The Love & Hate Relationship Between Women and Intermittent Fasting

For those who say: the beauty is on the inside or…  it doesn’t matter how you look or how much you weigh – as long as you love yourself, you can climb over mountain Everest! – we always give a round of applause and nod agreeing. ‘Cause hey, if you feel good, you look good!

But then again, we know that deep inside you crave for that sculpted body, juicy curves and utopic yoga thighs, who wouldn’t want that? And with Intermittent Fasting, you can achieve these goals in a matter of weeks. Though, you might’ve heard some rumors wandering around that IF works quite differently for men and women.

And let it be our topic of the day.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent Fasting is when you consume your calories during a specific window of the day, and choose not to eat food for a larger window of time. So basically, you consciously choose to skip certain meals on purpose. Reminder: it is NOT a diet, it’s more of an eating pattern. It’s a way of scheduling your meals so that you get the most out of them.

Mother Nature strikes again

Despite the fact that our bodies differ from men’s’, we also have our bloody marys lurking behind the corner once a month. And it’s perfectly normal that a week before our period we experience a huge gulp of hormones messing up our mood, outer appearance, and emotions.

Most of the symptoms are due to hormonal fluctuations and are very variable. Some of us are affected by testosterone, some of us by progesterone. Those things control appetite and concentration levels, relaxation of smooth muscles, you name it. For each of us, these indications may differ depending on our body type, genes, etc.

What does it have to do with IF?

What happens is that our estrogen collapses to the minimum, which causes more stress in our lives. So putting up with intense workouts, special diets or fasting may affect our bodies a little bit. Of course, you can keep up the pace and continue fasting and working out, but don’t be too harsh on yourself. You might want to shorten your fasts: they reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. They also assist in the reduction of bloating and can help increase energy.

Since we already start to collect blood which our bodies are going to get rid of, it’d be smart to listen for cravings once a while and eat what you want in order to regenerate. It’s okay, no one will know!

Storing fat differently than men

Another similar reason is that women store fat more efficiently than men do. On average, women have 6 to 11 percent more body fat than men. Studies show estrogen reduces a woman’s ability to burn energy after eating, which means that more fat is being stored around the body.

The main criteria, why women need more essential fat than men because they need extra energy to grow a baby. Alert! Ladies, who are currently pregnant, breastfeeding or planning to do so, note this and keep in mind. There are different rules for you! You do need those calories to supplement your cells!

For the above-mentioned reasons, women should consider trying different types of intermittent fasting, such as shorter fasting periods and fewer fasting days.

Few types of fasting that you could enjoy

Each and every one of us is unique so there is no essential guideline for everybody on how to fast. Our size, shape, genes, sex make a huge impact! Typically, women should take a more relaxed approach to fasting than men.

The general recommendation for women is to fast for 14 hours and for men – 16 hours because of the humoral differences in the system. Sexes have a different metabolic response to fasting and due to that female blood glucose levels are lower than in male fasting windows.

Put some spice on your IF routine

If you feel that following your fasting schedule is getting complicated, especially before the storm cloak of hormones starts to kick in, here is a list of variable options for you to choose from:

  • Crescendo Method: fasting 12–16 hours for two to three days a week. Fasting days should be nonconsecutive and spaced evenly across the week (for example, Monday, Wednesday and Friday).
  • Eat-stop-eat (also called the 24-hour protocol): a 24-hour full fast once or twice a week (maximum of two times a week for women). Start with 14–16-hour fasts and gradually build up.
  • The 5:2 Diet: restrict calories to 25% of your usual intake (about 500 calories for women and 600 for men) for two days a week and eat “usually” the other five days. Allow one day between fasting days.
  • Alternate-Day Fasting: fasting every other day but eating “normally” on non-fasting days. You are allowed to consume 20–25% of your usual calorie intake (about 500 calories) on a fasting day. 
  • The 16/8 Method (aka the “Leangains method”): fasting for 16 hours a day and eating all calories within an eight-hour window. Women are advised to start with 14-hour fasts and eventually build up to 16 hours.

Bottom Line

Remember, that you are free to choose the method which suits you the most and always follow, how do you feel during the fasting. If one method doesn’t connect with your guts – easily change to another one.

Let’s admit, it’s XXI century, gender-equality is blooming, everything should be equal for women and men if it wasn’t for those monthly cramps…! Either way, you are wonderful, beautiful and an amazing creature and if you’re one step into the IF world – you’re already on the right track!

Happy Women’s Day!