There is a high chance you have heard of intermittent fasting before in some capacity, whether it be through friends or from the internet. Some people swear by it while others have been highly critical of this type of diet, but regardless, it can actually offer some great health benefits. If you are new to the scene or looking for more information, you are in the right place.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Let’s uncomplicate intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating that cycles between periods of eating and periods of fasting. Rather than setting restrictions regarding which foods you eat, this method focuses instead on when you eat. That being said, this is not necessarily considered a diet, and may be more accurately described as an eating pattern.
Are There Food or Calorie Restrictions During Intermittent Fasting?
One of the great benefits of intermittent fasting is that you can still eat really anything you want to, you just need to focus on food intake within a certain time frame. That said, though, you will achieve better results if you do focus on healthful, whole foods like veggies and healthy fats during intermittent fasting as opposed to junk foods and simple carbs, for example.
An easy way to make sure you are getting all necessary nutrients even with fasting periods is to incorporate protein powders or nutritional shakes. Orgain’s Organic Protein™ Plant Based Protein Powder is a great option if you want something made with clean, natural ingredients. This product has 4 grams of fat, 15 grams of carbs, and 21 grams of plant-based protein per serving, and includes things like brown rice protein, chia seeds, and sunflower oil for a delicious and non-GMO way to get your nutrients in.
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How is Intermittent Fasting for Women Different Compared to Men?
Interestingly, intermittent fasting works differently in men and women, and the reason for this may even date back to hunting and gathering. In hunter-gatherer societies, men and women adapted differently in terms of periods of scarcity when it comes to food.
Because men generally have a larger physical size, they adapted such that periods of scarcity result in metabolic boosts, which gave them the fuel they needed in order to hunt. On the other hand, though, women adapted so that periods of scarcity caused the metabolism to slow down so as to conserve energy and store body fat as a means of survival.
That being said, intermittent fasting may not work well for everybody, but you never know unless you try. What you can know is whether or not it’s a good fit for you based on your health history, so you should always consult with your doctor before going into an intermittent fasting routine or beginning any type of significant dietary change.
Intermittent fasting can also cause changes to hormones. The Human Growth Hormone, for example, sees its levels skyrocket during intermittent fasting, which can have benefits regarding fat loss and muscle mass gain. Changes in insulin resistance can also occur, as intermittent fasting improves insulin sensitivity such that insulin levels may drop, making stored fat more accessible as blood sugar levels are lower at certain times during the fasting schedule.
Lastly, intermittent fasting can impact the gonadotropin releasing hormone, which is responsible for supporting reproductive tissue and function, including the menstrual cycle. The bottom line is fasting in any form can impact reproductive function because it suppresses hormone release from the pituitary gland. Thus, you should take care when contemplating intermittent fasting and again, consult your doctor about whether or not it’s a good fit for you.
So, is Intermittent Fasting Safe for Women?
Intermittent fasting is safe for most young adults to older women, but you should always proceed with caution and consult your doctor. Intermittent fasting should be avoided if you’re pregnant, trying to get pregnant, are a new breastfeeding mother, have a history of eating disorders, are chronically stressed, if you don’t sleep well, or if your body is still new to caloric restriction dieting and exercise.
To put that simply, if you are not sure whether or not intermittent fasting is a good idea for you, you should definitely consult your doctor, dietitian, and/or nutritionist. In fact, you should consult your doctor before trying out a new eating pattern or diet that involves fasting windows or big changes in calorie intake regardless of how comfortable you are with the idea of that eating pattern. This way, any potential harm or risks can be minimized, and you can make sure you are fully informed before switching up your habits.
Intermittent Fasting Methods for Women
There are plenty of different methods of intermittent fasting, some of which may be easier to stick with than others.
The Crescendo Method, also known as Alternate Day Fasting, involves fasting 12-16 hours only a couple of days per week. Usually, fasting occurs every other day, and some people opt to eat only a couple hundred calories on those days rather than completing a full fast.
Eat-Stop-Eat involves fasting for 24 hours once or twice each week, and may be more manageable than the Crescendo Method. As an example, this method could involve fasting from the last meal at dinner time at 6pm one day until dinner time at 6pm the next day.
The 5:2 Diet entails eating normally for 5 out of 7 days each week, and then restricting your caloric intake to around 500-600 calories on the other two days. For women, caloric intake on the two fasting days should ideally be around 500 calories, while 600 calories is recommended for men.
For the 16/8 Method, you should fast on consecutive days for 14-16 hours as well as restrict your daily eating window to around 8-10 hours. This type of eating window can fit up three or more meals depending on how you time it, and this method can be as simple as fasting after dinner one day until lunch the next day. In other words, you could fast from 8pm until noon the next day, and that would be 16 hours.
Intermittent fasting can be a great way to support your weight loss efforts, and if care is taken to still incorporate healthy foods, complex carbohydrates, and not get too crazy with long periods of ignoring intense hunger cues, it can be very safe and effective. With a variety of methods and little restriction when it comes to what foods you eat, this eating pattern is gaining plenty of traction, and you are not alone if you want to get in on the buzz.
The eating pattern known as intermittent fasting involves alternating between periods of time spent eating and periods of time spent fasting in efforts to burn fat and slim body weight. There are several different methods of intermittent fasting, and one of the highlights is the fact that you can basically eat anything you want as long as you do so during the allotted time frame. Though there may be certain risks associated with this eating pattern, consulting your doctor and proceeding with care can minimize the potential harm, making intermittent fasting a safe and effective way to switch up your weight loss endeavors and work your way to better overall wellness.