Intermittent fasting has become increasingly popular in recent years.
Unlike most diets that tell you what to eat, intermittent fasting focuses on when to eat by incorporating regular short-term fasts into your routine.
This way of eating may help you consume fewer calories, lose weight and lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
However, a number of studies have suggested that intermittent fasting may not be as beneficial for women as it is for men. For this reason, women may need to follow a modified approach.
Here is a detailed beginner’s guide to intermittent fasting for women.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting (IF) describes a pattern of eating that cycles between periods of fasting and normal eating.
The most common methods include fasting on alternate days, daily 16-hour fasts or fasting for 24 hours, two days a week. For the purpose of this article, the term intermittent fasting will be used to describe all regimens.
Unlike most diets, intermittent fasting does not involve tracking calories or macronutrients. In fact, there are no requirements about what foods to eat or avoid, making it more of a lifestyle than a diet.
Many people use intermittent fasting to lose weight as it is a simple, convenient and effective way to eat less and reduce body fat.
It may also help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, preserve muscle mass and improve psychological well-being.
What’s more, this dietary pattern can help save time in the kitchen as you have fewer meals to plan, prepare and cook.
5 Steps To Get Started On Intermittent Fasting…The Healthy Way
STEP 1: Start Preparing Now
Don’t put your health off.
TAKE A SMALL ACTION RIGHT NOW: Do something today to move forward, even if it’s just downloading my best-selling, results-getting program The 3-Week Intermittent Fasting Diet
It’s best to start intermittent fasting during a less stressful week as it does take a bit of preparation (both mentally and around your home).
If this week isn’t ideal, then schedule a date in your calendar right now for when you’ll start.
STEP 2: Clear Out Your Fridge And Pantry.
Don’t keep tempting foods lying around.
It will trip you up on those bad days. You won’t always feel motivated to stick to intermittent fasting, so make it easier for yourself to succeed.
STEP 3: Restock With healthy Foods.
Ensuring you have plenty of healthy foods around is essential. Here are some of the basic categories:
- Green leafy vegetables,
- Seafood and fish,
- All meats,
- Healthy fats (e.g., coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, ghee, tallow, lard)
- Some nuts and seeds,
- Some fruits like avocados and berries.
STEP 4: Be Prepared For Keto Flu (If you’re Combining With Keto)
If you’ve been eating a lot of sugary and high-carb foods, then you’ll probably experience keto flu..
WHAT IS KETO FLU? As your body adjusts to burning fat instead of sugar, you’ll initially feel dizzy, hungry, tired, and may even have headaches.
6 TIPS FOR GETTING OVER KETO FLU:
- Eat Slightly More Fats. But don’t go overboard if you’re unused to eating fats as your body may have a hard time digesting it at first.
- Eat More Calories. It’s easy to cut out all your regular high-carb foods and not replace it with anything. Add in more leafy green vegetables (try a green veggie smoothie), eggs, fatty fish (like salmon, mackeral, and sardines), and fatty meats (like oxtail, brisket, bacon, ribeye steaks).
- Add in Some Clean Carbs. Add in a small amount of root vegetables (like carrots and sweet potatoes) to help with your transition.
- Make Sure You Get Plenty of Salts. It’s easy for your sodium and potassium intake to drop too much on Keto, so make sure you add salt to your food and eat plenty of foods high in potassium like avocados and dark leafy greens.
- Drink More Water. Dehydration can often cause headaches, nausea, and fatigue. So make sure you keep hydrated.
- Exercise (If Possible). Exercise when you’re feeling the symptoms of Keto Flu may seem like a horrific idea. But, it can help your body become more metabolically flexible and therefore transition from a sugar burner to a fat burner faster. Obviously, only exercise if it’s safe for you to do so.
STEP 5: Have A Support Group
It can be tough going it alone. Get your family and friends on board so you can help support each other.
If you join The 3-Week Intermittent Fasting Diet program, you’ll not only have access to a coach (me!), you’ll join a Private Facebook Group of 2,000 others on the same journey as you.
I understand how important it is to have a support system in place for tough times or just to ask a few questions to.
What foods should I eat to lose weight on intermittent fasting?
I highly recommend doing intermittent fasting the healthy way as it’ll help you lower inflammatory, heal deficiencies, and lose weight and keep it off.
YOU SHOULD EAT THESE FOODS ON IF:
- Leafy green vegetables (e.g., spinach, kale, arugula),
- Fish (e.g., sardines, salmon, cod, mackerel),
- Other seafood (e.g., oysters, clams, mussels),
- Organ meats (e.g., liver, bone marrow, heart),
- Various meats (e.g., beef, chicken, lamb),
- Healthy fats (e.g., olive oil, avocado oil, ghee, tallow, lard, coconut oil and MCT oil).
- Some fruits (e.g., berries, coconut, avocados, olives), and
- A small amount of nuts and seeds.
YOU SHOULD AVOID THESE FOODS ON IF:
- Grains (e.g., wheat, barley, oats, corn, rice),
- Pseudo-grains (e.g., amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa),
- Starchy vegetables (e.g., sweet potatoes, potatoes),
- Sugary fruits (e.g., bananas, pineapples, mangoes),
- Dried fruits (e.g., dates, raisins, prunes),
- Seed oils (e.g., canola oil, sunflower oil),
- Artificial sweeteners and all junk processed foods (e.g., diet sodas, pizza, candies, bread, cakes, cookies), and
- Dairy products (e.g., cheese, milk, yogurt).
Learn How The 3-Week Intermittent fasting Diet Eliminates Gut Inflammation, Detoxes Your Liver, and Resets Your Thyroid
Intermittent Fasting May Affect Men and Women Differently
There is some evidence that intermittent fasting may not be as beneficial for some women as it is for men.
One study showed that blood sugar control actually worsened in women after three weeks of intermittent fasting, which was not the case in men.
There are also many anecdotal stories of women who have experienced changes to their menstrual cycles after starting intermittent fasting.
Such shifts occur because female bodies are extremely sensitive to calorie restriction.
When calorie intake is low — such as from fasting for too long or too frequently — a small part of the brain called the hypothalamus is affected.
This can disrupt the secretion of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), a hormone that helps release two reproductive hormones: luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).
When these hormones cannot communicate with the ovaries, you run the risk of irregular periods, infertility, poor bone health and other health effects.
Although there are no comparable human studies, tests in rats have shown that 3–6 months of alternate-day fasting caused a reduction in ovary size and irregular reproductive cycles in female rats.
For these reasons, women should consider a modified approach to intermittent fasting, such as shorter fasting periods and fewer fasting days.
Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Women
Intermittent fasting not only benefits your waistline but may also lower your risk of developing a number of chronic diseases.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide.
High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol and high triglyceride concentrations are some of the leading risk factors for the development of heart disease.
One study in 16 obese men and women showed intermittent fasting lowered blood pressure by 6% in just eight weeks.
The same study also found that intermittent fasting lowered LDL cholesterol by 25% and triglycerides by 32%.
However, the evidence for the link between intermittent fasting and improved LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels is not consistent.
A study in 40 normal-weight people found that four weeks of intermittent fasting during the Islamic holiday of Ramadan did not result in a reduction in LDL cholesterol or triglycerides.
Higher-quality studies with more robust methods are needed before researchers can fully understand the effects of intermittent fasting on heart health.
Intermittent fasting can be a simple and effective way to lose weight when done properly, as regular short-term fasts can help you consume fewer calories and shed pounds.
A number of studies suggest that intermittent fasting is as effective as traditional calorie-restricted diets for short-term weight loss.
A 2018 review of studies in overweight adults found intermittent fasting led to an average weight loss of 15 lbs (6.8 kg) over the course of 3–12 months.
Another review showed intermittent fasting reduced body weight by 3–8% in overweight or obese adults over a period of 3–24 weeks. The review also found that participants reduced their waist circumference by 3–7% over the same period.
It should be noted that the long-term effects of intermittent fasting on weight loss for women remain to be seen.
In the short term, intermittent fasting seems to aid in weight loss. However, the amount you lose will likely depend on the number of calories you consume during non-fasting periods and how long you adhere to the lifestyle.
Intermittent fasting may also effectively help manage and reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
Similar to continuous calorie restriction, intermittent fasting appears to reduce some of the risk factors for diabetes.
It does so mainly by lowering insulin levels and reducing insulin resistance.
In a randomized controlled study of more than 100 overweight or obese women, six months of intermittent fasting reduced insulin levels by 29% and insulin resistance by 19%. Blood sugar levels remained the same.
What’s more, 8–12 weeks of intermittent fasting has been shown to lower insulin levels by 20–31% and blood sugar levels by 3–6% in individuals with pre-diabetes, a condition in which blood sugar levels are elevated but not high enough to diagnose diabetes.
However, intermittent fasting may not be as beneficial for women as it is for men in terms of blood sugar.
A small study found that blood sugar control worsened for women after 22 days of alternate-day fasting, while there was no adverse effect on blood sugar for men.
Despite this side effect, the reduction in insulin and insulin resistance would still likely reduce the risk of diabetes, particularly for individuals with pre-diabetes.
It May Help You Eat Less
Switching to intermittent fasting may naturally help you eat less.
One study found that young men ate 650 fewer calories per day when their food intake was restricted to a four-hour window .
Another study in 24 healthy men and women looked at the effects of a long, 36-hour fast on eating habits. Despite consuming extra calories on the post-fast day, participants dropped their total calorie balance by 1,900 calories, a significant reduction.
Other Health Benefits
A number of human and animal studies suggest that intermittent fasting may also yield other health benefits.
Reduced inflammation: Some studies show that intermittent fasting can reduce key markers of inflammation. Chronic inflammation can lead to weight gain and various health problems
Improved psychological well-being: One study found that eight weeks of intermittent fasting decreased depression and binge eating behaviors while improving body image in obese adults.
Increased longevity: Intermittent fasting has been shown to extend lifespan in rats and mice by 33–83%. The effects on longevity in humans is yet to be determined.
Preserve muscle mass: Intermittent fasting appears to be more effective at retaining muscle mass compared to continuous calorie restriction. Higher muscle mass helps you burn more calories, even at rest.
Specifically, the health benefits of intermittent fasting for women need to be studied more extensively in well-designed human studies before any conclusions can be drawn.
Nick’s Metabolic Fast:
This is a unique approach to intermittent fasting with a health, metabolic, and hormonal focused approach. It is similar to the basic 8:16 lean gains approach; however I recommend a specific macronutrient ratio.
Alternatively, you can use literally any ratio of fasting and feeding to ﬁt your individual needs. The only caveat is that a majority of the day should be devoted to abstaining from consuming calories.
The Fasting Trick: Heal Your Digestive System, Detox Your Liver, and Boost Your Thyroid
Optimal digestion and assimilation of food and nutrients is vital for healthy weight loss. The hormones of the digestive tract are responsible for appetite control, food digestion, nutrient absorption, and toxin removal.
Your digestive system is strongly related to your nervous system, which influence your endocrine system (hormones). If you treat your stomach like a garbage disposal for low-quality foods, your hormones will repay you with weight gain.
Overconsumption of inflammatory foods can lead to leaky guy syndrome, IBS, chronic diarrhea, ulcerative colitis, and more food intolerances. An inflamed “gut” makes it nearly impossible to have a flat stomach or engage the muscles consisting of your “core.”
Optimal health and weight loss are not possible without a healthy liver. The liver is the major detoxification organ and also filters most hormones. It is responsible for 75% of T3 conversion (thyroid hormone) and provides energy in the form of glycogen. It also filters excess estrogen.
When the liver is overburdened by excess stress hormones, alcohol, processed foods, artificial sweeteners, HFCS/sugar, and an overall poor quality diet, the 2 phases of detoxification are inhibited.
The thyroid gland produces three hormones: Thyroxine (T4), Triiodothyronine (T3) and Calcitonin. T4 and T3 are what most people think of as “thyroid hormones.” These hormones play a significant role in your metabolism and in energy regulation in the body. Thyroid hormones act on almost every kind of cell in your body to increase cellular activity or metabolism. If there is too much or too little thyroid hormone, the metabolism of your entire body is impacted.