Fasting is all the hype lately, especially among people in the Keto and Paleo sphere. But is it good for everyone? The short answer. No.
And here’s why. You guessed it! Hormones!
Fasting is alternating between periods of eating and not eating. For example, the most popular method is the 16/8 where you don’t eat for 16 hours a day and reserve all your eating during an 8 hour time window.
A lot of people use fasting as means to lose weight due to the caloric restriction of only eating during an 8 hour time frame. Besides weight loss, there are some known benefits to fasting such as lowering your risk of type 2 diabetes, can be beneficial for heart health, reduce inflammation, prevent Alzheimer’s disease and may help you live longer.
This all sounds great right?
BUT. Unfortunately, women tend to be much more sensitive to fasting due to our reproductive system. Intermittent fasting can cause hormonal imbalances especially in regards to estrogen, thyroid and cortisol (stress hormone) levels.
To put it short our bodies see fasting as a stressor, we are quite literally putting it into starvation mode. In turn, our bodies go into protection mode where it will hold onto weight to survive the “famine” and slows down functions like reproduction because making a baby is definitely not a priority at this time. Your survival is! In turn your body will shut off reproductive function causing hormonal imbalance symptoms and thyroid dysfunction.
If you don’t have any known diseases and no hormone imbalance symptoms then perhaps fasting works fine for you! The best way to find out is to give it a whirl.
I would NOT recommend fasting in any form for anyone dealing with infertility, thyroid disorders, hypothalamic amenorrhea, have a history of eating disorders, are pregnant or trying to conceive, irregular periods, PMS, fibroids, endometriosis, adrenal fatigue and sleep issues.
Just remember being a woman is a magical, beautiful thing regardless of all these crazy things we are sensitive too! Fasting can have benefits but I am not sure it’s worth the cascade of health issues we we women can experience from it.
Still want to try fasting? Here are some tips on how-to fast safely as a woman.
- Don’t fast on consecutive days and only 2-3 days a week.
- Don’t fast for more than 12 hours a at a time.
- Don’t do intense workouts on fasting days.
- Don’t fast when you have your period.
- During your eating window eat foods that are nourishing and nutritious.
- Take it slow, try it for a few weeks and see how you feel. Stop if you are experiencing hormonal imbalances or digestive symptoms.
Some signs fasting may not be working for you:
- You start to have digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating, intestinal cramping, diarrhea, constipation
- Your period becomes irregular or goes missing
- Your struggling with sleep
- You notice changes in your metabolism
- You experience brain fog
- You become really moody
- You notice thyroid-like symptoms such as changes in your hair and skin, and you’re always cold
Keep in mind, the benefits of fasting only work if you are consuming a nutrient-dense diet during your non-fasting times. Just because you have not eaten for 12-16 hours does not mean you should go splurge on “fast” food (no pun intended) when your fast is over.
As always, listen to your body. It’s amazing how much it tells you when you pay attention and listen.