism.
It is also easier for your body to communicate with you what it needs in the moments of hunger between meals. You can then consume what your body might be in short supply of, making intermittent fasting for women one of the more natural ways to lose weight.
For women, however, this is a more dangerous diet. Women’s bodies react more severely to signs of starvation than men’s, and if not done properly, intermittent fasting can do more harm than good.
How to Do Intermittent Fasting as a Woman
Women naturally produce and store more fat than men for reproductive purposes. It was a necessity during times of food scarcity that women be able to store more energy for the sake of the fetus.
If a woman is under-eating and experiencing hunger, their body produces hunger hormones, leptin and ghrelin. These ramp up the feelings of hunger, resulting in an overwhelming need to eat.
In order to follow through with fasting, women will often ignore these desperate signals from the body to eat. This often results in an uncontrollable desire to binge.
This unhealthy cycle continues, your body experiencing an unhealthy dose of hunger hormones that eventually halt ovulation and throw your entire hormonal levels out of balance.
If done improperly, a woman intermittent fasting can also lead to eating disorders, such as binge eating or anorexia. Your relationship with food can become obsessive with such an unnatural dose of hunger hormones being dumped into your system on a regular basis.
So, how do you get around this extreme and unhealthy response?
Try Implementing Crescendo Fasting
In this eating schedule, you are encouraged to fast only 2-3 times per week instead of every day. These days are meant to be non-consecutive, so you don’t have the risk of being exposed to an unhealthy amount of ghrelin and leptin.
If you want to incorporate a healthy workout regimen with your fasting, make sure that you do light workouts on your fasting days. Don’t push your body too hard, because as a woman, your body is designed to protect you and a potential fetus against any harm.
Make sure that you drink plenty of fluids during your new eating schedule. While tea and coffee are great to keep you feeling alert, water is the most important fluid.
If you feel as if you can control your hunger and are healthy on this new eating schedule, try slowly introducing another day of fasting into your regimen.
An Intermittent Fasting Woman in a Nutshell
Overall, fasting is a healthier approach to dieting than most other fads, particularly because it stays in line with our body’s needs.
As a woman, however, you must be careful with how quickly you introduce this new schedule into your life.
Our bodies are meant to nourish and grow another living human being, so they do not take signs of starvation lightly.
It will do its best to try and convince you that you need to eat, overwhelming your system with a load of hunger hormones that will eventually halt ovulation, and in some cases, make periods stop entirely.
Making sure that you introduce being an intermittent fasting woman gently to your body will help stave off any potential physical harm.
Your body will have time to acclimate to the new food intake and won’t think you are on the brink of starvation.
Eating three meals a day is not natural and incorporating fasting into your life can have a wonderful impact on your immune system, cognitive functioning, insulin resistance, and, after a long period of fasting, you will find that you have a noticeable increase in overall energy.
Being an Intermittent fasting woman is more than a fad. It is a schedule of eating that is backed by science and proven for generations upon generations to sustain strong, and healthy humans.
We have been eating this way for years. In an age where morbid obesity and an overwhelming surplus of unhealthy food characterizes our modern lifestyle, shedding the typical three meals a day seems more appropriate than ever.
Are You Ready to Try Intermittent Fasting?
As with any diet, make sure that you take supplements in order to ensure your body is still being supplied with the nutrients it needs to function properly.
One supplement suggested by health experts is BCAA, a branched chain amino acid supplement that helps maintain and build muscle. It is suggested you take about 5-8 grams of this daily. This will provide fuel for the muscles, meaning less hunger hormones are being dumped into your system.
Don’t be afraid to give being an intermittent fasting woman a shot. You will find your head clearer and your body healthier if implemented gently and properly. The results are worth the work.