How Intermittent Fasting Helps You Lose Weight
Intermittent fasting can be an effective tool for weight loss because it can help reduce calorie intake, leading to a loss of 0.55 to 1.65 pounds per week. It can also have additional benefits for metabolic health and may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
While calorie counting is not necessary with intermittent fasting, the weight loss is primarily due to a decrease in calorie intake. Studies have shown that intermittent fasting produces similar weight loss to continuous calorie restriction when calorie intake is the same between groups.
Which Intermittent Fasting Is Best For Hormonal Belly
There are a variety of different Intermittent Fasting methods that can be used â and this first step is crucial for specifically addressing hormonal belly fat . The two main forms of fasting include Alternate Day Fasting and Time Restricted Eating.
Alternate Day Fasting is a method where you fast for 24 hours, then you eat ânormallyâ for the next 24 hours. In essence, you fast for a full day, every other day.
Time Restricted Eating is a method where you fast for shorter periods of time every day. Common examples of Time Restricted Eating include fasting for 16 hours and eating for 8 hours or fasting for 12 hours and eating for 12 hours .
At first glance, it might seem that the longer fast should win when it comes to decreasing belly fat. However, one recent 2021 study found that in rats, ADF resulted in lipolysis in belly fat.
On the flip side, a study done in humans using TRE with a daily 16 hour fast found an increase in fat breakdown and a reduction in belly fat.
If youâre looking to lose belly fat with Intermittent Fasting, the TRE method has been shown to be more effective.
However now you have to choose which method of TRE will be best for you. Check out my free Intermittent Fasting Schedule Quiz below to determine your Intermittent Fasting Schedule.
Live Longer Age Slower
Studies show extended fasting, intermittent fasting, and prolonged moderate calorie restriction may all increase longevity and decrease the effects of aging. Theres evidence that IF decreases inflammation, reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease, improves your metabolic health, and increases your cognitive function.
Intermittent fasting, for both women and men, may also help reduce the effects of aging including staving off fine lines and wrinkles. How can that be? IF can help improve your bodys ability to defend itself against free radical damage one of the primary factors behind aging skin.
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How To Do Intermittent Fasting
So youve decided to try intermittent fasting. Great! However, its important to realize that when done incorrectly, intermittent fasting can cause or worsen a hormone imbalance.
Heres how to do it to make sure you dont disrupt your hormones.
Eat Enough Calories- or if you are trying to lose weight set a deficit of no more than 500 calories. When intermittent fasting you can enjoy larger meals and feel very satiated from what you eat. This can make it easier to lose weight!
For example, if you are consuming a 1600 calorie diet, a meal may look like this:
8 oz grass-fed beef1-½ cups roasted sweet potatoSpinach with grated carrots for a salad1 Tbsp olive oil, balsamic vinegar dressing
Hydrate In The AM- caffeine and coffee can cause cortisol to spike, which can imbalance hormones. I recommend that you focus on hydrating with water or herbal tea during your fasting period.
Ramp It Up- if you feel your hormones are sensitive, try fasting for 3 days a week instead of every day. Tune in to your body and allow your sensations to inform your decisions about intermittent fasting.
Exercise Mindfully- be careful about strenuous workouts before or during your fasting period. You may need to move your workout to coordinate with your eating period, or reducing the intensity. Again, listen to your body and dont push yourself.
If you have any questions please comment below!
Intermittent Fasting And Reproductive Hormones
One way fasting affects reproductive hormonesin both women and menhas to do with something called the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. Thankfully, this is more commonly known as the HPG axis.
Its not important to know exactly how the HPG axis works, but in case youre interested, heres what happens:
In women, LH and FSH stimulate the production of estrogen and progesterone, which we need to release a mature egg and to support a pregnancy.
In men, they stimulate the production of testosterone and sperm.
Because this chain of reactions happens on a very specific, regular cycle in women, GnRH pulses must be timed precisely, or everything can get out of whack. Eggs arent released, periods stop MAYHEM!
Heres the big takeaway: GnRH pulses seem to be very sensitive to environmental factors, and can be thrown off by fasting.
Even short-term fastingsay, three dayscan alter these hormonal pulses in some women.
Theres even some evidence that missing a single mealwhich, of course, isnt an emergency by itselfcan start to put our hormonal system on alert.2
This may be why certain women run into problems with intermittent fasting.
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How Can Women Gain Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting And Still Support Hormone Health
Simple. By breaking up the fast so that her body doesnt go into panic mode. Two ways for women to reap the benefits of intermittent fasting without the side effects of hormone imbalance include the 5:2 fasting method, and the 12, 14, or 16-hour fast.
Before you consider trying one of these versions of intermittent fasting, there are a few boxes that should be checked off first.
- Stress level is low
- Youre getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night
- Youre not afflicted by hot flashes and mood swings
- No other nutritional deficiencies
Additional Potential Dangers Of Intermittent Fasting:
- Hormone dysregulation
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Intermittent Fasting The Gut Microbiome And Sex Hormones
Studies have shown that alterations in the gut microbiome can significantly affect reproductive hormones . Improving abnormal microbiomes may lead to better reproductive health outcomes among pre- and postmenopausal women . Clinical and preclinical data have shown that intermittent fasting can improve the composition and diversity of the gut microflora . Periods of fasting have also been shown to reduce gut permeability leading to blunted postprandial endotoxemia and systemic inflammation, which are typically elevated in obesity . Various members of the microbial community in the gastrointestinal tract can utilize endogenous substrates during fasting, resulting in the production of metabolites beneficial to the host such as butyrate, acetate, and mucin stimulants . Thus, it is possible that the effect of intermittent fasting on reproductive hormones is mediated by changes in the gut microbiome.
How Does Estrogen Impact Weight Gain
Produced within the ovaries, estrogen is responsible for optimal functioning of all female reproductive organs. Estrogen promotes the storage of fat for healthy reproductive years. When estrogen is balanced, the right amount of fat helps carry out female reproductive functions. However, when theres too little or too much estrogen, weight gain often results.
Overweight women typically have high amounts of estrogen, as do women in the first half of pregnancy. Then theres perimenopause and menopause, which are characterized by a notable decrease in estrogen. Its during this time that some women opt for hormone replacement therapy to replace declining estrogen levels.
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Intermittent Fasting During Menopause
Menopause, one of the biggest hormonal changes in a womans life, is another common concern.
As you approach your 50s, the average age when menopause begins, estrogen and progesterone levels naturally go down. You also become less sensitive to insulin.
These hormonal changes can slow down your metabolism, making you more prone to weight gain. They can also cause other uncomfortable symptoms like mood changes, fatigue, brain fog, and psychological stress.
This brings up questions about whether peri- and postmenopausal women should take up fasting.
Bhatia calls intermittent fasting an ideal tool to help get you through the discomfort of menopause, explaining, If youre struggling with weight gain, fatigue, and/or insulin resistance during menopause, you may want to give it a try.
Of course, you dont have to just take her word for it. Research shows that intermittent fasting can help improve insulin sensitivity and promote fat loss.
In one specific animal study, researchers found that intermittent fasting helped improve insulin resistance in obese postmenopausal mice, even without calorie restriction.
It May Help You Lose Weight Without Losing Muscle Mass
Losing muscle mass is a common side effect of dieting. However, according to some research, intermittent fasting may help preserve muscle mass while still losing.
However, more recent studies have not found significant differences in muscle mass between intermittent fasting and other eating plans. It is worth noting that these studies have some limitations, so the findings should be interpreted with caution.
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Intermittent Fasting For Women Requires An Individualized Approach
Should you try intermittent fasting? It really depends.
Intermittent fasting has a lot of compelling, valid research behind it, but the data on women is mixed. Until we see more studies that specifically examine women in various phases of life, it’s impossible to say that it’s a good idea for all women.
That said, there are ways to make it safer and still see many of the benefits. Start with shorter fasts and keep fasting to no longer than 16 hours. Alternating days or only fasting a few days a week may also be a good idea, especially if fasting is brand new for you.
Pay close attention to how you feel, including mood, sleep, and cravings, as these are all indications that your current plan may be putting too much stress on the body. And, of course, if you notice any changes in your menstrual cycle, it’s an indicator that your body is out of balance.
If you are considering fasting for hormonal support, it’s worth trying to optimize hormone balance through a nutrient-dense meal plan like the one I offer in my free hormone starter kit. You can even follow these meals during your eating window if you choose to IF to make sure you are making choices to optimize your hormones at mealtime.
Problems With Intermittent Fasting
Ultimately, intermittent fasting is mild form of stress. So if your hormone imbalance is caused by stress, the added stress of intermittent fasting will hinder your healing process.
Moreover, fasting can be made even more stressful if you restrict your calories and under eat, which is easy to do when you skip a meal. When you under eat, your body assumes you are in a time of famine and produces the stress hormone cortisol. Chronically high cortisol will imbalance your other hormones and could cause you to lose your menstrual cycle.
In addition, stress will also increase the hormones leptin and ghrelin, which control satiation. Over time this can imbalance hormones and impair ovulation. This is why you need to carefully consider if intermittent fasting is the right approach for you.
If youre confused about how to eat to balance your hormones, reach out to us at
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Fasting And Thyroid Hormones
Our thyroid hormones T3 and T4 have an impact on every system and cell in the body. Intermittent fasting impacts our thyroid hormones, metabolism and energy production.
There is very little research into the effects of intermittent fasting and thyroid health, however, studies reveal during a fast, T3 decreases and there is an increase in reverse T3 levels. This is due to a reduced rate of conversion from T4 to T3 as the body tries to conserve as much energy as possible. Thyroid hormone balance resumes once you commence eating again.
Some research into the thyroid function of men reported insufficient effects of fasting and thyroid function, however, women may experience a drop in both T3 and T4.
Another study comparing calorie restriction to alternate-day fasting found in people who had hypothyroid , fasting achieved the same weight and body fat loss but greater improvements in their fasting insulin and insulin resistance was seen.
Effects of fasting and thyroid function will be different depending on your thyroid hormone production and whether youre taking thyroid medication. However, there are some key things to consider particularly in relation to the female body:
- Ensuring youre providing nutrients for optimal thyroid hormone function
- Choosing a shorter fast duration
- Avoiding calorie restriction and fasting
- Focusing on stress management as stress inhibits the conversion of T4 to T3
- Ensuring youre getting enough quality sleep
Circadian Rhythmicity And Sex Hormones
It has been proposed that intermittent fasting impacts sex hormone levels via improved alignment of circadian rhythms . Hormone production and release are, in part, controlled by circadian rhythms which are, in turn, influenced by daily feedingfasting cycles . It has been suggested that TRE shortens the daily eating window to better align with circadian biology, which may beneficially affect hormone levels . As demonstrated by Jakubowicz et al. , there may be a benefit to timing caloric intake earlier in the day vs. later in regard to testosterone levels in women with PCOS. While these findings offer promise for the use of early TRE in improving certain sex hormone concentrations, further research is needed before solid conclusions can be reached.
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Can Reduce Oxidative Stress And Inflammation In The Body
Oxidative stress is one of the steps toward aging and many chronic diseases .
It involves unstable molecules called free radicals. Free radicals react with other important molecules, such as protein and DNA, and damage them .
Several studies show that intermittent fasting may enhance the bodys resistance to oxidative stress 30319-3″ rel=”nofollow”> 18 ).
Additionally, studies show that intermittent fasting can help fight inflammation, another key driver of many common diseases .
Studies show that intermittent fasting can reduce oxidative damage and inflammation in the body. This should have benefits against aging and development of numerous diseases.
What Women Over 50 Should Know About Intermittent Fasting
For women approaching menopause, weight loss can seem like a struggle for a variety of reasonsmost of them related to a shift in hormonal balance. Its no wonder that intermittent fasting has become so popular for women over 50 with its promise of amping up metabolism, reversing cellular damage and improving mental clarity.
Lets take a look at what happens to womens hormones as we approach and enter menopause, and what the science says about whether intermittent fasting can help counter some of these imbalances.
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Metabolic Testing Options For Fasting Patients
If you and your patient decide that intermittent fasting could complement their current treatment plan, and provide health benefits, consider the following testing to monitor metabolic progress and the effects of intermittent fasting.
At Access Medical Labs, we offer results within 24 hours, so you can quickly get a baseline on file, review the data and give your patient the green light to get started with intermittent fasting. Then, set up regular check-ins and follow-up testing to chart hormonal imbalances and fluctuations.
Learn more about our precision testing solutions for physicians here.
The Effects Of Intermittent Fasting On Womens Wellness
If youve been following health and nutrition for a while, though, you may have heard that fasting isnt great for women. There is some truth there: while some women feel great when they fast, others run into trouble, particularly with their hormones.
The good news is that there are alternatives to traditional fasting! This article will cover the benefits of fasting and the standard approach to fasting, as well as a couple gentler options that you may prefer if you find you dont do well with full-on daily fasts. Heres everything you need to know about intermittent fasting for women.
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Is Intermittent Fasting Safe
Intermittent fasting may sound harsh or an aggressive form of eating, however, as humans we have evolved with fasting and it is a pattern of eating that is evolutionarily very familiar for our bodies. So yes, intermittent fasting is safe, however, it is important to understand when intermittent fasting to use intermittent fasting and how to use it correctly. It is also not a recommendation I give to anyone with a history of an eating disorder, is pregnant, nursing, under the age of 18 or immune compromised. Always remember to consult with your physician before making any dietary modifications.