Written and Medically Reviewed by Ioannis Nikitidis MD, MSc, BSc on January 25, 2020.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is emerging as one of the best ways to lose weight, get lean and fit. Intermittent fasting for women and men has slowly gained momentum as more and more people are becoming aware of its advantages.
IF helps enhance energy levels, boost stamina. Best of all – the results keep you motivated. It is said to improve your cognitive function too. But many people are still skeptical about the effectiveness of the method, as it is not for everyone.
Although shorter fasting periods are considered safe for the majority of people, the prolonged ones are not recommended for some women.
In this article, you will find answers to most of your questions and doubts regarding the method, its benefits, safety precautions and how to make it work to lose weight and receive the various benefits the method promises.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting, as the name suggests, is fasting for a certain time span, such as from 12 to 48 hours. The span is called ‘fasting window’, wherein you are allowed to drink bone broth, coffee, herbal tea, and water.
It is recommended to take vitamins and consume juices made from low-calorie vegetables during the fasting periods. It keeps the mineral and vitamin levels consistent.
After the fasting window, an eating window follows. The common span for this window is 6 to 12 hours.
The fasting and eating windows can vary as there are different IF methods, some being more intense than others.
You can experiment between them, so you can find out which method suits you and your lifestyle the best.
Is intermittent fasting good for women?
The general benefits that motivate women towards taking up intermittent fasting include:
- Enhanced lean muscle buildup
- Increase in energy
- Continuous weight loss
- Increased cell stress reaction
- Reduced inflammation and oxidative stress
- Improvement in insulin sensitivity in women who are overweight
- Enhanced cognitive function due to increased nerve growth factor production
But, besides all the benefits, there are certain considerations to mull over.
The first one is the fasting phase that causes the production of leptin and ghrelin – the hunger hormones. But, as women give intermittent fasting some time, they report feeling less hungry in the long run.
The second factor in intermittent fasting for women is the fasting impairs the reproductive capacity, so it is not recommended for pregnant women to fast. If a woman who fasts fails to consume enough calories, she might have some fertility problems. But if IF is done correctly, there’s no need to worry. After losing some overweight women may even improve their fertility.
How safe is intermittent fasting for women?
Intermittent fasting for women can be very beneficial if done right.
If calories are restricted too harsh, it may trigger imbalance in hormones leading to issues like infertility and irregular periods.
Thus, women who chose to do intermittent fasting should pay attention to the nutritional value of their diet.
Otherwise, they can lose the benefits of IF and bring more harm than good to their bodies.
How can intermittent fasting be made beneficial?
It’s simple actually. All you need to do while taking up the intermittent fasting method is to ensure your body receives all the nutrients it needs while you fast. It’s okay to restrict calories a bit if the goal is to lose weight, but it’s never okay to starve yourself.
Is intermittent fasting effective for women weight loss?
The most important and immediate benefit you gain with the IF is weight loss. Other benefits include repair of the cells, enhanced mental health, and decreased insulin resistance.
Now coming back to the weight loss effect. It occurs in the following way:
- The intake of regular meals under a shorter time frame leaves you feeling sated for the whole day.
- The fuller feeling prevents you from snacking in between meals.
- During fasting, the body goes into the fasted state. This state fosters fat burning which had been inaccessible in the fed state.
- The body goes into the fasted phase in about 8-12 hours after the last meal you take.
- This is the reason why you can lose fat without changing the type and quantity of food you eat and the frequency of your workouts.
Does Intermittent Fasting for Women really work?
It does work! As mentioned before, the fat burning capacity is increased greatly while being in the fasting state. This then leads to the weight loss effect.
What are the benefits of intermittent fasting for women?
There are several benefits that make it an eating pattern to consider. Besides being an effective weight loss method, IF:
The repair process occurs in full swing as the body does not have to focus on the digestion of food. It can concentrate on cell repair fully. This process is called autophagy.
Thus, fasting helps to cure or in this case repair your body and helps it function properly.
Enhances clear thinking
Another important benefit of IF is that you can focus on tasks better and complete a major portion of your workload in the while in the fasting state.
Prevents insulin resistance
Insulin resistance occurs when you constantly have high blood sugar. This leads to the inability of your body to act on the sugar content in the blood and break it down.
When you take up intermittent fasting, it helps you to keep the blood sugar level under control.
This condition is also triggered due to factors like elevated blood pressure, inactivity, genetics, improper diet, obesity or excess body weight.
Is Intermittent fasting difficult to follow?
You will be surprised how it can easily lead you to a simpler and healthier lifestyle.
One of the perks off IF is that time spent on planning and cooking healthy meals is drastically reduced.
What are the types of intermittent fasting for women?
The most common fasting methods include:
The 5:2 fasting
This method allows you to eat normally for five days and then restrict your calorie intake to 500-600 calories on the other two days.
You should hold off from any food for 16 hours and eat during the remaining 8 hours of the day. When following this method of fasting, you have to consume lots of high-protein foods and eat carbohydrates on rotation.
A good option for beginners. A 12-hour fast means that you eat within the first 12 hours of the day and abstain from food for the next 12 hours.
The Warrior Diet
It allows you to eat small portions of certain food types at dinner. During that dinner period, you should also work out. At the end of the day, you would have a feeding window.
You should fast from breakfast to breakfast, from lunch to lunch, or from dinner to dinner – whichever you prefer.
You can have one meal during that time to tide you over and use it to take medications that must be taken with food.
Random meal skipping
You can skip meals randomly once or twice a week. It basically helps you to reduce your calorie intake. If you had a really heavy lunch, you might want to let your body rest and skip dinner, or at least, have a light one.
Fasting on alternate days
As the title suggests, this plan allows you to fast every second day.
How does intermittent fasting work for women over 40?
As age progresses, metabolism gets slower.
So fewer calories are sufficient to maintain weight for women over 40 years
Women over 40 usually undergo the pre and post-menopausal stages and the fat accumulation in the midsection increases.
Belly fat is not only the hardest fat to lose but is also associated with plenty of risks including type II diabetes, higher blood pressure and high levels of cholesterol.
To avoid such issues intermittent fasting is an ideal way to keep you fit and healthy. Several studies indicate that IF is especially effective in reducing belly fat.
This is attributed to the increased production of human growth hormone, which helps the body to burn fat. The HGH levels increase when insulin is low. So, when you combine intermittent fasting with good sleep and effective exercise, the resultant low insulin helps boost the HGH and increases fat burning.
Is intermittent fasting good for women over 50?
Women over 50 face issues such as lower muscle mass, difficulty in sleeping, achy joints, and a slower metabolism.
Intermittent fasting for women over 50 is actually a great remedial method as it helps ward off or minimize nearly all the age-related issues you face over 50. It also helps to keep your weight in check.
A big part of the success of intermittent fasting lays in becoming mindful of food consumption. You will find it easy to avoid unhealthy foods including processed carbs, empty calories, and fats. Combining intermittent fasting with other diets also helps to enhance the effect of the diet.
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