Chances are if you are health and fitness savvy, you’ve heard of intermittent fasting and its benefits for fat loss and overall health.
But did you know that, if you’re a woman, fasting could lead to hormonal imbalance and could lead to fertility issues? Here, we’ll discuss the best ways for women to enjoy the positive aspects of intermittent fasting without putting their health at risk.
An intermittent fast is a brief fast where, for 12–16 hours or more, you don’t eat anything except water (a few exceptions apply). And while that may sound incredibly difficult to achieve, you might already be fasting without knowing it if you eat dinner at, say, 7 p.m. and break your fast in the morning between 7—10 a.m. — and if you only have water and black coffee or tea between.
For others of us who have been trained to eat six times a day to “keep our metabolism up,” it can be an arduous and seemingly contradictory feat to go 12-plus hours on water alone. But science actually backs this ancient practice.
Medical studies have shown that intermittent fasting:
- Increases energy
- Improves cognition, memory and clear-thinking (1)
- Makes us less insulin resistant, staving off fat and insulin related disease by reducing levels of circulating IGF-1 and increasing insulin sensitivity without lowering the resting metabolic rate (2)
- May improve immunity, lower diabetes risk, and improve heart health (3)
- Increases production of brain neurotropic growth factor — a protein that promotes neuron growth and protection — making us more resilient to neurological stress and thus staving off neurodegenerative diseases (4)
My Initial Fasting Experience
Knowing the potential health benefits of intermittent fasting for women, I was eager to give it a try. Unfortunately, I failed MISERABLY at my first attempt. Let’s just say I did NOT experience increased energy and clear-mindedness.
The first day I under-ate and couldn’t sleep for hunger pangs. The next day, tired and cranky, I overate with the veracity of a starved animal. That’s when my hunger and hormone roller coaster began. And after one full week of this, I had to quit.
As a physician I wondered if other women had experienced something similar. And when I searched the internet, I discovered that, across message boards, blogs and online communities, women were complaining about intermittent fasting and its effect on their hormones. In fact, there was scientific literature that supported all of our experiences.
The Fasting and Hormone Connection
To put it simply, intermittent fasting can cause hormonal imbalance in women if it’s not done correctly. (5) Women are extremely sensitive to signals of starvation, and if the body senses that it is being starved, it will ramp up production of the hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin.
So when women experience insatiable hunger after under-eating, they are actually experiencing the increased production of these hormones. It’s the female body’s way of protecting a potential fetus — even when a woman is not pregnant.
Of course, though, many women ignore these hunger cues causing the signals to get even louder. Or, worse, we try to ignore them, then fail and binge later, then follow that up with under-eating and starvation again. And guess what? That vicious cycle can throw your hormones out of whack and even halt ovulation.
In animal studies, after two weeks of intermittent fasting, female rats stopped having menstrual cycles and their ovaries shrunk while experiencing more insomnia than their male counterparts (though the male rats did experience lower testosterone production). (6) Unfortunately, there are very few human studies looking at the differences between intermittent fasting for men and women, but the animal studies confirm our suspicion: Intermittent fasting can sometimes throw off a woman’s hormonal balance, cause fertility problems and exacerbate eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder.
But there is a solution …
Crescendo Fasting for Women
Intermittent fasting for women can be hard on your body if you are new to it or if you jump in too quickly. So if you are a woman or trying fasting for the first time, you might benefit from modified — or crescendo — intermittent fasting.
Crescendo fasting only requires you to fast a few days a week instead of every day. My experience is that women get a lot more benefit from doing it this way without accidentally throwing their hormones into frenzy. This is a more gentle approach that helps the body more easily adapt to fasting. And if women do it right, it can be an amazing way to shave off body fat, improve inflammatory markers and gain energy. (7)
Not all women need crescendo fasting, but it will ensure success in most.
Rules of Crescendo Fasting:
- Fast on 2–3 nonconsecutive days per week (e.g. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday)
- On fasting days, do yoga or light cardio.
- Ideally, fast for 12–16 hours.
- Eat normally on your strength training/HIIT workouts intense exercise days.
- Drink plenty of water. (Tea and coffee are okay, too, as long as there is no added milk or sweetener)
- After two weeks, feel free to add one more day of fasting.
- Optional: Consider taking 5–8 grams of BCAAs during your fast. A branched chain amino acid supplement has few calories but provides fuel to muscles. This can take the edge off hunger and fatigue.
If you have failed at intermittent fasting before, try this crescendo style for a better, more sustainable experience — especially if you are a woman.
11 pounds in 22 days?
Is it REALLY possible to lose 11 lbs. of fat in 22 days? Actually yes… BUT only when you’re a level 4 fat burner. Unfortunately, most people are stuck as level 1 fat burners. So, how do you become a level 4 fat burner to lose up to 11 lbs. in 22 days? Simply eat these foods daily:
Did you know that one of the best times to stretch is right before bed? However…
What stretches should you do? Here’s a 1-minute stretch routine you can do before bed...
Lisa, Yoga Coach
eatlocalgrown / wisemindhealthybody
...easy, 3-minute exercise that completely cured his horrendous snoring! We can both finally sleep!
Today is a good day. Tonight will be even better. Why?
Because you're about to learn easy throat exercises that cure (not just treated) your stubborn snoring – in 3 minutes – starting TONIGHT!
...even if straps, sprays and even torturing CPAP masks have failed you in the past.
Most people heal their snoring in just a few minutes per day using these powerful throat exercises. And they're so easy, you can do them, regardless of your age or physical shape.
Use them anytime, anywhere... even while stuck in traffic or watching TV.
Plus the results are permanent!
Did you know that your bodyfat can become "calorie-resistant"?
True. And it's completely unaffected by even the strictest diets... and most intense exercises.
However, there's good news- Calorie-resistant bodyfat can be now removed...
It's a little-known, calorie-burning hormone we all have... just waiting for the right spark to come alive. It's not thyroid, leptin, ghrelin, insulin, adiponectin, HGH or any other "fat loss" hormone you may know. Read more to find out precisely how to unleash its calorie-burning power:
To your health!
PS - Studies show that it can also reduce your risk of diabetes by 53.7%, a heart attack by 83.3% and stroke by 51.4%. Here's more of the scientific proof...
I bet you can’t guess which muscle in your body is the #1 muscle that eliminates joint and back pain, anxiety and looking fat. This “hidden survival muscle” in your body will boost your energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.
If this “hidden” most powerful primal muscle is healthy, we are healthy.
d) Hip Flexors
Take the quiz above and see if you got the correct answer!
In April, 2009, researchers stunned the medical community when they reported chronic inflammation as the root cause of several major diseases.
See, every year 610,000 people in the U.S. die of heart disease. Cancer claims another 584,000...stroke 130,000...Alzheimer's disease nearly 85,000 — and the list goes on.
Truth is, we now know... chronic inflammation is responsible for 7 out of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States! Hundreds of studies and scientific reviews prove it.
Fortunately, newer research shows you can prevent-even reverse-most major diseases by "turning off" inflammation. And in our new book, we show you how to do just that.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a debilitating condition-and you"re not sure what the culprit is-now's the time to find out...while you can still do something about it!
--> Grab your FREE copy of this groundbreaking soft cover book today (while supplies still last.)
Over the past year, my friend Dave over at PaleoHacks has been working on a super secret cookbook project with our good friend Peter Servold a Le Cordon Bleu trained Chef and owner of Pete's Paleo...
And today, this new incredible Paleo Cookbook is finally available to be shipped right to your door for FREE!
The cookbook is called Paleo Eats, and it's filled with over 80 chef created, insanely tasty Paleo recipes which means they are free from gluten, soy, dairy, and refined sugar.
Get your FREE copy of Paleo Eats Here. (Grab this today, because they only ordered a small batch of these cookbooks for this freebie promotion, and they will sell out FAST!)
Sponsored Health Resources
In the years that I've been working on this website project I've come across some amazing resources by some very special people. I'd like to share them with you here.
NOTE: I update these links often so please check back to see what's new!
1) Everyone knows green smoothies are healthy right? Have you heard of a “red” smoothie? If not, check out this story…
2) Forget what you've read about 10-day lemonade cleanses, 7-day detoxes with green juices and Gwyneth's gruel. All you need to do, and this is perfect for Saturday or or anytime really, is a simple 1-day cleanse.
3) This “hidden survival muscle” in your body will boost your energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.
4) I thought it was virtually impossible for a website to be able to tell me anything even a little bit insightful after only submitting my name and date of birth... I was wrong!
5) Turmeric is amazing. The problem is - It's hard to absorb!
6) Wonder why your stomach still sticks out even though you're hammering the core exercises every day? It's a common myth that bulging belly is due to weak abdominal muscles.
7) Even if you're the most active of athletes, you may still suffer from tight hip flexors due to the amount of time you spend each day planted to a chair.
Enjoy! Let me know how these work out for you. And if you run across anything I've missed please let me know.