Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that includes regular, short-term periods when you don’t eat food. It is often viewed as a lifestyle, rather than a diet. It is a simple, convenient way of eating that can help reduce body fat and allow for weight loss. But like all diets, intermittent fasting affects everyone differently; especially women.
When it comes to fasting, women (particularly over the age of 40) are affected differently than men. Women are more sensitive to changes in hormone levels. Women have a quicker stress response to fasting, and women have much stronger hunger response and sensitivity to hunger hormones. In women, prolonged fasting period can lead to increased anxiety, adrenal insufficiency, irregular periods, sleeplessness, and poor bone health.
Any type of stress, including prolonged periods without food, produces the hormone cortisol. Under chronic, or compounded stress, progesterone is converted to cortisol to keep up with the demand. This leads to estrogen dominance, a major contributor to weight gain.
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Simple. By breaking up the fast so that the body doesn’t go into “panic” mode. Two ways for women to reap the benefits of intermittent fasting without the side effects of hormone imbalance include the 5:2 fasting method, and the 12, 14, or 16-hour fast.
This method of fasting can be described in 2 ways: either choose 2 days per week to do a full 24-hour fast or choose 2 days per week to restrict calories to less than 500.
Another effective fasting method for women is a consistent 12, 14, or 16-hour fast. This is where you restrict your eating window to a period of eating in a 12, 10, or 8-hour window daily. For example, you eat between the hours of 8am and 8pm for a 12-hour fasting period. Or eat between 8am and 6pm for a 10-hour fasting period.