You may have heard about intermittent fasting from your friends, or maybe some random talk show mentioned it as some fat loss miracle. Intermittent fasting has recently become a health trend. It’s claimed to cause weight loss, improve metabolic health, and perhaps even extend lifespan. See our full list of benefits.
You may have read elsewhere that only men get to reap the rewards of intermittent fasting. While intermittent fasting seems to benefit many men, it can have a different effect on a woman’s hormones and metabolism. For this reason, women may need to follow a modified approach.
There are many different programs for intermittent fasting. While all rely on recurrent fasting, the frequency and time of the fasting periods in each of these programs are different. In the grand scheme of health choices, trying intermittent fasting probably seems tiny. You can see from intermittent fasting results why it’s so popular among men and women.
Although gender can be a sensitive and controversial subject, distinctions between men and women are vital to consider in connection to health. For women, changing how much—and even when—you eat can affect your hormones. See our comprehensive guide on how to intermittent fast.
The hormones controlling key duties—like mood, metabolism, and even ovulation—are especially receptive to your energy intake. There are many anecdotal accounts of women who have encountered changes to their menstrual cycles after beginning intermittent fasting.
Such changes happen because female bodies are greatly sensitive to calorie limitation.
When calorie consumption is low — such as from fasting for too long or too often — a little part of the brain called the hypothalamus is influenced. This can disturb the flow of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), a hormone that helps deliver two reproductive hormones: luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) (Source). To decrease any adverse effects, women should take a gentle approach to fasting: shorter fasts and fewer fasting days.
Check out a Healthy Hueman’s experience with Intermittent Fasting in the video below.
How Should Women Try Intermittent Fasting?
Commonly speaking, women should take a more comfortable approach to fasting than men. This may involve shorter fasting intervals, fewer fasting days, and/or eating a small number of calories on the fasting days.
It’s generally recommended that women only fast 14–15 hours because they seem to do better with slightly shorter fasts.
Here are some other types of intermittent fasting for women:
- Crescendo Method: Fasting 12–16 hours two to three days a week. Fasting days should be nonconsecutive and ordered evenly over the week (for instance, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday).
- The 5:2 Diet: Reduce calories to 25% of your normal consumption (about 500 calories) for two days a week and eat “regularly” the other five days. Allow one day between fasting days.
- Modified Alternate-Day Fasting: Fasting every other day but eating “regularly” on non-fasting days. You are allowed to consume 20–25% of your typical calorie consumption (about 500 calories) on a fasting day.
Whichever you choose, it is still necessary to eat well throughout the non-fasting periods. If you eat a considerable amount of unhealthy, calorie-dense foods during the non-fasting periods, you may not encounter the same weight loss and wellness advantages.
At the end of the day, the best strategy is one that you can endure and maintain in the long-term, and which does not result in any adverse health results.