Is Intermittent Fasting Safe for Women?
This is definitely one of the most common questions that I get asked and there are often a lot of rumors and myths that get thrown around on the subject. The truth is, intermittent fasting is relatively new to the mainstream medical system and unfortunately, there haven’t been any conclusive studies conducted on the effects of intermittent fasting on women specifically, to date.
That being said, there is still a lot that we do know:
Intermittent fasting (IF) is the practice of going for prolonged periods without eating.
There are lots of ways to do it, The 2 Meal Day, alternate-day fasting, Eat Stop Eat, 5:2 and 16:8.
There’s evidence that intermittent fasting, when done properly, can help regulate blood glucose, increase insulin and leptin sensitivity, control blood lipids, reduce the risk of coronary disease, manage body weight, help us gain (or maintain) lean mass, reduce the risk of cancer, stabilise energy levels and reduce hunger.
We don’t know why yet, but women are much more sensitive to starvation signals than men, and if the body senses it is being starved, it will ramp up the production of the hunger hormones, leptin, and ghrelin. When women experience that feeling of insatiable hunger after not eating enough, what they are actually feeling is these hormones. This is how a woman’s body protects a potential fetus, even if a woman is not pregnant.
Specifically, negative energy balance in women may be to blame for the hormonal changes in the body and it’s not just about how much food you eat.
Negative energy balance can result from:
- too little food
- poor nutrition
- too much exercise
- too much stress
- illness, infection, chronic inflammation
- too little rest and recovery
Any combination of these stressors could be enough to put you into negative energy balance and affect your hormones. training for a marathon and nursing a flu; too many days in a row at the gym and not enough fruits and vegetables; intermittent fasting and stressing about your day to day life can all have an effect.
Fat Loss and Female Cycles
It’s important to address the hormonal changes which happen during a woman’s menstruation cycle and how that can affect appetite, mood, energy levels and dietary adherence.
Being conscious of how your cycle affects your performance and ability to tolerate exercise, allows you to make the most of the many biological benefits that are presented to you along with the duration of your monthly cycle.
During the luteal phase (days 15 -28 of your cycle) due to an increase in body temperature, you will burn an extra 1-300 calories per day.
This means that your hunger levels are going to increase and sticking to a calorie-controlled diet is going to become more difficult.
It’s worth listening to your body during this phase, and potentially decreasing your fasting window and/or adding a snack in between your two meals.
My personal reccomendation is fruit, it’s low calorie, contains micronutrients and will satisy the sugar cravings that are likely to increase during this phase.
Don’t Do Too Much At Once
In my experience issues can arise with women (and men) when they bite off more than they can chew. If someone decides they want to get in shape and have read about IF and HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) so they decide to go and “smash” 5 HIIT classes a week, start skipping meals and continuing to try and calorie restrict.
It is made worse when these people already have an incredibly stressful work life, as well as awful sleeping habits, fuelling themselves with caffeine, sugar, and nicotine throughout the day.
All of these things combined are putting too much stress on the body and will end up throwing hormones out of sync. This is true for men AND women, but women seem to be far more sensitive to the stresses.
I often talk about how little bits of physical stress on the body can be a good thing and make us stronger, but when stress becomes chronic and too much to handle – it will do more harm than good!
Why The 2 Meal Day is so Effective For Women
With The 2 Meal Day Plan, you are eased into the process of fasting, where you fast every other day – on your rest days. Every aspect of your life is taken into account. There is a lot of information on sleep, relaxation and proper recovery on your rest days and the focus is on eating nutrient dense foods cooked from scratch.
As you get used to the process of fasting you increase the days per week in which you are fasting.
Additionally, T2MD is the only method of intermittent fasting where the focus is on you. You learn to be connected with your feelings of hunger, becoming more in tune with your body.
Plus, there are no strict time restrictions or being a slave to the clock. So, if it’s that time of the month and you are feeling extra hungry you are encouraged to listen to your body and eat.
The goal of T2MD is not to calorie restrict, so eating nutrient dense foods until you are full is the key to long-term success.
65% of the people who have tried T2MD are women, and it’s having a profound effect on their lives. Not only are they losing weight, it is transforming their relationship with food, boosting energy levels and increasing productivity.
Here are some things women are saying about intermittent fasting with 2 Meal Day:
Listen to Your Body
At the end of the day, you are the only person who can decide if IF is right for you. Give it a go and see how it affects you, of course initially it may be difficult but once you are through the transition from being a sugar burner to a fat burner it should be effortless.
But be realistic; if you have been trying it for 2 weeks and it still doesn’t feel right, then maybe it’s not for you.
Just make sure you approach it sensibly, do not continue to calorie restrict when trying IF, eat quality foods, get quality sleep and don’t take up a brand new rigorous exercise regime at the same time. Just start to incorporate a bit more movement and activity into your life.
Want to find out more? Try a Free 7 Day Taster of 2 Meal Day for yourself!