What is Intermittent fasting?
In short, intermittent fasting means that you do not eat for a certain period of time, for example from dinner until the next day around lunch time. Because your body does not consume calories, it first burns the carbohydrate stores from your liver, muscles then switches to fat burning and help to lose weight.
In addition to the fact that intermittent fasting can aid in weight loss, it has all kinds of health benefits. Regular fasting, for example, improves the blood levels of cholesterol. In addition, with a process called autophagy, your cells go into cleanup and recovery mode. Obsolete cell parts are thus disposed of more quickly. Fasting also appears to have a beneficial effect with chemotherapy (of course you should never try this on your own)
But especially the feeling that intermittent fasting gives you is wonderful; your head becomes clearer, your stomach flattens, and you have energy. Moreover, it is much easier to maintain than a diet. The periods of ‘giving up’ are much shorter and instead of having to think about what you can and cannot eat, you simply do not eat anything. Sounds great right? Unfortunately for women it is a bit more complicated.
Women and intermittent fasting
Despite of many benefits of intermittent fasting, it is not always suitable for women. Women are much more sensitive to a calorie deficit than men. That has to do with our ability to have children. Building a child and then often a period of breastfeeding takes a lot of energy. Hence, your body keeps an eye on your fat stores for any future baby and makes it difficult for you to lose weight.
Not eating for a while, like you do with intermittent fasting, is a stress signal for your body. Well, a little stress is good for your body, it reacts to it with all kinds of protective mechanisms to be more resistant to it the next time. But in women, intermittent fasting, especially if you do it a few times a week, instead of a little stress, can feel like serious, real stress to your body. Your body then thinks that it is starving, with all the (hormonal) consequences that entails.
Intermittent fasting, when and when not?
Of course, the above does not mean that as a woman you cannot do intermittent fasting at all. The benefits are too great for that. But if you do, there are a few things to keep in mind.
In any case, it is important that before you start fasting, your body is already used to burning fat instead of carbohydrates. You achieve this by being very moderate with carbohydrates and having your meals mainly consist of vegetables, proteins and good fats. Not being hungry every 2-3 hours, being able to resist sugar easily and maintaining a constant energy level throughout the day are all signs that your body has become good at burning fat as its main source of energy. In addition, it is important that you exercise regularly, do not have too much stress and that you sleep well. Do not make it a competition to fast as long as possible but look at how you can make the period of fasting as short as possible, while still seeing results.
Better not for people with
Do you have any hormonal problems such as thyroid disease, irregular periods? Then it is better to be careful with intermittent fasting. Even if you want to become pregnant or have just had a child, it is better to stay away from calorie restriction.
Above all, with intermittent fasting, it is important that you pay close attention to the signals from your body. It has to be easy, you have to feel good about it and not experience it as a struggle. Fasting often works best when it actually goes without saying, because you sometimes skip a meal because you are not hungry or on the road. If you do intermittent fasting regularly and notice that you are slowly gaining weight, losing muscle mass, you sleep poorly, you are constantly hungry or you miss periods, then it is better to stop.